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Canada GP: FIA Drivers Press Conference

NEWS STORY
18/06/2022

Today's official FIA press conference featuring all 20 drivers contesting the Canadian Grand Prix.

Group 1: Charles Leclerc, George Russell, Daniel Ricciardo, Esteban Ocon and Lance Stroll.

I think we should start with the hometown hero. Lance. Great to be back in Montreal. Can we just get your thoughts on the first races since 2019?
Lance Stroll: Yeah, it's great to be back. I missed this place. It's always special coming home for the home race and yeah, I think the whole city is buzzing. I think everyone's happy to be back. Some great memories of this place. So, great to be back.

Great memories. Just tell us a little bit about what your week is like, of the Canadian Grand Prix? Is it much busier?
LS: No, it hasn't been too bad, to be honest. I got here on Monday and had a chance to catch up with some friends that I don't get to see very often. It's been it's been nice being back. And now looking forward to the weekend.

And of course, you were in the points last time we raced here in 2019. What's the trick to putting together a strong weekend around this Circuit Gilles Villeneuve?
LS: It's a very challenging track. It's a lot of kerb riding, and so not a lot of margin for error on a lot of the exits where the walls are, so I think it's just getting into a good rhythm, having confidence in the car to ride the kerbs and attack the lap. Just the place. I enjoy driving; it's always fun coming here.

And for your fans, what can they expect from you here?
LS: Well, it's going to be be great to see some Canadian flags in the grandstands. And, yeah, hopefully a strong weekend and some points.

Esteban, let's come to you next. Now you haven't raced here since 2018. How excited to be back?
Esteban Ocon: I'm very excited. It's such a great place, obviously, one of my favourite tracks, one of the old-school ones that remains in the calendar and that's pretty special. And we have also a big French community in Montreal, and it's great to see the support, from the city. Not only in the track, but also in the city. And since I landed, I saw so many supporters and it's awesome to see that the city transforms completely to racing mode.

And you were back in the points last weekend in Baku, so you come here full of confidence?
EO: Yes, definitely. I think we had a bit more pace than where we finished in Baku. I definitely think there was more in the car than what we showed, but yeah, the aim here would be to score some good points and perform well overall.

And does it work for that car that is quick in Baku is also quick here?
EO: It's different challenges for sure. We were flying in a straight-line last week, a bit less straight here. I think it's important to be confident, riding the kerbs here and feeling the grip overall. We haven't been here for a long time, so there's a lot to discover with these new cars but yeah, different challenges; we should be competitive; there's no reason that we can't perform.

Charles, coming to you. And eventful journey here from what I saw on social media for you?
Charles Leclerc: Yeah, I missed a flight! But it's okay. I mean, I've been quite lucky because there was another flight an hour later, so I didn't lose too much time.

Now let's throw it back to Baku. Obviously a very disappointing race for you, but now that you've had time to reflect, what positives do you take from that race?
CL: Well, in the pace. The pace in general is the positive. We cannot hide obviously, it's hard to take: three races in a row with problems or mistakes - but as a team, I think we are working extremely hard, the pace is there, which is the positive to take and we'll keep working, to try and get on top of those things as quick as possible.

As you say, it's been three races in a row. What is your message to your Ferrari team as we come into this Canadian Grand Prix?
CL: I think I don't have to give any message. I think it's clear for everybody the motivation is still extremely high. We are still working extremely hard as a team and we just want to get back to winning as quickly as possible. For the issues that we've had, we are working on them, and hopefully we will fix them as quickly as possible.

You've been on pole for the last four races, and this race hasn't been won from outside the front row since 2014 - the man on your left - your one lap pace must give you a lot of confidence coming in.
CL: Yeah, it does. But unfortunately, we don't score any points on the Saturday! So yeah, the Sundays have been a bit more painful this season. But yeah, I can see some positive again. The pace on the race days since Barcelona has been good. Unfortunately, we couldn't show it at the end. But it's a matter of days before we can finally show it, I'm sure.

Daniel, coming to you. Now, before we talk all things Canada. Can we just talk about Melbourne? Contract extension till 2035? What's your reaction to that?
Daniel Ricciardo: You beauty! That's probably the best way I can answer it. Yeah. That's awesome. It's obviously such a long-term contract as well. So it's really encouraging. And seeing as well, F2 and F3 are going to go there. I think that's one thing the Australian Grand Prix has done so well is, I guess, is fill up the weekend. There's always action on track. There's always things going on around Albert Park, and now with the addition of F2 and F3, I think that's really cool. So very happy, very happy.

