Group 1: Otmar Szafnauer, Andrea Stella and Franz Tost.
Franz, can we start with you please. The biggest news story coming into the weekend was the return of Daniel Ricciardo to AlphaTauri. How's he settling in?
Franz Tost: Very good. He came on Friday to the factory. We had a very emotional comeback for him. It was nice to see him once more in our team, because as you know he was driving for us two years, and we are very happy he is back.
He's 10 years older, he has eight grand prix victories to his name, but other than that how do you feel he's changed as a person and maybe as a driver as well?
FT: How much he has changed as a driver I can tell you after a few grands prix. As a person, of course he is now more matured and I must say that he was always a very friendly person, we had a very good relationship in the past and I think that this will also be the case now. He is a friendly person, a good character and I'm really happy we have him in the team.
How is Yuki relishing having a new team-mate alongside him?
FT: Yuki is open to this, and although Yuki had a good relationship with Pierre Gasly as well as with Nyck De Vries, I think that there will be no friction between him and Daniel Ricciardo: both of them want to be fastest, yes? That's usual in Formula 1, and we will see how this interesting game will end.
Can we have a word on Nyck De Vries? What is it about his performances in the opening ten races that wasn't hitting the mark?
FT: This was also a very emotional decision, because we have a really good relationship with Nyck, I just spoke with him on the telephone last week, and he didn't have an easy time with us. First of all, as a rookie - and this is generally for rookies, also for the future, the first half of the season is not so easy because they are racing at many race tracks which they don't know, like Melbourne, Miami, Saudi Arabia. Then they come to Baku, where it's a Sprint race, that means it's only FP1 and then it's already the qualifying. That means, nowadays, if a young driver comes to Formula 1, he really has to be prepared in the best possible way, which for me means at least 5-6,000km of testing, private testing with an old car. Like Alpine did it with Piastri, this is the way how to go. Coming back now to Nyck, it was difficult for him, also our car was not so competitive, and if a car is not so good, it's even more complicated. I expected a much better performance in Austria and in Silverstone because both of these tracks, Nyck knew quite well - but the performance didn't come up and we decided to change him. Also, thinking to the second half of the season where he doesn't know Singapore, Japan, Mexico, Austin and Qatar, which would not have made it quite easy. Now, with Ricciardo we have an experienced driver in there, which also helps us to develop the car, to find out better where are the deficiencies of the car and hopefully to improve the performance of the car.
Let's talk about performance quickly. You had upgrades on the car at Silverestone, further upgrades here at the Hungaroring, what are your hopes for the weekend ahead?
FT: The hopes are that at least one car is in Qualifying 3 and the hopes are that these upgrades work as expected, as the aero group calculated in the wind tunnel and CFD. But you know, decisive is always the lap-time and I hope that we made a step forwards with these upgrades.
Andrea, coming to you now. The MCL60 was incredibly fast at Silverstone. You scored 30 points. Just how important was that race result for McLaren?
Andrea Stella: It's obviously a bit of a milestone in our journey. It's important for McLaren. It's important for the people that work very hard to develop and deliver these upgrades, and for our fans that finally could cheer a good result and a McLaren on the podium. But, having said that, it doesn't really change what we are doing. It's... as I keep saying... it's all about working harder to deliver upgrades to the car and then let the results come to you and try to have these as regular as possible.
You talk about the work that everybody is doing in the factory. Did that result in some way justify the changes that you've made to the technical team in the last few months?
AS: I wouldn't use the word 'justification'. I would say that, by having enabled some conditions, especially when it comes... I would remark the aerodynamic development, we have definitely accelerated the development of the car, and this has allowed us to take this performance step and, as we know, we have also taken the opportunity to reorganise, from a functional point of view, the technical department, identifying various areas in which we wanted to have focus and in which we wanted to have clear leadership. So, definitely an important change which has - kind of - enabled the talent that was already available at McLaren.
So second fastest car at Silverstone. Will that pace translate here at the Hungaroring?
