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Las Vegas Grand Prix: FIA Drivers Press Conference


Group 1: Nico Hulkenberg, Zhou Guanyu, Fernando Alonso, Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz.

Q: Carlos, let's start with you. What a build up to this Grand Prix weekend, That fabulous opening ceremony a minute ago and then that follows on from the inaugural Netflix Cup yesterday, which you won with your teammate, Justin Thomas, how much did you enjoy yesterday?
Carlos Sainz: I enjoyed it a lot. It's been a fun week, so far. Especially yesterday. Everyone, I guess, knows by now that I'm a big golf fan, golf freak, golf addict, however you want to call it and yeah, to get to play golf with the pros and to get to do it in a live event for Netflix in such a cool setting like the Wynn Hotel and with all the fans there, a proper set-up like they always do here and to get to win it was a great feeling. Great, great way to start the week. Not so much obviously breaking the trophy but good to actually get the chequered flag jacket, that I actually found even cooler than the trophy and yeah, good way to start winning the week.

Q: What about the racetrack here in Vegas? What are you expecting from it?
CS: Honestly, I haven't done the track walk, because the timings are just weird this weekend. And I don't know when the track is fully free. We kind of missed it a bit. But I've done plenty of laps on the simulator. And yeah, also looking forward to see a bit the Safety Car going around later this evening to see how much dust there is on track. The bumps. Sometimes when you see a Safety Car, you can actually get a bit of a feeling of how a slippery is going to be out there.

Q: How much hope do you have for Ferrari this weekend?
CS: Better hopes than recently, mainly because the track looks probably a bit more suited to us than recent tracks. Long straights, like in Monza. Tight corners, like in Monza or Singapore. Yeah, maybe there's the combination of Turns 1 and 2 where we will not be very quick but then the rest of the track, I think our cars should be better suited than recent events. And hopefully that gives us a better opportunity.

Q: Lando, coming to you now. So that Netflix Cup yesterday, beaten by Carlos. Fair result?
Lando Norris: Oh, yeah. Yeah, was just, it was a good day out, to be honest. Yeah, nice to meet some of the guys. Obviously, I had Ricky and Ricky was... it was nice to meet him for the first time. You know, I've watched a lot of these guys on a lot of weekends over the last couple years. So, it's always cool to meet someone of all their talent and ability from another sport. So, a nice day out for everyone.

Q: And can you give us your thoughts about racing here in Las Vegas? How different does it feel for the drivers?
LN: I don't know. I guess it feels a little bit different just night race and a lot of glamour and all of this stuff. But inside it's just another race weekend. So yeah, concentrated and focussed for the weekend ahead. Opportunities for everyone because it's so different and a lot of question marks for everyone. So yeah, plenty of things to try and prepare for and be ready for - but also, with FP1, FP2 and FP3 a bit more time than what we've had the last few weekends with the Sprint races, to get our heads on things and making sure we're prepared before Qualifying.

Q: Opportunities and question marks, as you say. Just how confident are you for McLaren?
LN: I don't like this question anymore. Like, I'm always wrong, whatever I say so...

Q: But four podiums in the last five races, you've got some form...
LN: No, absolutely. I think... I'm extremely pleased with how we've done the last few weeks, especially Mexico and Brazil were a big a big chunk better than we were expecting. Especially Brazil, you know? To be so far ahead of the majority and close to the Red Bull through a lot of the race was definitely not something we were expecting so it's a tough one. You know, this will remind you a little bit more of Baku and Monza-type races which weren't our best, definitely towards the weaker side. You know there's the long straights and low downforce is not where our priority has been this season with developments and all of those things, because there's so few races like it. So, maybe not as confident as we have been the last few weekends, but no idea at the same time.

Q: Personal goals for you. You're just three points behind Fernando in P4 in the Drivers' Championship...
LN: Yeah...

Q: Can you overhaul him? How much confidence have you got in beating Fernando?
LN: Again, no idea. It depends how we do this weekend. Depends how they do.

