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Italian GP: FIA Drivers Press Conference

NEWS STORY
09/09/2022

Group 1: Sebastian Vettel, Kevin Magnussen, Charles Leclerc, Fernando Alonso and Nicholas Latifi

Sebastian, if we could start with you, please? The last European race of your Formula 1 career at Monza, the scene of your first win, how do you feel about this one?
Sebastian Vettel: Well, I like Monza, I love the track. Obviously, there's a lot of memories. I don't... you know I don't wake... I didn't wake up this morning, I won't wake up on Sunday thinking this is the last time in Monza. So it's not how I approached the races but yeah, I'm looking forward to the weekend. It's usually a great atmosphere. Obviously, having driven for Ferrari in the past, there's a lot of support for Ferrari, a lot of support for Formula 1 so I think we can all look forward to a great weekend. And like I said, for me it has a bit of an extra meaning because I celebrated my first win here. I think it's Monza's 100th anniversary this weekend, so yeah, should be cool.

Of your 53 wins in Formula 1, where does that first victory back in 2008 stack up?
SV: Well, it was a long time ago. But I think your first win always remain something special so to answer your question, probably pretty high but then it's quite a luxury to be able to choose from so many. And for sure, right now, I can't compare all of them but I would say the first one is very special. Also the circumstances, you know; it was a bit of a miracle and fairy tale, pulling it off with a pole and then the race win. So yeah, very special.

Let's bring it on to your performance this weekend. Your car was very racy at Spa a couple of races ago. Does that give you extra hope coming into here?
SV: Yeah, I think overall we've made a little bit of progress in the... obviously now the last months but yeah, I think it is very tight, we are in the midfield and it's very tight being at the back of the midfield or just in the middle with a couple of other teams. So it definitely helped us to make small steps forward because we were able here and there to fight for points and that is the target as well for this weekend. Now, here, it's a different track; everybody's running as little downforce as they can so we'll see where it takes us.

Just before we go is there a story behind the moustache?
SV: Got bored and I thought it was something different.

Kevin, let's come on to you. Throw it back to last weekend first of all at Zandvoort which you described as a wasted weekend. Now we saw what happened to you on lap two but where was the performance of the car in Holland?
Kevin Magnussen: Well, I think the car had good performance. Mick qualified P8 which was a good result. That's kind of our... where we wish to be, in contention for points and stuff like that. So I think I messed up in qualifying and then didn't get out of Q1 although the car had the pace, I just made a mistake and got a bit unlucky with traffic and then I was out so I got my lap deleted even, and had to start 18th. And then in the race I tried... you've got to take risks on the first lap. I got a few positions but then made another mistake in turn two and went off the track and was last so it was a bit of a wasted weekend like that, just didn't get anything out of it.

Now this weekend, at least on paper, looks like a difficult event for Haas. Where are you setting your expectations?
KM: For this one, probably a little lower. We don't have this super low downforce configuration that you would use here and then in Baku, for example, we also were struggling a bit but in Baku, for example, in the race, we were still a little bit racy. So I thought we could score points there; I had an engine failure so I didn't finish the race but I was running inside the points and that was pretty unexpected with the package we ran there and so naturally I hope we can do that again here but with what we're running, not our favourite track.

Now Kevin, there's a lot of speculation about the identity of your team mate next year. What do you feel the team needs?
KM: Pretty obvious; of course we need fast drivers and drivers that are consistent, can score points, can help drive the team forward but I think right now we have me and Mick and it's not going too badly, I think so I don't really have any strong opinions either way. It's up to Guenther and of course the management to sort that one out. I'm not here to speculate or be involved in that.

Is there a need for more experience in the other car?
KM: Again, I'm not here to really take part in that. I don't really have an opinion on that. I think Mick is doing a good job and that's all I can say.

Charles, coming on to you: you're a Ferrari driver, you're racing at Monza. Just how different is this experience for you?
Charles Leclerc: Well, this one is particularly different because for once I'm not red but in yellow. It's a special colour for this weekend to celebrate the 75 years of Ferrari and it's nice and as always the Monza week is just crazy busy for us but it's always an incredible feeling. We had some events yesterday in Milan, so many people, so much support and it's just great. They make you feel at home so yeah, it's great and hopefully we'll have a good weekend.

