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Abu Dhabi GP: FIA Drivers Press Conference


Group 1: Yuki Tsunoda, Fernando Alonso, Sebastian Vettel, Lewis Hamilton and Nicholas Latifi.

Q: Sebastian, if we could start with you, please. The moment has arrived, your last weekend as a Formula 1 driver? How are you feeling at this stage?
Sebastian Vettel: I don't know. Maybe I should ask Fernando, he went through it already! He will go through it again, I guess, at some point. But yeah, I feel okay. I mean, obviously, I guess after so many years and races, there's the routine of Thursday. But I think it's difficult in a way to grasp but I'm aware of what's happening and I'm happy about it, as far as I can be.

Q: Are emotions going to be running high when you're inside the car?
SV: I will see. I guess at some point it will be a little bit different. It does feel a little bit different already today, even though, like I said, a lot of it is routine. But yeah, how much and how it will be I don't know yet. I guess you have to ask me again. If you catch me.

Q: I'm sure we will. It seems trite to ask only one question about the last 17 years of your life. But if you have one abiding memory from your Formula 1 career, what is it?
SV: I don't think it works that way. I don't think it's fair to pick one. So, I obviously can't speak for an hour now, and I don't really want to but I think I've been lucky that there's been so many moments to choose from. Yeah, impossible to remember everything after so many years. I guess the firsts, in a way, always stand out. But yeah, I think every time had its highlights. There were its moment, and I also enjoy the last two years, even though from a sporting point of view, maybe they weren't really a highlight. There was nothing to celebrate, no success in this regard. Still, I think, I learned a lot. I think I progressed, I grew and had a good time together with a team. We didn't get the reward on track but still, I don't think it's fair to pick only one race or one moment.

Q: Lewis, if I could come to you, next, please. When you think of the battles you've had with Sebastian over the years, what comes to mind?
Lewis Hamilton: When I think of Seb... he was a bit of a nuisance back then!

SV: I'm actually quite sorry... it's your answer but I think Baku wasn't a great moment, because what I did wasn't right. But actually from that moment onwards...

LH: ...Our friendship got better!

SV: Yeah, a lot better. So I don't want that moment to... not happen, if you see what I mean!

LH: I agree. We always had such great battles, honestly, and I was just thinking, most drivers are coming back. He's come back [Alonso], you're probably going to come back. We're seeing other drivers coming back, so I'm sitting here accepting, yes, it's your last race... but... He'll be back. Formula 1 has a way of sucking you back in. We've noticed that from so many other drivers. No?

SV: Maybe we can make a deal. We'll speak outside, when you want to get away, maybe I want to come back!

LH: And just swap. Alternate.

Q: Lewis, let's talk about Mercedes now. You guys were extremely quick in Brazil. Do you think you can repeat that level of performance here?
LH: Who knows? We are still improving the car. We don't believe that this track will necessarily be our strongest. We think it's suited to the others a little bit better, but I won't know 'til I get out there, to be honest. I hope that it's like the last race.

Q: Final one from me. I know how much you're into statistics, but this is your 200th race with Mercedes, how time flies?
LH: Yeah. I was just thinking of the first race we had here in 2009, which I think Seb... actually it was one of the races we were competing in again, which Seb won. But, yeah, it's been an amazing journey, one that I'm incredibly honoured to have been on with Mercedes. And it's, I think, it's one of the longest standing drivers with a team? So, proud of that. Shows loyalty continues to be at the core of one of the many pillars of the values that we have as a team and looking forward to extending.

Q: Fernando, you too, have enjoyed many great battles with the man on your left. What will you miss about Sebastian?
Fernando Alonso: Yeah, I mean, it's going to be strange to don't have him in next year and the first race. But yeah, I mean, we share, as you said, so many things. Over the last 15 years, sometimes we fought for championships, sometimes for seven places, even in Japan to the finish line, and we still obviously always enjoy every single battle and, and respect each other as much as we could. So yeah, I think my career is going to be linked to Sebastian in a way because we fought for many great things and in the best seasons of our life, probably, and even though it was on his side, the outcome always. I think it's going be very linked, our two names - or my name in Sebastian's career, and vice versa.

