PART TWO: DRIVERS – Lance Stroll (Williams), Sergio Pérez (Force India), Marcus Ericsson (Sauber)
Q: Marcus, why don’t we start with you. You said you particularly look forwards to this Canadian Grand Prix every year, why is it so important to you?
Marcus ERICSSON: Did I?
Yes, you did!
ME: OK. I enjoy it here, it’s a good race, not only the track but I think the whole city. It’s really cool because it’s buzzing, the whole city, wherever you do, all week. There’s a lot going on. Then the weekend as well, around race day, a lot of fans, the atmosphere is great. I think it’s this combination of things that makes it one of the better races of the year, I think.
Q: Sauber was one of the teams that had real problems getting the softer tyres to work, all weekend in Monaco. Do you anticipate similar problems with them this weekend?
ME: Yeah, it’s true that in Monaco we were struggling quite a lot to get the tyres to work in the right window. We have worked quite a bit after Monaco to understand that and to make sure that we are better off here in Montreal because it’s also a track where you are generally struggling a bit with tyres, especially the front tyres, to get them into the right temperature. We have some ideas of how to do it and hopefully this type of track will help us to get them to work a bit better – and then we hope the temperature stays a bit high, and that will also help – but let’s see how it goes.
Q: Sergio, coming to you, your 15 race points-scoring streak that stretched back all the way to Germany last season was interrupted in Monaco in a strange race for you – how do you look back on it now?
Sergio PÉREZ: Yeah, it was quite a strange race, y’know? Great qualifying and we were on to a… let’s say a piece of cake – a race that was very easy – but then we have something unexpected in lap one. I slightly touched Sainz into the hairpin with my front wing, which meant I had to pit, like after 17 laps or so to change my front wing, and that meant that I end up in a big battle where I didn’t need to be. And from then on I had to take big risks. I take a big risk overtaking Lance, actually, Palmer, Vandoorne, and then I found myself in a very strong position. My team did a massive call to box me under the safety car. I didn’t lose any positions. I was on fresh tyres so I was around two seconds a lap quicker than the car ahead, and I was in the points. Everyone ahead of me was struggling massively. I knew how much they were struggling with the warm-up of the tyre and Kvyat left the door open a bit so I just went for it and, if I have that opportunity again, I think I will do the same. If you don’t go for the gap, you don’t give the right message to your competitors, you know? So, I think one of the reasons that I’ve been so many times in the points was thanks to that aggression. Many times of those 15 I didn’t have the pace to be on the points and yes, sometimes I think you have to be quite aggressive. In Monaco, you know as a driver if you try the manoeuvre there is a big chance that it is not going to happen and it’s going to ruin the race. It’s a risk that you decide to take. I think I was the only car out there to overtake. You saw what happened with Jenson and Wehrlein: with these wide cars, with the amount of limited grip we have in the corners, it is very hard to overtake so you have to take big risks.
Q: You had a podium here back in 2012 but since then it’s not been a particularly kind circuit for you. Do you think this year’s Force India car with it’s characteristics will give you a better shot at a big result here this weekend than the last few seasons?
SP: I think so. I think we should be relatively stronger than probably other circuits in the past. But we still have a big margin to the top three teams ahead. They’re in another category. For us, just in pure pace, if we finish behind them it’s the maximum we can achieve at the moment. So, let’s see what we can do for Sunday.
Q: Coming to you Lance, I guess having grown up here and been inspired by seeing Formula One cars once a year on this race track, you must feel quite emotional at the thought of racing one here this weekend?
Lance STROLL: Yeah, it’s kind of a dream come true for me. Growing up here I was sitting in the grandstands at five or sic years old and watching the races here and now to finally be part of it, it’s very special.
Q: This has been a strong track for Williams in the last few years – back-to-back podiums the last two seasons and there has been a Williams on the front two rows of the grid in three of the last four years. So are expectations high for getting your first championship points?
LS: I think so, yeah. It has been a strong track for us in the past. It suits our car very well. Hopefully that remains the same this year. I think we just need to focus on our job. Hopefully a bit of luck will be on our side, that we can have a clean weekend and get the best out of our car. That’s definitely the plan.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Pierre Durocher – Montreal Journal) I want to ask you, Lance… people some to forget sometimes but two years ago when you first appeared in F3 you had some problems you had to fight to get the results you wanted and then the next year you became champion. Is there anything that you learned through your first year in F3, that was a bit difficult, and make you stronger that you can make you stronger right now and help you go through the hurdles of having success in F1?
