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Miami Grand Prix: FIA Team Representatives Press Conference


Today's team representatives press conference with Laurent Mekies, Mike Krack, James Vowles and Zak Brown.

Q: I'd like to start, if I can, with one of the biggest news stories of the week. It is the departure of Adrian Newey from Red Bull Racing. I'd like to get each of your views on that. Zak, perhaps we could start with you. Are you surprised that Adrian is leaving Red Bull and are you interested in hiring him at McLaren?
Zak Brown: Sounds like all the same questions the drivers got. Am I surprised? Six months ago, I would have been surprised. I think given everything that's gone on since the start of the year and knowing Adrian pretty well, and he's a very high-integrity individual, I'm not surprised he's moving on. The stuff that's going on there is a bit destabilising. It's probably the first domino to fall. My guess is not the last based on the resumes that are flying around. And as far as McLaren's concerned, I'm very happy with all the work the men and women at McLaren are doing. I think we've started to show since last year, second half of last year, that they know how to put performance on the car. So I've got all the faith in the world with the team that we have. We're on a quest to get back to the front, and I think we have the people, the talent, the equipment, the drivers to get there, so we're going to just stay the course.

Q: OK, thank you. James, coming to you now. You've confirmed that you've already spoken to Adrian. What can Williams offer him that other teams can't?
James Vowles: I mean, it was a light conversation more than anything else, saying it can't have been an easy decision and fundamentally wanting just to have an additional chat about things. But from a Williams perspective, obviously, that's where Adrian really cut his teeth for the first time. And I think we're a team without politics. It's a small team that's trying to make our way back to the front. And I think it could fit very perfectly for someone that wants to potentially dig into a challenge like that. More than that, I mean, what is great about Williams is that it has retained the family feel to it. We're not driven by an OEM. We're driven by just a group of individuals that want to be there. And it's all about really racing. And hopefully some of that plays to his strengths. And then finally with Adrian, you have someone with his accolades, with his touch. There's not a team he hasn't been to - and that includes McLaren, ourselves, Red Bull - where he hasn't made a significant difference. And I think anyone here would be foolish not to at least open some conversation with him at that stage.

Q: OK, thank you for that. Mike, how seriously are Aston Martin pursuing Adrian?
Mike Krack: I think I said it already, I have not really much to add and also I echo what the guys have already said. I think the record and the history speaks for itself. If someone like that is leaving a team, it's always causing say the turmoil that it is creating. I think we speak about nothing else about the last two weeks in the media, which is good, because we speak about Formula 1. But then, yeah, I already confirmed a couple of weeks ago. I think it was a clear answer, but nobody really took it seriously. So, we are quite happy with our technical team and we continue with them.

Q: So you're not pursuing Adrian Newey?
MK: I said already that I have answered this question more than once.

Q: Laurent, coming to you, how big a loss is this for the Red Bull family?
Laurent Mekies: Well, you know, for sure it's a huge loss for Red Bull Racing. It is not affecting our project, obviously, that part of the car being completely independent. But, you know, I think it will be a loss for any team losing somebody of the calibre of Adrian. I think the guys have said everything, you know, the records speak for themselves. So, for sure, it's not going to be unnoticed.

Q: He's being linked to Ferrari. When you were at Ferrari, was he ever a discussion point about joining the team?
LM: You know, I think everyone was honest enough to say that every team had or has Adrian on his list. So, of course, I think all of us have been discussing with him and I'm sure even more right now that now the possibility becomes a bit more concrete.

Q: OK, just a couple more questions from me. Laurent, if we stay with you, can we start by talking about Daniel Ricciardo? First up, can we get your take on the incident between him and Lance Stroll at the last race in China?
LM: You know, for us, China... Daniel, above all, it was his strongest weekend so far. So, you know, we have been saying many times, he's progressing. You guys are going to see it. And in fact, he was very strong from Friday onwards. So, of course, if you are taken off the racetrack on the day of your strongest race, it's never going to be a pleasant moment. We think we were fighting for that famous point that makes so much difference in the midfield. Then for the incident itself, as much as it is unpleasant, it's the way racing is sometimes, and there is nothing else to do than to move on.

