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Dutch GP: FIA Drivers Press Conference


Group 1: Yuki Tsunoda, Lance Stroll, Carlos Sainz, Lando Norris and Alex Albon.

Q: Lando, let's start by throwing it back to last weekend. A tough weekend for you and McLaren at Spa-Francorchamps. Do you understand why?
Lando Norris: I would say so. I think we understand why. I wouldn't say it was necessarily much worse a weekend than a lot of others. I think we ended the first half of the season pretty well in Budapest. Of course, that gets your hopes up a little bit, you gain confidence, which is a good thing. But yeah, I think it was made worse by having the engine penalty, I think we would have finished in the points if we had a normal qualifying. I would have probably qualified seventh or so. So it's not like things are terrible. I think we would have had a reasonable weekend from our standards. What made things worse was that Alpine performed well and made things harder for us. So, not terrible, I think it's just that it was a harder track to overtake on than previous years because of the lesser slipstream and therefore it made my life harder to come through the pack and get back to the points.

Q: Lots of new bits on the car that weekend.
LN: There weren't really. I mean, the list was long, but it was like just new things which they've just done in different materials or something. It was nothing which helped us move forward, let's say, or nothing we would call an upgrade at least. So yeah, I guess maybe there was more expectation from everyone thinking we had a lot of upgrades when we really had nothing. The only thing was a different rear wing, which was the low downforce one. Which, yeah, maybe helped us a little bit in qualifying, not so much in the race. So that's all.

Q: Reasons to be hopeful for Zandvoort this weekend?
LN: I'm hoping it's a little bit more in line with Budapest again, just because the downforce level here is pretty much maximum. So I hope that puts us a little bit more back in line with our expectations and where we want to be. But having things like Spa are still good for us because it still makes us realise where we are and what we struggle with compared to other teams and so on. So having that little realisation check is, I think good for us at this point, because we're a very, very long way from where we need to be. But coming back here, we can get back on track. I think we can still have a good weekend even though it was our worst track last year. So I'm not too hopeful, but I want to be more hopeful than I was in Spa.

Q: Alright, best of luck this weekend. Thank you, Lando. Carlos coming to you now. Podium for you at Spa but some way off the pace of the Red Bull. Do you expect things to be closer here?
Carlos Sainz: I think so. I think we should just be... A bit of a new weekend, going back a bit to where we were before the summer break. I think Spa was a great example of how an off weekend can change perception so much in Formula 1. I don't think we are as bad as it seems. And I'm pretty sure that we can be back on from this weekend and be fighting again for pole and win.

Q: Looking at the season as a whole it's been a rollercoaster of a year for Ferrari. What are the biggest lessons that you and the team have learned?
CS: We're learning a lot, race by race. For me, I think the team has produced a very strong car, which is something that was our main target - to get back to the top and back enjoying fighting at the front of the grid. This was the number one objective and we achieved it. Then, the way that we've raced there at the front, I think there's obviously things that we can do better and things that we can improve but I see a very solid team, a solid atmosphere in the team that we can just keep improving for this and make sure that for next year we can do another step and not only fight for race wins, but also make the race wins happen a lot more often and get the championship.

Q: Thank you, Carlos. Best of luck to you this weekend. Lance, you just missed out on points last weekend. But once again the car was more competitive in the race than it was over one lap. How did it feel?
Lance Stroll: Yeah, that has definitely been the trend the last few weekends, it looks like we're more competitive on Sunday than on Saturday. So, you know, we definitely have to focus on Saturday and try to put ourselves in a better position for Sundays. But the pace was definitely there. I was just stuck behind this guy, you know, with good straight line speed all afternoon. But you know, looking forward to this weekend, it's a great track, a place I always enjoy coming to, so it should be fun.

Q: What are the issues over one lap?
LS: I don't think there's any big issues. I just don't think we have the grip we need to really go a lot faster and challenge for Q3. We just don't have that same pace we have on Sundays, so yeah, we've got to just keep working on it.