Q: Has he given you any tips about life at Aston Martin?
FA: No, not yet. I will ask on Sunday evening.

Q: Let's talk about Alpine you had tremendous pace in Brazil, can you carry that momentum on here?
FA: Let's see. I think it has been up and down a little bit for us in terms of performance, but also reliability has been our weakest point. So, let's see if we can finish the season on a high and with a good result here. About how competitive we can be, I don't think that we can repeat the Brazil performance. I don't think that we will be that close to the top three but hopefully if we are in front of the midfield that's already something for us, so that's the target ,finishing the race with a good result and yeah enjoy every single lap on Sunday.

Q: You're not leaving Formula 1 but you are moving on from Alpine. How do you look back on your two years with the team?
FA: Great obviously, coming back to the sport is never a guarantee that you will be okay and competitive and you still enjoy everything in Formula 1. So I had some concerns, obviously, two years ago, when I did the demo here, before the Young Driver test in 2020 and yeah, I think last year it was not maybe 100% happy with the performance and with how the season went. This year, I'm much more happy with the car and with the performance itself and much more I think ready for the next challenge. So, you cannot underestimate coming back to the sport - in case Seb wants some advice - but you need a few races or even one full season to feel 100 per cent again and is what happened to me but I'm happy now that I'm I feel a very good level.

Q: Yuki coming to you now. You had a brilliant weekend here in Abu Dhabi last year. How difficult is it going to be to repeat that performance this time around?
Yuki Tsunoda: Yeah, this year, consistently, we're having up and down season so far, so could be good. Like last year. But yeah, see how it goes. In Brazil, wasn't as good as what I wanted. So obviously, I wish, hopefully, I can continue like the result I had last year which was best results for me. So having good memories, so it's already good start. So, see how it goes.

Q: Now this is the end of your second season in Formula 1. In what areas do you feel you've progressed?
YT: For me, I think I would say in general: physical side; mentality side and driving side. I think overall, I'm pretty happy, especially I'll say, now I'm feeling relaxed in the race week, especially Thursday, Friday, which I didn't know how to approach and I was stressing consistently, especially last year, rushing everything. That makes a little bit to stress and can be frustrating, and made it a little bit difficult by myself. But now I can kind of be relaxing and I know how to adapt to any situation. So, feeling confidence, good confidence and anything that happens, like the things I didn't expect, still, I know how to handle it. So yeah, I think overall, this year, I'm pretty happy about the how I progressed, every race. And yeah, I think hopefully I can continue or even more, this momentum. And also next year as well.

Q: Nicky, thank you for waiting. Of course it is your last race weekend in Formula 1 at least for now. How are you feeling coming into the weekend?
Nicholas Latifi: Yeah, there's obviously a range of different emotions. I mean, for sure, when I found out the news I wasn't going to be continuing with the team, there was six races to go, so I went in with the approach to enjoy each opportunity, try to make the most of it, and try to enjoy as much as I can and not sweat or stress about the little stuff. Or what seems like the little stuff in hindsight, that's been difficult to deal with throughout the season. And obviously now, we've arrived at the last race which, on the one hand felt like it was very slowly approaching but on the other hand, quite quickly, so a bit of a weird position. Coming into the race, for sure it's a bit sad, and then disappointing. I mean, I would love to continue on in Formula 1. I mean, that's my goal. That's where I want to be. But it's looking obviously, like, it's not going to be the case. So, you know, I'm grateful for the opportunity that I've had these three years, I know the very privileged position I've been in. Many drivers would kill to drive one race, let alone, three years in F1, so I'm very grateful for that and just looking to enjoy it as much as I can.

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