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Belgian GP: FIA Drivers Press Conference


Today's press conference with Zhou Guanyu, Fernando Alonso, Charles Leclerc, Kevin Magnussen, Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel, Pierre Gasly, Daniel Ricciardo, Nicholas Latifi and Sergio Perez.

Group 1: Zhou Guanyu, Fernando Alonso, Charles Leclerc, Kevin Magnussen and Lewis Hamilton.

Q: Welcome back after the summer holidays. Zhou, why don't we start with you? First up, how were those holidays? What do you get up to?
Zhou Guanyu: Yeah, mine was pretty simple to be honest. Went straight back to work for some magazines for the Chinese people, because I didn't really have time to do that. And then some shootings the first week and then actually I stayed in UK because my family actually flew in the Silverstone weekend, the first time the whole family was here and we stayed put pretty much all the time in UK. And actually, I went you to the beach in UK because it was very nice and sunny there, 30 degrees. Yeah, we had fun with the family and now obviously back to work.

Q: Well, I guess the break gave you a chance to take stock of everything that's happened so far this year. So how do you reflect on the opening 13 races and going forward, what areas are you going to focus on in terms of your own performance?
ZG: To be honest, I think it was better than I expected in terms of the speed. We were able to reach reasonably quick up to the speed also matching or catching up the gap with Valtteri from beginning of the year first race to now onwards and it's been good in that. And obviously, there's weakness I have to improve and also, I feel like the first half are being quite extremely unlucky in some cases with quite a lot of DNFs. I think the most DNF on the grid. So I feel like we deserve more points so hopefully everything will be reasonably much smoother for the coming races. And yeah, we'll be working together with the start. I think it's quite clear for our team, struggling first lap and to get that fixed and should be having more opportunity fighting with opponents.

Q: Fernando coming to you. You've been at the centre of the Formula 1 news cycle over the break so tell us why Aston Martin next year?
Fernando Alonso: Well, yeah, it was for two or three days, then it changed, there was more news coming. But yeah, I had this possibility, the phone call from Aston after Sebastian announced that he was stopping at the end of the year. So yeah, at that point we sit down and we go to this agreement. I think the project is very attractive. Obviously there is a lot of investment going on in the last few years, a lot of new people came to the team, very talented engineers, designers, new facilities in Silverstone. So... I don't know, I felt that it was a nice project for the future. They were extremely happy to join forces and to have this possibility to grow up together. We felt that it was the right thing to do.

Q: On paper, you're moving from a team that currently sits fourth in the constructors championship to a team that is sitting ninth. So what are you expecting Aston Martin to do for next year?
FA: Let's see. I think for sure there are some risks on every decision you make in Formula 1. No one has the crystal ball to guess the future. At the same time in Formula 1 or in any sport, you win or you don't. Doesn't matter to be fourth or ninth or 13th. You are first or you are not winning. And I think... all the Formula 1 teams and drivers we are here to be in that top spot and yeah, I felt that within the possibilities that I had on the table for next year, I think this one was the right one and as I said, the project has some ingredients for the future that in Formula 1 normally are synonymous of success: when you invest and you have the best people so let's see if we can shortcut that time as much as possible and make Aston Martin very fast, next year already.

Q: And Fernando just bring it onto this weekend, you've had eight consecutive points finishes going into the summer break. What do you think you can achieve here with Alpine?
FA: I hope to keep this consistency; as you said eight consecutive times in the points. Some of them could have been even better. I remember in Austria, for example, in the sprint race, the car didn't start on the sprint race, I had to start last. Barcelona: we changed the engine, we started last. So even with those difficulties, we kept scoring points. So yeah, I hope to have a good weekend here, a clean weekend. The car is strong now. We've been improving a lot in the last few months and yeah, I hope top five or top six is possible here. And also I talked with my engineers, mechanics and these remaining nine races, we want to finish on a high and a podium will be a dream for us and who knows when that possibility will come? Hopefully this weekend will be the first one.

Q: Charles, coming to you now. Recharged and ready?
Charles Leclerc: Yes, And I needed it. The first part of the season has been full of highs or lows so loads of emotions and there's lots of accumulation of emotions which leads to being tired so I was quite happy to go on holidays and I use these three weeks in the best way possible with my family, my friends. And yeah, it was just great.