Q: And in terms of his own performance, you say it was his best so far. Where is he unlocking that potential?
LM: You know, we have been working very hard to make sure he has a car he's comfortable to push with. And some of it is coming from him adapting to it. Some of it is coming from us adapting the car to his needs. And some of the stuff you can do very short-term, and we have done quite a few steps. Some other steps will come later in the season, to go in the direction of giving him something he can push with. So he's on a good trajectory. I think we have now both Daniel and Yuki at a very, very strong level, and they are going to keep pushing each other like that for the rest of the year.

Q: OK, thank you, Laurent. Mike, coming back to you, can we talk about the performance of your car? Fernando said last time out that it is stronger in qualifying than it is in the race. Is that how you see it? What can you do to improve its race performance?
MK: Yeah, I can confirm that. I think when you look at the last races, we always qualified much, much higher than we finished, which is nice in one way, but not so nice in the other, because the point is for the races and not for qualifying, and unfortunately this is something that for the drivers it's quite difficult because you start a race in a defensive mode, because you know if you go too hard to attack then obviously you will ruin your tyres. That is not a great situation to be in and we work really hard to get our race performance on a better level. We had a bit the opposite last year, so there were some lessons learned from there, but a lot of effort goes into race performance at the moment.

Q: And if you're Alonso, you risk the wrath of the stewards as well, as has happened at the last two races?
MK: Yeah, that is true. I think it comes as a result of being defensive. You know, you have to race really hard to defend against a quicker car. And I think it has been done really well so far because we came with more points than actually our race performance deserves. So I think that is a big achievement. But unfortunately, it means also at times that you are in the Stewards' room.

Q: Thank you. I'm sure there'll be more questions for you later. James, coming to you now, can we start by talking about the performance of your car? The messaging from Williams coming into Miami is that the circuit should suit the FW46 better. Is that what you saw during FP1?
JV: I think on Sprint race weekends there are a number of different fuel loads run. General weekends, we sort of keep to a similar pattern. So you can roughly predict where you are. But this weekend, the variation could be 20, 30 kilos between teams, which is more than the gaps between us at the moment, between really, ourselves and our RB Visa Cash App, it's a tenth and you can't tell that on the fuel level. So there's some characteristics of the circuit that should suit us better. But in truth, we have to sort of step back in the season and go, we haven't done a good enough job so far. What we've got to do going forward is make sure we start adding performance to the car at a higher rate than all of those in front of us and fight back into that position where we can be regularly scoring points.

Q: Going forward, can we talk about drivers as well? Kimi Antonelli is being heavily linked to Williams. He's been testing for Mercedes. Can we start by just getting your thoughts on the job that he's done in those tests for Mercedes?
JV: My information source is journalism for that. So I don't have any direct communication with Mercedes on how he's doing in the tests. I just understand that he has been testing in Imola and I think he also did Austria at the same time. So for that one, everything I read is what you read, which as far as I can tell, it's good. But you can't really compare in that situation. It's older cars. I'm not sure if it's a '21 or a '22 car. And there's nothing really to reference it to.

Q: He's being linked to Williams. A lot of sources saying that there is a desire to see him in one of your cars before the end of this season. That true?
JV: I'm sure there's a desire, but I'll give you my perspective on it. We have far bigger problems to solve than drivers at the moment. Alex has done championship-level drives and at the moment he's not scoring points and fundamentally we have it on us to improve our car going forward. That's my primary concern more than anything else and what we do with drivers going into '25, '26. All of us here... Not actually Zak, he did a really good job early on in the season. But a lot of us here, and Mike's done his now, are just sorting out where we're going to be for next year fundamentally. And of that, there are options on the table, but it is far too early to tell. In the sense of Kimi, you have to remember it's just 20 months ago he was in a Formula 4 car. That's a large, large step up into a Formula 1 car in such a short space of time.

Q: OK, thank you. I'll leave it there. Zak, thank you for waiting. Can we talk about the upgrades that you're running this weekend? What is being said by Lando in particular during FP1?
ZB: Yeah, Lando has a full set of upgrades. Oscar's on upgrade light, if you want to call it that. He doesn't have the full set of upgrades, but does have upgrades on his car. So far, it looks good. We had a little bit of an issue, unrelated to the upgrades on Lando, that took a little bit of track time from him at the start of the session, but it looks OK. I think these Sprint weekends, Free Practice 1, you've got to get a lot accomplished while trying to learn about your upgrades. So Sprint weekends are a little bit more difficult to introduce upgrades on, but we took the decision to kind of split them so we can learn a little bit more. Oscar will have the full set in Imola. But so far, so good.

Check out our Friday gallery from Miami here.


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