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United States GP: FIA Team Representatives Press Conference


Toto Wolff, Zak Brown, Guenther Steiner and Mike Krack.

Mike, perhaps we could start with you, please. A slightly frustrating start to the weekend, first of all. What are the issues in FP1?
Mike Krack: We went out for the first baseline run to check the car, basically, and we had a bit of an overheating issue on the front left for both cars. We had to come in because we saw then a fire from the on-boards. We inspected the cars, unfortunately one car couldn't go out anymore because the repair would take too long, and the other car, we managed to go out again - so unfortunate and not an ideal start for a Sprint weekend, obviously.

Is this related to the upgrades you're running this weekend?
MK: No.

So, in your analysis, why did it happen?
MK: If I had the analysis, I would tell you! But I just came here quickly, the debrief has just started, so I cannot really answer the question.

And the one who seems to have suffered most is Lance Stroll. It doesn't rain, it pours in his world at the minute. Can you just talk us through his races since the summer break? What have been his issues? Is he suffering a crisis of confidence at the minute?
MK: I think in the first place, and if you've seen it today, again, we have not been able to provide a car that is reliable to do the practice sessions that he has to do. We had lost a session in Monza, we lost a session in Zandvoort, we lost the session here. So, these are all things that in a field like this, when you have no practice time, what you want to do? We have to just get better in this. Now, there are also instances where Lance says himself: 'I have to do better in this session' but, all-in-all, as long as we cannot provide a consistent car that you can start to learn what you have - we have some upgrades here - honestly, how will he go into Qualifying now without having done any proper running? I think we need to factor all these things in. We have to do better than this.

Fernando did at least get a few laps in that first session. What was he saying about the upgraded parts?
MK: Well, he was mainly saying that the track is even bumpier than he recalled it being before. But all in all, from Fernando, it was a solid session. Obviously, we had the interruption at the beginning for checking everything. So, lost a couple of laps. We decided also not to go out with the soft tyres at the end of the day. But from that side of the car, he was just you know, lucky, I would say, that the same issue did not prevent him from running. And now we have to rely on the data that we have accumulated to do the best for Qualifying.

Final one from me. McLaren just 11 points behind you now in the Constructors' Championship. Do you feel you've got enough in the tank to keep them at bay?
MK: Well, I think, you know, it's not about McLaren. It's about what can we do? How can we improve our car and how do we move forward? And that is, anyway, the only thing that you can influence. So, we have brought some parts here, we have to analyse now if they are working well, and then we have to see where we end up.

Zak, let's come to you now. Can we start by talking about Lando Norris, celebrating 100 races, all of them with McLaren, of course. Can you compare the Lando Norris of today with the one that came through the door at the start of 2019?
Zak Brown: Yeah, definitely. He obviously is much more experienced, five seasons in. I would say, if we look at what he was like as a rookie versus now, he makes very few mistakes - not that he made a lot of mistakes as a rookie, but more. Rarely misses a sector when he needs to put it together. And I would say his race craft is extremely strong. So, his pace has always been there. His pace remains fantastic, and he's definitely one of the fastest drivers in Formula 1. And you just look at how few incidents he's had in the five years. I'd say his race craft is also as good as anyone's in Formula 1. So, we're giving him a car that's able to get on the podium now on a more regular basis. And we still need to keep developing, because this sport never sits still.

As you say, he's on the podium now but that first win remains elusive. Do you sense any frustration coming into him now, that he hasn't won yet?
ZB: No, because I don't think we've given him a car capable of winning yet. We're getting closer, definitely getting more competitive. I think all racing drivers, if they feel they didn't maximise a qualifying session or a race, so he was obviously frustrated in Qatar, he made some uncharacteristic track limit mistakes, which he was definitely not alone. So, I think he was frustrated there, of course, but I think it's momentary frustration. I think it's no different than any driver on the grid, that if they feel they left something on the table, they get a little annoyed with themselves, but then they quickly recover - and he drove a brilliant race.

Max Verstappen actually said in Qatar that you have, he thinks, one of the strongest driver pairings in Formula 1. Is that bringing out the best in Oscar and Lando? Or are they pushing each other too hard, and we're starting to see some mistakes. Look at Lando is Q3 in Lusail?
ZB: I think they're definitely pushing each other hard - but I think that's good for both of them and I think it's good for the team. You know, a couple of track limits here and there, not very big mistakes, compared to some of the mistakes you see some drivers make, where they end up in the wall - not that they won't crash again sometime in the future. But no, I think they're pushing each other hard. I think they're learning from each other. And I do think it's an awesome driver line-up.

Zak, how do you see these last five races of the season? 11 points behind Aston Martin, as I said earlier, just 79 points behind Ferrari in P3. Just how ambitious are you for the remainder?
ZB: We just got to keep doing what we're doing since the summer break. Just keep pushing. The car's good. I think this will be a difficult weekend with it being bumpy, you got to raise the car, there's some slow corners here. So, I don't think we'll be quite as competitive here as we've been in the last few races. But I think we'll be competitive. And all we can do is keep pushing and giving the drivers the best we can, executing, doing good pit stops and see where we end up at the end of the year.

ZB: Hope so.

ZB: I'd hope so even more - but that'll take a small miracle but statistically it's possible. You never know. So, I think all we can do is try and get as many points every weekend as much as we can and see what happens at the end of the year.

Toto, first of all, welcome back. Great to see you back at a race, having missed the last two due to the knee operation. How are you first of all?
Toto Wolff: All good. Just done ligament replacement. Difficult to walk but it's OK.

So, your marathon-running days are behind you?
TW: No, on the contrary, just need to wait six months and then I'm running again.

Tell us about the two races you missed. How plugged into what was happening trackside were you?
TW: I was completely plugged in. I have pit-wall or centre console set-up at home. So, part of every briefing or debriefing and the conversations during the race - but obviously you got to let the guys here fly the aeroplane because when you're remote, I need to almost always. take myself back a little bit. Because you're distant. You don't look into the faces, you don't see what's going on emotionally, with the people around you. And you feel, in a certain way, detached. So, it's not something that I enjoy, but it was a necessity.

Emotions were running high, actually at both of the races you missed, in Japan and Qatar. What's your assessment of those two races?
TW: Well, there were some, let's say, unpleasant situations that we have talked about. Lots of points that we left on the table, but there is nobody more aware than the drivers. And sometimes you need these moments to recalibrate and recondition and avoid similar situations in the future. But they're racing drivers: they compete hard. Your first competitor is your teammate, and therefore, I see it with a relatively relaxed stance. And I'm back.

Let's bring it on to this weekend. You've got the new floor. What were the drivers saying in FP1?
TW: The lap time was competitive that Lewis was able to post - but not like that the car is suddenly super-fast. There are certain areas he feels more comfortable. And George, on the other side, wasn't satisfied with how the car was going for him - but like Mike said, we left the debrief to join you guys here.

Final one from me. This is the 200th race of the turbo-hybrid era, and your team has won, I think, 112 of those races, which is a phenomenal record. I just wanted to get your thoughts on that power unit and how much of a game-changer it's been?
TW: Did you look at Wikipedia?

No-one reads that Toto, come on!
TW: Yep, no-one reads that anyway - but it's good, thank you for giving me the number, 112. I think we had a really good run, thanks to the efforts that were made in Brixworth. Sensational power unit, straight from the get-go. We were very competitive from 2014 onwards, and then, since then, chassis and power units have never let each other down - maybe beside the 2022 season. So far, it's a good number. It means more than 50 per cent winning - but it's become more difficult recently. And that's a challenge we were taking. Let's see if we can add a few more in the current engine regulations.


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