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Hungarian GP - Thursday press conference - Pt.1

25 July 2013

Drivers: Esteban Gutierrez (Sauber), Paul di Resta (Force India), Valtteri Bottas (Williams), Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes), Kimi Raikkonen (Lotus) and Pastor Maldonado (Williams).

Press conference

Q:
Good afternoon. We'll start with Lewis Hamilton. As a three-time winner here and a two-time pole-sitter, I think the heat is on, literally, here this weekend for you to try to make it four wins. Forty degrees ambient expected on Sunday, how much is that going to be a disadvantage to you and Mercedes?

Lewis Hamilton:
It's good to see everyone again. It's going to be tough this weekend definitely – the conditions will not help. Plus, we haven't driven the tyres as everyone else has. We've got a bit of catching up to do, but that's what we do best and we just have to work as hard as we can this weekend to try to understand the tyres and put ourselves in the best position possible. We have a lot of work to do to continue to improve our race pace, but I anticipate it will be a difficult weekend.

Q:
Do you think you are at more of a disadvantage, are you worse off, or is every team in the same boat with the temperatures this weekend?

Lewis Hamilton:
I'm sure everyone is going to have to open up their cars, so everyone is in the same boat in terms of car packaging and the heat that the cars are absorbing. Tyre-wise, of course there are teams that will deal with it slightly better than us, just naturally, and there are some people that will deal with it the same as us.

Q:
Nine races into your Mercedes career and we're almost at the half-way point of the season. Do you see still yourself as a championship contender?

Lewis Hamilton:
I don't really look at myself as a championship contender at the moment. Of course, we're fourth, we're second as a team in the Constructors' Championship, so… just at the beginning of the season everyone was writing me off and then all of a sudden they changed their opinions and we've had some really good results. That's just due to all the hard work the team are putting in and we're not giving up. We're going to keep pushing. We hope that we're going to get some wins in the future races coming. It's going to be tough but I'm really happy with how the season has gone so far, especially compared to where the team was last year, it's a massive step.

Q:
Let's turn to Pastor Maldonado next. Can we start with a comment about Williams' appointment in the last few days of Pat Symonds, who comes in as technical director. From a driver's perspective, how welcome is that and how necessary do you think it was that the team have a new technical director and new leadership in that part of the company?

Pastor Maldonado:
We had a hard beginning to the season with the car, fighting a lot to improve and develop the conditions and the performance. It's quite tough for us, still. We try to put everything together in the past races. Some races we were a bit better, some others not. Especially the consistency and the race pace is quite good on our car, just missing a lot of performance in quali which is penalising us a lot. Starting from the back is not the best for us. Yeah, I think we need some change. The way, how we've been working, trying to improve out performance was not the best and for sure any change in a good way is very welcome.

Q:
What about yourself at the moment? I think 'silly season' is very much upon us, a few rumours in the press about your future career. Did you take much notice of that? Can it be a destabilising factor for a driver?

Pastor Maldonado:
No, I'm still full focused on the season. I think we can still improve. We are a strong team. Last year we were fighting for good places, sometimes even fighting for the podium and this year, some years you miss the pace. We just need to be together as a team, work harder than before, try to fix the problem and to be there again. I think we have all the tools to become again very competitive.

Q:
Thanks Pastor. Esteban, let's turn to you next. Looking at the championship table, you're the leading rookie, how do you assess your performance in the first half of your first Formula One season?

Esteban Gutierrez:
It's been very challenging. Obviously I'm not completely happy with how the first part of the season went. But again, being a rookie I've been focusing a lot on gaining a lot of experience to improve every part I can. I think what matters is the second half of the season, Everything will be judged on how the second half goes and I'm full focused on what is happening from now own.

Q:
What areas have you been focusing on most? Where do you think improvements need to be made?

Esteban Gutierrez:
I think qualifying can be improved a lot. There's obviously a lot of variable playing into account on performance, sometimes different car set-ups, different things, trying to experiment with new things. Obviously this puts the situation a little bit more difficult. The team's situation is not the best. We were expecting a lot better performance from the car. But we are close as a team and we are working ourselves to get all these things right.

Q:
Because of that situation you mentioned with the team, do you feel you haven't had the full opportunity to show exactly what you can do?

