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Australian Grand Prix FIA Drivers Press Conference


Today's press conference with Daniel Ricciardo, Oscar Piastri, Esteban Ocon, Kevin Magnussen, Logan Sargeant and Sergio Perez.

Why don't we start with the home heroes, in fact the hometown hero? Why don't we come to you first Oscar? Great to see you. You used to play footy and cricket just metres from where we're sitting now. Just how special is this race?
Oscar Piastri: Yeah, definitely a special race for me. I mean, for any driver, a home race is always good fun and a privilege. But like you said, for me, it's about 10, 15 minutes away from where I grew up. So, yeah, well and truly a home race and excited to be back.

Well, good luck. And Daniel, you didn't line up on the grid here last year. Of all the races you missed in the first half of 2023, was this the one that hurt the most?
Daniel Ricciardo: Yeah, it was. I mean, I remember being on pit wall here. It was my first race attending and I was watching the cars and there was that, yeah, certainly a bit of envy as I saw them all pull out of the garage. I kind of knew already that I wanted to do it again. But yeah, this was where, I felt it most. And then every race I went to after that, I was, 'OK, I'm ready'.

Well, good luck this weekend. And Logan, if we could come to you now, how would you sum up the start of the year, both for you and for Williams?
Logan Sargeant: Yeah, I mean, we've had some issues to start the year. Luckily, we've been able to iron those things out. I feel like, generally, the car is in a decent place. We have some underlying performance that we can definitely get out of it, but it's going to take a little bit of time. But yeah, I think we're just looking for a smoother, cleaner weekend, and hopefully we can start here.

Alright, good luck with that. And talking of a smooth clean weekend, Esteban, do you feel you've got a bit of unfinished business after what happened at the end of this race last year?
Esteban Ocon: I think it was a very interesting race. There was a lot of fighting going on. And I think we managed to climb back up almost to the points at some stage. So yeah, it was a clean race. Not enough, unfortunately. We still have to work on the pace of the car and try to get it quicker. But yeah, an interesting race nonetheless. And looking forward to hopefully extract more out of the package here.

Good luck with that. Kevin, if we come to you now. The man on your left used to be known as Formula 1's minister for defence, but I feel that title is now yours after what you did in Saudi. Just tell us, how did you get 18 seconds in 12 laps, wasn't it?
Kevin Magnussen: Yeah, I guess so. I mean, it's not the ideal way to go racing, of course, for any driver, but my race, after the first penalty there, which was my fault, you know, the contact with Alex, it was just bad judgment from my side. You know, the track comes back and I didn't create that extra room for him. So after that happened, it was basically game over for the point. And we saw an opportunity with Nico there, who was on a different strategy, and it worked out. So at the end of the day, mixed feelings about it at the time, but happy we got a point. These days, with the field basically split in half with the five front runners and the five at the back, the point is really valuable. So yeah, good that it worked out.

Well done to you. And Checo, what did you make of his defensive performance last time out?
Sergio Perez: Well, it was very, very impressive to see. I think, like Kevin says, I think there were some strategic reasons behind it. As a team, I think they worked well. They worked as a team, and from my point of view, it's not ideal if you are in the other side. But I think it's just, at the end of the day, you have to do the best for your team. And he gets paid by Haas, so he should do the best for them.

And Checo, you said at the start of this year that there were two things you wanted to work on, your consistency and your qualifying pace. How do you feel those two things have gone so far?
SP: I think we are heading in the right direction. I'm really pleased with the first two races, especially with the progress we made after the first one. I feel like as a team we are in a really good momentum. We are understanding a lot of what's going on on the weekends, the way we review the weekends, how we prepare them. I'm pretty happy with how the season has started and I think there is a lot more to come from our side.

Questions From The Floor

(David Croft - Sky Sports F1) Checo, I'm going to start with you, if that's OK. We're led to believe that your team-mate has a clause in his contract that means he can leave if Helmut Marko or Christian Horner leaves. Have you got a similar clause? Do you want a similar clause? And if your team-mate was to leave Red Bull, what do you think it would do to the team?
SP: I don't have that clause. I don't know what clause Max has in his contract. I think it's best you ask him. I think Max, as far as I know, has a contract with the team and is fully committed with the team. The rest, I think it's not for me to comment. It's nothing to do with me. I'm focusing on my decisions, on what I have to do. And I think for us to be talking about other drivers when we don't know any facts, I don't see any point to do so.

