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Monaco GP – Wednesday press conference – Pt.1

23 May 2012

PRESS CONFERENCE

Q:
Romain, first of all, tell us about your experience of the Monaco circuit.

Romain Grosjean:
Well, first of all, different feelings in Monaco: special track; special grand prix. For sure for us is a little bit home because we are close to France, so very happy to race in front of the fans, hopefully a lot of blue, white and red flags in the tribune. But Monaco is a special track, good experience that I won here in GP2 in 2009 and last year I did a really good race starting 26th and finishing P4 but then I've had some crashes as well. Let's see what it gives in a Formula One car – I'm sure even better and we're really looking forward to driving here.

Q:
There have been some circuits where you have performed, perhaps, better than others. Is this one where you feel it is going to be good for you?

Romain Grosjean:
I like the track, let's see what we can achieve. But you know, Monaco is a little bit different to the other ones: normally if you are good in a fast corner you know that more or less every fast corner you are going to be good – but here it's bumpy, it's in the street, the track is improving a lot during the weekend. There is a lot to learn and it goes really quickly in between the race, so it will be interesting to see how it goes. We are trying to set up the car as good as we can, achieve another strong result for the team and for myself as well and score some good points, and why not more.

Q:
I'm sure there's huge support for you in France, and this is probably the best chance France has had of winning this race for many years.

Romain Grosjean:
Ha-ha. The last French winner here was '96 with Olivier Panis. It would be nice to have La Marseillaise on Sunday but let's work before that and see what we can achieve. But for sure having a lot of fans is always good support and something quite special when you go around the track and do the drivers' parade.

Q:
Pastor, first of all, after Barcelona, what have you been doing, what's happened, the reaction in Venezuela, have you been back to Venezuela? Have you been to Williams? Tell us.

Pastor Maldonado:
Yeah, I've been in the factory at Williams, working with the engineers, with the team, and I passed some very good days with them in the factory. It was a special one because after eight years without winning any races, you can imagine how they take this victory. For sure it's a great feeling to start winning some races. The team is pushing so hard, me too, we have a very good feeling and are looking forward for the next races.

Q:
This circuit, again, has been a good one for you. Do you feel you're a bit of a Monaco specialist.

Pastor Maldonado:
I've been always so quick here, especially in GP2 and World Series as well. Last year I was doing a good job, I was P6 but it's always difficult. This kind of track, you never know for the traffic, for everything. The track is going to change a lot during the weekend and we need to follow the track and we need a very good balance in the car as well and be ready in the right time in the track. So, we'll see. I will do my best, again one more time and we'll see. I believe it is still possible to be competitive here, then we'll see.

Q:
Do you feel there is a certain relief having won that first grand prix?

Pastor Maldonado:
It's really special to win, especially the first one. But for sure it is going to be difficult now. The gaps and the team levels are so close, so anything can make the difference, we need to put everything together to make a step forward, and I need to say that Williams are doing a very good job at the moment, I feel all the people are very motivated, they are pushing so hard – me too – it's a very good feeling in the team and you know, still we need to improve. We are not at 100 per cent at the moment, we are not the best team – but we are not that far, we are there and we need to try to improve every time.

Q:
Charles, you've won in GP2 and in World Series here, can you imagine what it is going to be like in a Formula One car? Is it going to be a big difference?

Charles Pic:
I think there will be some for sure – but the track stays the same. So it will be my first experience here in F1, this is a very nice track and a little bit special because it's not allowing any mistakes from the drivers, so I think it can be a really interesting weekend, especially for us. It's interesting to see our pace on a type of circuit like that, it is quite different to other circuits – so yeah, we'll have to see.

Q:
You had a difficult start to the season: no pre-season testing – or virtually none – how do you think things have gone in the first quarter of the championship?

Charles Pic:
Good. I think our main aim is trying to improve the car race by race. It's what we make, we still have to work very hard and continue to push like that to try to make it better. On my side I have many things to learn. It was not easy for the first few races without any testing but I made my best and I feel better prepared race after race. We have to continue like this.