Will you still be there competing?
DR: It could be a stretch. I don't even know how old I'll be then. It's good to know that if I am, then I'll be home.

Now Daniel, Baku saw you score your first points since Melbourne. Did you feel much happier with the car there?
DR: It's definitely a better weekend. I think it was certainly smoother. I think it was good just to see how we came out of Monaco and the work that was done since Monaco, we really kind-of translated well onto the track. And everything we felt like we'd found or understood, I think we certainly showed that, or at least good signs of that, on track in Baku. It's also not an easy circuit as well, obviously, with the nature of it, low downforce street circuit. So, to have a solid weekend there was encouraging. Just good, building blocks moving forward.

Comfortable with the team orders situation, at McLaren?
DR: Yeah, I mean, in the end, it was, simply putting it, I had the orders early in the race, and then Lando had them at the end, so you could say it evened itself out. I think in the moment, in the race, if you're the attacking car, you obviously want to charge through, and try and try and get on with it. But these are also things that we talk about in strategy meetings, things like this. We're aware that this could happen during the race and also, in my experience now, like full trust in pit-wall. And they see the big picture of how the race is progressing, I guess. So, yeah, it all worked out alright in the end.

And Daniel, quick word on this place. You won your first grand prix here, back in 2014, as we've already discussed, fourth in 2018, sixth in 2019. It's been a happy hunting ground for you.
DR: It's been fun. I still remember the very, very first lap I did here with Toro Rosso, when I was doing FP1s, and we did the install, and already on the install lap, I remember coming back, and I was like, this track looks so fun. So, it was just a place I loved really from the first lap I drove around it. And yeah, it's got a lot of character. As Lance describes, the kerbs and everything, you can really... some parts on the track feel like... remind me of go-karting where you really throw the kart around and try to chop off the corner as much as you can. And yeah, this circuit lends itself to that.

George, do you agree with Daniel and everything he said about this place?
George Russell: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I've only raced here once. But it was a good experience when I was here. And there's so much character, very unique, got the street circuit vibes and the kerbs and the track evolving so much. And I remember the fans just being so enthusiastic. This is the first race I actually had goosebumps when I did the drivers' parade, because of the fans were just so upbeat and pumped up for the race. So that was pretty special feeling back then.

Now podium view last weekend in Baku; team dinner earlier this week in Montreal. How is the vibe at Mercedes at the moment?
GR: When you get to the race weekend, everybody's so focused and you're ingrained in what you're doing; trying to find more performance and it's no secret that, as a team, we're going through a bit of a tough time and we want better performance, but you need evenings like we had on Wednesday night where you get away from it all, and you just do something normal. We were at the restaurant, probably 100 people there, and it was a nice evening.

You said after the race in Baku, that it was a very tough race for you physically. Are you expecting more of the same here?
GR: Yeah, we'll have to wait and see. Obviously, it was a bumpy ride for us and for many, many teams in Baku, and obviously there's been some changes brought forward from the FIA. So, it's sort of pleasing to see that they've been on the front foot there. But we need to see if it actually makes any difference at all, and then go from there.

So, do you welcome the Technical Directive from the FIA?
GR: I mean, I don't... I'm not a technical expert. So, I don't really know if that's going to improve things or not. But I think we, definitely as drivers, it's good to see them on the front foot and actioning something straightaway.

Questions From The Floor

(Andrew Benson - BBC Sport) For everybody. How disappointed Are you that the action that's been taken on bouncing won't have an immediate effect on the way the cars interact with your bodies? And do you think there's a fundamental problem with these new technical regulations, and they need to be rethought?
GR: Yeah, as I said, firstly, what's been brought forward this weekend, I think it's probably more of a sticking plaster than the solution. And we need to wait and see, I think, for even the teams suffering the least, it's still an incredibly aggressive and bumpy ride. And you know, the FIA have access to all of the vertical acceleration loads we're going through, and it's far beyond what you'd expect is safe to deal with - so I mean, bigger conversations are definitely needed moving forward and where we go from here.

DR: Not much further to add. I think for me, Baku was the bumpiest ride I've experienced this year. But up until then, we were a little... I would say better off with it. So certainly not experiencing as much as some other teams. You know, watching the onboard, you can see, it certainly doesn't look fun at times. So yeah, obviously it's such a short turnaround. I don't know how much that comes into play, of having just a few days between races and how much we can do. But yeah, obviously open to seeing what we can do, moving forward. That's all.

CL: I don't completely agree, on my side. I felt like it's the team's responsibility to give me a car that is okay to drive. Until now, I didn't have any particular problems with it. Yes, it is stiffer than last year's car. Whether it's undriveable or very hard on myself, I don't think it is - at least personally. So, on our side, we found solutions to how to make it better.

