The departing Felipe Massa, his team-mate Lance Stroll and Sauber's Marcus Ericsson take part in the first half of the driver's press conference in Brazil.
PART ONE: DRIVERS – Felipe MASSA (Williams), Lance STROLL (Williams), Marcus ERICSSON (Sauber)
Felipe, here we are again, and once again we know this is a swansong. Do you mean it this time?
Felipe MASSA: Yeah! Actually this is my second retirement race in Brazil, but this time it’s the last one for sure in Formula One, so definitely really looking forward to another amazing feeling to race at home and really enjoying the track that I grew up at here for my last time in a Formula One car. So, really looking forward and really hope that we can have a nice race and a nice result to finish it off.
What’s been the highlight of this bonus season for you in Formula One and how do you see the Williams team going forward from this point?
FM: Not amazing highlights to be honest. So the way we started the season it was not the same way we finished the season. Definitely the car was more competitive at the beginning than at the end, so development-wise it was not great, I would say, this year. But I think I definitely enjoyed driving the car after all these rules were changed from last year to this year. I think it’s a lot of fun to drive these cars, a lot more downforce, I definitely enjoyed it a lot. Unfortunately, I was a little bit unlucky in some races that I would have scored massive points but I couldn’t, not because of my fault but because of some issues we had in the car. I expect maybe a season that would have been a little bit more competitive than how we were. But I definitely enjoy, having fun by driving the car. I’m happy that I’ve been able to take the best out of this car when I didn’t have any problem. So it was a season that I definitely enjoyed. It would be nice to remember this season, I mean the way you drive this car, for my career some years in front, nice to come back and remember this way you are driving this car.
And the second part of the question about where the Williams team goes forward from here?
FM: I think it’s definitely important to change a little bit some ideas for the car, but I think that’s the way Williams is doing for next year. So having a car that’s a little bit more different – the way they are developing the car, the way they are working the car – so I really hope they can achieve that from next year to the future.
Thank you very much, Felipe. Lance, in the points at four of the last six grands prix and now into the top 10 in the drivers’ standings. Some great runs, lots of great starts, but would it be fair to say that qualifying is where you are going to be putting the bulk of your effort in preparing for 2018?
Lance STROLL: Yeah, it’s been a good run. We’ve scored quite a few points in the last few races. I’m really happy about how that’s gone. For sure, qualifying we still need to adjust a few things. It’s mainly been little mistakes here and there and not being able to capitalise on our full potential. But I think with time and experience and analysing bits and pieces we can improve in that and I believe that with the people I’m working with and the team that we can address some of those issues and definitely improve on them in the future. But definitely when it comes to races and the points we’ve scored, I’m extremely proud of the job we’ve done and we’ve just got to keep doing what we’re doing.
You will have a new team-mate next season. What profile are you looking for: someone young, someone experienced, or should the team take a gamble?
LS: It’s up to the team at the end of the day. My job is to drive my car. I mean I was hoping for Hamilton, but he’s not really available these days. I’m just kidding. It’s completely up to the team. Like I say, my job is to drive my car and they’ll take care of the rest.
Marcus, you’ve outqualified your team-mate at the last three grands prix but you’ve yet to get that breakthrough point. It looked like it could be on in Mexico; you were in positions for many laps until the breakdown. This race worked out pretty well for Sauber last year so have you targeted this weekend for the result?
Marcus ERICSSSON: Yeah, I mean we always go into a weekend aiming to try and score points. I think Mexico was a really good weekend for us and we’ve had quite a few good weekends now in a row. Very unfortunate I think in Mexico with the Safety Car, it came out with absolutely the worst possible timing for us, before that we were running in the points for the whole first part of the race. It was a good feeling and it was a good opportunity for us but we were just unlucky with the safety car. But then we had the breakdown as well. Hopefully here it’s new opportunity that we can take advantage of. This track should not be worse for us than the last two. We’re looking forward to it. We still need to obviously maximise what we have. It’s still a handicap with the old power unit so it’s going to make it more difficult. But as we’ve shown on the last two weekends, if we get everything right on the car side we can still take the fight to some of the midfield cars, so that’s what we need to do again this weekend and then we see here in Brazil everything can happen with the weather. Usually the races here are very eventful and that’s why we need to take the opportunity.
Well, you mentioned the weather. It looks like we could have some rain again this weekend. One of the talking points is that the organisers have cut some more groves into the surface. So tell us about this place in the wet and what those grooves might do?
ME: I think it’s a fun track to drive in the wet. Obviously we saw last year that it does get a lot of standing water, so that’s the only problem really. So if that’s helped a bit this year I think it will improve. Like I said, it’s a fun track to drive both in the dry and the wet. I wouldn’t mind a bit of mixed conditions during the weekend, I think that would spice things up
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Lucas Santochi – Pole Position) Lance, in this your first year, what you do feel that Formula One has different, that you feel like ‘oh, this is difficult, I have to work on this’, and how you felt about this during the year? And Felipe, if you can say some words about his evolution?
LS: Formula One is very different in many ways from any other category. There is a lot more activity going on off the track and the car itself is very different to drive, so technically, driving the car, working with the engineers, working with the team, the weekends are a lot more loaded than any other category. There is a lot more going on everywhere, so you have to put your attention on so many little details that in other categories you don’t necessarily do as much. And then, like I said, off the track there are so much more going on, so many media activities and commitments that you have to take part in. So I would say just that the weekends are generally very loaded. But it’s becoming easier and easier every single time. The more experience I have and the more weekends I get under my belt it starts to become second nature more and more every single time. It’s just part of the process of learning and settling into Formula One, but those are the main things – the activity off the track and just driving the car and getting used to these kind of cars to drive. They’re quite a handful in a fun way, in a good way. So I would say those are the main things.
