The first press conference is here and we love the little banter and jokes that the drivers throw at each other.
Below is a transcript with parts where Daniel’s opinion has a heavy on info. You can read it all on the official Formula 1 website HERE.
Daniel, it’s a stat they don’t care for much around these parts, but no Australian has won the Australian Grand Prix since it became a championship round in 1985, so come on Dan, are you going to put that right this weekend?
Daniel RICCIARDO: I’ll try. I’ll try to. It would be nice. If anyone could win just one race they’d always say their home, so that’d be cool, it would be good.
Sebastian VETTEL: Didn’t Alan Jones win here?
Not since it became a world championship round, no.
SV: So what race did he win in 1980?
DR: That was the world championship. He’s here; I’ll ask him.
Daniel, do you want to add anything more?
DR: I’d love to. We’ll see what happens. I’m prepared. As Lewis touched on, it’s more physical this year and I think we’ve all done our work in the pre-season. I’m sure all of us up here feel like we’re coming in as well prepared as possible and it’s been fun to put more emphasis on that, on the training. The cars are more enjoyable. They are going to be fast. For the fans here this weekend to see the cars on track, the cornering speeds, I think they’ll definitely see that. Hopefully we’re cornering quicker than anyone else.
Well, you got a really good look at your team-mate Max Verstappen in the second half of last season. How tough are the battles between you two this year?
DR: Hopefully tough. Hopefully we’re fighting for victories, I think that would be something we would welcome. He’s obviously fast. It’s his third year now and although he’s young, he’s no longer a rookie anymore so I think we both carry a bit of experience. I think the team is excited to see how we go and I think everyone else is. They’re starting to hype it up a little bit. Hopefully it’s hyped up by the fact that we’re fighting at the front, that’s what we both want.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Ysef Harding – Xiro Xone News) I want to say good afternoon to everyone and I want to wish us good press conferences for the rest of the season and a good, robust conversation. This question is for the entire panel. This year we have some new owners, the sport is owned by Liberty Media and they have a big, bold vision for the future of F1. What would be your top three wishes for the new owners of Formula One?
DR: A race in Vegas.
SV: A race in Germany.
DR: That’s it; I’ve said mine.
Lewis HAMILTON: Miami race…. More ladies in the paddock? More paddock access to some women, there’s too many dudes in the paddock.
LH: V12s, I agree.
Fernando ALONSO: I agree. I agree with everyone… equal engines for everyone.
LH: I don’t agree with that one.
DR: But not electric.
LH: And not Honda. I’m kidding…
Q: (Andy Benson – BBC) We had Charlie Whiting in here a couple of hours ago and one of the things he was saying was that the so-called ‘Verstappen rule’ has been removed, just leaving the general catch-all regulation about potentially dangerous driving. Are you all happy with that situation?
SV: I don’t know. I’m not…
You’ll be told tomorrow.
DR: We’ll be told tomorrow? You know everything before us! Let’s see. I think we can… the good part of it is it means less decisions to be made on track. If they leave it up to us I guess the positive is that we sort it out on track. Hopefully we can get redemption if we feel like something has not gone our way. We’ll see… I like being able to race. That’s the positive from it.
SV: Will I get my trophy back… it makes sense!
DR: I guess he wants his trophy back from Mexico. It was a pretty small one actually. Right, I’ll shut up.
Q: (Leon Alepidis – F1fan) A question for Daniel. For many years it has been talked of to have a second Grand Prix in the USA. In the past Germany, Spain and Italy had a second Grand Prix in the same year. Your thoughts about a possible second Grand Prix in Australia and where would you like that to be?
DR: I’m going to sound greedy if I ask for another one here. We’ve got some great circuits… Seb’s saying Bathurst. That would be an amazing circuit for sure. Adelaide, I believe… I was very young but I did go to the 1993 Grand Prix, I was very young but I heard Adelaide was amazing, they still do it with the V8 supercars. Phillip Island, they host a great event for MotoGP, so there’s a lot. I wouldn’t say no, but I feel a bit greedy asking for more than we have got already. I think everyone else would like to come here. You guys like Australia, right?
Q: (Andre Leslie – DPA) Question for Daniel. Daniel, this week in Australia – I’m sure you’ve been here longer than that – how has it been with the pressure and the reception that you’ve received around the country? Is it something that is a weight on your shoulders or is it something you look forward to?
