Monaco GP: FIA Drivers Press Conference
Group 1: Oscar Piastri, Fernando Alonso, Kevin Magnussen, Sergio Perez and Yuki Tsunoda.
Yuki, perhaps we can kick things off with you, because before we come on to Monaco, a week ago we were all hoping to be racing in Imola. Of course that race didn’t happen because of the devastating floods there. You’ve been in Faenza, can you just describe what you found when you were there?
Yuki Tsunoda: Yeah, so first of all, I think everyone was excited about the Imola Grand Prix, especially for our home Grand Prix. All the, you know, Faenza and Imola people were excited but at the same time we had a massive storm overnight, well, I would say consistently for three days and most of the town where I live in Faenza was just completely flooded. Just mud everywhere, covered by mud, 70%, or more than that probably. And yeah, I mean, I was just staying safe in the night when the rain was coming but I was also worried because consistently also the electricity got shut down in my house as well. So I was a bit worried, but luckily my house was OK. But at the same time, a day after when I went to town it was just completely mud everywhere. There was water was until two or three metres. Ground floor properties were already covered by mud and water. So it’s really been a huge impact on us and yeah, it was really terrible, terrible nights.
Had you seen anything like that in your life before?
YT: No. I saw it only maybe on TV and never expected the things like that, that horrible things will actually happen in front of me. But suddenly it happened in front of me, just this completely different feeling to what I was watching TV, just so scared. You know, just consistently having to worry about, like, the ground floor. Luckily, I have the second floor so I was staying on the second floor all the time. Yeah, just really… because helicopters were also flying around and I could tell that, you know, they were already starting to, you know, help the people from the houses, you know, already got (inaudible) that just consistently knowing it was happening around. Just yeah, it’s very scary.
Yeah, very sad scenes, and we wish everybody in the Emilia-Romagna region well. Let’s bring it on to Monaco though. What can we expect from you and AlphaTauri here? Are you still bringing the upgrades?
YT: Yeah, I think the upgrades we were planning for Imola will automatically come to this Monaco. To be honest, I think It’s hard to feel a difference, because it’s not like the same place in [terms of the] downforce required, it’s more towards, like, mechanical grip, so maybe it’s hard to see true performance, true gain, but still looking forward to it. And yeah, completely the bodywork changes, so, I haven’t seen yet but I’m looking forward to seeing those things.
Final one from me, Yuki. Can we get a word from you on the announcement in Tokyo earlier this week? Honda is coming back to Formula 1 in an official capacity in 2026. What do you think?
YT: Yeah, very excited. As a part of the Honda family, you know, it’s good to see them back into the Formula 1 environment. You know, obviously, it was actually a shame you know, two years, three years ago, when they retired after they had such a massive year with Red Bull. So, I would say it’s good for them. They like their challenges. And I hope they have another successful season with Aston Martin.
Good for them, good for you? Do you fancy an Aston Martin Honda?
YT: Well, I don’t know for now, to be honest. It’s still far away to think about. But yeah, interesting two teams, two manufacturers in a collaboration with each other. I heard it’s not their first time so maybe they can adapt quickly. But yeah, I mean, it’s good to see of course.
Alright, Yuki, thank you. Best of luck this weekend. Fernando, can I bring you in on this? Just get your reaction to the news from Honda?
Fernando Alonso: Hello. Yeah, I mean, very good news for the team, very exciting. I think, you know, it shows the commitment of Aston Martin to really win races, win championships in the future, being independent, manufacturing their own gearboxes and everything on the car. And, yeah, it’s the only way probably, to really be 100% sure that you are in control of everything in your package, in your car. And it’s a great sign for everybody in Aston Martin, you know the desire and the potential to win is there.
To win world titles does a Formula 1 team need its own bespoke power unit?
But you still think this is the right way for the team to go?
FA: I think so, I think so. Especially in 2026, where, you know, the new regulations will come. It is always better if you can develop your power unit, together with the chassis and have everything integrated well in advance, being a works team, I think there are only benefits. I think that doesn’t mean that until 2026 Aston Martin will not have a chance to win the championship.
