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Hungary GP: FIA Drivers Press Conference


Group 1: Max Verstappen, Lance Stroll, Carlos Sainz, Yuki Tsunoda and George Russell.

Max, first of all, can we get your reaction to the retirement the impending retirement of Sebastian Vettel and tell us what kind of a hole he's going to leave behind?
Max Verstappen: Yeah, I mean, at the end of the day, he has achieved so much in this sport, that it's fully understandable for him to retire. I mean, I think he's had an amazing career. He's won a lot of races; he's won a lot of championships as well. And I think of course, he's a great ambassador for the sport. So, you know, to see him go is... it's something that you can see coming, everyone is getting older, at one point, everyone is retiring. And is of course, never nice when that moment arrives, especially, of course, for Seb's fans. But these things happen. And I think it's important now that he's just going to enjoy his life with the family, because F1 is such a short period of time in your life that you work so hard to achieve all these things he has achieved and now it's time to enjoy.

And if we can just bring it onto this weekend now, very different race track to Paul Ricard. Do you expect this to be one of the tougher tracks for Red Bull this season?
MV: Yeah, I personally think it's going to be a little bit harder for us. Just purely one-lap performance, especially. I mean, I don't expect it to be terrible but I do think that Ferrari is going to be super strong here, like, of course, they have been the whole year. But I do think that this is a track where they might be, let's say, very strong. But we'll see. Also, the weather: I don't know what's going to happen, how much rain is falling. But all these things can come into play and can do many things to the result.

Lance, coming to you please. Your reaction to your teammates impending retirement.
Lance Stroll: Just touching on Max's saying, he's achieved so much in this sport. He's been a great team-mate. I've really enjoyed working alongside Seb for the last year and a half. We still have half a season to go, but no, it's been great. I've really enjoyed it. And he's achieved so much. And, you know, this was a chapter in his life that I think he's now moving on from, he has a family at home and other things to look forward to in life. So, I wish him all the best going forward. He's definitely achieved so much. It's been an incredible career for him and we wish him all the best going forward. He's been a great teammate.

What will you miss most about him?
LS: Well, definitely not the long debriefs! I think he's good at that but, kidding aside, he's just been a great team player and someone that that's been really easy to work alongside It's just been fun. He's a big talent, extremely professional and I think his technical understanding as well, for the car and all that is great. He's been a great member of the team and someone that that I've really enjoyed working alongside. It's definitely been fun.

Carlos, same question to you to kick things off. Sebastian.
Carlos Sainz: First of all, wish him all the best now, in the future that he has ahead that I'm sure he's going to enjoy a lot with kids and family. For me he was, since the beginning, since even before arriving to Formula 1, a great role model. I was privileged enough to be simulator driver when he was at his peak in Red Bull, winning the Championships. I could see how professional he was, and it gave me a very good insight into it how you need to behave, or how do you need to be, to be a successful Formula 1 driver like he was. I remember those years very well. He always had kind words for me, stop and have a chat with me, and give me some advice. He's a great role model as these guys have said already, and he's ambassador for the sport, but not only for sport but I think also for a younger generation that is coming through, and a type of career that you would look up to no? Always getting on well with all the teams, with everyone. Everyone in the paddock loves him, you know? You will not hear someone speaking bad about Seb. I think this year speaks about his personality. He's, alive as a human being, not only as a driver, and I think we will miss him. But I hope that we can see him back in the paddock also helping the sport to develop in certain areas that I think he's very vocal about recently. And I hope that he can keep giving us a hand in that in that side.

And bringing it onto this weekend in Hungary. Do you and Ferrari fancy your chances this weekend?
CS: Yeah, I think this year we fancy our chances in every circuit that we go to. Honestly, the competitiveness of the car is definitely not an issue this year. We are competitive everywhere we go to. Sometimes it's true that in race pace or in in some qualis, Red Bull seem to be a bit quicker. In others, we are quicker and it's a great fight. But yeah, I go into every weekend thinking we can win it. And this is no other one. So is the target is the same.

