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Sao Paulo Grand Prix: FIA Drivers Press Conference


Lando Norris, Lance Stroll, Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo.

Daniel, lots of positive headlines in the press this week, saying Daniel Ricciardo is back to his best. Is that how it feels after last weekend?
Daniel Ricciardo: Yeah, like it felt... well definitely, obviously this sport you've got to kind of keep backing it up. Obviously it's nice to have a good weekend but to just have one, in my mind, it's not enough. But, of course, for me, to have a strong weekend from start to finish, I think spoke something. It was something that obviously I have struggled with the last year or two. Didn't have many weekends like that. I think also this year was just about me, like rebuilding I guess, myself again and just trying to find, as people say, that old form or that old me. So, Mexico felt a lot like that. Even the lead-up. Everything about that week, I was just very, very ready. Ready to go. So it was nice to back up everything I hoped the weekend would be.

DR, when did you last feel that comfortable in a Formula 1 car?
DR: 1996, I think it was! It's been a while. It wasn't like every weekend at McLaren was bad. There was some that were good but I'd probably have to go back to more... 2021 as opposed to 2022. It was a while - but I think from start to finish, that was one that, in a car that is still relatively new for me, obviously it was my fourth proper race weekend of the year, so I think to have that feeling quite early, and also just to have an understanding... already I think I have a good understanding of what I want from the car. So, in terms of set-up, we were able to change a few things going into Mexico, and I think that as well, translating into the feeling I was looking for, I think that's also really positive.

You made those changes going into Mexico - but were you still surprised by the competitiveness of the car there?
DR: Yeah. I think fourth in Qualifying, coming into Qualifying, it was clear in my mind that we were going to be Q3. I had a lot of confidence and faith that we were going to have no issue getting into Q3, especially with a couple of extra tenths from a tow from Yuki. So, that obviously got us in there quite comfortably - but even Friday night, I'd played a lap out in my head. And I was, alright, maybe everything going well tomorrow, it won't just be like a Q3, like a tenth. It'll be maybe a seventh. That would be amazing - the fourth was a little better that we probably thought. Honestly, it wasn't after 'til... I was very happy with it, doing the press afterwards and that, but it probably wasn't until Monday, Tuesday where that kind of sunk in a bit more.

Just a tenth behind Max in qualifying...
DR: Yeah, so... I don't know what you want me to say! I was going to try to say something funny! It was cool. That was one thing I said. Fourth, yeah, fourth is great but it's not like Max or Charles on pole in that case was eight-tenths down the road. We were just over two-tenths from pole and that as well felt as good as the fourth. We were there, we were competitive.

Alright, what about this weekend in Sao Paulo?
DR: As obviously positive and awesome as Mexico was, now you switch the focus to this weekend. It's nice coming into a weekend after a good result but we have to start from scratch here in terms of... we've got one practice session. I think we have a bit more confidence in where to start the car with set-up - but different track, different conditions, so we'll come in with the confidence but definitely staying grounded.

Max Verstappen: Keep it a bit shorter please!

...Are you going to win this weekend Max?
MV: Erm... maybe! I don't know.

After that record-breaking 16th win in Mexico last weekend, do you think it is going to be a little bit closer here in Brazil?
MV: Well, last year we didn't have a great race weekend here. And now, with also the Sprint format, makes it quite difficult to straightaway be on top of things. We had a few ideas why last year was not that great but one practice session to make sure it's better this year. I think there's a lot of high-deg here, and the way you have to set up the car, a lot of low-speed corners. I don't think our car is particularly, let's say, amazing in the low-speed corners, so I guess we'll find out.

So, a little bit apprehensive, is that what you're saying?
MV: Yeah! Last year it was definitely not a great weekend, you know? We'll definitely have to try to do better.

