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Japanese GP: FIA Drivers Press Conference

NEWS STORY
06/10/2022

Group 1: Kevin Magnussen, Fernando Alonso, Yuki Tsunoda, Nicholas Latifi and Sebastian Vettel.

Q: Yuki, starting with you. Local hero. Just how excited are you about your first Japanese Grand Prix?
Yuki Tsunoda: Yeah, it's amazing. As soon as I landed at the airport there were lots of people, even around the hotels. I went to the grandstands this morning for a bit of filming with Netflix guys, and I think even that, I found there was a lot of people, even though they limited the tickets on Thursday. So far, it's been great days, definitely the best days I'm having, for sure, definitely in Formula 1. Just looking forward for this weekend.

Q: You're a graduate of the Suzuka Racing School, can you share some of your memories of racing here at the track?
YT: Yeah, I drove a Formula 4, I think it was four years ago. I was driving here and last time in Suzuka I won here - so it's good memories, definitely it's a good way to be here at Suzuka. I was driving here in 2m06s - 2m07s, so it's like 40s difference. So it's a lot of different. And even in the simulator I felt like a lot of things going on fast, much faster than when I used to drive. So, I really like Suzuka, like I said, I was driving here since from 2016. And I drove here more than 10,000 laps or whatever. So I've learned a lot of tricks - but at the same time, like I said, it's a lot different when I drive a Formula 1. So, I need a good build-up but still, I think one of the best tracks in my experience.

Q: Just a quick question about what's going on in Formula 1 at the minute. This is your first FIA press conference, since it was announced that you're staying with AlphaTauri next year. Do you feel ready to lead the team in 2023? Should that be required of you?
YT: Yes. Well, I think I have to learn lots of things still in, in the rest of five races, from Pierre, for example. And for sure the kind of mistakes I did in Singapore have to definitely reduce, and lots of things for example, penalties, whatever. Also those things is unnecessary. So those things definitely have to improve but at the same time, the pace, especially one lap, I'm quite happy and having good progress so far. So, I'll just keep like this momentum until the next year. And yeah, just for the race, I think just experience more. Definitely, I have to get good back into the normal rhythm or good rhythm, like I had the first half of the season. And I think this will be probably a good opportunity to back into the rhythm. Or, I have to. So yeah, but I think still learning, lots of things lots of things to learn but I seem to have quite good confidence to do that.

Q: Fernando, you've won at Suzuka twice before, what makes this place so special?
Fernando Alonso: I won once! 2006... only one time... but I won in Fuji also. This place yeah, I think everyone loves Suzuka. The combination again of high-speed corners, a little bit of banking in the corners as well make the feeling really special. The fans are so passionate here. So, the whole weekend is a big thing. And yeah, looking forward with this year's cars to enjoy especially the high-speed.

Q: You always get great gifts from the fans here. What's the maddest thing you've received so far?
FA: Ha! I've had this question before and I'm not sure I have that memory at the moment to spot one - but I'm sure during this weekend, things will get wild for sure at one point and I will try to put all in the garage like this, so you enjoy as well.

Q: It's been a tough last couple of races for you, retiring from both Monza and Marina Bay. Was it a similar issue both times?
FA: No. It was different issues. We have been hit quite badly about reliability this year. We lost a lot of points. And unfortunately, now we are in this battle with McLaren, few points behind and yeah, hopefully we can have a normal five races now and finish on a high. But yeah, has been our weakest point this year.

Q: How do you view that battle with McLaren? Do you expect it to go down to the final race?
FA: I think so. I think there's going to be some weekends that we can score a few more points than them. Some others, we will score less. I think Singapore was standing out because it was a big loss in points there. But I think it's going to be very, very tight until Abu Dhabi.

Q: Kevin, belated Happy Birthday. You turned 30 Yesterday, what did you get up to?
Kevin Magnussen: Nothing really! We were in Tokyo, me and my physio, so pretty quiet really, had some sushi, and watched a movie. Not too exciting.