Q:
Mark, your first podium here, you always remember your first podium I'm sure. Is this a very special circuit for you?

Mark Webber:
Yes, it has been. I think winning here in F3000, a couple of podiums, obviously the nice victory in 2010, so it's an amazing venue, it's an amazing weekend. It's quite stressful for the mechanics, all the teams, obviously you guys, everybody getting around, it's amazing how we still manage to hold an event here in such tight confines of the Principality. But it's a great sporting event and one that's very popular for all of us. And, yeah, I'm looking forward to driving the car. It's always great to drive here, so tomorrow we can get on with it.

Q:
We've never known a season like this before and I think it's the same for all three of you, it just doesn't seem to be consistent. It's just up and down. Is that a bad thing or a good thing as far as you're concerned?

Mark Webber:
It depends on who you are. I think for the purist, I think people are taking a little bit of time to get used to it. Obviously, no one's really got any momentum yet in terms of results in teams. But obviously there are a few people that follow the sport that love it like this. It depends who you ask. If you want to have lots and lots of different teams being competitive that's the way it is at the moment, which I don't think is too bad. But let's see. I think ultimately the main teams will still do well at the end of the season.

Q:
Michael, sadly you have a five-place grid penalty here. But on the other hand you have been back there before, even further back, three or four years ago [2006]. And you saw what Lewis could do from there two weeks ago. What are your feelings about the race itself coming up?

Michael Schumacher:
Well, basically, I think we're going to be in a position to be competitive. As a general track profile I think it's going to suit ourselves. Indeed, I have been coming from the complete back and gone forward to fifth position I think. Let's see from where I finally manage to qualify and start the race and what can be done. It is certainly not ideal, but it is what it is and I look forward to it and I'm going to have some excitement pretty certainly.

Q:
You've got a phenomenal record around this track, as you have around most current race tracks, and you have won here more often than anyone else in recent history. How do you get the ultimate performance around here?

Michael Schumacher:
Well, I mean Monaco is certainly special and there's something about you and the car that you just have to get every detail together as you have at every track but here it just pays out more. To have the rhythm, the flow, the momentum here… if you've got that it just pays out a much bigger lap time than other tracks because everything is so critical and difficult here.

Q:
I was going to ask – is it still the circuit where the driver makes more difference than any other circuit currently?

Michael Schumacher:
At the end of the day, that's the case, absolutely.

Q:
So you're looking forward to doing that on Sunday?

Michael Schumacher:
Definitely.

Q:
Lewis, certainly you had a tremendous drive two weeks ago. Did you enjoy it? You said you were going to.

Lewis Hamilton:
Firstly, good afternoon everyone. Yeah, absolutely I was very, very happy with the performance of the team but also my performance in the last race. I was always looking to improve and I felt it was a definite improvement from the grand prix weekend before that.

Q:
You've banked at every single race and you're just eight points off the championship lead – if anyone is consistent, you're at least consistently in the points. But is it an inconsistent season?

Lewis Hamilton:
For us?

Q:
Drivers as a whole.

Lewis Hamilton:
I don't know if it's an inconsistent season… well, potentially yeah, a little bit, because of the tyres. I think the tyres, you sometimes get them in the working range and sometimes you don't. I think a lot of teams are struggling to understand why sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. But that's the challenge we all are faced with. But I think people are enjoying it. I notice people are asking a lot of questions about how there's been five different winners and the fans I've met had said this is a fantastic season regardless, so I hope that continues.

Q:
Is there a little frustration that you've been on pole, or fastest so many times and still haven't yet won?

Lewis Hamilton:
I'm not frustrated, no. This is the way racing goes sometimes. Of course, looking at the qualifying results we've had for the five races, we would have loved to have finished further up and we definitely need to improve to ensure that we stay where we are or we move forwards. Yeah, we've started high up finished a little bit further behind from where we started so we've gone backwards a little bit in most of the races but we're working very hard to make sure that doesn't continue.


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