Site logo

Chinese Grand Prix: FIA Drivers Press Conference


Today's press conference with Lando Norris, Charles Leclerc, Zhou Guanyu, Fernando Alonso, Esteban Ocon and Nico Hulkenberg.

How confident are you of scoring your first points of the season here at home?
Zhou Guanyu: Of course, two opportunities this weekend. Sprint race format and it sounds very interesting, even though it's not a lot of practice, after obviously missing few years and coming back straight into one session, but I'm sure you know, we have the potential, I think the race craft has been recently OK. And for myself, I think there's parts to be moving. It will get a bit more clear Friday, get prepared, ready for the qualifying sessions and points are definitely there to take. But as we saw, it's very a complex pack, you know, the midfield battle is super tight between all the cars, so we just need to make sure all the details are correct and take the opportunities if they are there.

Fernando, if we could come to you now, many congratulations, signed and sealed with Aston Martin. Just how easy a decision was it for you to remain with the team for 2025 and beyond?
Fernando Alonso: Well, thanks. First of all, it's never an easy time when you have to make some decisions, especially right now, as for me it's probably my last contract. So yeah, I wanted to make sure that it was the right decision, first of all, to keep racing in Formula 1, and to have the strength and the motivation to keep racing for a few more years, from my side. And then, after that, just making sure that the team has the targets and the goals for the next few years to be ambitious and to try to keep getting better and better. So yeah. It was, I think, a very happy decision for me. Obviously extremely proud to represent Aston Martin for the next few years. We started the journey last year, and in a very good way and we keep on working. So yeah, extremely proud and happy. Let's see what we can do.

What is it about the team's future that excites you the most?
FA: I think, you know, with the new regulations in 2026, there is going to be a possibility for everyone to mix the cars a little bit and have an opportunity. Obviously, we will be with Honda, we will be the only team with the power unit from Honda, which obviously, it is a little bit different than being a customer engine now with Mercedes. So hopefully we have a little bit of an improvement there. Also, I think with Aramco, the biofuels and sustainability that will come into 2026, maybe we have a little bit of an opportunity there as well. And the team is just getting better and better - new facilities, new campus, new wind tunnel coming this summer. So you have a lot of things in place to be a very powerful team in the future. And I wanted to be part of it.

The timing of the announcement caught some people by surprise. Was it important for you to get the deal done early?
FA: No, not really. I think we just sat together after Japan and yeah, we arrived to a conclusion and an agreement was reached in in one two days. So it was very, very simple. And once we got the agreement we announced it and everything is a little bit more simple than what it looks from the outside, that, you know, there are a lot of rumours, a lot of things going on for different teams and different drivers and deadlines here, deadlines there. But for us, you know, we were just loyal to each other, we just kept our word. And once we sign it, and we agree on something, we announced it. So for us it was much more simple than maybe for other people.

Fernando, thank you very much. Best of luck this weekend. Nico, if we could come to you. Now let's talk performance. Haas are introducing an upgrade here. What are you expecting from it?
Nico Hulkenberg: Well, a little bit of improved and enhanced performance, hopefully. It's not, you know, a major, huge update, you know, some little bits and bobs that look good on paper and in theory, but as always, you know, you have to verify them on track, make sure the correlation is good. But, yeah, better to have an upgrade this early in the season in the tight midfield battle than the not to have them.

On paper, do you think Shanghai will suit the car better than Suzuka?
NH: It should. It really should. I hope so. It's a lot more low speed content, I think, which is whether the car feels more at home. Always good memories here. I've raced here nine times and really liked the flow and the layout of the circuit. So yeah, exciting one ahead.

As you say, you have a lot of experience here at the Shanghai International Circuit. How will that help you going into a Sprint weekend?
NH: It's not just me. I think there are a few drivers who have done a fair few weekends here and years. Some more, some less. But yeah, personally, I'm quite excited. You know, less practice sessions obviously always kind of presents more opportunity maybe, for more chances. But you know, we have to make sure that we get it right ourselves. Obviously. Everyone isn't in the same situation there, but I feel quite OK going into this weekend with just the one hour of practice.

And Nico, in light of Fernando's decision to stay at Aston Martin, do you expect the driver dominoes to fall quite quickly now?
NH: Not sure, not necessarily. It's always difficult to you know, to foresee that and to predict. For some it might move quite quickly, for some maybe not. But it's definitely a very interesting situation right now, the driver market is very dynamic, very fluid. And I'm sure all the drivers with no contract for 2025 are pretty busy right now having lots of conversations, checking options, and trying to obviously fix the future. Same for me.