Checo, the second half of David's question, if he were to leave, how would it affect the dynamic of the team?
SP: I think the team is in a very strong position because, I mean, with the results we're currently having, the harmony that there is in the team, I think to achieve that it just takes a lot of years probably. And right now the dynamics, everyone in the team is working really well together. The whole engineering group is really united. And you can see that on track and how efficient we've been in the last year. So I think I don't see any reason to change it. And it will obviously be a blow for the team if Max were to leave.

(Chiel Van Koldenhoven - Viaplay) Question for both Aussies. It's good to see you next to each other as well, like brothers. Yeah, who will be the first Aussie on the podium on his home Grand Prix?
DR: Ten years ago, actually, it happened. I stood on it. Actually, Mark stood on it. Mark stood on it as well, didn't he? His first race. We'll have to wait and see. Obviously, it's a dream for us, any driver really, to be on their home podium. So yeah, that would be ideal and an amazing, I would say, career moment for both of us. But yeah, I think for us to get there, it would probably take a little bit of a race like last year. But yeah, we'll do our best.

OP: Yeah, I think we're both going to need some good fortune to end up on the podium. But yeah, it would be very, very special.

First points in Formula 1 here last year, Oscar. So first Aussie on the podium this year?
OP: I mean, that took some good fortune. So I need some more for this year to get on the podium, I think.

(Roldan Rodriguez - DAZN Spain) One question to Kevin. As we are in year 10 of the hybrid era, and you started that in 2014 with a podium, I think I want to know how you evaluate these 10 years with these engines and how you see the future about that?
KM: I mean it's all I've... Well, I tested with the old naturally aspirated engines and I've driven both v10 and v8 as well. I've driven all of those and I think the performance of these hybrid engines is much more impressive. There's something about the old engines that you know is nostalgic and certainly the sound is something that I grew up loving and still miss to this day. Whenever there's an old car running on track, it's really unique and still something that is beautiful. So there's still part of me that hopes we can get that back somehow. But at the same time, I know that the world has moved on. Technology has moved on. There are new requirements for the technology we have and, you know, for it to be relevant on the market, on the road, for the cars is an important element, too. So, yeah, I don't know. Personally, as a driver, we'd love to go back in time and drive with those beautiful engines of the past.

And Kevin, how do you reflect on that 2014 race?
KM: Well, I don't really. It's been so long. It feels like a lifetime ago. A lot has happened since. It's a nice thing. I'm proud of having gotten on the podium in my first race, but at the same time, it's very frustrating to have done 10 years and not get back on the podium. You know, it's mixed feelings about that, too. But, you know, it was a great weekend. And every time I come here, you know, I get sort of that feeling back. And, you know, in itself, doing your first race in Formula 1 is special, no matter where you finish and then to get on the podium was just insane on that weekend. So a lot of memories, for sure.

(David Croft - Sky Sports F1) Esteban, let's turn to you. I remember talking to you at the back end of last year and you feared that this year's car was not going to be one that you were going to enjoy driving too much. Have your fears been realised or is the situation much, much worse?
EO: Thanks for the question. Yeah, I mean, we obviously where we are. It's not a situation that we are enjoying as a team. I think none of us, you know, in Viry or Enstone is enjoying struggling that much in the weekends. It's a long season and obviously we are working towards, you know, trying to optimise the car, understand where our issues are and to turn things around. Hopefully, you know, it's more simple to say than to make it. So until we make it, you know, it's only words. But this is the aim that we have as a team. And yeah, we are not going to release the pressure on that until we get there. And that's the aim out of everyone. The morale is good inside the team. Everyone's motivated and that's the most important at the moment.

Esteban, what is the biggest issue with the car?
EO: There's a lot of small things that are not working the way we would like, but the field is so tight at the moment that details in the end, if you have many that are not right, make a huge difference. I remember being that far off the grid with Manor, but nowadays it's a lot closer to the field. The field is a lot more compact from P1 to where we are and it's a very different way of sorting things out. So, yeah, we will see where and how we progress through the year, but the aim is to progress.

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