Group 1: Franz Tost, Christian Horner and Toto Wolff.
Franz can we start with you. You've been creating the headlines in the last week or so because you've announced that you're going to step down as team principal of AlphaTauri. Why are you stopping?
Franz Tost: It's time to go. 67 years. I think this is the time where I will hand it over to some other people who can do a much better job than me. It's the correct way, I think, to do it, and I am more than looking forward to when Peter Bayer and Laurent Mekies will take over the lead for the team.
The sport will miss you. What will you miss about the sport?
FT: I don't know whether the sport misses me. I will, of course, miss Formula 1. I love Formula 1 but you never know: maybe I go karting; or maybe I will start once more racing. You never know when you get old. Old life crisis - instead of the mid-life crisis at my age - whatever will come into my head, but it will not be boring, believe me.
Now, how do you reflect on the last 18 years? And specifically, you've had a lot of young drivers come through your doors. Tell us about the highs and the lows.
FT: I think, you know, when Dietrich Mateschitz decided to buy the Minardi team, he said one of the main pillars is to educate the young Red Bull drivers, and this is what the team did. Looking back, there were some very high-skilled drivers like Sebastian Vettel, then, of course, Verstappen. I know they won many races, championships and so on - but there are also some other drivers, they were really fast, like Carlos Sainz, like Pierre Gasly, Ricciardo, Daniel, and now Yuki Tsunoda. And there are a couple of drivers, they really improved a lot in the time and they were in our team and they did a very professional job, they developed themselves and that's good to see.
Give us a name Franz. Who is the fastest driver you've worked with at AlphaTauri/Toro Rosso?
FT: Yeah, of course it's easy to say. I could say now Max Verstappen; I could say Sebastian Vettel. They were the fastest because otherwise they wouldn't have won so many races and championships - but there were also other drivers, they were not much slower but maybe they were at the wrong time in the wrong team or whatever - but these two are the best, of course.
The last time you were in this press conference, in Saudi Arabia, you told us that you no longer trusted your engineers. Given the progress the team seems to have made with the car since then, do you still abide by that?
FT: The person I didn't trust anymore is out, as you can imagine, and the others I trust. Totally easy. And they do a good job.
And what's possible this weekend Franz?
FT: After FP1 I must say we are struggling. There's a lot of work the engineers have to do. We were too slow, for whatever reason. And hopefully we can catch up.
Christian, coming to you. You've worked with Franz for many years. Can you tell us about his contribution to Red Bull's journey in Formula 1?
Christian Horner: Well, it's been huge. I mean, as you know, as Franz has said, he's worked with and groomed a lot of young drivers for us and any driver that could, you know, could survive a 'Tosting' was only ever going to survive at Red Bull Racing. So, he did a wonderful job with the young drivers: very disciplined; would make them all go go-karting; be in the gym. Any day wasted... I think one of his famous mottos: any day not at a racetrack is a day wasted in your life. And that included Christmas and probably New Year's Eve! So, he's contributed such a huge amount. And it's only understandable that he thinks it's time to perhaps back-off a little bit, but, the contribution that he's made with Toro Rosso and then of course, AlphaTauri, in developing and nurturing this young talent. He's done an absolute first class job in that respect for us.
And let's bring it on to Miami for you, I see that Daniel Ricardo has had you doing a 'shooey' already.
CH: Yeah, you would have thought he'd given them up by now, but it was for the Wings for Life charity last night, and somebody very kindly donated $15,000 to drink out of his shoe. And you know, it's such a good charity that you couldn't refuse it. Thankfully, it was a new shoe, whereas the previous one I had was out of a very sweaty boot, which thankfully it wasn't last night.
Now, you guys are enjoying an incredible period of dominance this year. Four races, four wins, two a-piece for each of your drivers. Can Checo give Max a season-long challenge this season? And if so, what's changed in him this year compared to the previous two that he's been at the team?