OK, well, let’s bring it on to Monaco this weekend. Many people are excited about your chances, including people inside your own team. Just how much confidence do you have coming into the weekend?
FA: I think the same as any other race, to be honest. I think we are not thinking that we are the strongest in Monaco. I don’t think that this is going to be a huge change compared to Baku, which is still a street circuit. Miami… I think Ferrari was outstanding in Baku and we could see another great weekend for them here. But then, you know if I tell you that I don’t come here thinking that I can win the race, I will lie to you, because this is a one-off opportunity. We know that Monaco, Singapore, there are specific race tracks that you need to gain the confidence on the free practice, get closer and closer to the walls, and yeah, I will attack more than any other weekend, yes.
The weather forecast looks mixed. Dry or wet, do you have a preference?
FA: I don’t care.
All right. Best of luck, thank you. Kevin, can we come to you now? So, Haas, 150 races old this weekend. You’ve driven in more than two thirds of those races for the team – 106, I’ve counted. Time flies.
Kevin Magnussen: Yeah, absolutely, time flies. When I think about it, it doesn’t seem like that many races and that much time. But it’s been a lot of fun. And you know, Haas has been my home in Formula 1. It’s the first team that I fully established myself with. I had one season with McLaren and one season with Renault, but you know, very much Haas became my home in Formula 1 and I’m having a great time.
How has the team changed since you joined it in 2017?
KM: It’s changed a lot. I mean, basically, the set-up and the structure in the team is the same, with Dallara and Ferrari. But there’s been huge growth and change within the team, the staff and just the structure of the personnel, how it’s all structured between who works at Ferrari who works at Dallara, and in England, and in the US there’s been a lot of change. But I think, you know, Haas is a team that came into Formula 1 as a real new team, you know. They didn’t buy an entity. They didn’t go in and buy a factory and all those things. It was set up completely from scratch. And I think in a very interesting way, a different way to all the other teams and it’s been a big success, I would say, what Gene and Guenther have done.
Pick a highlight for us. Or can we guess what that was?
KM: Yeah, for sure, I mean the only time we got P1 was in qualifying in Brazil last year. And you know, what we are all here to do and what we are all doing about this is getting the best out of it and finishing in front. And certainly pole position is not what I dreamt about as a kid, that wasn’t like the end goal, but for sure so far it was a very big surprise, you know. To get pole position in a Haas is not something that I think anyone could expect and that was certainly a highlight.
Let’s bring it onto this weekend. It comes on the back of Miami, where you qualified fourth and finished 10th. Just how much confidence do you have coming here?
KM: I think we’ve been pretty, not consistent in terms of results, but at least in terms of performance. I feel like we’ve had a pretty good package for all these different tracks we’ve been to this year. And, you know, that gives some confidence that this track could be OK as well. I don’t think our car has any specific weaknesses or specific strengths. I think it’s pretty overall… You know, we’re in the mix in the top 10. We saw in Miami it was a race where everyone finished. There was not even a yellow flag in the race. And, you know, we finished 10th. With everyone finishing and no, sort of, strategic advantage, or like a safety car or anything like that, we were in the top 10 still. So I think you know, that’s where we aim to be every race, trying to get into the top 10 and score points.
Alright, well, best of luck this weekend. Checo, coming to you now. Brilliant race here last year to take victory. But this year, how vulnerable does Red Bull feel coming into the weekend?
Sergio Perez: We certainly know that it’s not our strongest circuit, no? We will struggle a bit to show our strengths, but it’s still Monaco and I think, come Saturday, you really need a good warm-up on your tyres, that definitely is a key around here. And yeah, let’s say it’s not our strongest circuit, but we will see. It’s still Monaco and anything can happen.
Who are the main threats? Do you see Fernando as a threat? Is Ferrari a threat?
SP: Certainly. I think Fernando, the Ferraris, I do expect them to be quite strong as well, like they were in Baku. Obviously over one lap around this place they will be strong. So yeah, I do expect them to be quite strong. And also Mercedes can be in the mix.
Check out our Thursday gallery from Monaco here.