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Abu Dhabi GP 2022

NOVEMBER 17, 2022

Thursday Press Conference

George Russell
© Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd.

DRIVER GROUP 1: Yuki TSUNODA (AlphaTauri), Fernando ALONSO (Alpine), Sebastian VETTEL (Aston Martin), Lewis HAMILTON (Mercedes), Nicholas LATIFI (Williams)

Q: Sebastian, if we could start with you, please. The moment has arrived, your last weekend as a Formula 1 driver? How are you feeling at this stage?

Sebastian VETTEL: I don't know. Maybe I should ask Fernando, he went through it already! He will go through it again, I guess, at some point. But yeah, I feel okay. I mean, obviously, I guess after so many years and races, there's the routine of Thursday. But I think it's difficult in a way to grasp but I'm aware of what's happening and I'm happy about it, as far as I can be.

Q: Are emotions going to be running high when you're inside the car?

Vettel: I will see. I guess at some point it will be a little bit different. It does feel a little bit different already today, even though, like I said, a lot of it is routine. But yeah, how much and how it will be I don't know yet. I guess you have to ask me again. If you catch me.

Q: I'm sure we will. It seems trite to ask only one question about the last 17 years of your life. But if you have one abiding memory from your Formula 1 career, what is it?

Vettel: I don't think it works that way. I don't think it's fair to pick one. So, I obviously can't speak for an hour now, and I don't really want to but I think I've been lucky that there's been so many moments to choose from. Yeah, impossible to remember everything after so many years. I guess the firsts, in a way, always stand out. But yeah, I think every time had its highlights. There were its moment, and I also enjoy the last two years, even though from a sporting point of view, maybe they weren't really a highlight. There was nothing to celebrate, no success in this regard. Still, I think, I learned a lot. I think I progressed, I grew and had a good time together with a team. We didn't get the reward on track but still, I don't think it's fair to pick only one race or one moment.

Q: Lewis, if I could come to you, next, please. When you think of the battles you've had with Sebastian over the years, what comes to mind?

Lewis HAMILTON: When I think of Seb... he was a bit of a nuisance back then!

Vettel: I'm actually quite sorry... it's your answer but I think Baku wasn't a great moment, because what I did wasn't right. But actually from that moment onwards...

Hamilton:: ...Our friendship got better!

Vettel: Yeah, a lot better. So I don't want that moment to... not happen, if you see what I mean!

Hamilton:: I agree. We always had such great battles, honestly, and I was just thinking, most drivers are coming back. He's come back [Alonso], you're probably going to come back. We're seeing other drivers coming back, so I'm sitting here accepting, yes, it's your last race... but... He'll be back. Formula 1 has a way of sucking you back in. We've noticed that from so many other drivers. No?

Vettel: Maybe we can make a deal. We'll speak outside, when you want to get away, maybe I want to come back!

Hamilton:: And just swap. Alternate.

Q: Lewis, let's talk about Mercedes now. You guys were extremely quick in Brazil. Do you think you can repeat that level of performance here?

Hamilton:: Who knows? We are still improving the car. We don't believe that this track will necessarily be our strongest. We think it's suited to the others a little bit better, but I won't know 'til I get out there, to be honest. I hope that it's like the last race.

Q: Final one from me. I know how much you're into statistics, but this is your 200th race with Mercedes, how time flies?

Hamilton:: Yeah. I was just thinking of the first race we had here in 2009, which I think Seb... actually it was one of the races we were competing in again, which Seb won. But, yeah, it's been an amazing journey, one that I'm incredibly honoured to have been on with Mercedes. And it's, I think, it's one of the longest standing drivers with a team? So, proud of that. Shows loyalty continues to be at the core of one of the many pillars of the values that we have as a team and looking forward to extending.

Q: Fernando, you too, have enjoyed many great battles with the man on your left. What will you miss about Sebastian?

Fernando ALONSO: Yeah, I mean, it's going to be strange to don't have him in next year and the first race. But yeah, I mean, we share, as you said, so many things. Over the last 15 years, sometimes we fought for championships, sometimes for seven places, even in Japan to the finish line, and we still obviously always enjoy every single battle and, and respect each other as much as we could. So yeah, I think my career is going to be linked to Sebastian in a way because we fought for many great things and in the best seasons of our life, probably, and even though it was on his side, the outcome always. I think it's going be very linked, our two names - or my name in Sebastian's career, and vice versa.

Q: Has he given you any tips about life at Aston Martin?

Alonso: No, not yet. I will ask on Sunday evening.

Q: Let's talk about Alpine you had tremendous pace in Brazil, can you carry that momentum on here?

Alonso: Let's see. I think it has been up and down a little bit for us in terms of performance, but also reliability has been our weakest point. So, let's see if we can finish the season on a high and with a good result here. About how competitive we can be, I don't think that we can repeat the Brazil performance. I don't think that we will be that close to the top three but hopefully if we are in front of the midfield that's already something for us, so that's the target ,finishing the race with a good result and yeah enjoy every single lap on Sunday.