LS: I think it just comes down to experience and sometimes it just takes a bit of time for things to fall into place. Back in Formula 3, I ended 2015 very well and then I started 2016 very well and it stayed the same way the whole year. So, it just sometimes takes some time to break the ice and once you get rolling it keeps working. I mean, I think this year has been a bit different. We have had some strong qualifyings – in China, Bahrain, in Russia – there have been some Saturdays, but there has been some bad luck as well with technical issues and other things and we haven’t been able to capitalise on those results on Sunday and I think a lot of our non-finishes are because of that and I think we just need to stay calm, we need to stay focused, focus on what we need to improve on – myself, car, everything – and just every weekend try to get stronger and stronger. I think that’s the goal now. We can’t panic, we can’t lose concentration; we have to stay in it. It’s a long year. There have only been six races and there’s still 14 more to go. The year is a marathon and it’s about forgetting about what happened in the past and focusing on the next one. That’s definitely what I did in F3. There were a lot of hard times in 2015 and then I came back in 2016, worked on my weaknesses over the winter, and came back a much better, a much more complete driver. The same thing happens when you move into Formula One. There are new things to learn. The tyres are very tricky to understand, so that is definitely something I’m learning at the moment, trying to get on top of that every weekend as consistently as possible and just driving the car and getting used to it. I’m getting more comfortable, more confident every where I go. A lot of the tracks are new as well. That’s definitely something that takes some getting used to. In FP1 you just have to learn these new tracks and all that. It’s time and experience. But at the same time you’ve got to always push as hard as you can and focus on what you really need to improve on, weekend by weekend.
Q: (Jeff Pappone – Inside Track) A question for Sergio. I’m just wondering, with the changes to the car, the tyres that are different this year, you have a rookie team-mate: Is this one of the toughest years – F1 Is always hard for rookies – but is this one of the toughest years for them to come in and figure out the cars and figure out how to be fast?
SP: It's hard for me to judge, because the last time I was a rookie in F1 was seven years ago. I think F1 is quite as well, you know, but certainly with these tyres it’s quite difficult to know what is going on. I think especially in Formula One, you have a lot of people around your team that can help you a lot to understand what is going on with tyres. Since I came to Formula One, the most important thing is tyres. We are always talking about tyres, tyres. When you come from a junior category to Formula One there is so much to learn on tyres. Whether it’s harder now or when I came? I don’t think it’s any harder now, but it’s hard for me to judge. Certainly I’m finding it hard to know what’s going on with these tyres. All the time they are very different, depending on which track they work very different. Having them in the window to having them over the window, it’s a very little margin. So certainly tyres are something that rookies might find a little bit harder than experienced drivers.
Q: (Silvia Arias – Parabrisas ) Sergio, you just said that there are a lot of people around trying to help about the tyres. I would love to know, all of you, what about the sensibility. How sensitive do you have to be, driving a car, to add to this help? Your own feelings into the car. Do you feel this year you have to use even more your sensitive approach?
SP: I don’t think you have to use it any more than any other year. You always have to try to know what’s going on with tyres. It’s obviously very hard to know what’s going on with the set-up and the tyres at the same time, whether it’s a lack of warm-up or whether it’s a problem with the balance of the car. That’s something that for us, as drivers, is hard to judge. I like to do a lot of work with tyres and I like to focus a lot on that regard. Firstly I try to understand what’s going on with the tyres before I judge the set-up.
LS: Sergio said a lot of it. I think tyres are the biggest performance gain in Formula One today. You can do an out lap very slow or you can do one very fast and then get into detail about it and you can find a ton of lap time when you get it right and you get in the window. Coming from junior categories I think there is a big difference in that from Formula One. In F3, for example, where I come from, F4 as well, you go out, the tyre is very consistent all the time, you have three push laps in qualifying where you can get the lap time you want. It’s just very forgiving, it’s very easy, you can slide the tyre, you can do whatever you want, and then just focus on driving. But in Formula One there’s a lot that comes with getting good out laps, getting the tyre working, and if you miss that, if you get traffic on an out lap, and you don’t get it working the way you want you can lose a massive amount of performance and that just really affects your position on the grid. Same in the race. If you have some overheating or something, you slide the surface too much, you go backwards. So these tyres are very, very tricky to understand. There are some weekends that are very straightforward. We’ve seen weekends this year where I think it has been pretty easy for everyone to get temperature into the tyre and then it’s just been consistent and then it’s just about focusing on your driving. Then there have been other weekends where it has been extremely complicated to get it working properly and you just have to wait and see if it’s going to work or not. Definitely you always have to be on top of it, listen to people in your team who are trying to help you. For me it’s just about gaining experience with the tyres and trying different things, seeing if it works, and obviously using the help of people ion my team around me.
