Full transcript from the FIA hosted drivers’ press conference ahead of the Canadian Grand Prix weekend, Round 7 of the 2014 Formula 1 World Championship, at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve on the Ile Notre Dame featuring in Montreal, featuring: Adrian Sutil (Sauber), Nico Hulkenberg (Force India), Kamui Kobayashi (Caterham), Felipe Massa (Williams), Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) and Jenson Button (McLaren);
Jenson, we’ll start with you if we may. A 2011 winner here, of course, memorably, and you’re currently eighth in the championship. This circuit has the famous wall of champions on the outside of the final corner. The back of the cars this year, of these designs, is quite light. I wonder if you could a little bit about how you read the challenge of driving these cars around this track this weekend.
Jenson Button: OK. Good morning. Yeah, it’s going to be tricky here, It always is, especially with the cold circuit temperatures we’ll probably have on Friday. So yeah, the last corner will be tricky, but we’re sort of used to that I think. We’ve been driving these cars all year and if we can drive these cars around Monaco I think we’ll be alright around here. It should be an interesting circuit. It’s a circuit where you don’t really use downforce so much, it’s a lot more [about] mechanical grip. There are long straights, so we can use the power of the engine – for us that’s great, with the Mercedes engine. And it’s about working with the tyres. I think it’s going to be tricky around here. It’s supposed to be hot on Sunday, so you’re going to have to really look after them. But we’re reasonably good at that.
Talking about McLaren’s situation: how do you compare this year to last year and the competitiveness and the problems that you have? Are they more fixable than last year’s problems?
JB: Yeah, I think from the outside it doesn’t look spectacular, our season this year, and you’d say it looks quite similar to last year but it’s very different. In terms of the feel of the car, it’s much better. In terms of the development of the car, it is working and we’re going in the right direction. Yeah, it’s tough. When you’ve been fighting for wins and the team is used to fighting for wins, it’s difficult when you find yourself in this situation. But also there are a lot of positives right now. With Ron back in charge, and Eric, I think they’re doing a great job of really moving the team on and changing certain things so that we will be fighting at the front again. But it just takes time. Things don’t change overnight, even though we’re pushing very hard.
Coming to you now Lewis. You’re a three-time winner here, three times on pole here. What is it about you and this Montreal circuit and it’s walls around the outside? Is it the braking? Is about technique? What is it that somehow clicks with you here?
Lewis Hamilton: I’m not sure. Good morning everyone. I guess there are certain tracks you like more than others and this is one of those circuits I particularly like. I really like coming out to Canada, I always have a great response from the fans here. It is one of the best grands prix of the year in terms of the turnout, the city, just in general the weekend, it’s a good fun weekend and I guess all of that packed into one makes it fun to drive.
You’ve said this week that you and your team-mate Nico Rosberg are friends again after Monaco. Can you tell us a little bit more about that?
LH: There’s not really much to say. I said it in my message. We spoke after the race and just like friends we have our ups and down, we’ve known each other a long, long time, so it’s done and dusted and we look forward to working together to try to help this team win the Constructors’ Championship.
Coming on to Felipe. Three seventh-place finishes so far this season, your best result here in Montreal a fourth. Williams is tied with McLaren at the moment in the Constructors’ Championship with 52 points after six races. Is that in line with your expectations?
Felipe Massa: No. Definitely I think I didn’t have great results until now. It should be much better than what I had until now. So I had not very great races, starting with the race, where I didn’t get to corner two and you know in Bahrain I was fighting for third, fourth the whole race and then I lost a lot of positions because of the Safety Car. So I think it was not very great results but I’m sure we can do much better and I hope this track can be also a bit better for our car compared to Monaco, compared to other tracks. So really looking forward that we can have a lot better results, starting here in Montreal, a lot better than seventh I hope.
I wonder if you could tell us what Rob Smedley has brought to the team, because you obviously have got a very long working relationship with him. He’s now in a senior role on the engineering side, can you tell a little bit about what he’s brought to the team?