Q: You're not leaving Formula 1 but you are moving on from Alpine. How do you look back on your two years with the team?

Alonso: Great obviously, coming back to the sport is never a guarantee that you will be okay and competitive and you still enjoy everything in Formula 1. So I had some concerns, obviously, two years ago, when I did the demo here, before the Young Driver test in 2020 and yeah, I think last year it was not maybe 100% happy with the performance and with how the season went. This year, I'm much more happy with the car and with the performance itself and much more I think ready for the next challenge. So, you cannot underestimate coming back to the sport - in case Seb wants some advice - but you need a few races or even one full season to feel 100 per cent again and is what happened to me but I'm happy now that I'm I feel a very good level.

Q: Yuki coming to you now. You had a brilliant weekend here in Abu Dhabi last year. How difficult is it going to be to repeat that performance this time around?

Yuki TSUNODA: Yeah, this year, consistently, we're having up and down season so far, so could be good. Like last year. But yeah, see how it goes. In Brazil, wasn't as good as what I wanted. So obviously, I wish, hopefully, I can continue like the result I had last year which was best results for me. So having good memories, so it's already good start. So, see how it goes.

Q: Now this is the end of your second season in Formula 1. In what areas do you feel you've progressed?

Tsunoda: For me, I think I would say in general: physical side; mentality side and driving side. I think overall, I'm pretty happy, especially I'll say, now I'm feeling relaxed in the race week, especially Thursday, Friday, which I didn't know how to approach and I was stressing consistently, especially last year, rushing everything. That makes a little bit to stress and can be frustrating, and made it a little bit difficult by myself. But now I can kind of be relaxing and I know how to adapt to any situation. So, feeling confidence, good confidence and anything that happens, like the things I didn't expect, still, I know how to handle it. So yeah, I think overall, this year, I'm pretty happy about the how I progressed, every race. And yeah, I think hopefully I can continue or even more, this momentum. And also next year as well.

Q: Nicky, thank you for waiting. Of course it is your last race weekend in Formula 1 at least for now. How are you feeling coming into the weekend?

Nicholas LATIFI: Yeah, there's obviously a range of different emotions. I mean, for sure, when I found out the news I wasn't going to be continuing with the team, there was six races to go, so I went in with the approach to enjoy each opportunity, try to make the most of it, and try to enjoy as much as I can and not sweat or stress about the little stuff. Or what seems like the little stuff in hindsight, that's been difficult to deal with throughout the season. And obviously now, we've arrived at the last race which, on the one hand felt like it was very slowly approaching but on the other hand, quite quickly, so a bit of a weird position. Coming into the race, for sure it's a bit sad, and then disappointing. I mean, I would love to continue on in Formula 1. I mean, that's my goal. That's where I want to be. But it's looking obviously, like, it's not going to be the case. So, you know, I'm grateful for the opportunity that I've had these three years, I know the very privileged position I've been in. Many drivers would kill to drive one race, let alone, three years in F1, so I'm very grateful for that and just looking to enjoy it as much as I can.

Q: And how do you reflect on those three years?

Latifi: I think it's safe to say it's been a very up-and-down year. My first two years were... I guess what you can expect, as the first two years in Formula 1: a rookie season is a rookie season. Second year, I think there was some really big improvements all across, all around, and I guess this year, as a team, collectively we took a step backwards and I just struggled to get on top of the car. Various different issues. Obviously some things in my control, come things out of my control. That's motor sport, that's the way it always goes. This year I would say ultimately was my worst year out of the three years in what was a crucial year for me to secure the future. So, I think that's the reality of it. And it just didn't work out in the end.

Q: Any news on what's happening next?

Latifi: Not yet.

QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR

Q: (David Croft - Sky Sports F1) Question to Lewis. Not just one of the longest associations with a team, you're the first driver to start 200 races for the same team. So, congratulations on that. Can we just reflect for a few moments on your 177TH(sic) start for Mercedes, and that was here last year. What do you remember about that last lap from a sporting context? Because, for all the controversy, it was one of the most dramatic laps we've ever had in Formula 1. What do you remember about the fight with Max? The battle? And what are your thoughts coming back here to Abu Dhabi 12 months on?

Hamilton:: I don't really think about it, so I don't really have many thoughts on the last race here. I've had many great experiences here in the previous years. Even from the first race that I had here in 2009, which was the hybrid era in which I was leading and had the brake failure, which was... I remember the feeling of having to retire in that race. So I've had lots of ups and downs at this race. And, yeah, just I'm not really necessarily focused on stuff that it's behind me, and more so trying to... not control but trying to be the best I can move forwards and the days ahead. And again, just as I said, just really proud. It's crazy that I've been with Mercedes. They started with me when I was 13 in 1997, so it's been a long journey with them.

