Q: George, coming to you now, another really strong race from you in Miami last time out. You’re now the only driver on the grid to have finished every race in the top five. What’s your reaction to that stat?
George RUSSELL: That’s all we’re going for, we’re not going for the championship this year, just top five every race, obviously, so it’s a meaningless stat. There’s only one that matters and that’s the championship order. And obviously good to stay consistent but the Ferrari and Red Bulls are sort of clawing away from us at the moment and we need to find some more lap time and find some more pace to try and turn that around.
Q: How confident are you doing that this weekend, finding more lap time?
GR: Yeah, I think we’re confident we can find more lap time but obviously every single team are bringing up updates to the car so if we make our car half second quicker and Ferrari make their car half a second quicker, we’re in the exact same boat as we were before, so, you know, we’re not just racing against a stopwatch we’re racing against the competition. And we have to wait and see but I think this weekend will be interesting for us, I don’t think we’re going to suddenly find that killer switch, which is going to put us on the top step of the podium, but maybe we’ll get some good answers to… point us in the right direction.
Q: And Lewis, thanks for waiting, coming to you now, you have an incredible record at this track. Of course, you won here last year. Just talk us through your prospects for the weekend?
Lewis HAMILTON: I really don’t know. I’m hoping it’s… every time I arrive into the weekend I’m hoping that the prospects are good. We’re working as hard as we can as a team to progress. And we have some upgrades it’s not a big upgrade like Daniel’s, but it’s… You know, I’m really proud of the team for what they’ve put together and I hope that when we get in the car, we noticed it.
Q: The car looked very different when we were here in pre-season testing so will it be useful to-back-to- back what you’ve got now with what you had?
LH: Yeah, definitely. It’s a great test track here in Barcelona and it was the first time we drove the car. We have the data from that and we can remember the feeling that we had during that time as well so… we did have bouncing back then also but it’d be interesting to see the parallels and just see how much we’ve progressed since then.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Claire COTTINGHAM – Racefans) Lewis, both in Melbourne and Miami, the World TV feed showed you expressing that you aren’t happy with the team’s strategy and that you needed to talk about it afterwards. Do you have any concerns about the team’s strategy? And is it a bit unfair when they’re showing these messages? Do you think it’s unfairly shown, do you think is not quite how you mean it, if you know what I mean?
LH: Well, firstly, we continue to work hard. I don’t have any problems with strategy. We learn every weekend, we have great discussions before and afterwards. We’ve been a little bit unfortunate. I definitely feel that…I mean, it’s no secret that for those that are watching, and for what is broadcast it’s hard for probably any of you to really truly understand what it’s like in the car. Your emotions are higher than ever, your heart rate is very high. And maybe a woman would understand, maybe having to give the answers during some difficult scenarios, but yeah, I mean, it’s never the same as you know, when you’re cool and chill and just having a normal conversation with someone. But when your heart rate’s as high as it is, you don’t always have the best answers to everything. But also there’s just… just shows there’s a lot of passion, it’s that that desire to do well.
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Q: (Sam Hall – GP Fans) Lewis, talking to Pierre yesterday, he was after a common sense conclusion to the jewellery saga and the questions about whether you should be allowed to wear jewellery or not? Have you had any continuing conversations with the FIA or Mohammed? And what has been the outcome of those discussions?
LH: I haven’t had any discussions with anybody since the last time I spoke on Sunday at the last race. So what I’m aware of is that those who are married are allowed to wear their wedding ring. So… yeah,
GR: You just need to get married then. You just need to get married then.
LH: No, no. You first.
Q: (Alan Baldwin – Reuters) Lewis, we’ve got a new race director this weekend and it was an interview given last week with Mohammed Ben Sulayem in a British newspaper suggesting that Michael Masi might not be out of the frame for the race directorship at some point in the future. And there’s a follow-up suggesting that you were very annoyed at the suggestion. Can you just clarify what your thoughts are on that whether Michael Masi – if he were to come back – whether you would find that acceptable?
