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Spanish GP: FIA Team Representatives Press Conference


Franz Tost, Andrea Stella, Frederic Vasseur and Mike Krack.

Mike, how are the vibes in the Aston Martin garage this weekend? Are people feeding off the energy in the crowd?
Mike Krack: Yes - but it's not only the garage. It's the whole circuit and the whole of Barcelona. Wherever you go, you see the green shirts. In front of our garage yesterday it was just amazing what happened there. And this is obviously translating into the whole team and yeah, it's just fantastic to see something like that.

Tell us a little about the car here. We've only had the one practice session but what are your initial thoughts?
MK: Well, for us, it wasn't a practice session, it was a test session because we had a lot of things to try. We have the tyres, we had a couple of aerodynamic rakes on and so there was a lot of work to do and we basically had just one run. So, I think it was important to get a feel for the old/new layout - some of us remember this layout - I think it's nice to be back on this one, and we have also seen a little bit the Barcelona-typical things that we knew from the past here, so all-in-all, as I said, for us it was a test session and the first look-and-see at the end. So, all good from that point of view, everything went smooth.

And what were the drivers saying about the new/old layout - if we can call it that?
MK: Well, I think every race driver wants to have fast corners and not these little, tiny chicanes, so both were happy, both are drivers that like high-speed corners, so they are both happy with how it changed.

So, today has been a test session, you were second in Monaco last time out, best result of the year so far. How close do you feel you are to winning a grand prix on merit.
MK: I think that is very difficult to say because it's such a relative competition that you are depending on the pace of others, you are depending on yourself, so I think it would be bold to say we will win this one, or that we are close to winning. We have to see. We have to be there at each opportunity that is coming and, if it comes, we have to be ready, and until then we have to work hard to keep ourselves in the position to be there. I will not make any predictions of when we're going to win a race.

And after what you learned in Monaco last weekend, are you going to encourage your strategists to be a little more aggressive in future races?
MK: If aggressive means gambling then the answer is clearly no. We are not gamblers, we are a data-driven team, we look at all the information we are having. So, if that is what you mean then the answer is clear.

Final one from me, you've got a new home, the team moved into the new factory this week. Tell us a little bit about that. What is the mood there and just how good is the new factory?
MK: It's fantastic - you should come and have a look - it's really, really nice. We moved in, as you said, last week. Not everything is ready yet, to be fair, but the first floor is full of people, a lot of smiles and the communication is much better. We have seen already after one day that you have a much better exchange between the people. You see different people that you have maybe not seen as often as before. So, it was a good first week and it will continue to be very good.

Is the migration complete? Is everybody in the new factory or is that process still happening.
MK: Well, for someone like me, it's easy. I pack a box, someone puts it in the new office, I go in the new office and plug in. So that is easy - but for production especially, with autoclaves, with machines, it is not a five-minute job. So this is all well-planned, so that we have no downtime. We have a simulator to move, so all these kind of things are planned well in advance and they will move over gradually.

Fred, Charles' home race last weekend, Carlos' home race this weekend. How do you think the support of the crowd affects a driver?
Frederic Vasseur: It's always nice to have the support from the fans. Sometimes you have to take care that it's not too much but I think it's always positive and the fans are always very nice and very dynamic and positive, so you can't complain about this, it's always a good one but I'm not sure at the end of the day when they put on the helmet that they are faster because we are at home.

You have a very different-looking car this weekend. What have the drivers said about it so far in FP1?
FV: The debrief is now, so it is difficult for me to know exactly what they say but I know the first feeling is good - but as Mike said before, it was a very intense session and we had to test the proto-tyres and we did three or four small runs of a couple of laps. Let's have a look around everything and we'll see over the weekend what is the situation.

How much of a departure are these sidepods in particular from the car philosophy that you had before?
FV: Yeah, it's a change for sure but it's not a new car also that we are making a step forward, we are opening some doors for the development for the future but it is not a complete change.

Final one from me. The driver silly season kicked-off prior to Monaco, we haven't had you in the press conference since then. You poured cold water on the Hamilton rumours. But can we talk about your two current drivers. Do you see any reason to change your current driver line-up.
FV: I think you asked me the same question one week ago and I told you that, so far, we have enough to do with the development of the car, that we have a lot to do on the technical side, and we'll speak about drivers a bit later.

Andrea, coming to you now, before we look at this weekend, can we discuss the recent signing of Rob Marshall? What will he bring to the team?
Andrea Stella: So, Rob will join the team obviously with a unique level of experience, knowhow, in terms of engineering and design of Formula 1 cars. He has also been instrumental in creating such a strong technical department at Red Bull. So, at the moment, we are just very pleased and excited that Rob is keen to join our journey to take McLaren to the front of the grid.

And is there anyone else on your shopping list - or is that it for now?
AS: I think the technical structure is well-set now and quite strong, so I would take one day off.

While we're talking technical matters, I think there has been a bit of a change back in Woking, in terms of how you're using the old McLaren factory from more than 20 years ago. Can you shed a little bit of light on that for us?
AS: Yes, I'm pleased to say the old factory has been repurposed to become the new McLaren Racing composite facility. This is actually on the final sprint, it will be completed in a couple of months, and we have also created... Well, first of all, let me say it's a remarkable project. So, you are invited to visit the McLaren Racing composite department as well. We have created some space at the MTC, which we will use for the heritage cars.

Let's bring it onto this weekend and the performance of the MCL60 here in Barcelona. What can you tell us so far?
AS: I can say what I've been saying for some time, that we remain realistic about the performance and the competitiveness of our car in the current specification. Barcelona has many long corners which, at the moment, are difficult to digest for our car. It helps, the fact that we have introduced some more high-speed content, which at the same time should help - but we would happy to be a Q3 contender and come out of this weekend with some points.

Final one from me, you were an engineer at Ferrari the last time we raced on this spec of the Barcelona track. How different is the challenge of the last two corners with these cars in 2023 compared with 2005, 2006?
AS: I think actually we go back to 2003 - like 20 years ago - the pole position lap has already been beaten today by a couple of seconds, so this generation of cars is much quicker. At the time, I think Formula 1 cars, they were like go-karts with a lot of power, a little bit of aerodynamic forces and very, very light cars. They were 200kg lighter than these cars. This generation of Formula 1 cars nowadays, like the second-last corner is easy-flat in all conditions. At the time it was a challenging corner. But they are much quicker even if they are 200kg heavier because of an enormous amount of downforce, much bigger tyres and much more grippy as well and still quite powerful engines. So, different challenges. I think those cars were a lot more temperamental, like go-karts. These cars are very stable, very quick. Yeah... I'm not sure. You should ask drivers really. Fernando might be able to answer - he's the only one.

Franz, thank you for waiting. Nyck de Vries, talk us through his first practice session here. Great to see him up towards the top.
Franz Tost: Nyck did also a very good job in Monaco and you know, he is getting more and more familiar with the car, with the team and, as I always say, nowadays, if rookies come into Formula 1, it's really difficult for them to learn everything so fast - because if you look at the first races, some of the tracks, they even don't know. Melbourne, for example, or Saudi Arabia, or Miami - and then you have a Sprint race like in Baku with Qualifying immediately after the first free practice - and that's not easy for the young drivers. The midfield is very close together, it's just hundredths of seconds difference and to perform well, you really have to get everything together, and I must say that Nyck did a really good job in Monaco and also this morning in the FP1 session. He showed a very good performance.

Check out our Friday gallery from Barcelona here.


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