Q: Did you ever watch the last lap back again. Did you ever think to yourself, 'I'll have a little look, see where I could have held him off, if it was possible.'

Hamilton:: I don't look in the past and try and think of what I could have done better necessarily, in that respect, no.

Q: (David Tremayne) For Lewis, just a quick look back to last weekend. Did you have damage on your car. I read something about possibly the front of the floor - and if so, what affect did that have on it?

Hamilton:: Honestly, I haven't checked. So, I think I was quite lucky that there wasn't really a huge amount of damage. I don't really know how there wasn't damage, obviously, because it was a decent knock. I think I lost one of the wheel-shield things, which I think lost a little bit performance. But obviously with the next tyre change that came back. The team have not told me that there was anything particular, so I don't think I was down.

Q: (Alex Kalinauckas - Autosport) Question to Sebastian, please. You said you're not keen to pick out particular highlights from your career, maybe over a season as well. But you did say earlier you've 'learned, progressed and grown' with Aston in the last two years? Can you explain what have you learned - even after all these years, at the end of your F1 career? Thank you.

Vettel: Well, I think, looking back, obviously 2020 wasn't a good year for me. And then it was the first time when I was really at the point of, you know, do I have a drive? Do I want to drive? Should I stop? And I felt like I wanted to drive and I was very grateful for the opportunity that I was given, obviously, hopes were high, because the team was performing so well in 2020. And the target was to keep doing that. It came differently but I think those years have been very important for me: one for the driving, but also, maybe to have the room and the possibility to grow even more off-track. And some of the things that I've addressed that I feel are very, very important to all of us, having had the freedom and space to do so. But also from a sporting point of view. Fernando touched on it, we were racing each other quite a lot in the last two years. I don't think I've had a lot of races where I started inside the top 10 And it's a different race, it's a lot more busy, it's more hectic, a lot more things happen. It's very clean when you start from the top five positions and you don't need to worry about it. Whereas if you start further back, anything is always possible. And also, it was showing me the effort that a team in the midfield, that you don't even know, in a way, it exists when you're always at the front, puts in a lot of effort and maybe even more effort, and doesn't get any reward. Teams but also drivers, I think the commitment is as high as it is at the front but you guys all care for the front which is the name of the game and the sport and that's how it is and how it should be. So yeah, I think lots of different aspects that taught me different lessons about our sport, my racing, but also about life.

Q: (Panagiotis Seitanidis - Car Magazine Greece) First of all, I would like to say that it's very emotional for us all that Seb is leaving, danke Seb, and since I hope it's not a goodbye but a see-you-later, I will ask Fernando, when does it sink in and eat you alive, to come back and you get thinking as to come back. You should listen to him.

Alonso: Sure. I don't know what his emotions are now but in 2018, for me, even the front wing, I don't know if you noticed, it was written 'see you later'. It was not a bye-bye. So in a way, in my head, it was always the 2021 rules, an opportunity to come back. I had in my head different challenges at that point. I wanted to race in Daytona, in Dakar, in Le Mans. I wanted to fight for a World Endurance Championship. I don't know, I had different things, and Formula 1 was not a priority, or I didn't have my head in Formula 1 anymore. But I love Formula 1 And I felt that in 2021 It could be an opportunity with the new rules and maybe everything re-shuffles a little bit, in terms of how the teams are, or the competitiveness of them. So yeah, I mean, I fulfill all my boxes in those years away from Formula 1, and I still watch the races at home. And yeah, the rules. They postponed the rules one year for 2022. But I came in 2021 anyway.

Vettel: I don't know, how old am I going to be? How old are you now? 40? 41? So I have a bit of time.

Q: But you're looking at other categories? Do you want to go and do Dakar or World Endurance?

Vettel: Yeah, I think naturally you do look at other stuff. I don't know yet, is the answer. So, I think I quite look forward to the idea of nothing, at first, and then see what it does to me. I mean, there are lots of other things in my head as well. Other interests and ideas outside racing. But yeah, obviously I've done this for so long and it's a big part of... It's central to my life. So it will be difficult to say that I'm not going to miss it, but how much and whether then I start to look at something else, we'll see. I always liked, for some reason, rallying, but I can see it's a major challenge, because it's so different to what we do in, let's say, classic circuit racing. So yeah, I don't know. We'll see.

Q: (David Schneider - Hersey Shiga Global) Question for Yuki and a short question for Lewis. Yuki, if I remember correctly, last year you went through a very special training programme during the winter break. I think Franz Tost was preparing it for you. You spent very little time in Japan. This year do you plan to return to Japan to spend a little bit more time with the Japanese fans?

Tsunoda: No, currently, I'm planning for a little bit more in Europe. And I'll go back to Japan, but I think it'll be as short as it was probably last year and then come back to Europe and train as last year or this year's beginning of the season. So I'm not planning on spending too long there. Or else I am going to be really fat.