LH: I only heard of that story like a couple of days ago firstly, and I haven’t spoken to anyone and particularly I’ve actually not done an interview for that newspaper for at least probably 10 years, something like that. So it’s inaccurate as are some of the… most of the stories, but I don’t really have a particular feeling about it. I mean, yeah, not given it any thought, I don’t know what Mohammed has said, I’ve not read his story, I don’t know what he is… I don’t know what his agenda is.
Q: (Luke Smith – Autosport) Lewis question for you, it’s been a tricky start to the season but it’s often in these bits of adversity where teams and drivers, they can learn a lot about themselves and make big steps. What have you learned about yourself through this early part of the year? And George, what qualities have you seen in Lewis as a leader trying to help turn the team around as we get into the rest of the season?
LH: Well firstly, I wouldn’t say that I’m the leader. George and I work equally as hard together, I would say, to help drive the team and be a part… row just as hard as everyone else in the team. But yeah, I mean, just always through adversity and challenging times, you always learn more about yourself, how you deal with things, how you reflect on things, how you are able to turn negatives into positives. And I wouldn’t say I’ve learned particularly much more that I knew most of the stuff so I will say that past experiences have helped during this phase. And, yeah, I would say to just reassuring just the strength that I know I have mentally, and also just reassuring us that I still love my job, I still love the challenge even if it’s not fighting for wins, I’m still enjoying this battle that we’re having internally in terms of trying to… with the car, I mean, and trying to chase down these other guys.
GR: Yeah, it’s been inspiring to see how Lewis works and gets the most out of the whole team. And I think that’s been one of the big things I’ve seen with joining Mercedes, seeing how Lewis does things, how Toto does things, the culture that is ingrained within everybody. It’s sort of relentless, they’re always striving for more, never being complacent and seeing how everybody’s pulling together at the moment to try and resolve these issues we’re facing, as I said, it inspires and it’s also motivating for myself as well, because you learn how the best in the business do it and you need to continuously push yourself for more. So I think I’m in a really privileged position to be teammates with Lewis and be part of Mercedes.
Q: (Giles Richards -The Guardian) Lewis and George as well. Toto said this weekend is going to be the decision-making time for whether they – Mercedes – admits they made a mistake with the concept of the car this year. You’ve been driving it, I’m just wondering what your feelings are about the design of the car, and how it would feel if the team did say, actually, we hold hands up, we got it wrong?
GR: I think this weekend is for sure going to be important as most weekends are, but I think, you know, Rome wasn’t built in a day and it’s taken time to firstly recognise what the problems are, develop things back at the factory to try and resolve these problems, and then try and implement them and obviously we don’t get much track time. And Miami was a first taste of the direction we need to take and this weekend will be the second taste and I think we’ll have a good conclusion after this weekend, if we can continue down the path that we’ve chosen, or we need to go down a different path. So yes, that’s exciting but I think if this is the path, we’re not going to suddenly see us, as I said before, on the top step of the podium, but either way, we will have a positive outcome from this weekend.
LH: Yeah, not really, a huge amount to add to what George has said, I’m not a designer so I can’t… I don’t want to say that I have an opinion on whether design is right or wrong. It looks a little bit different to some others but I think it looks unique and that’s what we stand for, as a team, just always innovating and coming up with interesting concepts. But I think as Toto said, you know, we will understand from this weekend whether where we are is the right direction, and if not, we’ll band up and we’ll move in another direction. But I think it won’t mean that we have to start from scratch, I don’t think, it will just probably be a side step in another direction.
Q: (Louis Dekker – NOS) Lewis and George, it’s about your colleague Nyck de Vries, I wonder what can a driver bring to a new team in one hour of free practice? And can you tell me something about his role in your team?