Esteban Gutierrez:
Well, definitely it's affecting that, but as I said the second part of the season there is a good chance to show what is really our performance, our capabilities and obviously to put everything together, to reflect everything in the results.

Q:
Valtteri, if we could turn to you, the other rookie amongst us this afternoon. Did you feel you've had the opportunity to fully show your ability behind the wheel or is the performance of the car not helping you?

Valtteri Bottas:
I think for sure it's not helping. Also we expected a much better start for the season. If you would be consistently fighting in the top ten, everyone would see maybe a bit more of what you can do. It's not easy but I'm trying my best and I think still improving a lot all the time. I think the first half of the season hasn't been too bad for me. Of course when I look back there's always things you could have done better. You learn all the time, that's how it is.

Q:
With Pat Symonds arrival, is it too much to expect results will turn around this year, very quickly? As a driver is that something you will be looking for?

Valtteri Bottas:
Of course you would hope so but I think the fact is it's not a quick fix. It's still going to take time and we need to keep working on the areas where we need to improve and I think it's more about the future, not necessarily the end of the year. Of course we try to improve. Any improvement would be nice because it's so close at the moment. For me it's a positive thing. It was good to work with Mike before but I think at this stage maybe we just need some new ideas and new opinions.

Q:
Paul, a change to the tyres again this weekend. 2012 construction, 2013 compounds, you had a chance to drive with them at Silverstone. Force India, some say, might be disadvantages by these tyre changes. How fearful are you that this could be proved true?

Paul di Resta:
It's a hard one. Obviously we got a little bit of an impression at Silverstone but I think it was directed to enable Pirelli to understand their tyre more, that they're bringing for the rest of the season. Tomorrow's going to be busy, it's the first time that we get to try some setup things and actually understand them but yes, we did have a good idea of where the tyres were working and how to use them over a race distance. That's not to say that this won't continue and, on the flip side, it may suit the car better. It's completely unknown. All we can do is do what we can and the team is working hard to try and score some points because we missed them in the Nürburgring.

Q:
In terms of this season, it's been a successful season for yourself and for Force India but with resources tight at the team and the concentration having to come on 2014 eventually. As a driver, how difficult is that balancing act going to be? I'm sure you want to fully focus on 2013 and not so much on 2014 at the moment.

Paul di Resta:
It's certainly a harder balance this year, I think, with the new regs for next year. I think everybody at the factory is probably focussed on next year whereas we as a race team are focussed on this year. Just a lot of racing, a lot of points and a lot of laps that we need to be on top of our game. Ultimately where we reward ourselves, this will help the team next year in terms of Constructors' position. That's why I think everybody here is trying to stay on top of McLaren if we can. We can't underestimate what they are and what they do. Up until the last weekend of racing we were having a damn good season and there's no reason why we can't get our elbows out and fight even harder.

Q:
Kimi, like Lewis you've had plenty of success in Hungary. I think one more podium and you equal the record for the most about of podiums for a driver here. With the high temperatures, does that play into your hands a little bit on Sunday? If we go on the form of Germany, we assume it should do.

Kimi Raikkonen:
I think we've always been a bit more happy when it's more warm. Now it's a bit difficult to say with the new – or different – tyres than we raced at the beginning of the year but last year helped us and the tyres should be a mix of this year and last year so let's hope that it works well for us.

Q:
You didn't go to Silverstone. Did you think twice that maybe you should?

Kimi Raikkonen:
No. The decision was made with the team that there was not really so much… it was better for the team to put a young driver in it because we were not allowed to do any changes as a race driver, so with that sort of rules you don't really learn much. We would only have had one set of tyres or so, and so it was overall better for the team to use our test drivers.

Q:
Red Bull? Lotus? Maybe somewhere else? It's silly season and you seem to be, you appear to be if the stories are true, very much a man in demand. When you look at next season and where you may or may not be driving, what are the factors that go through your mind in helping you make that decision?

Kimi Raikkonen:
There's not really one thing. I think there is going to be an overall package and whatever feels right for me. Whatever the decision will be it might feel stupid to somebody else but then it might feel right for me. I have no idea what will happen. We have to wait and see what will come but hopefully whatever it will be, it will be the right choice.


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