Group 1: Daniel Ricciardo, Pierre Gasly, Oscar Piastri, Carlos Sainz and Max Verstappen.
Daniel, it's good to see you. How does it feel to be back?
Daniel Ricciardo: Thanks, it's good to be back. It feels... I don't know. It doesn't feel that foreign, like it feels familiar. I guess it hasn't been that long. It's good. Very good. A lot of people are happy so that's good as well.
Has your return to Formula 1 come sooner than you expected?
DR: Yeah, for sure. But I think getting back into the Red Bull family this year, it brings back a lot of old feelings and things that I was used to growing up and being part of that team or the Junior Team when I was younger. I think one thing, it was always like be prepared, you never know what's going to happen. Let's say, I didn't expect to maybe be in the car in Budapest, for example, but you never know. Surprised, but maybe not that surprised.
Struck up your old friendship with Helmut Marko as well...
DR: Yeah. It's been good. I've enjoyed this year in general, just going to the races and as I say, being back in the Red Bull family, I think it's been a lot of fun. It also personally gave me some time away, which I felt was definitely needed, and I probably expected the year off. Obviously I haven't got the whole year but I've actually felt like I've had enough time. It fuelled me, energised me and I'm definitely ready to go again.
What is the coolest thing you've done while sitting out the first six months?
DR: Oh, it was just like little luxuries, like having a bit more time to just not be on a plane every few days. But also, it's funny how used to that kind of cadence you get, so as much as it was nice to maybe spend a bit more time at home or do some things with friends - I went to a buddy's bachelor party, which I don't think I've ever done. So that was cool. It was in a little place called Vegas as well. These are things you don't...
Pierre Gasly: We want to see the pictures.
DR: I'll show you later. But anyway, that was just some fun things but it's just more having a little bit more, I guess, free time. But that being said, I feel like I got my fix. And we're back and I'm happy to be back.
Now we're told that you got up to speed very quickly, last week, driving the Red Bull at the Pirelli test. What are your expectations with AlphaTauri?
DR: Well, the car I drove a week ago was a pleasure, for sure, and that was something, for me, that was just so nice to get back into a car again. And it was the last box I kind of needed to tick to just make sure that this is what I truly want. I quickly got into that flow, so that was good. I obviously know that this weekend and now for the rest of the season it's a different car and for sure, with some different challenges but I'm just going to get out there, not think too much about it, drive, and then go from there and just take some steps forward after that.
What are you doing about the physio situation in the team because your old guy Michael Italiano is now working with Yuki. So what happens? Are you sharing Michael or have you got a new guy coming?
DR: So I'm lone wolf. Lone wolf, is that what you call it? I've got Pyry [Salmela] helping me out. You might know him as Piru, Piry, I don't know, but I got the right pronunciation. So Pyry is going to just help out on race weekends just to kind of make the flow of the weekend go a little smoother. But yeah, like a lot of things, in this time off... I always said if I come back to the sport, I want to do things a little differently. I also wanted to find that self-motivation and make sure that... I wanted it to come from me, you know what I mean? The training, all of it, the mind-set, I wanted to get back into the sport, because it's truly coming from me and what my heart desires. So I've been doing it myself this year and I've got the answers I wanted.
Oscar, can we come to you now? It is the first time since 2013 that we've had two Aussies on the grid. Can we get your reaction to the news that he's back?
Oscar Piastri: Yeah, very happy for him to be back. I remember watching when it was two Aussies last time around. So it's very, very cool. We're from a long way away and it's pretty rare to have two of us at the same time. So from a country with such a small population relative to Europe. It's very, very cool to have two of us on the big stage.
DR: I was asking how old he was when he was watching 10 years ago. So he was 12.
OP: Yeah, I was 12.
DR: It's crazy.
Now, Oscar, you come here on the back of a very strong result at Silverstone. You finished fourth, so close to a P3 finish as well. Do you look back on that race with a sense of satisfaction or frustration?
OP: Mostly satisfaction. Compared to where we had been at points during the season, to be disappointed with fourth place seemed a little bit harsh but without that Safety Car, there's always a question of what could have been, but I was just super happy to be back towards the front and for the whole team to be genuinely there on merit was very refreshing and a nice reward for our hard work, I think. Now we've got to try and maintain that and try and fight towards the front again. So yeah, I was thinking there might be a trophy coming my way for quite a lot of that race but hopefully I've got some more chances.
Now, you've put in some strong performances this year already. With this upgraded McLaren, are you the most comfortable you've been in Formula 1?
OP: Yes and no. I think the car is obviously a fair bit quicker than what we had at the start of the season. I think it still has quite similar strengths and weaknesses that we've started to address but still need some more work. So the car doesn't feel massively different. It's not like it's a completely different animal to drive now. So we'll have our strong tracks. I think Silverstone with all the high-speed corners suited us quite nicely. Here is obviously a much lower-speed circuit so we'll see how we go. I think we will try and be optimistic, that we can stay more towards the front but whether we'll be fighting for a podium again, I'm not quite sure.
Max coming to you now. Can we just get a word on your former teammate being back and of course, replacing your fellow countrymen, Nyck de Vries?
Max Verstappen: Yeah, I spoke already quite a bit with Daniel last week. I could see he was very excited, also after driving our car. So yeah, of course, it's great to have Daniel back on the grid and within the family. Of course, on the other side, I'm also good friends with Nyck, so it's also sad to see him go but unfortunately that's also how this world works. I don't think there are any hard feelings between the drivers, that's just how it goes. But yeah, you have to move on. There are a lot of other opportunities out there. It's not only Formula 1 in this world of racing. So I'm sure everyone will land back on their feet like normal and yeah, you move on. And now the opportunity is here with Daniel again. He had his little reset, I think including Vegas, so I think he's ready to go again.
And Max, let's talk records now; the record for 12 consecutive wins has stood for 35 years. Who or what can stop you guys from achieving that this weekend?
MV: I don't know. I'm honestly not really thinking about that. I'm just here to have a good weekend. Of course, I will try to win. I'm not going into this weekend thinking we can win 12 races in a row. So yeah. If we win, that means of course we break that record, but it's more important that we win.
And what about the upgrades you're running this weekend?
MV: They look good.
What does the sim...
MV: No, no. Normally it makes the car a bit faster, but it also looks nice.
What does the sim tell you? Where do you think it's going to improve?
MV: In the corners... Mainly.
Should these guys be worried? I mean, it's not like you've been slow so far this year.
MV: Everyone of course always tries to improve the car, right? So that's also what we are trying to do.
Carlos, it's a bit of a golden age for Spanish sport at the minute. First, Jon Rahm wins the Masters a few months back then Carlos Alcaraz wins Wimbledon last weekend. Are you feeling the pressure?
MV: Of winning Wimbledon?
Carlos Sainz: Winning Wimbledon? For sure not! No, just proud, I guess proud for my country. We seem to have this relatively small population for a country like Spain, but we still seem to produce some good athletes out there, since Rafa, Fernando, the basketball team is always good, the football team is always good. We seem to be doing well in sports and now with golf, tennis also, again with Alcaraz. It's a good time to be Spanish and to follow sports because you have a lot of fun on the TV watching every Sunday, someone wins or someone is doing well or there is someone to support and be excited about and yeah, just proud of my country and the athletes we produce.
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