Q: (David Schneider - Hersey Shiga Global) I think around two weeks ago, you published a photo of Yuki when he was, I think, five years old. What was the reason behind it?

Hamilton:: Shoot, I don't really remember. I just thought it was a really funny picture. I mean, just sitting here, we've got the three oldest drivers here. And then you are the youngest here. How old are you?

Tsunoda: 22.

Hamilton:: Are you really 22?

Tsunoda: I don't know. Sometimes I also have questions about it as well.

Hamilton:: It's good to have a good fake ID. But no, it was just a funny picture just to think of how time travels and yeah, jeez, we've been here for a long time.

Q: (Ben Hunt - The Sun) Lewis I know you don't like going back to 12 months ago, but I just wondered how much you've changed as a person as a result of that? Has it changed your attitude to racing, confidence within the organisation, attitude to F1 or anything else?

Hamilton:: I don't think so. I think at the beginning maybe but yeah, I think my love for the sport is still the same. And I think my commitment and time here hopefully is showing that. I think it's just been a much, much different year, one that naturally none of us in the team expected. And it's taught us lessons that we, again, hadn't realised that we didn't have or hadn't experienced in the past. And I think it's just made us stronger. I think it's been a really positive year in that respect.

Q: (Bartosz Pokrzywinski - Parc Ferme) I've got a question for Seb and Nicholas. Sebastian you once said 'bring back the V12s' - catchphrase. If you had, let's say, one sentence from both of you, leaving Formula 1 right now, what would you like to change in Formula 1? Let's say the final sentence, your final suggestion to the series regarding regulation change, engine change?

Latifi: That's a tough one. I mean, I guess someone in the position I've been in the past years, let's say, probably less differences between the cars. But I mean, that's obviously part of Formula 1 and having that, let's say, scope for technical creativity and whatnot. I mean, it's obviously the direction the sport is trying to go in, to kind of close the field together. But yeah, obviously being in the position where we, as a team, have been fighting for the positions towards the back, and for sure, I would have loved to experience being able to be in more of a fight. And I think that goes without saying for podiums and wins, but you know, even just points more often. That's probably what I would say.

Vettel: Big question. I don't know, I think in general, more transparency, because I think the world is opening up, F1 should follow, should lead, so more transparency. More credibility, as I think with all the claims and all the things that we're saying we're doing and wanting to do in the future, I think we need to prove that we are actually doing them, as a sport, and then from a car point of view, I would make the cars a lot lighter. I think it brings a lot of joy. By definition, if the cars are lighter we'll have less problems with tyres. It will be more physical, more exhausting, I think it would be more exciting for driving the cars.

Q: (Pranav Prasanna - Talk 100.3 Radio) I have a question for Sebastian and I'll come to you as well, Lewis. Seb, is it easier psychologically or is it a bit more complicated, you're stepping away from motor sport. Would you say you don't have to put that much level of stress in your body? Or would you say you rather miss the adrenaline rush?

Vettel: Well, I don't know yet, but I definitely thought about a lot of things and about the adrenaline as well. And to me, the peak of the adrenaline was/is always Suzuka, because the track really shows the most the cars can deliver and made me feel most alive compared to, let's say, maybe other tracks. So yeah, I will miss that and that will be impossible to replace. I can do lots of other things and I have lots of opportunities, probably. I think I'm in a very privileged and lucky position. But when it comes to adrenaline, the sort of feeling alive inside the car, when you feel the forces and the grip and everything around the track, yeah that will disappear, but I feel at some point it's going to hit all of us - except Fernando! So yeah, I think it's something we'll ultimately have to learn to deal with and find something else to maybe replace that in a little way. So yeah, we'll see.

Q: (Pranav Prasanna - Talk 100.3 Radio) Similar question. You're a seven times world champion. What keeps the fire going on inside you to continue in Formula 1. And there was a mention of your record of starts as well. So just a few words on that?

Hamilton:: What keeps me going? I don't know. It's a question I have myself probably. Maybe it's that Fernando and Seb are still here. But now obviously we're going to be losing Seb. I don't know. I think I still love what I'm doing. I still love the challenge every year trying to evaluate at the end where you've been, what you've learned, leave the crap behind and then you know take the good bits forward. How can you evolve to be better each time? How can you be healthier? How can you expand your mind and your body and spirit, so that I'm fully focused on doing that all the time. And yeah, we're talking about the adrenaline rush. I mean, naturally, we're all adrenaline seekers, and I don't think that's... I'm sure Seb's going to have to find something else because I think driving the farm truck is not going to bring that! Your tractor, you said you had a tractor. Maybe he'll come skydiving with me. I tried to talk him into it, but he said he's got kids, so it's probably not going to happen...

Q: (Martin Moravec - DPA) A question for Sebastian, please. Do you have already an idea how the first day of your next your new life will look like?

