Several drivers attended the Mexican GP Thursday press conference, and obviously the firsts questions are for local hero Sergio Perez, who has always performed good in his home GP.
“From the first edition it has been a great event. In some country we have less enthusiasm for the GP, but I think this is going to be amazing again.” Said the Mexican thinking about the “grande fiesta” expected for the weekend.
“The goal is to be in the top ten and earn points, we are strong.” He continued. “Renault has been strong in Austin, but we can fight them.”
It is still “unclear” who is going to partner him next year in Force India, but everything leads to Lance Stroll, the son of the new owner of the team. When asked if this will make a difference about his position in the team, Checo answered:
“I don’t think it will make some difference. The team needs two fast drivers and a performing car. We have great engineers, the driver that will partner me will learn a lot.”
It is going to be a challenge for Toro Rosso and Honda here in Mexico, as the Faenza team had tested a new aero package in Austin but didn’t use it for the race.
“In Austin it wasn't ideal with the weather, we had a new aero package that we couldn't test until Saturday.” Said Pierre Gasly. “We'll test it again this weekend, both me and Brendon.”
The Honda PU is making some steps further at every GP and Gasly will continue his F1 journey with the Japanese manufacturer next year with Red Bull.
“The situation for next year is promising: there's a lot of commitment from both parts, Honda and Red Bull. Honda has struggled these last seasons, but they're already working on next year's power unit, and I'm pretty confident on the fact they'll keep improving.”
Pierre will partner Max Verstappen next year; the Dutchman won the Mexican GP in 2017 and has delivered one of his best performances in Austin on Sunday, climbing up form the 18th position to the 2nd.
“It's difficult to say if Austin was my best race. The goal was to earn as many points as we could. it was great to fight for the podium in the end, it was stressful for the tyres, but also fun.”
“Surely Mexico is the best opportunity for us to take another win.” He continued. “We're improving at every race.”
About the next partnership between Honda and Red Bull, Max said: “It's difficult now to say if we’re gonna fight for the championship. We’ll find out next year. It’s gonna be difficult at the start, but we’re hopeful for the second part of 2019.”
Another driver is about to change team next season but will continue with the same Power Unit: we’re talking about Carlos Sainz, who will leave Renault for McLaren. It has been a tough season for the French team, but things are getting better for them as they scored their best result in Austin (Hulkenberg 6th and Sainz 7th)
“In the lasts 3/4 races the team has changed something in order to improve our results. it was a combination of different details that helped us to score our best result of the season in Austin.” Said Sainz, who is still focused on the 2018 season, but is already in talks with his new team.
“I had contacts with them, about the winter programme, but I'm fully focused on my season with Renault until Abu Dhabi. I'm satisfied on how things are going in the second part of the season with Renault.”
Last but not the least Kimi Raikkonen, who has ended his lack of victories in Austin.
“It was a great result and a good race. I had to fight for it, it wasn't easy, but it has been positive for us. I hope to be strong again this weekend.” He said shortly.
Kimi is currently the oldest driver on the grid: he’s 39 and has signed a two year contract with Sauber, meaning he will stay in F1 until he’s 41. Does experience help in a sport like this?
“I don't know if age helps or not.” The Finn said. “Things are still working good for me. Experience helps, but it is not that necessary in this sport. We can work on the simulator, we race on the same tracks every year, it's not about who raced the most kilometres. Obviously, I feel better than when I debuted.”
“I don't think age matters, but maturity does.” Added Gasly, one of the youngest on the grid. “It gives you more confidence, maybe with the years going it'll become more automatic.”
“It can help you build a team around you or adjusting the set-up of the car.” Said Perez and Sainz agreed with him. “Experience helps you and get the best out of you for the team, set up ecc., the more experience you have, the faster you are. But seeing a 39 years old man winning a GP tells us we still have time to win.”
The Mexican Paddock is about to start the farewell for Fernando Alonso and our drivers also talked about what a loss is going to be for the F1 grid.
“Obviously, he’s a legend, I’ve been following him before I started karting.” Said Gasly. “He has always been on top, it’s a shame to lose him but he will surely face biggest fights and we’ll hear about him from other categories.”
“I think the sport is losing one of the biggest. I think we should think about why one of the best is forced to leave, cause not everyone has a chance to win.” Added Sainz.
“He’s been the one who inspired me the most to become a F1 driver and I gave my everything. Having the chance to fight against him was a dream come true.”
On Sunday Lewis Hamilton will likely become world champions, after fighting in the first part of the season with Sebastian Vettel, who has committed some mistakes and lost several points from the German Grand Prix on.
“It’s difficult to judge his situation.” Said Sainz. “I don’t know what’s going on with him, I respect him. He’s a 4-time world champion and I’m sure he’ll react from this difficult moment.”
“I think he’s a great driver and it’s difficult to judge. There have been some mistakes, sometimes they do desperate moves, but he’s a world champion and has a great team behind so he’ll come back .” Said Perez.