Can you give us your thoughts on the yellow?
CL: I like it. I like it. It's a bit strange now to see me wear yellow this morning with the Ferrari logo but it's cool. I think for one race it's really good.

Now this is Monza's centenary, as well. Just wanted to ask you, when did you first come to this racetrack?
CL: I think it was in 2014 for my first year in single seaters. And I think - but I've got a very bad memory so that might be wrong - but I think this was my first victory in single seaters. So yeah, I always really liked Monza.

Now in terms of performance, what can we expect from you and the Scuderia?
CL: I think it's going to be a bit of a difficult weekend, on paper at least it is going to be a difficult weekend. We expect Red Bull to be stronger. It's not... the track characteristics don't exactly fit our car but again, we've had some good and bad surprises this year so hopefully this one is one of the good ones and that we overperformed compared to what we expect.

Fernando, we've seen a fantastic level of consistency from Alpine: 10 consecutive points finishes for you; five consecutive double points finishes for the team but what do these stats say about the current level of you and the team?
Fernando Alonso: Yeah, as you said, I think we are in a good run now. We found some consistency even though these 10 last races were not completely out of trouble for us. One of those was Barcelona; we changed the engine, we started last. One of those was Austria; the car didn't start on the sprint race and we started last on Sunday so we still need to improve a few things to have completely clean weekends and if we do so probably we will be in the points in the future races.

Points but what about podiums? Do you feel close?
FA: I think we are in the same place as we have been all year long. I think we are right behind the top three teams so our natural position, let's say, is seventh, seventh and eighth so we need some help always, from the cars in front. Sometimes there are penalties involved like in Spa and we start third on the grid. Here there are some other penalties that will come with Carlos and Lewis, I heard, so we could have a better starting position but lately in the race we eventually ended up in our natural (position).

But what about the straight line speed of the car? Do you think this could be one of your more competitive outings?
FA: Let's see. I think we don't have any specific Monza downforce, let's say, or rear wing so let's see how we can perform here. The car was very good in Baku and Spa so I don't see any reason why we should not be competitive but I think it's going to come some other races that we will be also fast: maybe Suzuka, Austin so I'm looking forward to all the races, basically.

A quick word on your longevity. This is going to be start number 349 for you, equalling the tally of Kimi Raikkonen. How proud are you of that stat and how surprised are you that you've made so many starts in Formula 1?
FA: Yeah, I know the number because every weekend we keep repeating it, but I'm not into this so much. I'm happy to be in Formula 1 for so many years and with the two more coming, or whatever, how long I will be in Formula 1 I will reach 400 for sure so that's a big number. And yeah, it shows my passion for the sport and my discipline to perform at the high level. If you are not performing, the team will not give you 400 Grands Prix for sure.

Nicholas, thanks for waiting. Zandvoort was a tough one for you. Do you fully understand the issues holding you back there such as the power unit problem?
Nicholas Latifi: The power unit issue in qualifying, yeah we did get on top of it and it wasn't an issue any more in the race. As to the general lack of pace on the weekend still; yeah, some question marks there to be honest. Not a crazy amount of time to go through it in between the two races, obviously. This weekend is completely different, let's say, the man from the driver and the car so just kind of looking to focus on this weekend and we have a bigger break after Monza, but before Singapore we'll do a roundup of the past few races.

But let's talk more about this weekend: the car is very slippery, quick in a straight line. What are your expectations?
NL: I expect to be very quick in the straight, we saw that in Spa, that was the case. So I think on paper, the car should perform at a higher level here relative to Zandvoort. But at the same time, just being quick in the straight line isn't everything, you still do need to be quick in the corners. In Spa, for example, I think we were quickest in the straight line but then we were also slowest in the second sector which is where all the corners are so it does balance out. The car is quick in the straights because we are lacking downforce so obviously, thankfully, you don't need too much of that around here in Monza so I am hoping that's going to be a relative step forward in performance. But at the same time last year, we were one of the quickest in the straight lines here and we struggled to get out of Q1 with both cars. So again, it's not all about straight line speed, here you do need a car that still gives you the confidence to attack the braking zones and play on the edge with the car in those high speed corners. So it's not all about top speed.

Check out our Friday gallery from Monza here.

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