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Canada Grand Prix: FIA Team Representatives Press Conference


Today's team representatives press conference with Mike Krack, Andrea Stella, Ayao Komatsu and James Vowles.

Mike, perhaps we could start with you. Can we start by talking about one of your drivers? Lance Stroll was in the press conference yesterday. He said he believes in the Aston project and that it's on his mind that he wants to continue with the team in 2025. What's he communicated to you? Is he staying next year?
Mike Krack: He has communicated the same to me. I think we are in a good exchange for this situation. We know that Aston Martin is Lance's home. He prefers to concentrate on the Montréal Grand Prix here. There's already enough going on. And I think soon we will have to communicate something.

Something positive. Well, let's talk about his year so far. Three points finishes. Do you feel he's taken a step forward over the winter from last year?
MK: I never had a doubt in any of this. We could see clearly that as soon as we give the drivers a car that they can use, and this is for both, the performance is there. And this has happened last year. This has happened at the beginning of this year. And also lately, we see that as soon as we don't do that, they struggle more. And this is something that we have to work on. So I think we have to move the focus away from the drivers. In this case, they need to get the best of what we have. And at the moment, it's not good enough.

Well, tell us a little bit more about the car. What are the issues? How long is it going to take to sort them out?
MK: Well, the car is quite tough to drive, and we have not managed to cure that so far. So what we need is a car more benign, easier to extract potential, give them more confidence. And we had something like that in the past, and that was much, much easier for the drivers. If you lack confidence in your car, then you cannot go to the maximum. You have to take margin and you are much more exposed to these small gaps that we are having these days. And then you can end up on the wrong side of it. And then you start a race much, much further back and there is no point. So it's up to us to fix these issues. You asked me how long. I would be happy if I could tell you in two races we have fixed everything. We're working hard on it to cure these problems and we're trying to bring these updates as quick as possible.

Is there one particular thing you can tell us about? If there's one issue that is the overriding problem that the drivers are talking about the most, what is it?
MK: If it was one overriding issue, we would have already fixed it.

What about this weekend, just quickly? Do you feel it's going to be better here?
MK: Yeah, I mean, we are all quite excited, obviously. Canadian Grand Prix - home race for us as a team, home race for Laurence, his family. So it's a big event for us. We are all happy to be here. And yeah, the track, we need to see. It has been resurfaced. The weather is a little bit uncertain, so this could be opportunities. So we are quite positive to take the positive spirit that we have coming to this event into a good result on Sunday.

Alright. Best of luck with that. Thank you, Mike. Andrea, if we could come to you now. First up, any tattoos to commemorate Lando's win in Miami? or is that Zak's thing?
Andrea Stella: There's no requirement in the job description to have a tattoo in case of a victory. So I left the whole pressure to Zak. And I hope that he's going to have a few more.

Well, I hope he's got a long arm because it seems that McLaren is in a good place with the win and the three second places in the last four races. Are you in good shape here? Do you think now you can be competitive at every Grand Prix we go to? When I say competitive, I mean can you challenge for wins?
AS: We think that we could be a challenger for podiums. If we look at the current situation from a competitiveness point of view, there are a few teams that are really in a narrow band in terms of lap time, separated by a few tenths of a second. Track layout makes a difference. Drivers can make a difference. I think we saw Leclerc was in phenomenal shape in Monaco. So there are many variables. What's important is just to try and be as prepared as possible and maximise the package. And then we see what the results will be.

You mentioned drivers. Oscar was in the press conference yesterday and he said he feels he's taken a step forward in the last few races. Do you feel the same way? Have you seen that?
AS: Yes, I think that's the case. Especially after China, we looked at what we had learned in the first part of the season together with Oscar's engineers, and we found a couple of opportunities that we started to work on. And I have to say that they seem to be delivering an acceleration in Oscar's development. There's always underlying development, but in this case, both in terms of pure speed, which you can see in qualifying, And in terms of race craft, I think we have seen Oscar competing at a very high level and, like I say, an acceleration in his development.