GR: I think slightly counter-intuitively. I personally don’t think it’s correct to be getting drivers in for FP1, to showcase what they can do in front of the world in 60 minutes, in 10 laps in a car they’ve barely driven and be judged off this. And this is, you know, speaking from my own experience of the number of FP1 sessions. And you know the pressure is going to be immense now we’re putting even more pressure on these guys to go out there and try and prove them are… they always going to be judged how they get on, but that’s just the way the game is at the moment and I’m sure he’ll do a great job and to be honest, Nyck’s been very useful for me personally, at the races. He’s always watching the on-board videos and looking at the data and telling me to look at this, that or the other if he notices anything. So having somebody like Nyck, who is pretty on it, he’s got his head screwed on, and he knows what he’s talking about, has been beneficial for us as a team.
LH: He’s a great guy. Great lad. And…
Q: Are you pleased to see him getting his…
LH: No, I agree with George in that sense of that, yeah, I mean, you look at sometimes further down the order that they just send a driver out on light fuel, and it’s not a lot of laps, I mean, maybe 20 or so laps, it’s a lot of pressure. But it can be a fun opportunity but I don’t think they should be judged on that for sure. But Nyck, I don’t think we’ll be judged on it. I think it’s more for him to get a good feel. Hopefully his feeling can have… then he can have a bigger impact on simulation tools but he’s an integral part of our team and works closely with us all in the background. He always comes with a great smile and positive energy.
Q: (Phil Duncan – PA) Just following on from something that Carlos said yesterday about these new cars having an impact – a long term impact on drivers’ health. I just want to ask Lewis and George for their opinions on that, particularly because you guys have had a lot of the porpoising. And whether you think it’s, you know, bad for the back, for the neck, the heads, is it dangerous, are these cars dangerous do you think in that aspect?
LH: I think it probably applies more to the younger ones. For me, I’m a lot older and my back’s in good health.
GR: I thought it’d be the opposite.
LH: Yeah, I don’t know. Carlos can’t even touch his toes.
GR: He walked in on a zimmer frame.
Carlos SAINZ: I didn’t understand, sorry. I’m a bit switched off. But I didn’t say… I heard him saying that the cars were dangerous and I’ve never said that. I just said that the cars, with the technology that we have nowadays, maybe to have us bouncing like crazy out there and suffering from this phenomenon is for the long term – maybe I open a debate, you know, to see if we can do something different with these regulations that, by the way I’m a big fan of because they’ve improved the racing and all that. But maybe there’s something a bit softer that we can find for the future.
LH: Definitely, when you have it, when it’s hardcore when you’ve had it, it’s when we’re having to lift off down the straight, halfway down the straight, or even earlier than halfway down the straight, yeah, there’s potential long term consequences. But I think we’re OK now,
GR: I’d love to… It would be quite cool if we were able to share some sort of numbers with you guys and probably confidential so ask the team what’s possible but, you know, when you’re going down the straight at over 200 miles an hour and you’re smashing up and down on the ground, sure, you wouldn’t choose to have it that way. And the cars are obviously extremely rigid, and they’re not meant to be a comfortable ride and I guess you can almost compare it to like the footballers – I don’t know what era it was in 60s, 70s, 80s when they had the massively heavy footballs and there was research done and analysis done that there were health consequences for these chaps who were heading the ball and things were changed. So, you know, Formula 1 is the centre of innovation, there’s no reason why we can’t find a scientific solution for this.
Q: Throwing it forward a week to Monaco, is it going to be that much harder?
LH: It’s slower. We’re much slower in Monaco in a straight line so it shouldn’t be a problem.
Q: And in terms of visibility and seeing turn in points?
LH: We’re going slower on the straight so hopefully we won’t have bouncing there but yeah, I mean, if it was bouncing we’re not going to be seeing much.
Q: (Alan Baldwin – Reuters) Lewis, on the jewellery subject. Can you just give us an update on whether you’ve got to get your piercings removed from Monaco? I mean, there were some comments you made in Miami suggesting that you’re minded not to but I just wondered if there’s been any change of thought on that.
LH: I haven’t, there’s no news update.