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Austrian GP: FIA Drivers Press Conference


Group 1: Zhou Guanyu, Pierre Gasly, Fernando Alonso, Carlos Sainz and Logan Sargeant.

Q: Carlos, if we could start with you please. Can we throw it back to Canada first of all? How much of a boost was that race, after a difficult Saturday?
Carlos Sainz: I think it was a good boost for the whole team, mainly looking at the race pace after a couple of difficult races where we were struggling with race pace. Finally in Canada, we seemed to have good race pace. Also, the fact that we were going forward in the race and not going backwards, makes a bit of a difference also for the perception of things. We actually finished fourth and fifth, that is a very similar result to the other race weekends that we've had - but the perception, the way that we were on the race, the pace was definitely different, which was good news. Yeah, a boost of motivation for the team.

Q: You managed to control your tyre degradation very well during the race. How did you manage that?
CS: The same as any other race weekend! Just a lower deg circuit, which helps us for sure. It just shows that when you have a good race car, your tyre management is good. Also, the strategy is simpler, also it's easier to make the strategy work. So yeah, that's what we're focussing on. To make sure that we focus on the race pace, make sure we have more often the car of Canada, than the car of Barcelona, and that will help us in the races, move forwards, make our strategy more flexible - and obviously have more fun in the race.

Q: You went to Canada on the back of a Pirelli tyre test at Barcelona. I was wondering if you found anything in that test that helped you with tyre management in Canada?
CS: No, unfortunately - or fortunately for Pirelli - we were testing the new no-blankets tyres, which obviously, you cannot learn much or apply much for our situation this year. Obviously, I still prefer to run, still prefer to do the test. And there's always things that you can try with your driving, but it's not like in this test you can actually really test anything or put something in place for the race weekend.

Q: Okay, final one for me, Carlos, you're running upgrades this weekend in Spielberg, what are you expecting from them?
CS: Well, another step in the right direction. This is definitely the target. The team back in Maranello has done an incredible effort to bring them forward to this race. I cannot thank enough the people back in Maranello with the extra hours that everyone's put in to try and revert the situation and trying to put those extra minutes, extra hours of work to make these parts arrive. It's been a huge effort by everyone, and from here, I wanted to congratulate them and tell them that we're going to do our best to make them work well. And hopefully they're all worth it and we can be competitive this weekend.

Q: In terms of lap time?
CS: I'll tell you when I test them, and I can feel them.

Q: Pierre, coming to you. Some big news with regards to Alpine this week. A €200million investment in the team. In layman's terms, what does that mean for Alpine?
Pierre Gasly: What does that mean? Well, that means that we obviously got more investment. But what it means, I think, is just the vision of the team. Of Alpine, of the Renault Group, of the Formula 1 team, to expand, to improve for the future in Formula 1, and try to use the expertise of these people that are coming on board. Three big firms: Otro, RedBird and Maximum Efforts joining on board. And they've got really good expertise and also other sports: NFL NHL, in football, in many other disciplines that will be trying to use as much as we can to improve our strength.

Q: One of the investors is Hollywood star Ryan Reynolds. Are you a fan looking forward to meeting him?
PG: I must say I'm personally a fan of him and his work. I think is definitely one of my favourite actors. And yeah, definitely super-excited to meet him at some point during the season.

Q: Now, can we talk about qualifying? In Canada, you were baulked by the man on your right. It's a very short lap here in Austria: are we going to see more problems like that in qualifying here, and what can you as a driver do to prevent that?
PG: Stay away from Carlos! Nah, it's always tricky. Obviously in Canada it really impeded and had a pretty big impact on our whole race weekend. I think as a driver you always try to do your best. There are some tracks which are very easy to control the traffic, some others which are way more difficult. Montreal is one of these tracks which is tricky. Austria is going to be bad, and I think in this specific track, everyone, as a team from drivers to engineers to everyone that can help and support us inside the car to do a better job, will have to be on their top game. Because it's a short track, four kilometres, everybody's trying to get gaps. But yeah, then you don't want to impede anyone. I was on the other side in Barcelona with Carlos, then Carlos was the role reversed in Canada, and sometimes it does penalise your entire weekend: it's not only just Qualifying, but from the moment you start P17, at the back of the grid, it just changes the entire philosophy of your race. So yeah, it's going to be tricky but hopefully everyone's going to manage it in the best way they can.