How much of that is due to coming back to racetracks for the second time in a Formula 1 car?
AS: Coming back to the same track is definitely important. There's a sense of familiarity. There's historical data. There's a lot of things that you review after year one. But in addition to that, it's also that you have more races that you do in Formula 1, more races to work with your engineers, more races to just understand what you need to work on. So I think it's not only the fact that you come to the same track for the second time, it's just the overall journey of development, which I have to say for Oscar is quite impressive.

Andrea, thank you. Ayao, let's come to you now. Monaco was a tough moment for the team. Can you tell us how much damage there was to the cars and how big a job it was to get them ready for this race?
Ayao Komatsu: Yeah, of course, Kevin's car had quite a bit of damage. In terms of how big a job that was, it wasn't huge. It was not a minor job, but still a reasonably big job. But it's not major, major, if you like. So there was no concern over preparing a car for this event, if you like. But yeah, that was a reasonably big damage.

And when you have both cars taken out as they were, are there any instructions from the team principal to the drivers about how to go racing at the next event, this weekend?
AK: Yes and no. But of course, you have to look at everything in context, right? You know, Kevin had lots of criticism after Miami, and we spoke about it a few times before Imola, in various points. And Imola, he delivered a really good race from his side. Really, I felt like if the team delivered a good strategy, he should have scored points in Imola. So that was the best way to answer the critics, right? And then Monaco, he had the speed from FP1, and then qualifying couldn't quite deliver. Then, of course, we had a team issue such that meant we had to start from the back. Then from that moment, you know, we had to go for alternative strategy, you know, splitting the drivers. So you've got to play the long game. So the decision-making process at that instant to go for that gap, which wasn't really there, it's not necessarily right. and then of course you know he expected Pérez to leave more room for him, but that's not up to him. in the end, you know, there was a point where everything was under his control, where he could have made a decision to back off, which he didn't. So we spoke about all this completely openly. Then just reset for this weekend again. You know, he's done it in Imola, so he needs to deliver clean weekend here and I think this circuit could play to our car's strengths and hide our weakness, shall I say. And Kevin's good in a circuit like here. So, yeah, I expect him to be able to deliver a good, clean race weekend here.

While we're talking drivers, how close are you to announcing your 2025 line-up?
AK: Yeah, not too far, not immediate, but not too far. So let's say, yeah, within a couple of weeks to months, shall I say.

Weeks or months? This will be the first driver pairing chosen with you as team principal. Are you clear in your mind as to what sort of pairing you want? Do you want two experienced drivers? Do you want to mix, youth and experience? Is that clear in your mind?
AK: Yes. Yeah. I mean, as a team, you know, we are growing up. We are improving the team. So a pretty dynamic situation, so I think the mixture of good youth and then experience to give us the reference would be a pretty exciting combination.

Alright. Thank you for that. James, thanks for waiting. Let's come to you. And well, we're talking drivers. So can I start by saying two words? Carlos Sainz. There's been a lot of speculation about him and Williams in recent weeks. What's the situation?
James Vowles: Well, first and foremost, I think Carlos is an exceptional driver. He's a race-winning driver. And I think any team would be privileged to have him as a part of their organisation. But more than that, there's nothing to say at the moment. Yeah, nothing more than that.

So, weeks or months?
JV: Definitely, 100% by December, I'll be able to tell you.

OK. Andrea, can I just quickly bring you in on this while we're talking. Carlos Sainz? Obviously, you've worked with him at McLaren. What are his greatest strengths as a driver? What would a team be getting when they get Carlos Sainz?
AS: Carlos is an interesting driver, I have to say, not only for the qualities that James reminded and that led him to be a race winner, but in particular, I would highlight that he is very rational. He needs to create a plan in his head around what is the fastest way in a lap, what is the fastest way of racing. He adds a lot of rationality to his instinct. And the importance is that when you have this rational elaboration, it's also easy to communicate. And then it becomes a big asset for the team because what he's processing, what he's seeing as an opportunity or what he's seeing as a problem, it becomes very clear for the team. It's very well communicated and we can do something about it. So I think for us has been definitely one of the leading variable in the development of the team because of these characteristics.

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