Vettel: Well, it will be more than a day now. I hope it will be much longer than a day. So I don't worry about the one day so much. But yeah, like I said, you know, I said nothing earlier. Obviously, I have plenty of ideas. But I think it's that not having a commitment, not having the race calendar that kicks off by definition in February, not having that January getting ready, visiting the team, getting ready for the new season, seeing the new car. I think a lot of things, you know, that have given me so much to hold on to in the last years, looking forward for them to disappear. Not that I hate them. I don't hate racing, I love racing. There's been many moments this year where I loved what I was doing so much. But I think I see it as a challenge. I see it as an opportunity to learn a lot about myself and to put myself in exactly that position that I haven't been before and I'm not comfortable with, because I think the truth is, after so many years, we know how to do this job, I don't want to say asleep, because that's arrogant, but I would say with a lot of routine and a lot of experience. A lot of things don't surprise you anymore. So I'm looking forward to being surprised and as I said, learn about myself, spend more time with my kids and family, learn together with them, which obviously will be a different challenge to me and a different pace. But yeah, lots of things, and give more room to maybe the things that I naturally didn't have time for. Because I was doing this. So, yeah, we'll see. It's not like I have a calendar and will say in March, this is going to happen, and in April or May this is going to happen. I think I look forward to not having the calendar and then obviously at some point I need to find a lot of things that will keep me busy because I'm a busy, busy bee, busy mind. So yeah.

DRIVER GROUP 2: Charles LECLERC (Ferrari), Mick SCHUMACHER (Haas), Daniel RICCIARDO (McLaren), George RUSSELL (Mercedes), Max VERSTAPPEN (Red Bull)

Q: George, if we could start with you, please. How was the party on the flight here? Was Carlos Sainz as generous as he promised to be?

George RUSSELL: No, he wasn't to be honest! No, I think there were quite a lot of us on that flight. There was Carlos, myself, Charles, Pierre, Kevin, Fernando, Esteban, Lewis... You've all missed out!

Daniel RICCIARDO: I had to go on the simulator!

Russell: I think because there were so many emotions on Sunday night, and, you know, speaking with all of you guys afterwards, and then the celebrations with the team, everyone was in a bit of a rush to get to the airport. The flight didn't take off until 3am and I was just absolutely knackered. So celebrations...

Max VERSTAPPEN: You slept the whole flight?

Russell: Not all of it not.

Verstappen: Charles said you slept the whole flight!

Russell: I slept quite a long time. It was a tough race! No, celebrations have been put on hold until this Sunday. I've got some of my family out here this weekend. So yeah, Sunday night this week.

Q: Just one final question on the win: you've now had a few days for the victory to sink in, so just what sort of an impact has becoming a race winner in Formula 1 had on you.

Russell: Not too sure, to be honest, I think, you know, obviously, just very proud of the achievement. It's something I've worked my whole life towards and what you dream of as a child. And you know, my years in Formula 1 , you dream of that moment. You go into every race sort of believing you can achieve it, but sometimes recognising very early on in a weekend that it's not going to be probably possible that weekend. But the stars just seemed to align that weekend. And the race on Sunday was perfect. And coming away with maximum points, yeah, it was pretty special.

Q: Do you arrive here in Abu Dhabi somehow a different driver?

Russell: No, I don't think so. To be honest, I always believed I could achieve victories and you believe you can become a world champion. For sure confidence is high and the morale within the team is booming. But you know, I don't suddenly feel transformed overnight. I still feel the same driver as I was this time one week ago.

Q: So morale is booming. What chance a repeat here in Abu Dhabi, another win?

Russell: Yeah, I think we'll be going for it. To be honest, I think since Austin the car's been performing really well and probably better than we could have ever hoped for. For sure, Max and Red Bull are going to be fast here. I think the combination of the low-speed corners and the long straights, they are going to suit their car really, really well. But, you know, we saw even in Brazil, on a circuit that we didn't expect to be quite as competitive, we were still very quick. So yeah, we'll be going for it.

Q: Alright. Good luck with that. Thank you. Daniel, if we could come to you. How did winning your first race in Montreal change you as a driver? Did it in some way give you more confidence?

Ricciardo: I notice George's head is a little bigger. I think, as George kind of touched on, it's something you truly believe you can do and obviously achieve, but until you do, you just don't know. Was that a tongue twister?

Russell: Yeah, a lot of do's in there.

Ricciardo: A lot of do's. No don'ts. But it's, yeah, we've won in junior categories. So it's like, we know how to win, but doing it at that level and, let's say, on the main stage... Until you cross that line and get that feeling and like, confirm it all to yourself, you just don't know. I looked at George, obviously on the weekend, and it reminded me of those emotions from the first win and I could obviously relate to what he's gone through and you can't not be happy for someone, you know, it's one of the best days of your life. It's a game changer. So pretty special.

Q: Now, bringing it on to this weekend. It's your last in Formula 1, at least for now. How are you feeling?