FM: A lot of experience. A lot of good direction, different things in terms of how to work, you know, in many different areas. I think he’s a very intelligent engineer, has a lot of experience. For sure, things don’t change from one day to the other, so it takes a little bit of time but not just him, we have a lot of great engineers, a lot of good people and things are getting better all the time inside the team and I’m really looking forward that from now until the end of the of the championship things will get better and better all the time.
Nico, coming to you. Fifth in the drivers’ championship and points scored in every round so far but no podium personally yet. Given the confidence that Force India has in the package for this weekend in Montreal, is this you weekend do you think?
Nico Hulkenberg: I don’t know. Obviously I hope and like every weekend we’re going to try to make the most of our chances here. I think the track should be OK for us. Also, it’s one of my favourite grands prix, so I really look forward to this weekend – the track, the city, everything is pretty cool. So hopefully we can have a strong result again.
Monaco showed that you can get results by doing a different strategy from the people around you. As a midfield team I wonder, is that something you feel you need to do to get the results or do you feel you can compete with front running teams on equal terms?
NH: Not really, and I think looking back in hindsight we made it a bit harder for ourselves, starting on the harder tyre – the other way around with how it turned out, Safety Car etcetera may have been easier – but I think it’s always different and you always have to look at each race and each case and decide then but, generally, we’re having a good package, we’re competitive and that puts us in a good position in general.
Kamui, you’ve twice finished in the points here in Montreal but after Marussia’s result at the last round in Monaco I wonder what the reaction was in the Caterham team? Is it encouragement that it’s possible to score points or concern about the position that it leaves you in?
Kamui Kobayashi: For us the Monaco result for us was a bit of a pain but at least we know Marussia made a great step from their updates so I have to say, I think, we have to say it’s a well done job. I think for us for sure I think we need to work. I think what happened in Monaco was a little bit…strange but at least we check with the FIA and that’s through so we have nothing to say but at least we have some upgrades for that first point.
So what is the way forward for the Caterham team this season?
KK: The thing about a Formula One team is we cannot change day-by-day. We progress. Of course, it’s not an easy life for us, it’s a difficult moment right now but for sure everybody is working really hard and we know, I think, that we will progress. We need a little bit of time and we are looking forward to more later on this season.
Adrian, two points finishes also for you in your career here in Montreal – but still none this year for you with the Sauber team. Your thoughts on the start that the team has made and how the upgrades have worked out so far.
Adrian Sutil: Well, a difficult start of course. I thought it would be a little bit more easy but that’s how it is. That’s how our situation is. We try, of course, to get out and improve the car, improve general performance – yeah, coming here we try it again. We had a tough weekend in Monaco but I think Monaco was a little bit more on the better side, the car was behaving a little bit better and so it’s not only bad everything. There are a few positive things – but it’s very complicated to make it altogether at the moment. To understand the car is quite difficult for us still, so we have to work on that and we need a bit more time and hopefully it really goes soon in the right direction. It’s quite hard to be in the back there always, lot of problems come together in racing at the back.
And tell us from your perspective what you think it will be like to race these hybrid turbo cars around this circuit – the specific challenges of this circuit?
AS: Well I think here we’re going to have quite high top speeds, with the new engines and the low drag the cars have so we should really be quick on the straights, maybe also a quicker overall lap time than last year – maybe – so I don’t know. It should be a circuit that suits the car in general. All the Formula One cars, not only us. And, as everyone said, it’s quite an enjoyable track with a lot of possibilities to overtake. The race should be quite interesting as well. Lot of chicanes…yeah, good weekend and I look forward to it, hopefully with a quite good result in the end.
Jenson, I don’t know if you read the team’s pre-race press release this week but there were some very complimentary words from Eric Boullier with regard to yourself, taking about your quality of input, your experience, your ambassadorial role. It all sounded very positive and almost as if they’re looking to next year, perhaps wanting to keep you. Any further progress on that? As I say, it was all very complimentary towards yourself.