EO: In my opinion, I think, we're not as bad as some other cars. You know, as Charles was saying, some cars are easier to drive than others, it seems like. But, you know, what's very positive is that, you know, the FIA is taking action in taking care of us and that's a very positive thing. There are two sides of it I think that we shouldn't mix. There's the porpoising thing and the overall stiffness of the cars, because in some corners, that had already last year, for example, Monaco, after the tunnel when I hit the kerb badly, I did feel it hard on my body and that is not, you know, an end of straight thing or something like that. So, the stiffness of the car in general is also a problem. It's not necessarily how much porpoising you have at the end of the straight.

LS: Yeah, I'm in agreement with what Esteban's saying: I think it's not just the porpoising, saying it's the stiffness of the cars. This year, you hit a kerb, or a bump, it's, you know, big shock to the body. I think that over the course of the season, 23 race calendar, you know, it adds up. But as well, I think the porpoising does need to be addressed, I think this year, at times, it's been, really, really bad and, you know, very, very rough on the body. And I think, you know, both porpoising and stiffness is something that the FIA needs to address. And we need to think about going forward, because it's not sustainable for 23 races and then looking at the future with these technical regulations. If it's going to be like this every year, I think it's rough on the body.

(Mathias Brunner - Speedweek) After the Technical Directive of the FIA - this is to Charles but other drivers are welcome - do you expect a change in the pecking order in the field?
CL: I'm not sure to be honest. This I don't know whether it will be the case or not. For me, it's not still very clear exactly what's going to change in the future. So yeah, I don't know.

George, can we get your thoughts?
GR: No, I don't think it's going to be make a big difference to be honest. I mean, yeah, I'm not too sure.

(Alex Kalinauckas - Autosport) Question to George, please about your work off-track this year. It's your second year as a director of the GPDA. How you finding that? It's been quite the year for driver feedback on lots of things. The missile attack in Jeddah; the porpoisiong; even the FIA and the jewellery ban, and things like that. How are you finding that side of things?
GR: There's quite a lot going on, to be honest, but no, all good. I think, Alex Wurz and Anastasia [Fowle] who's another director, has been a huge part of this. And they do the majority of the work behind the scenes. It's opened my eyes a lot to their input. I think we've all got a lot, all of us drivers, have a lot to be grateful for, for those two, especially. But yeah, enjoying it. There's always conversations ongoing and just trying to improve the sport. Also, in conversations with Formula 1, trying to improve circuit safety, design, whatever it may be. think it's just a good... something a little bit different and I enjoyed it.

(Alan Baldwin - Reuters) A question for Charles. Could you just give us an update on the power unit situation? I've read reports that you may be getting a 10-place penalty on the grid here. What is the situation? You can tell us?
CL: Well, obviously, we are not in the best situation possible - then for the power unit change, I think there are still ongoing discussions. We'll try and push as much as possible the decision, so for now, no decisions are taken. But yeah, it's not the best situation to be in.

(Andrea Cremonesi - La Gazetta dello Sport) Question for Charles. Do you prefer to take the penalty in a track like this, that you can make overtaking, or waiting a little bit more? Thank you.
CL: Well, I think again, this is part of our discussions and it's up to us to choose the best track where you want to get a penalty - if you get a penalty. And this is one of the tracks where it's actually quite easy to overtake, but they're also some of the tracks in the next three or four races where it's easier to overtake too. So yeah, again, we'll discuss and try and take the best decision from there.

(Adam Cooper - motorsport.com) Question for George. Just wanted your thoughts on Silverstone. You're going there with a car that you can at least aim for a top six. Are you hoping that it will be more towards the Barcelona-side of things on bouncing rather than Baku?
GR:I think we're definitely hoping to have more performance in Silverstone - but definitely, really excited to go there: home crowd, to have a chance of fighting for a podium. And I think Silverstone is always driver's favourite. Not just for the circuit itself but all of the fans there, they're so passionate for the sport. Hopefully the weather holds off - but yeah, all in all looking forward to it.

(Will Wood - Racefans.net) It's been discussed about Baku being one of the more difficult circuits for all the bouncing. Very, very high-speed circuit. Next year we're going to Las Vegas, which could potentially be even higher speed down the very long straight. Do you have any concerns about the potential for how it's going to be at those high speeds there? Would you like to see the organisers do anything in advance to try and make the surface better? Or to try and stop the problems from being so bad?
DR: It's a long way away. I think it's so hard to... I'm sure we're going to be much further down the road by the end of next year with all this kind of stuff, and regulations and whatever. But yeah, I mean, I don't wish for the speeds to be lower in terms of ... like, it's fun going fast. So, I'd rather we just set the cars up differently to be able to still go fast and have long straights. And I think they also encourage overtaking, you know, with bigger, bigger tows, slipstreams and all of that. So yeah, right now, it's not really... I wouldn't say I'm concerned a year or 18 months removed from it.