Q: Lance, one final one from me. This is the first time you've been in the FIA press conference since we heard about Fernando joining the team next year. Can we get your reaction to that news?
LS: Yeah, it'll be fun. I mean, he's an incredible driver and, you know, a big talent. So, looking forward to pairing up with him. It's great for the team as well. He's brought a lot of, you know, positive energy and people are very excited in the team. So, yeah, it will be cool.

Q: Have you spoken to him?
LS: Here and there? Yeah. I spoke to him in Budapest on Sunday, when things were, you know, finalised, and then yeah, I bumped into him last week in Spa.

Q: Alright, best of luck to you this weekend as well. Alex coming on to you. We've seen some storming races by you this year, Spa was another one. Which has been the best? Would you say Spa?
Alex Albon: I think Spa was maybe the hardest fought one that we've had. It felt like a race where we were similar to everyone else, you know. There wasn't any extreme strategy or some spanner in the works. Not really any or many DNF. So, yeah, it felt like a hard-earned point.

Q: Now, what about this weekend? You haven't raced at Zandvoort since 2015? What are you expecting from the track this weekend?
AA: It looks very tricky. I remember driving here in F3. It's very technical, obviously not much leeway for mistakes. So it's a proper driver's circuit like that. I think qualifying is going to be the main importance. And let's see what happens. Obviously, going by our history, hopefully we can qualify well and see what the race does.

Q: Final one for me in terms of a team-mate for you next year, what are you looking for?
AA: It's not really my area to be honest. You know, I'm focused on myself. Yeah, that's a question to ask later to Jost.

Q: But does the team consult you on matters like this?
AA: Not, really, no. I think they're looking around and of course... That's it really. I'm in my own lane.

Q: Best of luck to you this weekend. Yuki, thank you for waiting. Let's start by throwing it back to Spa. Pit lane to 13th. How competitive was the car?
Yuki Tsunoda: The pace was really good, I would say. There were a couple of things that caused.... behind the DRS train at the end of the race, but until then I was quite happy about the pace and definitely compared to Hungary it was a massive step, what I had in terms of balance and as a team. So yeah, it was a very positive race week.

Q: As you say, a massive step from Hungary and it kind of highlights the kind of season that AlphaTauri has had. It's been one of fluctuating fortunes. Why do you think it's changed from one race to the next so much?
YT: We know the limitation I think, and we kind of start to know about the trend, that some of the tracks, kind of high speed or low speed tracks, how the car would suits to one or the other and yeah, I think we start to see this trend and we start to expect quite more specifically... and yeah, I don't know. If we know that, I think we already solve it. But just the main thing, we are just kind of a step off compared to other competitors in terms of updates, and since from France we didn't have big updates. Up until France we didn't have massive updates as well. So definitely those things make for inconsistent race weeks. But yeah, still there are a couple of races to go in the second half of the season and we aim to have a more consistent race until the end of the year.

Questions From The Floor

Q: (Luke Smith - Autosport) Carlos, you talked about perceptions from the outside about the gap to Red Bull being perhaps bigger than normal at Spa. Over the season, though, Red Bull have pulled away gradually from Ferrari. They've picked up 10 wins compared to Ferrari's four so far this year. What have been the key differences do you think between the two teams? Is it a case that Ferrari are not quite there yet to win a championship and sustain it over a season?
CS: For sure, they've been raising the bar a bit, race by race, but it doesn't seem too far away ago when in Austria we outraced them by quite a big margin and in France it was me passing the Red Bull of Pérez coming from the 20th. And that was only two races, three races ago, no. So I don't believe they've improved so much as they did in Spa. I think if we would have to go back to Spa 10 times, 10 out of 10 they would win Spa because they just have a better package for that circuit. But I also feel like we can do things better in those sorts of tracks, that we can maybe close the gap a bit more in those sorts of tracks, and we can learn something from such a difficult weekend, no? I think we've done 14 or 13 races this year. It's all of them that we've been within a 10th in quali and in the race, and then suddenly there was one it was eight tenths. Maybe I'm just being too optimistic or too hopeful that we will not see that happening again but it's my feeling. Maybe this weekend will prove me completely wrong but we will see.

Check out our Thursday gallery from Zandvoort here.


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