Thank you. Best of luck to you, Esteban if we could come over to you now, upgrades on the Haas this weekend, upgrades on the Alpine as well. What are you expecting from the new floor?
Esteban Ocon: Yeah, well, first of all, a very good job from the team really to bring, you know, some upgrades early on than what was planned on my car, which is a remarkable effort by the team. So, good that we can test that early and see what it brings to the car. Obviously, we still don't expect massive changes in terms of performance. But we can always have a good surprise and we will see where that leads us onto the track later in the weekend.

Tell us a little bit more about the performance. Q2 in Japan. It all suggests that the car is better over one lap in qualifying than it is in the race. What happens to the performance on a longer run?
EO: I think it depends where. I think in Australia we were looking to be fighting for points. We were fighting with Haas there. It was looking good until that tear-off came in the break duct. Obviously, yes, we've qualified now twice in Q2, in Australia and in Suzuka. But, you know, in Suzuka we also had damage at the start, which didn't help things but we struggled more, definitely, Suzuka. So I think we did a step forward in qualifying recently, but we still need to work on the race pace, and see if we can hold on to the other cars, that's the main thing.

Do you expect the driver market to move quickly in light of Fernando's decision?
EO: We'll see. I don't know.

Alright. Thanks, Esteban. Best of luck this weekend, Charles, coming to you now. First up, there's a new member of the family since we last saw you in Japan. Leo, I believe?
Charles Leclerc: Yes, a dog. I've always had dogs within my family, but never had my own. And yeah, he joined last Monday and it's been great.

Who looks after him when you're away?
CL: My girlfriend, but I do take care of him when I'm at home.

Alright. Let's bring it on to this weekend now. Does the team have more confidence coming in to Shanghai than it did going to Suzuka?
CL: I think the level of confidence is quite stable since the beginning of the season. On paper, I think it's a track where we could be a bit stronger compared to Suzuka. But we'll just approach it in the same way. I still think that Red Bull will have the upper hand this weekend and we'll just have to focus on ourselves, because it can be very easy, as we've seen, especially in qualifying into Suzuka, I didn't do a good job Saturday and then you don't go from fourth to fifth but you go from fourth to eighth. And so it's going to be very important, especially on a Sprint weekend, we've got two qualifyings these this weekend to extract the maximum out of the car on both qualifyings and then in the race. I think we are we are quite strong this year.

You say Red Bull will still have the advantage. Do you expect to be closer to them here than you were in Japan?
CL: I think in the race we will be yes. But let's see. Obviously it's been a very long time since we drove here, so yeah, I saw the track was painted or there was something strange on it, so also this we'll have to see how our car behaves on that. And what are the main limitations in the race but on paper I think we should be closer to them, yes.

Alright. Charles, thank you. Good luck with that. And Lando, what about your expectations coming into the weekend?
Lando Norris: Probably not as high as Suzuka. I think that's our opinion. But still in a good position. I think we've been happy with how the season started. I think we're in a good qualifying battle with Aston, Mercedes, it's very close and even last weekend ahead of Ferrari, but I think the order is still clear. And I think in the racing we've done a good job. Not as good as Red Bull but and Ferrari, but I'm a head of Aston and Mercedes. So I think we're in a good spot. This wasn't a great circuit for us in 2019 but many things have changed since then. So I'm so optimistic we can have a good weekend.

What is it about this layout that gives you less confidence?
LN: The long corners. Just, like, Turn 1. Yeah, this type of corner is just not good for us. Similar to, say, Zandvoort, that kind of experience for us. So yeah, we've got some things to try. And we're constantly trying to improve these areas. But it's an area we know is one of our biggest weaknesses, and maybe we kind of get away with it in qualifying but especially into the race becomes a bigger problem for us.

Check out our Thursday gallery from Shanghai here.


more news >



galleries >

  • latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • latest F1/Formula 1 images


or Register for a Pitpass ID to have your say

Please note that all posts are reactively moderated and must adhere to the site's posting rules and etiquette.

Post your comment



No comments posted as yet, would you like to be the first to have your say?

Share this page


Copyright © Pitpass 2002 - 2024. All rights reserved.

about us  |  advertise  |  contact  |  privacy & security  |  rss  |  terms