JB: No more progress at all. But that’s just the way it is. We’re here, we’ve spent four good years together already. In our fifth year together. And we both want to work together in the future but it’s just not time yet. Not the right time. We have a lot of other issues to solve first before we start thinking about the future too much. We’re in a good place and y’know, I think my experience does help me a lot. I still feel very young at heart, fitter than ever and I have all that experience. I’m in a great position and I feel I’ve got a lot more to give in the future in Formula One. I definitely can’t see an end to my career. This is my life and where I want to be in the future.
Because this track is different to most with the braking and long straights and everything, do you think that that in any way will close the gap between Mercedes and the rest of the field?
LH: I’d be guessing but I don’t feel that will be the case. We’re particularly strong on the straights, Mercedes are but I don’t know, maybe we will be surprised this weekend but long straights do suit us very well. We have a very good power curve on our engine, Mercedes have done the best job with the engines. Renault and Ferrari would have to have done an exceptional job coming into this weekend, in terms of that area, to be able to keep up with us on the straights.
FM: Definitely it can be a good track for most of the cars that are using Mercedes [engines] so I think maybe we will see even maybe a big difference compared to Mercedes and the other teams, because as Lewis said, the engine is amazing, it’s been a very good job done by Mercedes and they have a good car under braking and everything, so for sure maybe we can see maybe even a big difference.
NH: I don’t think it will be very different to the other weeks before.
Lewis, you said that the air has been cleared between yourself and Nico between races. Did you feel the need to do the same with the team and was anything different with the way the team handled the two of you between Monaco and coming here now?
LH: There was no difference. Collectively with the team…me and Nico spoke and we individually spoke to the team and saw the team. Nothing’s really changed. We know the team has done a great job in terms of supporting us and the way it’s run with Paddy and Toto. Their support for the both of us has been great. We’re now full steam ahead. We had dinner with the team yesterday and things have never been better. We’re just going from strength to strength. People have ups and downs, as I said, so it’s no different to any other experience me and Nico have had in our whole – God knows how many years we’ve been racing together. We move on, we’re pushing forward. There’s a long long way to go in the season so we’re looking forward to that battle.
Jenson, as kind of the older statesman, you raced on the old A1 Ring; we’re coming up to Austria again, Red Bull Ring, in a fortnight; what are your memories of the Austrian Grand Prix?
JB: Lots of campsites and lots of very merry Austrians over the grand prix weekend. It’s one of those races that they really embrace the sort of party scene and the camping scene, which is really cool. It reminds me very much of Spa, British Grand Prix and those sort of races. It’s a true racing fan’s grand prix, I feel. The circuit itself…you look at it and you think ‘there’s like seven corners, it can’t be that fun to drive.’ But it is, it’s a really good circuit. I’ve enjoyed racing there in the past, I don’t know what it’s going to be like with these cars. I’ve always had fun racing there. I don’t know how much has changed, either. Turn one, we used to drive off through the gravel because that was the quickest way on the exit. I’m sure it’s not going to be the case any more. I think we’re in for a good grand prix.
To all drivers: the World Cup is coming and your countries are going to be there, playing, so on a personal note, how much are you interested in football? Are you going to follow all the matches or you don’t care much about what’s going on there? And a second brief question: who do you think is going to win the World Cup?
KK: On soccer? I don’t really care so I don’t follow anything. All I know is that Japan is not really strong so I don’t…
NH: Well I hope that Gemany is going to be good but I’m not a football expert but I’m sure I’m going to be behind the TV following the World Cup.
AS: I’ll be watching, cheering for Uruguay and Germany, because I’m half Uruguayan.
FM: Yeah, I love football, I watch everything, so I will maybe be watching most of the games. I really hope that Brazil can be there in the final. To win the championship at home would be fantastic so I will be there watching and supporting Brazil.
LH: I don’t follow it as much (as I used to) but I will probably catch a few games and I want to try and see if we can go out to one of the games at least. The dream will be to go and watch Brazil and England play, that would be pretty awesome.
JB: Yes, I totally agree. I’m not a massive football fan, I don’t support a team but when it comes to nationalities, countries playing, obviously I will be supporting England and I’m really looking forward to it.