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Emilia Romagna Grand Prix: FIA Drivers Press Conference


Today's press conference with Pierre Gasly, Carlos Sainz, Kevin Magnussen, Zhou Guanyu, Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo.

Q: Carlos, let's start with you. How are you? Are you feeling good ahead of being a Ferrari driver here at Imola. You've got upgrades on your car. Life's good?
Carlos Sainz: Yeah, it cannot get any better. Yeah, Ferrari driver in Imola, with hopefully a bit of a step coming in the car this weekend. Life's good. I can't complain.

Q: Tell us about the step. Is it enough to pull you level with McLaren and even Red Bull?
CS: I still think it's going to be track dependent. I think in Miami, it was a better suited track for our car, and we had really good pace, even though McLaren and Red Bull, maybe they were half a step in front. Our car felt back to normal, while in China, particularly, it felt really not good. So I think we're going to be very track dependent and hopefully Imola is one of those good track for us and we can put on a good show in front of the crowd. This would be ideal scenario. For the rest, we're going to need to keep developing for tracks like China because there's certain types of corner where our car really struggles right now and we need to keep moving forward in that sense.

Q: Quick update on 2025. When can we expect news of where you'll be racing?
CS: Don't worry, when I have them, you'll know.

Q: Is it still a long way off?
CS: I think so, yeah. It's not moving too quick.

Q: Good luck this weekend. Thank you, Kevin. Let's come to you next. Now, you had a good weekend when we last raced here in 2022. You scored points in both the sprint and the Grand Prix. Is this a track that's going to suit this year's Haas?
Kevin Magnussen: I hope so. There are a few low- but also a lot of medium-speed corners. I think our car has been reasonably good on most tracks this year and I expect it to be decent here also. Hopefully we can have a good one.

Q: And Kevin, I do need to talk to you about penalty points. You started the season on zero, six races in, you're now on 10, edging close to the limit of 12. Are you going to adjust your driving? Are you going to be a little bit more conservative now going forward to avoid a potential ban?
KM: I think the next time it's a race ban, so I think I'll have to, but I don't know. I think these situations where I've had to play the support role for my team-mate, they have been paying off, so it's been kind of valuable to us. I don't love the way the rules are; that it's possible. I would love it to not be possible at all. But since the rules are as they are and I didn't make the rules, I think there's stuff to be looked at there. For myself, I'm on 10 points, so I have to be careful not to get a race ban.

Q: Alright. Good luck this weekend. Thank you, Pierre. Let's move on to you. Alpine scored its first point of the season last time out in Miami. Do you feel that things are finally heading in the right direction?
Pierre Gasly: Yeah, I think there's been progress in Miami. It was positive to see the upgrade, bringing us a bit more performance onto the car and getting us closer to the top 10. So still a lot to be done, you know, to be in a better shape and closer to, you know, points-finishing positions consistently. But we're definitely making progress, yeah.

Q: Where is the car better than it was two months ago?
PG: Well, it's just the general package. You know, you're talking about weight. You're talking about a bit more downforce. You get a better understanding of the car package compared to the start of the year. So you manage to get the car in a better window early in the weekend. It's not drastically different, but we're able to maximize what we've got. And obviously, we've got to still keep working to add more performance to it.

Q: Now, Pierre, you are using a Senna livery on your helmet this weekend. Very recently, you drove his 1984 Toleman. I did just want to ask, what is it about Senna? Because he was killed two years before you were born. So tell us about what it is about him that you admire so much?
PG: I've always admired him since I was a child. Obviously, in France, I grew up hearing a lot about Alain Prost, who is the most successful French F1 driver of all time. And obviously, with Alain always came Ayrton's name. I watched a lot of documentaries and it's probably the most, to me, iconic battle in F1 history. I always admired, I will say, the style of racing, but also the person he was - the values, the way he was caring about his community. And, you know, he's one of the biggest champions of our sport and I think it was important to pay tribute, especially on this year, 30 years after the incident, it was important to me to pay tribute to one of the best of all time.

