George Russell attended the 2022 Japanese Grand Prix Thursday Drivers’ Press Conference. Here is the full transcript!
Q: Daniel, coming to you now. Does Suzuka put a smile on your face?
George RUSSELL: He’s always got a smile on his face!
Daniel RICCIARDO: Ha! Yes. It’s a big one. It’s really, really cool to be back here. Yeah, already, as Max touched on like, it’s Thursday, but the fans are already here in full force with all the, I don’t know, would you call it apparel? It’s more like costumes and stuff. But there’s like a full size, full life Sebastian Vettel race suit helmet, already ready to go in the paddock earlier, so it’s fun.
Q: George coming to you now, just how different is this whole experience going to be both on-track and off-track compared to 2019?
George RUSSELL: Yeah, I mean, it was very exciting coming here in 2019. As the guys just touched on, the fans are obviously so enthusiastic, and it’s always a pleasure to come here. But obviously, the circuit itself is one of the greats and that is always, you know, a real joy to drive around the circuit.
Q: What bit of the track are you most looking forward to driving?
GR: I think all of it, to be honest. I think obviously, the first sector with the ‘Esses’ and that flow of corners. It is truly iconic. And it’s definitely, you know, a top-five circuit for probably all of us. So it’s going to be, you know, a fun Saturday I think in qualifying. We’ll see what the weather’s like on Sunday. Obviously, it was a unique race when we were here in 2019 because we had the typhoon on Saturday. So let’s see if we have a bit more of a normal weekend.
Q: Just briefly to throw it back to Singapore. A difficult race for you. How do you reflect on Sunday evening?
GR: Yeah, definitely difficult. I think it was never going to be straightforward starting from the back in those conditions. You know, we made some bold decisions. Obviously, everything’s easy in hindsight, and perhaps a little bit too risky, all in all. But yeah, we knew it wasn’t going to be straightforward. And that’s what happens when you have a bad qualifying on a circuit like that.
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Q: Did the pace of the car surprise you there with Lewis starting third and you got the fastest lap in the race?
GR: To be honest, not really, it’s sort of in line with what we expected. I think these races, especially post-summer break, we’re getting a really clear trend of where our car is working well and where it’s not working and it’s given us a really sort of clear development direction to go down. So I think it is a shame for us as a team to have not capitalised on that race weekend. I think we all felt that. But for sure, there’s still a lot of positive signs to take away, especially that we really struggled on three circuits at the start of the year, and arguably that’s probably the fastest race weekend we had last week.
Q: And how do you think the W13 will go here?
GR: I mean, I’d love for it to be as competitive as it was last weekend, but I think it’s going to be a little bit more of a struggle. I think Ferrari have been very fast in the medium, high-speed corners this year. The Red Bulls have been really slippery down the straights, which obviously, with only the one DRS zone here, they’ll probably be in a good place as well. So it’s not going to be straightforward, but I think we always show quite good pace on a Sunday. So there’s no reason why we can’t be in the fight.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Adam Cooper – Motorsports.com) Another cost-cap question: if a team is found guilty of spending too much money last year, obviously with an impact on this year, how are you going to feel about that, given how hard your teams have tried to stay under it? And how important is it that there’s an appropriate punishment?
GR: Firstly, similar to what Max said: it’s not my sort of duty to dive into those details and I’ll just sit and wait and see what the results are on Monday but I just know from our experience within Mercedes, how hard the whole team has worked to stay within that cost cap. We know we can bring more performance to the table if we had more money to spend and it’s as simple as that. And yeah, I trust in Mohammed and the FIA to bring in an appropriate punishment for anyone who’s found guilty of the charges accused and it should be quite straightforward. And you’d expect the amount that’s gone over should be the amount that’s taken off for next year’s budget and probably a bit more on top of that as a punishment. Yeah, let’s wait and see.