After hiccups at both of the last two races. How much does Ferrari need a clean weekend this weekend?
CS: We need it. But everyone needs a clean weekend, I think. We all strive for clean weekends, it's just that in Formula 1, they are more difficult to get than what people think. And yes, we have a very competitive car. It's true that we have some weaknesses to address with reliability, and everything. But it's still a long year ahead. We have something like nine, 10 races, I don't know exactly, and I think if there's anything I've seen this year, it's that anything can happen in every race. You know, it's been such an up and down year for everyone. Even if the top four seems to be consistent, then the outcome of the weekend is not always as you expect. There's still a lot to play for and a lot to go for.

Yuki coming to you. How much will you miss Sebastien Vettel?
Yuki Tsunoda: Yeah, to be honest, with him just we have experience just last two years, probably. After I step up to Formula 1. And yeah, he's a great personality guy. And he's definitely also a good ambassador for Formula 1. Yeah, I'm really lucky that I'm able to run close to him, especially Aston Martin, and AlphaTauri are quite close to each other this year. So, I learned a lot of things from him, when I'm driving behind him or even in front of him, whatever. We've had a chat a couple of times, so yeah, I mean, he's definitely... you know, for me, it's a bit sad but at the same time, was really lucky, and hope he can have an enjoyable time in Formula 1 for the rest of the season.

And can we have a quick word about the upgrades that your team introduced in France last weekend? Do you feel you've taken a step forward?
YT: I was driving the old-spec for FP1 in Paul Ricard and I swapped into the new floor for FP2. I felt a clear difference in terms of the general grip, I would say, especially towards high-speed corner. Definitely it was positive, just we struggled a little bit to put it all together as the car balance. It was car balance we struggled to kind of have an ideal balance, but I was still happy that I felt like clear difference. So just looking forward to it. We've got a lot of data from Paul Ricard, so yeah, I think we have good confidence that we can put it all together this week.

George, thanks for waiting coming to you up. Can we get your reaction first of all to Sebastien Vettel retirement?
George Russell: Such an inspiration and such a humble bloke I think. As Carlos said, nobody's got a bad word to say about Seb. He's good fun to be around. So I'm sure he's going to be looking forward to, firstly the last half of the season, but everything he's got planned for the future: family, kids wife and I'm sure he's not going to stop and... as I said, inspiration.

And George, we saw a great result for you and Mercedes at Paul Ricard. Do you believe that you're now close enough to the front runners to win a race if everything falls for you?
GR: We're definitely closing that gap, there's no doubt, but the four cars ahead of us certainly have the pace advantage. There's no doubts about that. But I think, as a team, we're slowly closing the gap. Hopefully after the summer break, we'll add some extra things to the car, but as does everybody, so it's not going to be straightforward. We still believe we can probably fight for victories at some point this season. But I don't think we'll probably ever have the car that will be outright quickest.

Questions From The Floor

(David Croft - Sky Sports F1) Question for Max and for Carlos. One more race to go to the summer holidays. Max, you have a 68-point lead and no-one's ever let that slip and not been World Champion at the end of the season. So, the question to you is how comfortable and relaxed will you be as you lie on the beach? Or will you be getting a little bit nervous because it ain't over till it's over? And Carlos, what will you be doing in the summer? And what will Ferrari be doing in the summer to think right: how do we get back and what areas we need to get back at Red Bull to try and make it our Championship?
MV: I think if you know me, first of all, I will not be laying on the beach. And second of all, I don't really care about the points gap. Because for me, it's all about trying to be perfect every single weekend. And it's not something that once you have that gap that you start to relax or something. I mean, I still want to win more races. And that's what we'll try to do as a team.

CS: Well, I think it is clear for Ferrari what we need to do, which is to win those races, that Max wants to win and get it on board because obviously getting those 25 points makes quite a big difference in the point swing. I think yeah, there's still a lot of things that could happen up there at the front. I think there's always a great battle going on between the two teams, which I think it's going to keep going until the end of the year. It is true that maybe at some point we need a bit of help from Red Bull in reliability or DNFs but even without those, statistically if it's open, its open, and you cannot give up. I think this is number one rule in sport: until it's impossible, you need to keep believing and you need to keep trying to win everything you can, and trying to keep yourself in the fight. Until a statistic is no longer in your power. Until then, we're going to keep trying, we're going to keep developing as a team, we're going to keep improving because whatever we can learn this year, it can also be useful for the next few years.

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