Ricciardo: I feel good. I'm not, let's say... Mentally, I'm not treating it like it's going to be my last ever race. But it could be, like, I know that nothing's guaranteed in the future. So I'm just kind of going out to enjoy it. I'm not going to get too emotional about the thought of 'oh is it the last one or not'. But I do want to enjoy it and just take it for what it is. I've got a grid penalty. I normally go better when I have penalties. I actually asked for a five place penalty, but three will do so, yeah, there we go.

Q: And have you made any progress on what's next?

Ricciardo: Not yet. I mean, I say progress, yes. But still nothing's confirmed. But progress is being made. So we'll see. Yeah, hopefully, you can see my good looks again next year, to some degree.

Q: Look, final one. You're not alone in stepping away from Formula 1 after this race? Can we just get a word on your former team-mate Sebastian Vettel. What's his legacy?

Ricciardo: When you said former, I thought you were saying Max is hanging it up! You're not are you?

Verstappen: Not yet.

Ricciardo: One more season! With Seb, I feel like I've been asked a lot, I'm sure we all have since he announced his retirement and only good things to say, let's start with that. I think as a person I can speak so highly of him. Also, just on a personal level, some things he's done for me, yeah, just very, very appreciative of. I think he's a very caring individual. He cares about the sport as a whole, but he also cares about, let's say, us drivers. We're all competitors, for sure, but I think he's definitely able to separate that. And yeah, just look out for us, ultimately. And, yeah, as a competitor, I think back to 2013, when he won every race in the second half of the season. And it was like a relentless approach, like he just wasn't satisfied. He just wanted to ultimately destroy the competition. And you could just see, like, the raw competitor in him and that drive to not win, but to destroy if you will, and you had to admire and respect that.

Q: Daniel. Lovely words. Thank you very much. Good luck this weekend. Max, coming to you. Can we start with Sebastian as well. Just get your thoughts on his career? Are there any particular battles that you've had with him that stand out?

Verstappen: Well, first of all, of course, he has meant a lot to Red Bull. He came through as a junior and basically achieved all of it in the sport, you know. I mean, he still has a lot of friends within Red Bull, of course all the way up. He's had a career which a lot of people could only dream of. But at the end of the day, that's not everything. I think, as a person, he's always been very caring. Of course, I had my heated battles with him, especially in the beginning of my career. But for me, one thing I will always remember for the rest of my life, last year, in Silverstone, I came back from the hospital to get to my motorhome to get all my stuff and he was there, waiting for me when I got out of the car. And he said, 'are you OK, Max, how are you doing? Are you okay?' And that just shows how he is, you know, a super nice, caring person who is not only there for performance, but also means well, you know. I think that's also really nice to be remembered like that. And yeah, we'll also do a helmet swap this weekend, so that's definitely a very nice helmet to have in the collection. He will definitely be missed. But on the other hand, I also really wish him well for the future, whatever he wants to do, to be honest, but I think what is most important is to spend time with family. You know, he's a real family, man. And that's great to see and a great example.

Q: Thank you for that if we could just bring it on to performance now. It was a rare off weekend for Red Bull at Interlagos, do you and the team now understand where the problems lay?

Verstappen: Yeah, it was not particularly a great weekend for us in in Sao Paulo, but yeah, we do understand a few things; still a few things we need to analyse a bit more, but we have enough time to do so before we get there again next year. But yeah, of course you always try to do well every single weekend. Some races are just a bit better than others, some tracks suit your car a little bit better than others and I think also around there the tarmac is very aggressive and we'd only one practice session, probably we didn't get the setup right as well and then when you can't change it, you have to carry it for the rest of the weekend. So we know that and that definitely didn't help the performance.

Q: Your teammate is in a battle for P2 with the man on your left; can Checo count on your help should he need it?

Verstappen: Yeah, I'm looking forward to see the battle. And yeah, as a team, you know, we've never finished first and second so if we could achieve that, that would be amazing and for sure, if the opportunity is there to help, as a team we're going to do that.

Q: Now Charles, if we could just kick off talking about your former teammate, Sebastian Vettel. What will you remember from your time together?

Charles LECLERC: Again, I can only agree with whatever has been said by Max and Daniel. He has been incredible. He's achieved so much in the sport. And there is nothing much more to say on that side, but as a person, he's been incredible. I remember, already in Formula 2, I was doing the simulator work, which, okay, it's not an easy work to do, because it's really, really tiring and I thought that Seb probably didn't even know I was on the simulator. And I received a letter one day, just thanking me for all the hard work. And that meant a lot for me at that time. But that was only a small thing. Then obviously we became teammates in 2019 and 2020 also, where he has taught me really a lot. We've had our tense moments on track, but the respect off the track has never changed and he's always been there for me whenever I had difficult times. And that was very different to what I was used to with my previous teammates. Obviously, in Formula 1 it's normal, there's inner competition inside the tea but he has always been super caring and trying to help me whenever I was going through more difficult times. But yeah, he will definitely be missed. I'm sure that he will enjoy his time off the racetrack, and that he will find other things that that makes him happy.

