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Dutch GP: FIA Drivers Press Conference


Group 1: Daniel Ricciardo, Fernando Alonso, George Russell and Max Verstappen.

Max, if we could start with you, please, first of all, how was the summer break for you?
Max Verstappen: Yeah, it was good, just enjoyed time with the family and yeah, just pretty relaxed. Slept a lot, which I think was also important, so yeah it was very good.

And were you able to switch off from Formula 1?
MV: Yeah, of course, the summer break is a bit different to the winter break but enough, yeah.

And what a place to get back in the car, your home race at Zandvoort. Can you just tell us what is it like to be you here in front of these orange grandstands?
MV: I wouldn't wish that on anyone! (laughs) No, no, it's a great weekend for me to come to. It's honestly great to see all the fans next to the track and it's also an amazing track to drive, so all of those things together make it a fun weekend.

And let's talk about objectives. It's been an amazing first half of the year for you. What are the goals, both for this weekend and for the remainder of the season?
MV: Just try to keep on doing the same thing, that would be nice but of course after a break you never know how you get back into things, also at the track, and also the weather what is forecasted, I think it's always a bit more tricky. But we'll see, we have a quick car but it's again about putting everything together to have a really strong weekend.

And how much does the team's unbeaten run this year play on your mind and on the minds of everyone in the team?
MV: Honestly, I don't think we really think about it too much because we just want to look ahead and try to always bring the best possible car to the track. I think everyone is always trying to prepare in that way. And yeah, of course, we want to win here. There's no secret about that.

How magical would that be? You've won from pole for the last two years here at Zandvoort. To do it again?
MV: Yeah, it's one of my favourite places to be and to win, of course, is always very special here so for sure that's the target for the weekend.

George, coming to you, we saw on Instagram that you tried a lot of watersports during the break. How many did you master?
George Russell: None. It was good to sort of branch out and do some of these things. Historically, I've never really wanted to do any additional sports, especially in the season, in case of injury. But I felt like I wanted to try something new and keep my senses alive. Try a bit of foiling, a few injuries along the way but I've fully recovered now and looking forward to the weekend.

Few injuries along the way?
GR: Yeah, when you fall off a foil board and you land on the...

MV: Ego!

GR: Yeah! There's a lot of videos I didn't post of falling off big time so, no, I really enjoyed it to be honest. I think for a lot of us when you're so focused throughout the year just to have two full weeks doing nothing, you get a bit bored after a bit of time so to have a bit of an activity, it was quite fulfilling to make some progress and not fall off by the last days.

Is it true that you bumped into Daniel at some point in the break?
GR: I'm so fortunate! No, it was good, it was good. We both knew we were going to the same place. Bumped into Logan as well. So yeah, it was..

MV: Was it at the salad bar?

GR: Daniel was very well behaved. I was pretty impressed. I think Daniel had done his partying for six months prior, so no, it was a good week.

Now let's look at the rest of the season, George. Ten races to go. What are your goals?
GR: I think we want to just keep on progressing, I think, as a team. We're in a good position in the Constructors' Championship, P2. We've made progress. We're in the fight with Aston Martin. McLaren are obviously looking pretty strong but we want to keep on improving. We obviously would love to win a race this year, but Max and Red Bull are really, really strong but I think the goal for us now is to seal that P2 in the Constructors.

You finished second here at Zandvoort last year from P6 on the grid. Do you expect the car to be as competitive this year?
GR: I see no reason why not. I think these type of circuits, high downforce circuits, we tend to go well. Budapest, we were fast. Here, it was probably one of our most competitive circuits along with obviously Brazil. But we don't know what the weekend is going to bring. The weather, again, looks very up and down but I think it doesn't matter the conditions, I feel that we can have a strong weekend.

Fernando coming to you. How was the break? Did you bump into these guys as well?
Fernando Alonso: No one. I was in Spain but it was in my hometown, not Ibiza, not Mallorca, not these places. So yeah, a little bit of family, relaxing and getting ready for the second half.

How easy do you find it to relax mid-season?
FA: Quite easy. Why not? We all need a little bit of time off. More than us probably is the team: the mechanics, everyone needed that break, especially after July with four races. And yeah, I think it's going to be quite demanding now with some back-to-back races, always flying around and the last two obviously, Vegas and Abu Dhabi quite far away. So yeah, batteries are fully charged.

And I guess that time at home gave you a chance to reflect on the first half of this year. You scored points in every race. Just sum up those opening 12 races for us.
FA: Let's say it was unexpected, in a way, how competitive the team was. From the first race we found ourselves in a very strong position so we maximised every opportunity in the first few races. And then in the last few events, we were maybe not as competitive as the first part of the year but we still scored points, as you said, in every single weekend. And now in the second part of the year, I think we want to go back to a more competitive position. I think everything is so tight now behind Red Bull with Mercedes, Ferrari, Aston Martin, McLaren. So we want to be in that fight until Abu Dhabi and that's the aim.

But Fernando, how do you recapture that early season form?
FA: I think this is Formula 1 and these things are changing so quickly. So I think it was a surprise for us. The car was fast but I think the team was outstanding over the winter, understanding what the problems were last year and yeah, I think reliability, everything, the strategy, we did things really good in most of the races to get those results. It's not only the pace of the car; you need to master everything in the weekend from free practice one until Sunday. And then, yeah, I think we are like playing in Champions' League at the moment and we are finding ourselves with the very top teams, trying to over develop off-track and this is going to be the biggest challenge for Aston Martin now.

You've got some improvements on the car this weekend. What are you hoping from them?
FA: To get a clear direction, not only for this year but also for next year in terms of direction on the car. I think in in Canada we brought some new parts as well, and Silverstone and now these new aerodynamic parts that we bring here, hopefully, add the performance we expect.

Back on the podium?
FA: I hope so.

Daniel, coming to you now: At Spa you said that you were going to spend the summer break working on your fitness. What kind of shape are you in now?
Daniel Ricciardo: You tell me.

You're looking great, I have to say but were you working on power, were you working on endurance? What do you get up to?
GR: In a way George said it. I had so much off time this year relative to running a full schedule, so I'd kind of had my break and my time off. So yeah, I didn't need the summer break. Obviously I know everyone else did and I understand that, but I'd had mine, so it was really just a good chance for me to catch up a little bit while the others were switching off. I still definitely had a good time and switched off from racing, but I was certainly looking after my body more than I usually would on a summer break. But I think as well, this kind of second chapter of my career, I am feeling just different about things and I feel like at least right now where my head's at, I'm in a very good place and taking it seriously. Not, obviously, putting unnecessary pressure on myself or anything, but just have some goals to achieve and some things to chase. So that's where I'm at.

What are your goals?
GR: To be fast.


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