The French Grand Prix officially starts with the usual Thursday Press Conference.
The firsts in line to answer the press questions are local heroes Romain Grosjean and Pierre Gasly.
“The French GP came back to the calendar when I started my first full season in Formula 1. I’m very excited. We all played football for Jules yesterday, it was great to remember him.” Said Gasly.
It is not a big deal as well to Romain Grosjean, who is living is home Grand Prix as a normal race weekend: “Today is a little bit busier, but I’m happy to be here and to spend some time here in France.”
Romain had a little bit of misfortune in Canada, starting in Quali, where he could not finish his timed lap because of his team mate accident in Q2. How the Haas will deliver on the Paul Ricard track?
“We’ve been very strong on certain circuit, so we hope our car can work well here, especially with the tyres and maybe challenge the Red Bulls. I don’t know if the new surface will help us, we’ll see.
“Last year we made some work at the sim, we thought we had a good package. It will be very hot and we’ll try to maximize everything we have and optimize our set-up.”
In Canada Gasly classified 8th, while his team mate Max Verstappen finished in 5th position, behind the both Ferraris and Mercedes. The Austrian team and the Japanese poor unit manufacturer, Honda, are bringing some new updates for the French GP.
“We have a new PU Spec, the third one, more focused on performances. We don’t expect a big improvement, but there will be small helpful changes. Let’s see what will happen during the weekend, especially during the race. I think this track suits us more than Canada’s, we have some new elements on the car.”
Antonio Giovinazzi is still waiting to add a point next to his name in the Championship standing, but he can be very proud as well, this weekend, as he is now a recipient for the Trofeo Lorenzo Bandini, which he received last Saturday in Brisighella.
“I am very proud to have received this trophy with a lot of Italian fans. The list of drivers who received it is amazing, but it’s now time to come back to my responsibility, which are now bigger.” Said the italian, who also drove a C32 colored in the Alfa Romeo livery in the streets of Brisighella. Among the winners of this trophy we also find Michael Schumacher, Fernando Alonso, Valtteri Bottas, Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel and other big names of Formula 1.
“It will be my first time at Paul Ricard, I just drove a F2 car in 2017. I spent some times art the sim, the fight will be very tight in the midfield, let’s see.” The Italian continued, speaking about the upcoming weekend. “In the last three races we had some difficulties, but small details can make the difference. We have to find the right solutions. I believe in my team as my team believes in me.”
He just missed the point zone as he arrived 11th in Montréal, but Carlos Sainz did the unthinkable driving 67 laps on the same tyres set.
“It was tough to spend 67 laps on the same tyres set, we had to improvise. We were forced to pit after three laps and then we went straight to the end. It has been a confusional weekend, but we learnt from it. I’m confident for the midfield fight, I think Renault and Haas both have something more in Quali than us, and this means we have to give it all on Sunday. Q2 and Q3 are always so intense and I’m enjoying this. We need to improve.”
One of his enemies in the midfield is his ex Renault team mate Nico Hulkenberg, who classified 7th in Montréal.
“The midfield fight is very tight, the margins are so close and we need to pay attention to every detail. I feel confident, it’s a big weekend for us, the home GP for the team. We want to have a strong result as in Canada. I think we didn’t have that big improvement in Canada, there were a lot of circumstances to other cars too. The car is competitive, we made some mistakes, and I had the first clear weekend in Montréal.”
This is also Reanult home Grand Prix.
“We are bringing updates here, and so will other teams. We hope to get close to the top 3 teams. The goal is to be the 4th strength of the Championship. We want to make France proud.”
The ex team mates were also both questioned about their home race tracks, Barcelona and Hockenheim.
“I am worried, I don’t want to lose my home GP.” Said the Spaniard. “It’s a big loose for the calendar, Barcelona has been part of Formula 1 for years, it’s a classic like Silverstone or Spa.”
“I love Hockenheim. It was crazy last year and full of fans, it would be sad to lose it, but there’s money and politics involved.” Added the German.
Last, but not the least, the question about the main topic of the Canadian race: Sebastian Vettel’s penalty. Every driver was asked if the penalty was right or wrong and if Formula 1 needs to revise its regulations and the way they are applied.
“There was a penalty? I didn’t notice.” Joked Nico Hulkenberg, the first to answer. “I think that it’s hard to control a car during a race in those circumstances. I think it was a race accident. There are always different stewards, different rules, I don’t think there’s need to change them.”
“I believe everything we do is under some regulations. There are penalties that can be applied differently for the same accidents. It’s hard for stewards because the regulations are written, but the accidents are hard to read. Only Sebastian knows if he could control the car or not.” Added Grosjean.
“I agre with everything.” Added the other French driver, Pierre Gasly. “It’s difficult when you cross the line first and then they tell you you’re second. It’s hard from his point of view, but the same can be said from Lewis’ side. It’s part of the competition, but to me it was too severe to take the victory from him.”
“As a driver I think I would’ve done the same thing Seb did. There’s always some risks in Formula 1, they were close to the wall. I don’t think that Lewis could really hit the wall, but there’s a written rule and the stewards applied them. The rule shouldn’t be that drastic, because it doesn’t resect the race spirit.” Said Carlos Sainz.
“It’s not nice to lose like that, but the rules should be applied in the same way to everyone.” Finally added Antonio Giovinazzi, closing the curtain to the French GP Press Conference.