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Singapore GP: FIA Drivers Press Conference

NEWS STORY
29/09/2022

Group 1: Esteban Ocon, Mick Schumacher, Lando Norris, Alex Albon and Lewis Hamilton.

Q: A very warm welcome to you all. Please, can we start with Alex? First up, great to see you back. How are you feeling?
Alex Albon: Good, thank you. Yeah, it feels good to be back. Yeah, I came here, obviously. I feel ready. I feel as fit as I can be. And we had a good week of training, or two weeks almost, to get back to where we are today. So, you know, we'll see how it goes. Obviously, we are realistic. And we know that we're coming to the most difficult race of the year, so we do have to be mindful of that. But I feel good. I've been karting. It's felt okay, so, yeah...

Q: Are you in pain?
AA: No pain, no pain.

Q: Look, it must have been a very frustrating weekend for you in Monza, you'd been looking forward to that race, knowing the car was going to be competitive. What was it like sitting on the sidelines? And a quick word on the job you thought Nyck de Vries did?
AA: Yeah, well, firstly, I was supposed to be asleep for a few days. And I woke up pretty much 30 minutes before the start of the race. So I could watch it. But as you said, it was it was frustrating to watch, the heart rate went up a little bit, and they were keeping an eye on me and they told me I had to switch it off at some point. But, you know, it's only because we had such a good car on Friday, at least, and when I woke up on Saturday, there was kind of that decision of should you risk it or not, in terms of driving. But we did the right thing. And you know, Nyck did a really good job obviously. We know that Monza was going to be a good one. But he brought home some points, which obviously in the bigger scheme of things is very good for the team.

Q: And what about car performance here? You went well in 2019, qualified sixth, raced to sixth. Do you think the car will be as competitive here as it was in Monza?
AA: I don't believe so. But, you know, we never know. I think we've surprised ourselves a little bit this year with some circuits. So we'll give it a go. This circuit's a little bit more down towards you know, let's say, downforce and there's a few corners here. So not quite like Monza, but we'll give it a go.

Q: Lando, let's come to you. You've been here for a few days already. How's the acclimatisation to the heat going?
Lando Norris: Yeah, well, I think. I've not done too much, just exploring little bits here and there. Yeah, that's it, not too much else. So just having a little look around going to some different restaurants and nice places for dinner and lunch and everything but that's all.

Q: Now, if the camera just zooms out a little bit there is a bit of strapping on your leg. Any serious issue there?
LN: No, nothing serious. Not ideal, but I should be fine for driving so...

Q: Alright. Well, let's talk about this racetrack. We haven't been here for a few years. You've raced in Singapore once before. Just what are your memories of the track? How excited are you to be back?
LN: I'm very excited. For me, one of the coolest tracks on the calendar. At the same time, one of the most difficult to put together, so rewarding I think come qualifying, especially. You'll probably talk about Lewis' lap a few years ago, but like, completing a lap here and putting everything together and crossing the line it's definitely one of the most rewarding places. Similar to Monaco in some ways, to nail everything and get that feeling inside the inside the car, so I loved it. It was a decent weekend that I had here back in 2019, so my first season, so yeah, I've missed it. It's just warm and sweaty but it's an enjoyable place to come back to and definitely a fun racetrack.

Q: Damon Hill described this track as Monaco times two recently. Can you relate to that?
LN: It's different. I think there's more say, more slow-speed corners, less kind of medium to high-speed, which I think Monaco has a little bit more of. Of course you've got the final corner but that's about it. Monaco, I think is... I feel like you've got to take a few more risks here and there. And judging things is a little bit more difficult for my feeling in Monaco. Singapore is a bit more stop and go consistently. So it's a different challenge. I guess there's a lot of walls and if you get too close on the inside or outside you can easily make mistakes but yeah, a different challenge, more corners at the same time, but still tough. Not a lot of room for error, but very enjoyable.