Q: So you're currently 80 points behind Max Verstappen in the championship. Just tell us how do you view these next nine races?
CL: Well, I think we'll take it one by one as a team. But for sure we need to try and maximise every opportunity that we have ahead and I still believe in the championship of course. It's going to be a very difficult challenge but I will believe in it until the very end.

Q: You need to do a Sebastian Vettel back in 2013. He won every race after the summer break.
CL: Yeah, well, we just need to do that. It's maybe easier to say than to do it but I'll give my best.

Q: Few thoughts on Spa as well. You scored your first Grand Prix win here in 2019. Just describe what this track means to you and how much you enjoy driving on it?
CL: It is a very special truck for me obviously. I think for every driver the first victories is very special. I got it here in very strange conditions obviously, with what happened on the Saturday with Anthoine but it's a track I really enjoy driving all the time and hopefully, more of a great result this weekend.

Q: Kevin coming to you now. You swapped horsepower for wind power during the break. Just tell us a little bit about that?
Kevin Magnussen: Well, yeah, I had an opportunity to go on one of the SailGP boats, which was a really cool experience with the Danish team, I got to meet the sailors there. I'm a passionate sailor myself so going on one of these boats is almost like the... that and the America's Cup is the top in terms of sailing so yeah, they're much like Formula 1 cars on the water so I really enjoyed it.

Q; Now, what about this weekend? You got a first go with the upgrades in Hungary. What conclusions did you reach? And do you think they will help you on this track layout?
KM: We put the upgrade on and could see that the numbers we were getting on track were correlating to wind tunnel and that's like the first bucks you want to take and then of course, there's some work to do to get it to perform at its maximum and get the full potential out of it. But at least, sometimes and in the past with the team, we've put upgrades on and we've taken a step back and have had a tough time with it so it was nice to see that at least it was correlating and then we didn't take a step back. It was kind of maybe not so much better right in Hungary but there's potential.

Q: You've got a new race engineer this weekend. How does it change like that affect things on your side of the garage?
KM: The good thing is I know Dom, my new race engineer, I know him quite well, because he was Romain's race engineer during our time, so I haven't worked directly with him, but kind of, you know, know him very well. And he kind of knows me, too so it's going to be a pretty smooth transition, I think. So I'm looking forward to that and yeah, the rest of the year.

Q: Lewis, thank you for waiting. Welcome back. Now you've had clearly a very memorable trip to Africa since we last saw you. What in particular made it so special?
Lewis Hamilton: Well, good afternoon everyone. It's nice to see everybody. We've definitely... I'm pretty sure all of us have missed being at the race circuit. This year... when I started this year, I'm quite bad at some planning things, I'm always very last minute and one of my New Year's resolutions was to plan ahead. So, for the for the August break, I already planned it in February and it's the place that I have... it's the continent that I've wanted to go and visit. Whilst I've been there before, it's the place I wanted to go more than anywhere. And I got to obviously travel in lots of different places. It was incredible how welcoming everyone was and it was a very grounding experience to see the incredible landscape and the different countries that we went to. And it was a very humbling experience just seeing people live with literally nothing. Just in like a house made of sticks, you know, literally twigs, and no shoes, no socks, and going about their daily lives, you know, not with social media, and not with the stuff that we all we all have in the Western world and then it didn't seem like they took anything for granted which was really quite beautiful to see.

Q: Now, if I can bring it on to performance this weekend, how excited are you by the pace of your car? Do you think that win, that first win of the year is close?
LH: I do, definitely, I think. Of course we've been improving, we've had this consistency that's come up of the recent races and great progress that the team was just making, everyone pulling together, continuing to push. And the car is becoming more of a racing car which is not particularly what it was the beginning of the year, more like a normal racing car in the sense of its characteristics so that's positive. And the last race was obviously the best showing that we've had so far. And that, for us, was a huge boost of just that we can close that gap. So it's naturally going to continue to be tough, we will keep our heads down. The other guys are doing an amazing job but I do believe that we can close the gap.

Check out our Thursday gallery from Spa here.


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