ME: Not much to add to be honest. Like they said, tyres are the key to performance and I agree with that.
Q: (Sef Harding – Xero Xone News) A question for Lance. What have you had a chance to do since you’ve4 been home and I’ll slip another question in there: what you have on your playlist this weekend, because I know you’re a music guy?
LS: First of all, it’s great to be home. I don’t get to come back too often, so it’s been a busy week, with some media stuff and sponsor events and a lot of that, but at the same time I have had a chance to visit some friends, family, here in Montreal, that I don’t get to see often, so that’s been great. Music for the weekend? I’m not too sure yet. I’ll have a better idea tomorrow on what I feel like listening to. Some hip-hop, soft rock, deep house, I don’t know yet, but we’ll see.
Q: (Alexandre Geoffrion-McInnis – La Presse Canadienne) Sergio, we all know it’s Lance’s first Canadian Grand Prix, but I want to know how you felt to race in front of your home crowd in Mexico back in 2015? Did you get any emotion boost? Did you feel more pressure?
SP: It’s a big emotion, you know. When you race in front of your home crowd you have all the support from your fans, all your people, your friends, family, people that they don’t get to see you in life for the rest of the year. It’s certainly a weekend where your emotions are 100 per cent, all the time. From P1 to when you finish the race it’s very emotional. They always say that when you are home you are two tenths quicker and I believe so, you know. You have so much energy through you and so much support and there is so much willingness to do well in front of them. And instead of feeling pressure you feel extra energy and that helps you to focus on set-up decisions, on preparing your race weekend, on preparing your qualifying. It’s something really well. It’s important that you don't let the emotions go too high and always stay calm and just enjoy the weekend, because it will go very fast.
Q: (Alessandra Retico – La Repubblica) Lance, you are very young, but what does Gilles Villeneuve mean to you and how do feel to be the first Canadian guy to compete here since Jacques?
LS: Well, Gilles was a bit before my time, so I didn’t really have a chance to watch him race. But obviously an extreme talent and very loved. He really went for the gaps and took the risks that back then other drivers wouldn’t take. An extreme talent and a very special driver that goes down in the history books in Formula One. To race here since Jacques is really an honour. He won the world championship with Williams in 1997, the year before I was born. Now 20 years later to be here in the Canadian Grand Prix, just memories of when I was a kid watching the race. Formula One was always a dream for, but separately the Canadian Grand Prix is really a dream for me to compete here. I was a bit worried over the winter when they were saying ‘oh maybe next year not sure if it’s going to be on the calendar’, but now to be here and experiencing the whole thing, I think Sergio mentioned, from the moment you get home, FP1, the race, you’re just embracing all that positive energy from the fans, from everyone around. I think it’s one of those grands prix that you really have to enjoy and embrace it and then it’s a race like every other one and you have to go and have fun.
Q: (Salim Valji – CBC) For Lance, how do you handle the perception that maybe you are here based on family money as opposed to talent? Kind of an awkward question but how do you handle that, what’s your response to that perception?
LS: Never heard that question before! You know, it’s always going to be said and asked, about where I come from and all that. But I focus on the positives. I’ve won the championships to arrive here, Formula 4, Formula 3 European Championship, I got my 40 Superlicence points that the FIA has placed just for that reason. Drivers can’t just buy their way into Formula One, you have to actually go out and get the results. There are always going to be haters, there is always going to jealousy, that’s just the nature of sports in general. When you win it’s expected and when you have hard times people put you down and that’s how it goes. But I don't focus on that. I know who is important around me and those are the people I listen to. The rest of the noise you just have to block it out, it’s out of your control. You have to know who you need to trust around you and that’s all you can focus on and then it’s about going out on track. Sometimes there’s hard times, sometimes there’s good time but you just need to always go to the next weekend and be positive and try as hard as you can and that’s how I go about my business.