Q: How did you get on with the H-pattern stick shift?
PG: I must say, it's definitely easier these days. But it was a great exercise. It was the first time I actually had to drive with an H-pattern gearbox and I'm not going to lie, into the first corner I tried to downshift into second and ended up in fourth gear. But from there on, I got my head around it. And it was... I actually really loved it just from the fact that you have absolutely no electronics. So it's plain steering, three pedals, brake throttle, and clutch. And it just felt like you're only focusing on your line and your speed. There is a lot less into it than what we have now, with all this brake shape and diff, et cetera. Just very pure driving, very raw driving, which felt closer to what it was like back in the karting days, obviously with a lot more power. And it was definitely a very cool experience. And I'll be down for some more laps with old cars in the future.

Q: Thank you, Pierre. Zhou, let's come to you now. Some encouraging signs a couple of races ago from the team in China, but Miami turned out to be a difficult weekend. So what are your expectations coming to Imola?
Zhou Guanyu: Yeah, for us we did struggle quite a bit, or let's say, Miami was probably the weekend of the season where we were struggling just put the car into Q2. But yeah, in the race we was there, together with the pack, but we do have some upgrade here. It's not a big one. We have some bigger one coming later on in the season. But there's a performance gain for the new package we're going to have for Imola. So hopefully that will be better than what we hoped for on the data and then it will give us a bit of performance because it's so tight with the whole field and also even in the in the race craft, you know, if you can gain a couple of tenths that will put you much higher up and also put you in a much better position for the starting grid. Let's see. It's been of course a tricky start of the season but things are getting a bit more calmed down in the team. so we just focus purely on what's happening on track and hopefully we can quickly go back to the points.

Q: How much lap time do you need to become a regular in Q3 do you think? Is it two tenths or is it less than that?
ZG: Half a second?

Q: As much as that?
ZG: I mean, it depends on the track, of course. If you take off Miami, like even for Shanghai, Valtteri was in Q3. So, you know, we don't need a lot. We need just a tenth. But Miami, we do need like half a second there. So it's really depending on what track, the temperature, the grip level, the tyre wear. But I do think, you know, two tenths around that, it puts us in a much better window because it's so tight a field. Getting through to Q2 already, we can make things quite close into that final P9, P10 for Q3. So everything is just extremely close this year, like the last season. So we need to make sure that we can maximise every single detail we have and give it all.

Q: Thank you. Best of luck to you. Lando, let's come to you next. Hello, Grand Prix winner. Are you still on Cloud Nine after your success last time out?
Lando Norris: I mean, I celebrated appropriately for the occasion. But it's another weekend, so I've got to make sure I'm prepared and ready to go. But I mean, you still think of it a lot, I still think of it now. But at the same time, as much as you want to keep it in your mind, you have to turn your focus to the next weekend, which is this one, and hopefully try and replicate a similar thing. But yeah, an amazing, amazing weekend. One I'll probably remember for the rest of my life. So incredible and made the most of it. And yeah, as much as I loved it, it's now on to the next.

Q: The upgrades clearly worked in Miami. Do you think they'll be even better suited to Imola?
LN: I think we are just better suited to Imola, potentially the upgrade a little bit as well. Imola has generally been one of our most successful tracks as a team and for me as a driver, so I would like to say so. I think we've definitely taken a step forward. From what I know, other teams have upgrades too, so I don't think we're getting ahead of ourselves. I know I've put good confidence forward to the team. I've said that we're confident we can take steps forward. But I think I made it clear that we're not going to be there every weekend. I was still sixth at the time, and I'm always honest. I'm happily going to say that I was lucky last weekend with the Safety Car, and the strategy worked out perfectly. But that's how races go sometimes. So I wasn't just first because I was the quickest at the time, but I was quickest on track. And I think that was the first good sign we had. And then it turned into something more. Yeah, we were quickest at the time on track and I think the whole weekend was turning into something good and we were showing that the car made some good steps forward. But we need more. if we're going to challenge Ferrari more consistently, we're going to challenge Red Bull more consistently, but the team are doing a great job. They made some good steps and we have more things hopefully coming in the future and those are what we need to be there more often.

Q: With these upgrades, where do you think McLaren is in the pecking order then?
LN: We're third.

Q: Still third?
LN: Yep.

Check out our Thursday gallery from Imola here.


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