CH: Checo's had a fantastic start to the season: two victories so far. The Sprint race victory as well. And you know, obviously a second place and a fifth place as well. So, he's started the season stronger than he's ever done. And I think that, as we all know, confidence is a big thing in in any sport and Checo's confidence is sky high, and this Championship is going to be a marathon and there'll be highs and lows to it along the way, I'm sure but, his challenge, and the challenge for both drivers is maintaining the consistency, and for sure we're going to see these guys (Mercedes) turn up and Ferrari at some point, so it won't just be about our drivers.
We get that his confidence is sky high. But is he doing anything different with the car?
CH: Not especially, I think certain circuits have always suited him. I mean, street circuits, he's always excelled at and as we move back into Europe, some of the more classic circuits, that's where I think he's going to need to take this and carry this confidence, which I believe he absolutely, absolutely can do - but he's not driving particularly differently. I think this is his third year in the team, he's settled, he understands obviously how everything works and yeah, he's in a good headspace right now.
You've just given a nod to Mercedes. You think they could catch-up maybe later in the year? Ferrari took pole position last weekend. Do you think Ferrari specifically at this race are going to give you a closer challenge?
CH: We think Ferrari will be very quick. I think this circuit will suit their energy, particularly in qualifying, for example, I think that this new surface is going to be interesting to see how that plays out in the race. And of course, I think there's a big threat of rain either tomorrow, it might linger until Sunday and that, on this surface could create a complete lottery. So, there's an awful lot of variables but I think Ferrari, obviously, looking reasonably quick; Toto's drivers at the end of the session, they put in strong times as well. So, it's going to be interesting to see how the weekend unfolds.
Final one from me. A lot has been made about the lack of overtaking last weekend in Baku since the race. What's your take on that?
CH: It's a tricky one. The DRS got cut by 100m and maybe it just went a little too far. Maybe it needed to bring it back, maybe 50m, because it was very static throughout the grid when you looked at it. So yes, it was surprising that a track that's usually relatively straightforward to pass that, suddenly did become much harder and maybe that that reduced DRS zone played a played a factor in that.
Toto coming to you, just taking up that point about Baku. Do you think the sport needs to avoid knee jerk reactions after a race like that?
Toto Wolff: Well, first of all, I want to say a word about Franz. Because we are obviously both Austrians but Franz was always... so we have a past actually where we started racing was on the old Osterreichring, both instructors in the same racing school - Walter Lechner Racing School - obviously Franz was there 45 years before me! But we actually missed each other just by a bit, by a few years. So, we've gone a long way and the career he has had. (to Franz) are you the longest standing or are (to Christian) you the longest standing team principal? (to Christian) Okay. So, you're next in line to quit - would make life easier! No, that's amazing, an amazing career. There is not many of us who have been there for quite some time, so congratulations for everything you've achieved.
FT: Thank you.
TW: Knee jerk reaction. Yeah, in this sport, we tend to be manic depressive, from exuberance to depression when things are going well, then it's great, then we have a race that's not so great and obviously then we talk about it. Many things have been taken out of context though, to create headlines. And I think we just need to see whether we have a pattern that continues: whether overtaking is more difficult or not? Are the 20 cars in a second? Is that the right thing to do to have or not? And are we creating too much downforce through the floor? All that for me hasn't got the right answer. So, we need to find a baseline over the next few races, see whether there's something which we can improve. Like Christian said, the 100m DRS could have made a big difference, we shall see.
Talk to us about car performance. The W14 seems to have fluctuated, let's say more, over the last few races. George on the front row in Melbourne, then knocked out in Q2 in Baku and then, as Christian's just said, very quick at the end of FP1 here in Miami. How do you explain that to us?
TW: I think the car has some goodness, it's just very tricky to unlock it from a setup point of view and also driving it. If the drivers have confidence, both of them, the car can go quick but it's on a razor's edge and when we are a little bit beyond it, then the car is really difficult. It's unpredictable, it steps out under braking, understeers. I mean, it does the whole thing. And this morning, we seem to be in a sweet spot of the car, though. I don't think that you can extrapolate from this result, we run later than everybody else. But at least it looks more encouraging than Baku.
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