AS: I think what we saw in Austria, and in Great Britain comes with some premium. So, it's not only the performance of the car, we took benefit of the track layout, high-speed corners, cold conditions. So, here in Hungary, I think we are much more realistic, because of the track layout, because it will be a hot Sunday. We'll see in qualifying what the weather will do. For here in Hungary, we will be happy with being a solid contender for points, which already means that you are in condition to fight Aston Martin, Ferrari, Mercedes, leaving Red Bull alone. I hear Franz saying 'we want to be a Q3 contender', so it's tough. So, we will be happy to be a solid points contender.
Now it was a fantastic race by Lando Norris at Silverstone. But can I ask you about Oscar Piastri? So close to his first podium. Do you understand some of the frustrations he had after that Grand Prix?
AS: Well, I think we all understand because he definitely deserved to be on the podium. And it was just for the unfortunate timing of the Safety Car that he couldn't achieve it. I think, for Oscar, while we see this peak in his result, actually, for us is just confirmation of his trajectory. If we go back even to Bahrain, we were already talking about his progress from session to session, and from testing to the first race as well. I think this is just capitalising on this gradient that seems to be so strong and consistent for Oscar.
After two difficult seasons with Daniel Ricciardo, how has Oscar lifted his side of the garage?
AS: Well, the side of the garage, they kept working in the way with the best practice, with the attention that they've had in the previous years. But definitely, it's important from an engineering point of view that you learn as much as possible, having worked with different drivers, having gone through highs and lows. What's important in this sport is that every day you are better than yesterday. So, even in terms of the engineering that supported Daniel and now is supporting Oscar, there's definitely been quite a lot of learning and self-criticism, in a way, which is the way that you actually cash-in the learning from experience.
Andrea, can we just get a word or two from you on the return of Daniel Ricciardo to the grid this weekend. What are your thoughts on that?
AS: Well, actually, I find it quite exciting and interesting. You know, Daniel is, first of all, one of the most popular drivers. Even when he was not driving, we could see, anytime he was on television, you could hear the crowd cheering, so that's good news, I think, for Formula 1 in general. We at McLaren, we left with a very good relationship. We love Daniel. So we definitely support him and we wish him all the best.
Andrea, final one from me. McLaren was involved in the FIA's spray guard test at Silverstone last week. How do you feel it went?
AS: So, first of all, let me remark how important it is that the FIA has taken the initiative to look at how we can improve the situation with the visibility associated with the spray. So that's, I would say, a high priority topic in the agenda for motorsport. And therefore, we welcome this initiative and we're happy to support the FIA. It looks like we could acquire quite a lot of data that were important to validate the models, because you do a lot of the design based on the development models, especially computer simulation and these days, I think, are invaluable in terms of being able, in the future, to use these tools to fine-tune the design of these devices. And I'm sure through the practicality of the tests, you could learn also, like, can these devices stay all the time on? What is the implication for pit stops, and so on. So, a very important step in trying to improve the situation with the spray.
Otmar, thank you for waiting, coming to you now. Can we start by talking about management changes? There's been a fair bit going on at Alpine, Bruno Famin in coming as vice president of motorsport, then there's a new CEO of the Alpine brand as well. How is all that impacting the Formula 1 team and your management of it?
Otmar Szafnauer: So, I'll start with my management of it: shouldn't have an impact whatsoever. I've been there for about a year and a half now and the plans that I've already put in place, we're going to continue to pursue. The infrastructure that we've embarked on, where we're continuing to pursue and some of the hires that we're looking for, some like-minded individuals, that's still happening. Bruno's been with us for over a year in Viry and also in endurance racing and Dakar and this just adds Formula 1 - although he was part of Formula 1 already. So, it's not really that big of a change. And then on the corporate side, the there's a new CEO of Alpine Cars, whose focus will be Alpine Cars and not Formula 1.
And Laurent Rossi has moved to special projects. Will he have any involvement in F1?
OS: So I've been told that he's moving to special projects, and no more than that, but I don't think his involvement will be Formula 1.
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