Q: If you get a clean run this weekend, what's possible?
PG: I think, at the moment, we're trying to get consistently in the top eight. We are, like, just on the edge. Sometimes we're in the fight, closer to the top five, but I think it's trying to get a clean weekend, which we didn't have on my side for the last few races. So really, that's going to be the main focus. Obviously have a Sprint race, while will allow us to potentially score more points. A different format, it's going to be interesting. The package is working, we have pace in the car, we got speed, we've got a good race car on Sunday's as well - but we just need to have a clean run.

Q: Fernando, coming to you now. Aston Martin introduced a significant upgrade last time out in Montreal. This is a very different kind of race track, so, in terms of performance, what are you expecting?
Fernando Alonso: I don't know really. I think we have to see tomorrow in the free practice how the car feels, how competitive we can be this weekend. I think we had different performance in Barcelona and Canada, different feeling with the cars, so yeah, hopefully we are closer to a Canada kind of performance and try to deploy a little bit more of the package. Because in Canada, I think the weekend was very short, after the cancellation of FP1. So, it's going to be a very short weekend here again - only FP1 - but hopefully we can test a few things on the car.

Q: Now, you were nine seconds behind Max Verstappen in Canada. Do you feel the gap between Aston and Red Bull Racing is coming down? Or do you think that was track-specific?
FA: I don't know. I think we need to wait for different layouts, different circuits because, as I said, in Barcelona, just two weeks before Canada we were 55 seconds or one minute behind the leader. So, I think it was track-specific. It was a very good weekend for us, but I hope we can close that gap, yes.

Q: Okay, that's Red Bull. What about your battle with Ferrari and Mercedes? How do you see that playing out this weekend?
FA: Well, that's definitely more interesting for us. I think Red Bull is in their own league at the moment, this year. So, for us, it is important to score points with both cars every weekend and try to keep up the fight with Mercedes and Ferrari, which obviously is still hard to believe for us, that we are in this battle. When we started the season in Bahrain we were definitely not expecting to be up there, and now we are just enjoying every weekend and it's good to be in this battle.

Q: Zhou, coming to you. Since we last saw you, you've been enjoying Paris Fashion Week. Just tell us a little bit about that. Did you enjoy it?
Zhou Guanyu: Yeah, I do. Obviously, it kept me busy. I went there for a sponsor of mine, which is Dior. I think Pierre was there as well, the day before that, so yeah, had an enjoyable time over there, and seeing a few friends as well, and yeah, now back obviously to racing and hopefully can climb to where we left-off three weeks ago - because Canada for me was kind of one to forget, and try to learn from that.

Q: We'll come on to the on-track side of things in a minute. Just one more thing about your interest in fashion. Where did it come from - and in years to come, would you be interested in having, I don't know, your own label?
ZG: That's in the plan of maybe when I'm retiring - or Fernando's age maybe! Right now the main focus is obviously racing - but besides that I obviously have a high interest. My family, my mother, used to be one of the designers back in the day, so maybe I get that from her. So yeah, I always had a high interest, but obviously Formula 1 is a bigger platform for me to be a bit more myself, and that spills out into the fashions. So yeah, I'm happy to obviously design some cool stuff. To wear your own clothes, I think that's definitely the coolest thing that can happen.

Q: On the on-track side of things, you say Canada was a race to forget for you - but Valtteri finished in the points, backing up your points finish in Spain, the race before. Just how good have these last two races been for the team?
ZG: I think it's definitely a further step up. Like we said in Monaco. We have introduced this new package and it hasn't been upgraded since then but it's clearly worked much better in higher-speed tracks, even though in Montreal on a medium-low speed track it seems to be working in the right direction. And now hopefully that does bring us forward into a more competitive fight day, even though I think it's very close between us, Haas and the Williams, fighting behind for the Constructors' Championship - but we are closing the gap. And it's nice to see that both cars are able to fight at least in the point positions where, let's say, after Bahrain we seemed to be missing a little bit of pace. No, we were able just to find a bit, back to normal, fighting for the last two positions in the Top 10. So, it's a good step forward and we're looking forward to convert that into hopefully a double-points finish very soon together on track.

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