You said in the past that you learn more from losing than you do from winning. This is actually something I touched on with Christian Horner last week. Given that you've been so dominant this year, just tell us some of the lessons you've learnt during 2023.
MV: A lot of different things but it's every single weekend, you know? Different things happen. Some weekends you learn more. Some weekends you learn less. Sometimes you hit the ground running, the car is unbelievable, you barely touch the set-up of the car. Whereas sometimes you have weekends, where it's a bit harder to get on top of things, driving wise, set-up wise, and you might find out a bit more. You might learn a bit more in the race, certain scenarios, you learn more. Yeah, we can go on forever but every single weekend is different.

Final one for me, then. Away from Formula 1, there's been an interesting merger in the world of esports. You're involved. What's it all about?
MV: Yeah, I mean, I, of course, got my own esports team, and of course, Red Bull as well. So, basically, we kind of merged for a few particular platforms. I think the most important one is, is F1 esports. We'll take over the performance side of things. So yeah, very exciting stuff ahead. I mean, yeah, I think we all have a lot of great drivers in the teams. So, putting that force together, I think is very exciting. And hopefully, of course we can do well.

Are you going to race?
MV: Not in F1 esports. I'm too slow. I'm too old!

Lance, can we come to you now? So, Mexico proved problematic for Aston Martin. And then of course, neither you nor Fernando finished the race. What were the issues with the car last weekend?
Lance Stroll: Just yeah, I mean, speed we, you know, we're just lacking speed in the corners. You know, the high-speed corners? Yeah, everywhere. You know, we just weren't very competitive last week.

Were you expecting more? Were you caught out by the problems?
LSt: Yeah. I mean, it wasn't what we were expecting, hoping for, after a really strong race on Sunday in Austin. We started from the pit lane, changed a few things from the car, you know, had a strong race on Sunday in Austin, finished in the points, then going to Mexico, really struggling again. So, not, you know, what we were hoping for last weekend. But we'll see what we can do this weekend.

Well, have you got some ideas for this weekend? Do you think you'll be more competitive?
LSt: I hope so. We have a few ideas. For sure. I think a lot of, you know, analysis has gone into last weekend, coming into this weekend. So yeah, we'll see how we go.

Lance, it's been such a topsy turvy season for Aston Martin. If you took the car that you have now, back to Bahrain, would it be faster or slower, than at the start of the year?
LSt: I don't know. It's a good question. I mean, we started the season really strong. You know, always kind of fighting, finishing in the top five. And yeah, I mean, you know, coming into Bahrain, we were, you know, second, kind-of, quickest car. But it's, you know, been more challenging lately. So, it's a tough question. But, you know, Formula 1's a development race throughout the year. So, I think there's no doubt, you know, teams have improved. It's a relative game. You know, no one has the same car that they had at the first race of the season. So tough to say, but yeah, good question.

Lando, let's go to you now. T-minus two weeks for you before the Netflix Cup, just prior to the Las Vegas Grand Prix. Are you in good shape on the golf course?
Lando Norris: Nope! I played yesterday here in Sao Paulo, but... I'm feeling alright. I've not been playing a lot of golf at all over the last few months, just for different reasons. So, I've kind of lost touch but I've tried to get back into it in the last few days, and I will continue to, before Vegas next week and before the event. So, I'm sure I'll be alright - or at least get carried by my team-mate.

Well, who is your team-mate? Can you give us any details?
LN: I don't know if I'm allowed or not. But sure, Rickie Fowler. A good guy. I watched all of the guys and Ricky is kind of a bit more back on form lately, comparing to where he was at the beginning of the year and last couple of years. I'm excited. It's going to be the first live event for Netflix, which is a cool thing to be part of. Nice course and everything. And yeah, I don't know, like how the whole event is going to work but I'm sure it's going to be good, fun.

Lance, just to bring you in quickly. You're a very good golfer, were you're not tempted to play in this?
LSt: I used to be. And I guess when I played more, I haven't really played much lately. But yeah, I'm starting to get my swing back. So, I was there yesterday at the same club as Lando and a few of the other guys and getting back into the groove of it.


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