Q: Talking of exciting, how excited are you to be at Suzuka this weekend?
KM: Yeah, it's always great being here. It's been a couple of years now. And, you know, it's certainly one of the best tracks that I know. So, looking forward to getting back out there in a Formula 1 car again. And yeah, hopefully we can have a strong weekend.

Q: Well, strong weekend, hopefully this weekend. Just can we get your reflections on Singapore? Both qualifying and what happened in the race?
KM: Yeah, well, I mean, it was a good Saturday. Qualifying was decent, you know, started in sort of Intermediate conditions, and then dried up. And we had this shootout at the end of Q3 on slicks in this damp, mixed track, which was really, you know, fun. And we got a decent qualifying, but then in the race, it was another... you know, wild conditions, mixed conditions. And one of those races where I think everyone has an opportunity to score points and we didn't, so that's disappointing. I got a terrible start, lost a lot of positions and then damaged my front wing. So got the black and orange flag, had to go and change the front wing and kind of just was stuck there the rest of the race.

Q: Haas are now three points behind Aston Martin in the Constructors' Championship, how do you view that battle?
KM: It's tough, because we're struggling a bit to score points at the moment. So, even though there's not that many points between us teams down there, it's hard to go and get those points and beat the other team. So yeah, we'll have a chance and I think we're going into some circuits that should be better for us. So, you know, nobody's given up on beating those. We've been P7 in the Constructors' for most of the year. And that would be a great position to get, you know, coming from a couple of seasons where Haas had been the last team in the Constructors' Championship, be able to be really cool to jump a few positions. So that's what we'll try.

Q: Nicholas, your first time racing at Suzuka. What are you looking forward to most?
Nicholas Latifi: I think just to experience the track for the first time really. I mean, I've obviously heard so many great things about the circuit from different drivers, I've watch the races here, obviously many years. But yeah, the previous two years, just not having the experience to come here. So, you know, on the calendar this year, both Singapore and Japan, the first time, the circuits that I was, let's say, with the exception of getting my home grand prix, the ones that I was most looking forward to. I walked the track this morning and it's a bit different to be there in person, than when you're watching it on TV. It's much narrower in places, much more banking as well than I would have thought. So yeah, quite excited to drive tomorrow. If it's not a wash-out tomorrow!

Q: Well, the forecast isn't great for Friday, but let's hope this weekend goes better for you than Singapore. I just want to reflect on what happened in the race with Zhou Guanyu. Can we get your version of events of that incident, please?
NL: Yeah. I mean, when I went to the media pen afterwards, I had obviously not seen the incident. So ,it's difficult to comment on. I mean, at the end watching all the different on-boards, I think, if you're going off the rulebook, I mean, it's clear he came up alongside me, and I didn't leave him enough space. I think the things that were maybe not considered, which is as well, maybe one of the frustrations that I didn't have a chance to go to this stewards, because they didn't ever summon me, like normally happens when there's an incident between two drivers. I was taking the same line I was taking every single lap beforehand. And I did actually look into my mirrors, both ways. You see from the onboard that I glanced in both directions but the problem was, just because of the difference in lines, he was driving in the blind spot of the mirror the whole way down to the corner. So, in that sense, I mean, as drivers we all know, there's a massive blind spot in the car. And again, I did look, so if he's driving in a place where I can't see him, when I do make an effort to look, and I just then take my normal line, it's, yeah... obviously, he ended up being there. But if I can't see him, because he's driving in a place where he should expect I can't see him, especially on a street track in the wet... so yeah, it's tricky. I mean, if I would have got penalised anyways, in the end, after being able to at least give my side of the story, I know, doesn't really make much of a difference and I would have accepted that. But yeah, I guess just not being able to go to the stewards and give my side of the events and give different points that I think weren't considered. That was probably a bit frustrating, especially when we just want... we're always talking about the consistency amongst decisions and penalties and whatnot.

Q: Sebastian, coming to you, now. If I've got my maths right, you're a four-time winner here at Suzuka and you've clinched a World Championship here as well? Is this the sort of place you're going to miss when you reitre?
Sebastian Vettel: Yes!

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