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Canadian GP: FIA Drivers Press Conference


Group 1: Valtteri Bottas, Fernando Alonso, Charles Leclerc, Oscar Piastri and Alex Albon.

Oscar, why don't we start with you? Let's throw it back to Spain. You said on Sunday night that it had been a dose of reality for the team. After a competitive Saturday, do you now understand why you struggled so much in the race?
Oscar Piastri: Yeah, I think so. I think even before the race happened, or at the race, we knew what our limitations were going to be. And yeah, Sunday proved to be correct in what we thought would happen. So yeah, I think we understand where we need to work and where we need to improve, and now it's just about delivering on that.

Now, talking of work, you have been busy since that race, testing in Hungary last week. How was that?
OP: It was nice. Another day in an F1 car is always a good day.

And how different did it feel in an F1 car compared to an F2 car?
OP: Well, I haven't been to Budapest in an F2 car either. It had been a while since I'd been there. But no, cool track in an F1 car, especially with a lot of high-speed corners to really feel the limits of an F1 car. So yeah, it was a fun day out.

Bring it onto this weekend then, your first Canadian Grand Prix. It's a tricky track, this one. Tell us about the preparations on the sim?
OP: Yeah, I think pretty normal, to be honest, nothing too much more. I've played the track when I was growing up on the F1 video games. So yeah, I'm looking forward to it. It looks cool. It looks quite bumpy and a bit dusty. And obviously a lot of weather hanging around. So we'll see how it goes. But I'm looking forward to getting out there.

Final one for me. For cricket fans out there, The Ashes start tomorrow in the UK. England against Australia. Very quickly: are you looking forward to having a good beating by the Poms?
OP: I was going to say the exact same thing back. No, looking forward to it, should be good. I'll try and watch it where I can obviously. It's a bit of a shame all the F1 races clash with all the games, but I'm looking forward to seeing Australia smash you guys.

It's going to be good. And good luck this weekend. Charles, coming to you now. Before we talk Formula 1, can we just throw it back to last weekend? You were at Le Mans for a historic victory for Ferrari at the 24 hours. Just tell us about the weekend, and whether you ever see yourself driving in that race?
Charles Leclerc: I've said it many times now, I think it's an incredible race and of course I would love to participate one day. I don't know when, but I would love to. It was incredible. It was the first time for me attending the race. Obviously, it couldn't have ended up better, with Ferrari winning. But just the whole event is crazy. By night, the first six hours were crazy with the weather too, and rain, no rain. So it was very, very exciting. And I think the last time I went to see a race as a spectator was a very, very long time ago, too. So it was good.

Did you stay up all night?
CL: Until 4.30 in the morning, I slept like four hours. So it was okay.

Wow, that's commitment. Fernando, do you think he should do it?
Fernando Alonso: Yes, why not?

It'd be good. Let's bring it back to Formula 1. What can we expect from you and Ferrari this weekend, because you're coming off the back of a difficult weekend in Spain?
CL: Yeah, it was a very difficult weekend for me especially. On this track we don't have anything new, so I don't think we'll have any miracles, but we need to just try and maximise our package, understand more this package, the way we should set up the car in order to maximise it, as in Spain we were quite easily off the window and then we were losing quite a lot of performance. So we've learnt a lot. And I'm pretty sure we'll be in a better place for this weekend. But I don't think it will be a huge step forward.

When you got the car back to Maranello, did you discover a problem from Saturday?
CL: No, no, we didn't.

No issue, OK. What about this weekend then? Great race last year from the back to fifth. I know you've got nothing new but what are you hoping for?
CL: Well, last year we were in a very different situation and again, I think we expect Aston Martin to be very strong this weekend. We expect Red Bull to be very strong this weekend. We struggle to understand exactly where Mercedes will be compared to us. But again, we have to focus on ourselves and try to maximise our package. It's a very challenging track, with the weather, also, we don't really know which side it is going to go. So yeah, we'll just focus on ourselves and see what we can do.

All right. Best of luck. Fernando, coming to you now. So Ferrari think Aston Martin are going to be strong this weekend. What do you think?
FA: Let's see, I think it should be a good weekend. But you never know until you hit the track. We also had expectations in Barcelona and we didn't perform in that race. So yeah, let's see. We have a couple of new parts in the car as well for this race, so depending on the weather, we will try to test them and validate them. And yeah, hopefully we can be a little bit more competitive than Barcelona.

What are you expecting from the upgrades?
FA: Always trying to improve a little bit. Our car has been a completely new project for Aston Martin, a completely new philosophy, a new concept of how the car worked. And, yeah, we've been discovering things at every race this year. And I think it's an optimisation of the package, what we try to do, and we've been constantly bringing new parts to the races and this is another step forward and more to come in the future.

Lawrence Stroll said this week that he'd like to see both of his cars on the podium here. How likely is that?
FA: You never know. But it is an aggressive target for the weekend. But we know Lawrence, you know, the ambition of him is super high, always. And we will try to make him happy and proud in the home Grand Prix.

Fernando, you've won this race before. You started on the front row last year. What is the secret of success here at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve?
FA: I think you need to have, obviously, confidence in the car. It's a semi-street circuit, so you get very close to the walls and you need to ride the kerbs as well. Very aggressive, very bumpy circuit. Weather normally plays a big factor here, as it will do again this weekend. And get some experience, it's always good. It's the 17th or 18th Canadian Grand Prix, so it always helps.

All right, best of luck. Thank you, Fernando. Alex, coming to you now. Now, you said in Spain that the Barcelona track layout left Williams exposed. What do you think about this weekend?
Alex Albon: I kind of like these kinds of circuits. I do feel there's a little bit more in terms of the ride. Maybe not so much just pure downforce on the car. There's a bit more to it. The weather... So, we've got some upgrades coming this weekend, hopefully, in some ways we want it to be dry just to see what they do. But as I said, it does seem like a bit more of a characterful track than Barcelona.

What are you expecting from the upgrades? Have you driven them on the simulator?
AA: Yeah, we've been pretty hard at work the last couple of weeks. You know, nothing too big actually, balance-wise. It feels quite similar. It's more just a general downforce difference. We've done a good job. I do think it's going to put us more into the fight with the midfield. Something which we've been falling away a little bit from the last few races, so hopefully you can just get us back into the fighting area for points.

All right. Best of luck with that. Thank you, Alex. Valtteri, thank you for waiting. Before we talk on track a question regarding off track, because James Key is going to be joining Alfa Romeo as technical director in September. Can we get your reaction to that news, please?
Valtteri Bottas: I think James is obviously very welcome to the team. He's got lots of experience from different teams before, been in different situations. So yeah, I think he's going to be a good addition for us and looking forward to starting to work with him.

And in terms of facilities, does Alfa Romeo/Sauber have everything it needs in Hinwil? Is it just a question of brainpower now?
VB: The basic things are there. There's always room for improvements and you could always get the latest machinery for every single department. So I think there's still work going on to see where to invest, when to invest, because there's a clear long-term plan. But then in the end, it's also about human power, like you said, so we're getting there step by step, but it is a project.

Alright, and what can we expect from you and Alfa Romeo this weekend? You have four podiums at this track. Great drive to P7 as well last year. What about 2023?
VB: Hopefully points. I think that's a realistic target. We had a car in Barcelona to be in the top 10. So let's see how we go here. Very different track, but we try the best and we're here to fight for points.


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