(Ian Parkes - New York Times) Question to George, Daniel and Charles. This past week, I conducted an interview with a world leader in his field with regard to spines. He's the past president of the British Association of Spine Surgeons, and is the spine lead for the World Federation of Neurosurgeons. So, as you can tell, he's got quite the credentials. His comments to me where, if this continues, you are at serious risk, or either rupturing or severely damaging your spinal disc. And obviously, there is also as well, the consideration of minor brain haemorrhages, given the way the head bounces inside the helmet, when you hear those kinds of comments, does that make you think twice about what you're doing? And how imperative it is that F1 and the FIA get on top of this as soon as possible.
GR: I mean, from everything you've said, there's not really much more to add. And there's obviously a lot of mixed agendas here from different teams and drivers. And we've heard it from Carlos at times, and Checo and Max earlier in the season, how bad it's been. But now that their performance seems to be strong, they obviously don't want changes because it can only hinder them. So it is obviously a bit of a shame to see performance prioritised over safety. But you know, there's no doubt in Baku, I could see my pit board, but I couldn't read my pit board because I was bouncing around so much. I think I saw a video of Lance on one of the laps, struggling to change the buttons on the steering wheel, because you visibly just saw how much the car was shaken around, how stiff it was, and everything. So, you know, we're all competitive animals here in this sport, and we all want to win. But yeah, we can't put our bodies at risk before any of that.

DR: Yeah, I think it's probably one of those ones where: is it an unnecessary risk? That's what we have to, obviously, answer. I think we take many risks, getting in the cars every weekend and it's part of what we love about the sport as well: going fast and putting it on the line and trying to balance on that fine line of risk and reward. But this one, obviously what some drivers are experiencing, it's not who's the bravest, it's just, you're going down the street holding it flat and it's just how... you've basically just going to hold on for the ride. So it's a risk I guess out of our control, if that makes sense. So yeah, I would... hearing some of that feedback, that you've that you've gathered. I'm not really surprised in terms of all that, because it is, it does. I mean, I felt it in Baku and obviously watching the others, it does... like it is quite real. I think the position we sit in as well, we're not really braced for these impacts. We're kind of curled over, so we are probably a little bit vulnerable with our posture. But yeah, I think there's enough probably risk already in the sport.

CL: Yeah, I don't know exactly which data has been taking. But it's clear that when you look at Lewis, by example, getting out of the car after Baku, it doesn't look nice - but again, I think we should be careful and take data from various cars. And then and then see, because I don't think it is the same for everyone. And again, if when we race our car, at least, it is okay. I think we need to be careful to that, and see with whatever the problem is in different teams, and try to understand how bad it is from one car to another.

(Jon Noble - motorsport.com) Question to George. The inference from the FIA TD was that they were looking at setting up this maximum bouncing metric, and any car bouncing and bottoming too much, would have to change the setup to stop the bouncing. Any concerns for Mercedes? Have your engineers told you about whether there could be competitive consequences for Mercedes, you've got to lift your car up to stop the bouncing that takes us out of the ideal set-up window?
GR: Yeah, I think, as we said before, from our side, from a performance aspect, having any changes is a total unknown. At the end of the day, the FIA are the rule makers, and they could bring in any regulation change they want. And nobody sat here knows if that's going to improve their performance or have a negative effect on their performance. So, we really have to see: there's so many different aspects and elements of these cars, that by raising the car, doesn't necessarily reduce it or remove. You're going in between porpoising and bottoming: it's two sort-of different issues at play here. And obviously, the stiffness of the cars are really bad, but I mean, time will tell. It's... I hope it's easier to drive for everybody and it doesn't have a knock-on effect for performance for anyone.

(Daniel Mora Jimenez - Motorlat.com) Question for Charles. You've shown outstanding performance, pace throughout the season, as you've out-qualified your teammate at every single race to date. What is it about this car that is suiting you more than Carlos? Thank you.
CL: I like the way the car handles. I like the balance of the car through cornering. It's a bit more of a pointy car this year. The rear is quite a lot more moving around. And this seems to fit my driving style a little bit better. But yeah, I'm sure that it's only a matter of time before Carlos gets at ease with this with this car.

Check out our Friday gallery from Montreal here.

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