And Felipe, your comment on how Lance has developed? He’s been a bit like you were to Michael Schumacher when you were together.
FM: Yeah, I think definitely the way he started until now he had a big development, which is pretty normal. In Formula One everything is different to every other category. You need to learn, you need to understand the car, you need to understand the tyres, when you need to make the perfect lap. Even if we have the sessions on Friday and then on Saturday morning, sometimes it’s not enough because you’re not having new tyres all the time, and then you get to qualifying , you have new tyres and straight away you need to do a very good lap time, otherwise Q1, especially the way you are fighting with three or four teams for a couple of tenths, if you don’t do a lap time straight away maybe you can even not pass into Q2. So that shows the intense battle you have in Formula One. But I think the way he started, the way he is now, he’s just learning and getting better and better and improving. Definitely he understood much quicker the way he needs to drive in the race, because he did many good races and the qualifying for sure is coming. He has a good teacher as well, so… maybe next year he can qualify closer to another driver that he’ll race.
Q: (Arjan Schouten – AD Sportwereld) Question for Felipe, going on the farewell tour, what’s your view on the future of Brazilian Formula One racing – because it looks like we have a year without for the first time since 1969…
FM: Yeah. I really hope Formula One stays forever in Brazil. So definitely Brazil is a very important country for Formula One. So many titles, so many drivers, so many Brazilian drivers raced for Formula One since the start, so I really hope Interlagos stays for a very long time in Formula One and anything I can give to help, not racing any more, I can do, so definitely it is a very important race. It is true that we are suffering not an easy moment in Brazil, financially, but I think it’s a very important event for São Paulo, it’s a very important event for Brazil Formula One and y’know, for me it’s very difficult to answer – but I really hope Brazil stays for a very long time in Formula One.
Q: (Andres Lopez – Motorlat.com) Question for Felipe, this will be your last GP at Brazil as an F1 driver. What is your best memory here in this track?
FM: I think the best memory is my first victory, in 2006. It was like a dream come true for a Brazilian that was always dreaming to be in Formula One, especially in this track, then you get to Formula One and you manage to win. I won two races here, three pole positions, I think it’s the track I’ve been more times in the podium. So… but I definitely… the victory here 2006, it was like a dream come true, that I will never forget. It was definitely the most incredible day that I had in my career, winning the home grand prix for the first time, 2006
Q: (Silvia Arias – Parabrisas) Felipe, I would like to know, in the future do you expect to drive in a different category, to compete in a different category – and which one will it be?
FM: Yes, definitely, it’s part of my expectation to keep driving, to keep having fun on the track, so that’s what I have been doing since I was eight years old, and that is my job since a long time as well. So, I think when you’re driving and you’re competing, you really feel the emotion of doing your job, or for enjoying yourself, so yes, definitely I really hope I can find the category that I have fun, like I had in Formula One for very long. So yeah, I will have enough time to think about it, to understand which is a good category to go, and then we will see.
Q: (Stephen Wade – AP) Felipe, how do you rate your career? You were very close to being a World Champion at one point; you come from a country with great tradition, how do you rate your career? An eight? A ten? How do you see it?
FM: I think when you… ten is when you win a championship or maybe even more than that, y’know? So yeah, I would say I had a very successful career. I have a career I thought I never would achieve, when I was a kid, so first of all, Formula One was a dream, and I managed to get to Formula One, I managed to win many races, I managed to fight for the championship until maybe the last metres, and yeah, maybe I was the driver who gets more close to the championship in the history, so I am very proud of my career. If it’s seven, eight, nine, it doesn’t matter. I am very proud for what I achieved, for what I did and I’m so happy for so many things that I learned, so many people that I met, and also really the most important thing is that people respect me and I think that’s the most important thing: have a great relationship with most of the people that I work, and I pass even a few moments together. Definitely I’m so happy for what I achieved, and yeah, still many things to do in life but really finished with my head up, and I think that’s the most important thing.
Q: (Fabio Aleixo – Folha de São Paulo) Will you do anything different for the public? Because last year after you finished the race… you didn’t finish the race and walked through the pitlane and you could see the people closer. After the race, if you finish, you have anything to do different, maybe walk around the track? Go to the public to say ‘thank you’? Do you have anything in your mind for after the race?
FM: Well, actually I really hope I can finish in a great position. That’s that most important thing, that it didn’t happen last year, so it happens, another thing that I will never forget. So I think the feeling that I have on the human side, after the race, last year it was something really I never thought I will feel that, I will have that in my career. So, I think what I had last year was definitely more than enough, and the only thing I’m looking forward to now is having a good race, having a good result and I never really planned everything, so if I do this, everything, y’know this will be natural, so we’ll see what we invent to do after what I really hope is a good result.
Q: (Pedro Enrique Marum – MSN Esportes) Lance, before pre-season you said Felipe would be a mentor to you and then, after pre-season started you said it wasn’t quite like this. Now a season went by, Felipe has mentored you?
LS: Well, he’s been a great team-mate to have. He has a bunch of experience, he brings a lot of knowledge to the team. I think we’ve understood a lot about the can and how to improve the car throughout the weekends and, for sure, he’s been a great guy to have in the team. I think everyone’s really enjoyed having him at Williams, and he’s had an unbelievable career: many victories, many times on the podium, one point from winning a world championship, so, y’know, definitely an A career, that’s for sure.