The long awaited press conference is here. Unfortunately, due to time differences, I wasn’t able to fit everyone in who asked, but hopefully, we can get a second part done before tonight’s session.
‘Hello, and welcome to the 2013 Pre-season press conference. Here today we have McLaren driver – Alfie Widger, Marussia driver – Oli Peacock, Kevin Cucamest of Scuderia Toro Rosso, Robert Mathershaw of Ferrari and Red Bull driver – Johnny Kingshark. So, with no further adieu, let’s get this underway. We’ll take our first question from the audience,’
Reporter: To Robert Mathershaw: You were fortunate enough to secure a drive with a top team this season. How does it feel driving for the famous Ferrari?
Robert Mathershaw: Well, for sure (:P) I am very pleased to get a drive with Ferrari. I am hoping that I can emulate the successes of the famous drivers of the past, such as Michael Schumacher of course and maybe the flair of Gilles Villeneuve. I have seen my team mate, and he looks to be a very quick driver also. For sure, we will be fast, I just hope he isn’t too fast for me!
R: This is to Alfie Widger: With pre-season testing underway, how are you finding the car? Do you think that you will be able to compete for the Championship this season?
Alfie Widger: The car seems to have a good feel to it. Hopefully I should but so far my team mate isn’t quite on the same sort of pace as me, particularly in the wet where we were opposite ends of the time-sheets.
R: Directed to anyone: All the teams were able to get some good running in both dry and wet conditions. How did the rain effect the performance of the car in comparison to how it ran in the dry?
AW: The rain seemed to mix up the field a lot, and for me personally it was very tricky in fast turns with high kerbs where I wouldn’t have cared in dry running.
Oli Peacock: The car warms up the tyres really, really well so i think 8th place in pre-season testing should be a good marker for our wet pace for the rest of the season, Dry pace… that’s another story.
RM: The wet test in Jerez was amazing, the car was on rails. I must say that the rain was coming down at such a rate! The dry, the car was not so good really compared to some of the others, but I don’t think it will be necessary to be doing the rain dance too often!
Kevin Cucamest: The fact that we equally competitive in the dry and in the wet, shows we have an equally balanced car for all conditions and we might be able to pick up the pieces left from other teams
R: Red Bull actually slipped quite a lot in comparison, from the dry to the wet. Is this worrying? How did you feel about the car?
Johnny Kingshark: The car did not feel particularly comfortable in the rain, but let’s not ignore the fact that in the treacherous conditions we were the only team on a dry setup while everyone else was on a wet setup. I think that the test in Jerez was not a real benchmark. We will have to wait until Melbourne to have any real idea of what the pecking order is.
R: Toro Rosso don’t seem to have the pace of some of the other competitors in pre-season testing today, is this something that effects your confidence going into the first race?
KC: Yeah, for sure we aren’t on the pace of our main competitors and we were expecting better results, but we will be working hard to catch up before the first race and try to improve quickly.
R: To Johnny Kingshark: Your team mate was able to top the first session today, in the dry conditions. Does this give you confidence going into the season, knowing that your car may be able to compete for poles, podiums and wins?
JK: Of course. Adrian Newey along with the other boys have done a great job in the factory. The new Red Bull is easy to drive, stable under braking, and easy on its tyres. I have absolute faith in our team at Milton Keynes and that they have designed a good challenger for the upcoming season. We want to win, and nothing less.
R: To Alfie Widger: McLaren are obviously a great team, but who do you think will be your main rivals in terms of teams and drivers?
AW: Both the Lotus and Ferrari teams are on it this season. Looking at the last two tests, Felipe Bomeny doesn’t look so good in the wet so assuming bad weather the Lotus team and Robert Mathershaw should be the people to beat, particularly Mathershaw who was high in both tests. Of course everyone is acclimatising to the cars so it could all change.
R: Finally, a question to all. What will your goals and aspirations be, heading into the new season?
RM: Of course, I am aiming for the first place in the championship, for sure.
OP: Build up a reliable and consistent car, so when others falter we can capitalise.
KC: My main goal for this season is to get a decent haul of points and maybe a surprise win, or podium.
JK: I drive to win, anything less than the championship would be a failure. I don’t care how many races I win, I’d rather win 2 races and the championship than win 7 races but miss out on the championship. Likewise, losing to my team mate is no option. I am not a number two driver.
Thanks to everyone who participated and I look forward to (a possible) part 2!