Q: Alright, Charles, and before we come on and talk about the performance of the car, I did just want to ask you about some speculation that's been out there in recent days concerning the future of Ferrari team principal, Mattia Binotto; what's your reaction to those stories?

Leclerc: I mean, overall, there are always rumours around Formula 1, and especially around Ferrari and this doesn't change. Obviously, when we are getting to the end of the season, there are always voices around us. But I think as a team, we really need to focus on our job and on track, try to extract all of the things that are happening around the team. People tend to forget how big of a step we've done from last year to this year. There's definitely another step that we need to do but I am sure that we'll do it all together, and starting with this race, hopefully to finish on a high this season. But apart from that, there's nothing more to say. I don't think we should give too much attention to that.

Q: And have you got the pace to finish the season on a high? What do you think from a performance point of view?

Leclerc: Well, I hope so. It's been a bit up and down in the last few races. Brazil has been good but unfortunately because of our first lap incident, it was all about coming back to the front, but the pace was there so I hope we'll be strong enough to fight for the top positions. Obviously, we are fighting for the second place in the Drivers Championship and also the second place in the Constructors Championship. And again, after going through very two very tough years in 2020 and 2021, it will be good to be back fighting at the top, even though our goal is to fight for the championship in which eventually after these difficult years it will be good to be second.

Q: Mick, thank you for waiting ,coming to you now. This is a difficult moment for you, given the recent news about Nico Hulkenberg and Haas. First of all, can we get your reaction to the news?

Mick SCHUMACHER: Yeah, obviously it's disappointing in some ways, because I feel like I've been doing a good job up to this point. On the other hand, the team decided to go that way so I have to respect that. And so yeah, I'm focused on the future now.

Q: You say you think you've done a good job? Can you just sum up the sort of season you think you've had with Haas?

Schumacher: We've had our ups and downs for sure but I think that the trend was always pointing upwards and I think that that's what's important, and it's only my second year in Formula 1. Last year, I don't even know if you can really count it as a year, because obviously it was a tough one. We were only at the back. And so yeah, it was definitely something I had to get used to, being in the midfield pack fighting and I feel that across the year we've managed to do that and I feel like I've extracted the maximum out of each situation, I'd say. So yeah, I feel that the trend was there.

Q: So what's next? How do you get yourself back onto the Formula 1 grid?

Schumacher: Well, I definitely want to stick around and I have time now so I will see all the options that I have. And, and then yeah, hopefully take the right one that will bring me into a bright future.

Q: Final one for me what are your goals for the weekend?

Schumacher: Finish as high as we can, I guess. We have a car which is probably just close to P10, maybe a bit below but if we get everything right I'm sure there's potential to be in the points and I think that that's still what we're aiming for, to score as many points because we're going to tight battle with Alpha Tauri and also for me, in the driver's standing, I want to be obviously as far forwards as I can

QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR

Q: (David Croft - Sky Sports F1) It's a two-part question if that's okay, with Charles first: is stability what Ferrari need over the winter, or after a series of incidents throughout the season when you've not been totally 100% happy, does it need a change within the team? And Max, I think the question that a lot of fans were asking at the end of Brazil last week was sixth place, why was sixth place so important to you that you seemed to go against what the team were asking you at the time?

Leclerc: I think stability is paying off. We've been showing in the last few years that we are improving. As I was saying earlier then there's another step that we need to do but we are working on that and I'm sure we'll achieve that.

Verstappen: It wasn't about the position. It doesn't matter if (it was) first or second or sixth or seventh or 10th. It was about something that happened earlier in the season and I already explained that in Mexico and the team understood and agreed. And yeah, we went to Brazil and I just thought we're just going to race, tried to get the best possible result and yeah, we had a bit of a miscommunication. On Saturday and Sunday nothing had been said to me about a potential swap or whatever. It only came into that last lap that it was said on the radio and I think they should have known my response already from what I said the week before and after that race, yeah, we had some good discussion and we put everything on the table and everything has been solved. So in hindsight, we should have had that conversation earlier because I have never been a bad teammate to anyone, I've always been very helpful and the team knows that. I always put the team upfront because at the end of the day, it is a team effort. I think what we learned from that is that we have to be a little bit more open and we just have to communicate better to each other. But after that race, of course, yeah, I looked very bad, you know, in the media, but also they didn't have the clear picture, but to immediately put me down like that... it's pretty ridiculous to be honest, because they don't know how I work within the team and what the team appreciates about me. So all the things that I've read is pretty disgusting. And also, even more than that, they started attacking my family. They were threatening my sister and my Mum, my girlfriend, my Dad and for me that goes way too far. Well, you don't even have the facts, of what actually was going on and that definitely has to stop. If you have a problem with me, that's fine, but don't go after my family because that is just unacceptable. But we move on. Honestly, I have a great relationship with Checo but I just don't understand when people don't have the full picture to really start attacking me like that. I hope one day they actually understand what was going on because it's just unacceptable behaviour of so many people. Also in this paddock, to be honest, it's not only fans, but a lot of people, what they have been writing about me, it's just ridiculous.