Q: How much do you want to?
LN: I don't know how to answer it. It's not something I think about, trying to go out and beat one driver. You just go out and do the best job you can, you get the most points you can. Simple as that in my eyes, but if we can race against each other, I think it'll be something fun, something enjoyable. Obviously he had a good weekend, last time out in Brazil and was our next closest challengers, so always going to be good fight against him. But there's plenty of other guys who are in the fight. Carlos is there and someone else... who else we racing against? Was it just us three? I don't know, to be honest, We'll just go out and have some fun.

Q: Fernando, as Lando says, you had a tremendous last race in Sao Paulo. How do you reflect on that battle now with Checo Perez?
Fernando Alonso: Yeah, same as I did in Brazil after the race. I think it was a good weekend for us. But, I think inside the car, felt a little bit different than outside. It was a little bit calmer inside. And yeah, I didn't feel the pressure that maybe you can see on television. So yeah, it was more spectacular from the outside probably.

Q: Let's bring it onto this weekend. You've been to Las Vegas before. Just how different an experience is it proving so far?
FA: Yeah, I mean, it is different. Because I mean, every time we came here in the past, I think for everybody, was on holidays, and just to enjoy the city. And now we are here for racing. And things become a little bit more professional and serious tomorrow. But, at the same time, we want to have some fun this weekend. Obviously both championships, drivers' and constructors', they finished a few races ago with Max and Red Bull winning. So now it's up to everybody to enjoy this final part of the season. After the three consecutive races, Austin, Mexico and Brazil, it's good to have, as Lando said, a few free practice to build a little bit, the momentum into the weekend and the confidence, especially needed here in a street circuit. And yeah, looking forward but not too much pressure, let's say.

Q: Is that third place in Sao Paulo evidence that you've unlocked the pace in the car again?
FA: I think we have to wait and see a few races. I think here and Abu Dhabi will be as important as Sao Paulo for us in terms of understanding the car. I think Austin and Mexico were very painful but they were also very useful for the team in terms of understanding for next year's car as well. So yeah, let's see how it goes here. I think it's going to be a tough weekend. Maybe for us, with these long straights and so on. But yeah, I think here and Abu Dhabi, we'll hopefully see better performance.

Q: Zhou, let's come to you. Fernando has been to Vegas before. Have you or is this your first experience?
Zhou Guanyu: No, actually I've been a good boy so haven't been to Vegas before. First time here. It's great to see. I feel like the people here, everyday they're just living the nights.

Q: Are you being a bad boy now you're here?
ZG: Not yet! I'm here obviously for racing. Try to be concentrated. Maybe you can invite me to something. No, it's a cool city. Just to explore a little bit. Was here two days ago. My family's here as well. So, it's been good to catch up.

Q: Let's talk about performance because the triple header was a frustrating one for Alfa Romeo. What does that mean coming here?
ZG: It means we have to continue to be working hard. To develop, mainly. All this lack of performance in general, and as we said for next year, we have some other, let's say, concept of designing of the car and with current year's car it's a little bit more suffering - but we do see some highlights as well. You know, the car - especially in one lap pace - what we had in Mexico was quite strong. Austin wasn't so bad, but then, the race pace I think is where the long distance was overheating, we've been struggling a little bit, but we definitely went through a lot of information over the last week, making sure we can you know, finish the season on a high, and we use the next two races to be understanding fully for the future development for next season, so we still can, you know, be fighting with all the guys close up, and I don't see no reason why we can't take. But it was definitely a frustrating three races. Especially, looking back to Sao Paulo, after the drama at the start, we was running well enough, at least one car, both cars in the points in that race but then we had a double-DNF due to some issues.

Q: Tell us more about the battling you're going to do out there because Alfa Romeo is the meat in an AlphaTauri and Haas sandwich in the Constructors' Championship. You're P9. How do you view that? Are you looking ahead? Do you think you can beat AlphaTauri or is a Haas in the rear view mirror?
ZG: If I'm honest - why are you laughing? - I think Nico has some answers as well, he can answer the question after but from my side, I think AlphaTauri has been extremely fast recently and has been racing with the Mercedes, Ferrari the last few race weekends. We are not far - but it's a difficult one to reach. And then, I don't want to say we're looking behind, so we just want to focus on our job and try to grab the opportunities if they're on the table for us, and see what happens. Being focussed on having a clean weekend, which we haven't had for many races.


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