Q: Thank you, Lando. Best of luck to you. Lewis coming to you. Now, Lando just referenced your pole lap from a few years back. You're a four-time winner here. Just give us your thoughts on being back in Singapore?
Lewis Hamilton: Well, it's good to be back. Obviously, 2019 feels like a lifetime ago for everyone. So it's great to be back in this beautiful city. And the track is epic to drive. It's a very, very bumpy ride, 23 corners. I think that night, that lap back in... is it 2018? Yeah. I don't remember every single part of it. I've not re-watched it, but it was definitely one of the best laps of my career. So the hope is always that you can one day get to experience something similar. But the feeling of that day was something very unique.

Q: And in terms of performance, there was a time early in the hybrid era when there was at least the perception that Singapore was a bit of a bogey track for Mercedes. Was that how you viewed it back then? And how do you see it now?
LH: I would definitely say that it was a track that we had struggled out quite a lot. And I think it's probably due to some sort of... I don't think it was aero-based, I think it was more probably ride quality, that we just hadn't been as good as some of the others had been. We'll discover if that's a true philosophy this weekend, or a true theory this weekend. But yeah, I think they've resurfaced some parts of the circuit, so hope hopefully it's not as bouncy as before.

Q: And in terms of competitiveness, where do you see yourself? What are your hopes?
LH: We hope that the car works better here. But as I said, it really depends how bumpy it is. And the bumps often set the car off and upset the car in a lot of instances. We do know it's going to be bumpy. Maybe the car will be fine. Maybe it won't. So I have no expectations at all, just going to try and have the best weekend with whatever we're faced with.

Q: Esteban, let's come to you now and before we come on to this weekend, I just want to ask you about a couple of things you got up to during the break. Happy birthday. But also tell me about your love affair, if that's the right expression, with the UFC, because you were doing... you certainly went to a gym, didn't you?
Esteban Ocon: Yeah, exactly. So I went to the best training centre basically in France, MMA factory, it's called. I was there with Mick actually, who got to do a bit of sparring. But yeah, I mean, I love the sport, there are some great values and obviously has become legal to fight now, in France, in MMA and the UFC has come to Paris recently. So it was a huge event. And there are some great French athletes and for me, it was important also to bring a friend of mine giving him the opportunity, you know, to meet the best coaches in the world and, you know, to place him there was very important for me, so, you know, now it's up to him to get on there and fight with the best.

Q: Can I just bring in Mick here? Sparring? UFC, MMA sparring? How was that? Was it with Esteban or who you were with?
Mick Schumacher: I wasn't the friend he was just mentioning. I'm not going to UFC! No. But he showed me some moves, which was interesting. So now I can defend myself.

Q: Now, Esteban, back to you. You've raced here three times before, just give us your thoughts on the track and what you think it's going to be like with these stiff 2022 cars?
EO: Yeah, first of all, it's great to be back here and had such a warm welcome since I arrived, a lot of cool presents, cool drawings. You know, we visited a mall this morning for a car launch, for our car launch, the road car. And yeah, there were so many, you know, supporters cheering for us. And that's definitely boosting us for the weekend. But, yeah, I mean, it's a challenging track, really challenging. There's a lot of corners, as we said. It's hard to pull it together, especially with these cars, which are very stiff, you know. There are some curves which are quite sharp, quite hard on the body. So it's going to be an interesting one, but I feel ready.

Q: And you've got a new floor this weekend. What effect do you think that's going to have on the stopwatch?
EO: Yeah, I mean, fantastic job by the team to keep developing the car like we've done since the beginning of the year. We've made huge steps each time something was coming. So I look forward to see what it's going to give us. You know, it's quite a big upgrade. But again, you know, it's important for us to have a clean weekend and hopefully use it the best we can.

Q: And Mick back to you. You've never raced here before. Just tell us about the challenge ahead? What are you expecting?
MS: Yeah, I mean, I can only refer to what everybody else is saying, as I've never raced here myself. So I guess that the humidity is one of the points that probably everybody talks about, but also the track itself as you know. I've done a few simulator sessions on this track and watched a load of videos on this place, but really excited to go out there and make my own kind of experiences of this place.

Q: And you've been teasing us on Instagram saying that you had something special coming, I think for Singapore. What it's for?
MS: That's for Japan.

Check out our Thursday gallery from Singapore here.

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