Q: (Alex Kalinauckas - Autosport) Max, just following up on what you just said, you hit out at the media there for getting things wrong without the full facts. Well, could you please explain what was it earlier on in the season that upset you so much?

Verstappen: I'm not going to go into detail what that was, because that will stay between myself and the team but it is just incredibly disappointing that while you're not knowing the full facts, that people write so many bad things straight away. I don't know why that is but at the end of the day, you contribute to all the problems social media has by writing these kind of things. So yeah, like I said before, it's just incredibly disappointing as well to read these kinds of things, because I know how I am, the team knows how I work with them and I've always been good to the team.

Q: (Claire Cottingham) Max, just as a follow up: do you think some of this has come from... some of the headlines and things that have written... do you think it's been a trend that Red Bull have seen throughout the season? Obviously, with the problems with the budget cap and things like that, do you think that that has helped contribute to maybe some of the backlash that you got from what happened?

Verstappen: I don't think so.

Q: (Panagiotis Seitanidis- Car Magazine, Greece) Max, do you really pay attention to what is written from media and social media and also let it get into you? How can you block that out? And secondly, there is a new initiative from the FIA, the President said about we'll have to deal with the abuse in social media. What's your point, you're stand in that?

Verstappen: Well, when your own sister writes you that it's getting way too much and you have to do something about it, I think that says enough. So, yes, it does get to me because you cannot attack my family.

Q: (Abhishek Takle - Midday) Max, some reports after Brazil suggested that the issue was to do with what happened in qualifying in Monaco. Why did it take so long to sort out any issue that you might have had? Why were the clear-the-air talks not held earlier?

Verstappen: As I said before I'm not going into details, when or how it happened. And I already said before that we had to communicate better. So sorry about that.

Q: (Alex Kalinauckas - Autosport) Mick, you ended your statement that posted earlier today with the letters PTW. Are you out to prove Haas wrong for dropping you? And if so, how are you going to do that?

Schumacher: Yeah, PTW, it's been pretty much what I've been saying most part of this year. And yeah, I just felt like saying that because I think I want to prove everybody wrong who doesn't believe in me, because I know what I can do. I've proven that in the junior categories, and I don't see a reason why I can't do that in Formula 1 either.

Q: (Matt Coch) Mick, you mentioned that you're going to take some time to work out what you're going to do next. Does that include other forms of racing or reserve roles? What specifically interests you going forward now?

Schumacher: Well, I just want to put myself into a position where I know it's going to be right for me and whether that's a reserve, if that's driving, that's to be discussed and to be analysed and I have the people that I trust around me who I will be consulting with and then yeah, I'll come up with some news hopefully soon.

Q: (Siljia Rulle - Bild) Mick, have you spoken to people like, for example, Sebastian who you've always been close to, since you've learned that you're out of Haas and has he given you maybe some comfort or support?

Schumacher: Yes, I have. And yes, he did. I don't think I really want to go more into that as I think it's private, what is discussed between me and him and all I can say is that yes, those words are moving and they're very helpful in a moment like this.

Q: (Chris Medland - Racer) Max, sorry to continue the theme but as you say that you haven't been happy with some of the things that have been written and you mentioned that you'd hoped that people would understand the full facts, but you don't want to give them all? Can I understand why you don't want to set the record straight in that sense, because it does leave this area then that gets filled in when people can only make their mind up based on the facts they know when we do ask the team and yourself what actually was the catalyst?

Verstappen: We keep it between the team and myself. But I mean you don't know the real story so you don't need to write the story. But I'm just a bit fed up with all this bullshit, just going around all the time. As soon as something negative that needs to be highlighted, and it's pretty sickening, to be honest, being part of all that. While at the end of the day, I haven't even done anything wrong. It's just people misunderstood what was actually going on.

Q: (Claire Cottingham) Charles, obviously I know that you didn't want to talk about the rumours about your team principal and things. I just wonder why you think those rumours have started and why Ferrari had to come out and defend it and say it's not happening. What do you think's the catalyst of that?

Leclerc: Well, obviously, it's a big statement, what was made by the media but again, they remain rumours, but also for the team in itself it's not great to read these things. So I think it's good that the team has cleared the air, and hopefully we can focus 100% on that last weekend, that again, is an important one.

Q: (Phil Duncan - PA) Max, when you talk about this, the abuse that you get and members of your family are subjected to, does it ever make you consider whether you want to actually continue in Formula 1? Does it get too much for you?

Verstappen: It's not only related to that, to be honest, but I won't be here when I'm 40, that's for sure.