DR: It’s not a weight on my shoulders. It means more work, for sure. This week is easily the busiest F1 week of the year for me. But it’s all positive support. It’s kind-of overwhelming actually. I’m surprised that so many people are getting behind me and the event but it’s obviously cool. It’s nice and encouraging to see. I hear that ticket sales and everything is up quite a chunk from last year. I try to enjoy it. I appreciate it won’t last for ever. It’s demanding, it’s a tiring week but it’s pretty cool to see so many people supportive of me and the event. I don’t see it as pressure in terms of, if I don’t win on Sunday, they’re all going to leave the track and say I’m hopeless and never come back. They want to see me do well and that’s how I see it. It’s just a bit of extra motivation for me and I think the drivers’ parade on Sunday I’ll see that and feel it and get me jacked-up for the race.
Q: (Jerome Bourret – L’Equipe) Do you think that the new regulation can stop Mercedes’ domination or do you expect Lewis to still be the man to beat this weekend and this year? And Lewis, do you consider yourself the favourite for the Championship?
SV: Well, I think he must be. Mercedes obviously has been in very, very strong form the last three years and even though we changed the regulations, if a team is strong then they will build a strong car the year after, no matter what you do with the rules. I think it’s very clear who is the favourite. For all of us sitting here, we are trying our best to catch-up. How much we have succeeded, we will see and, as the season goes on, I’m sure the cars will have big progression and all the teams will bring lots of stuff to develop the cars. So, whoever’s in a good place in the beginning and still in a good place at the end will have a chance.
DR: I think for everyone, it’s like when Red Bull were dominating a few years ago, everyone wanted to see someone else win. So it’s natural. People like change. And for us drivers not being in a Mercedes, we want to see change as well. I think even to have more cars fighting for a win, it makes it more exciting. I’ll let Lewis answer but I think if he wins a race against four of us as opposed to just maybe his team-mate, I think that reward is bigger as well. So, I think if you can win against more, it’s not only good for the fans but that feeling of self-accomplishment is greater. We’ll see. Ferrari showed good pace in testing. If they can maybe take a few points away as well, it opens up the Championship over the long term.
See it that way Lewis?
LH: I see Ferrari being the quickest at the moment and I think they will definitely be the favourites but we’ll find out more going into the weekend. It’s interesting to see Sebastian’s usually a lot more hype and I can tell he’s trying to keep a lid on it. But their pace was obviously great in testing. I’m very keen to see what Red Bull bring because they were quite far behind through testing, at least compared to Ferrari and didn’t see them bring many upgrades – or an upgrade as far as I could see. So I’m assuming they’re bringing something here which I’m excited to see what they do bring. And I agree with Daniel in the sense of having more teams and more drivers up at the front fighting for wins, that’s what racing is all about. I’m hoping that’s the case. We, as a team, I don’t believe, as far as I know, no team has won back-to-back through rule regulation changes, so that is our goal as a team. We’re here to win, we’re here to do something no-one else has done. Whether or not we’re in the right place at this moment in the season, we’ll find out. But I have every belief in my team that we can do that.
Q: (Shane McInnes – Radio 3AW) Just about the length of the season, we know it’s 20 races this year but new owners have suggested they might like to see it get out to 25 races. Is 25 too many, and do you think 20 is the right amount or even less, going forward?
DR: I think it depends on how they structure it. It’s not too many. NASCAR do 36 or something. It’s a lot but the travel’s a lot less because they’re just in the US. So, I think it depends logistically how they do it. It’s all… I don’t know. I like racing. If it means just racing and no testing and less other stuff then… maybe. We spend more days in front of cameras and other things than actually behind the wheel of a racing car. I’d be open to the idea.
SV: I think 25 is too many. I think 20 is enough. We don’t need more. I think anything between 16 and 20 is the right number. Also, thinking of the efforts going in from the team point of view. For us it’s fairly easy, arriving more or less with hand luggage, doing the job and getting back. I think we’re on the better side. For a lot of the team, for the staff, it’s hard work. So, I think we are having enough races.
LH: I think if you asked any member of my team whether they’d want to do more races or less, they’d ask for more. It is definitely tough on the guys that are travelling but they love it. They’re addicted to it. They love motor racing and, of course they love time at home but… I’m like Daniel, I love racing so I’m not opposed to more races but I think they’ve got to change the structure, at least on different weekends. If it’s the same four days for 25 races, oh my God I think that would be too much. If they spice it up and make it more… a period during the season that’s perhaps more exciting than another, I think there’s a lot they can do. As long as they are in countries that have a good following. There’s no point in going to a country… for example Turkey, which was a beautiful place but there was no-one that turned up to a race. But if you go to places where there’s a real great atmosphere then you can create a great event, then I think that would be awesome.
Fernando, any thoughts?
FA: The same. We all love racing I think so more racing will be always welcome – but in a couple of years’ time.