Brazilian Grand Prix - Seb and Charles: “Keen to get back to performing at our normal level”

14 Nov 2019

The Scuderia Ferrari Mission Winnow drivers and indeed the entire team have arrived in Brazil determined to put the poor showing in the United States Grand Prix in Austin behind them. As usual on a Thursday, the drivers’ schedule involved media work and meetings with the engineers, to prepare for the weekend at the Interlagos circuit.

Competitive. Seb was first up in front of the journalists, followed a short while later by Charles Leclerc. Both men faced similar lines of questioning, starting with how competitive is the SF90. “The Austin weekend was far from ideal for me and for the team” admitted Vettel. “My car was damaged going over the bumps and in the race it was undriveable up to the point at which I had to retire and even Charles didn’t have an easy race. However, I think we can be competitive again here, at the same level we were at in Mexico”. Charles felt much the same. “In Austin, we had hoped to still be able to save the internal combustion engine of my power unit which lost oil on Saturday morning, which is why we fitted a used engine”, he explained.

But when we realised it was not performing well enough to tackle any more races, we decided to change the Power Unit for here, taking the ten place grid penalty.” The track could suit him. “I’d put Interlagos in my top five favourite circuits. It’s fun, unpredictable and short and I like that, because in some ways it reminds me of my karting days and, if you have a competitive car, overtaking is definitely possible,” continued Charles.

Sustainability. Another topic was the press release put out by Formula 1 earlier this week stating that the aim was to have a sport that was carbon neutral by 2030. “I have a lot to learn on this subject,” admitted Leclerc. “And I think we all have to play our part. It doesn’t take much to do our bit and our sport must also take steps in this direction.” Sebastian has always shown a keen interest in environmental issues and said he was in agreement with the initiative. ”I think it’s very important to act, because time is running out and there are no spare planets. There’s no point denying that this discipline we love is called motor sport and that implies using a motor, which inevitably does not have zero impact. We have to do something and this document is a great starting point.”

Unforgotten. Ayrton Senna was, as usual, a much discussed subject on this Thursday of the Brazilian Grand Prix. After all, the three times world champion was himself a Paulista and left an indelible mark on this sport. Ayrton has a special place in the hearts of Seb and Charles. “I was a kid watching the race with my father,” recalled Sebastian. “He was a big Senna fan and that’s where my interest in him began. The McLaren with the man with the yellow helmet was always recognisable and I liked him a lot. If I think back to the past, my first motor sport memory that springs to mind is actually linked to Ayrton, specifically the first time he won here at Interlagos (in 1991). I remember he had lost almost all his gears and towards the end, he was stuck in fifth. He got so tired that he couldn’t even lift up the trophy on the podium.” As for Charles, he was also influenced by his father. “I wasn’t even born when Senna raced, but my father often spoke of him. And I read books and watched videos about him. I think he was a very charismatic person and probably that’s part of the reason why his memory is still so fresh, even though 25 years have now passed since that terrible day in Imola.”

Programme. Track action at Interlagos starts tomorrow with the first free practice at 11 (15 CET) and the second one at 14 (18 CET). On Saturday the final hour to set up the cars takes place at 12 (16 CET) prior to qualifying at 15 (19 CET) On Sunday, the Brazilian Grand Prix gets underway at 14 local time (18 CET).

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