Several Formula 1 drivers shared their thoughts about Azerbaijan Grand Prix, team orders and complicated battle for points
We’re back to the street circuit this weekend. Kimi, you took pole position in Monaco a couple of races ago. How confident are you here?
Kimi Raikkonen: Unfortunately there’s no guarantees. That happened in the past. It’s a completely different circuit. There no similarities to Monaco I think we have a good car everywhere. Let’s see how it goes – and hopefully I can be in the front again and see what happens next.
This weekend you have harder tyre compounds than in Monaco. How that would affect the battle between Ferrari and Mercedes AMG?
KR: It’s being close more or less every race. The circuit is so different that there is no surprise that the tyres are slightly different here. I will be surprised if only one team gets long way ahead of another.
After the technical problems you had in Canada last time out do you feel that it’s over now?
KR: Not really (laughs). That’t not the thing you can be calm about. We had bad luck a few times and the things usually go wrong when it’s the worst time for them. At least we managed to finish the race and score some points. Obviously that’s far from my ideal but that’s how it goes sometimes.
Kimi, the situation in the championship between Ferrari and Mercedes is pretty tough. Are you in the position to play support role to Sebastian now in a way like in the past when you’ve been at Ferrari in 2007 and 2008?
KR: We have clear rules about what is allowed in the team and what the team wants us to do. It goes by those rules. I don’t have an interest to tell about what we’re talking about inside the team. We know exactly when things will go either way and that’s fine. When I don’t have a chance mathematically any more to fight for the championship for sure I will help Sebastian. I have no issues with that. It is a very easy decision for all of us in our team. If Seb can win and I have not any chance – then that’s how it goes. The first thing is to work for Ferrari and to put the team in the best possible position.
Stoffel, can you give us some insight on how you prepare to the track you’ve never raced at? Is Fernando giving you any tips?
Stoffel Vandoorne: I definitely spend some time on the simulator like I do before every race. At least the simulator is reliable so I can do a lot of laps there. I watched different races of GP2 and Formula 1. That’s all you can do.
What are you expectations for the race?
SV: Here we reach very very high top speeds. It’s a lot similar to Canada so I don’t think that we have high hopes. But we’ll try our best from our side. We already have some penalties to start the weekend which is not ideal.
We know that Fernando has penalties…
SV: I will have a penalty as well, so we’re probably competing to start from the back of the grid.
Which direction would you like to see McLaren take with any future engine partner?
SV: Obviously it’s not up to me to take such decisions. We had a difficult start of the season and it’s not the ideal situation for everyone. We need to fight back and I’m pretty sure that the team is moving into right direction and hopefully at some point we will be competitive again.
Daniil, you qualified sixth here last year. Are you confident of being a Q3 contender again in 2017?
Daniil Kvyat: Last year and this year are different stories even though conditions will be similar. The circuit has the longest straight in the championship and it’s still not our favorite part of the track but I will try to minimize the laptime loss.
How did you resolve your issues with Carlos Sainz?
DK: Speaking about double penalty we spoke behind closed doors with adequate people – Charlie Whiting and Jean Todt. Everything has been said on that matter. The end of conversation was very positive. Everything is clear now. Speaking about another issue that you mentioned we’ll try to keep everything inside the house. That’s what I hope for at least.
Valtteri, do you think that harder tyre compounds will help your team this weekend?
Valtteri Bottas: No, I don’t think it can help us in any way. The tyres will be the same for everyone but it is up to us to get them work well.
What do you think of laptimes at Baku City Circuit this year?
VB: I think they would be quicker because we are a lot quicker in the corners now.
Your boss Toto Wolff said this week that you’re in uncomfortable position because you’re still without a drive for 2018. Do you feel uncomfortable in this situation?
VB: I feel normal because every single year in Formula 1 I had the same situation. At this point (of the season) I had no idea what’s gonna be next year. So for me it’s a normal situation. At the end there’s no rush.
Romain, you scored points in three races in a row for the first time in your Haas career. Where can you go from here?
Romain Grosjean: From first year we showed that we gain consistency, the team is growing up and capitalizing on good strategy getting the best of the situation even though the performance in Canada was not that good. With very aggressive strategy and a bit of luck at the end we scored points. We’ve moved a long way. Every time I look back and see what we’ve done I’m very proud of the team and myself because I’ve been here since day one. It’s a very special experience to build a team around you.
You said in a team’s preview that Baku is a mix between Monaco and Monza. What do you mean by that?
RG: In Baku you’ve got a first part of the track with a big fast line, big breaking and low speed corners which you’ve got in Monza. So top speed and breaking stability is important. And then from turn 5 and onwards you’ve got much trickier sections: bumpy, up-and-downs, tight, and up-and-down again, which is much like Monaco type of corners. It’s a pretty tough one to set up the car.
Do you feel that you’re first in line for the seat in Ferrari?
RG: Good question. I don’t know the answer. Our life is full of surprises. If you asked Valtteri what he was doing in December he would probably say that he’s gonna go again with Williams – and next thing you know you’re in the world champion’s car. It’s a phone call. I’m frustrated sometimes because I love winning.