Best Moments From Driver’s Press Conference – Chinese GP

Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin Amr24, In The Pit Lane
Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin Amr24, In The Pit Lane

Today, ahead of the Chinese Grand Prix, a press conference with some of the drivers took place. According to a predetermined schedule, it was attended by Esteban Ocon (Alpine), Fernando Alonso (Aston Martin), Charles Leclerc (Ferrari), Nico Hülkenberg (Haas), Lando Norris (McLaren), and Zhou Guanyu (Kick Sauber). Let’s look at what was said.

The Hot Topic Of Fernando Alonso

There were many questions regarding the newly re-signed Aston Martin driver, currently the oldest one on the grid. Besides other things, Alonso spoke about the new regulations coming in 2026, along with the sustainable fuels which seem to be a huge part of motorsport’s future:

“The new regulations in 2026 will mix the cars a little bit and be an opportunity, and we’ll be the only team with Honda, so hopefully we have an improvement there. And with Aramco, the biofuels and sustainability – hopefully there is an opportunity there. Everything is in place to be a powerful team, and I’m looking forward to being part of it.”

Naturally, Alonso also talked about his contract, which was a focus of fans and media these past few days: “This is probably my last contract, so I had to make sure it was the right decision. It was a very happy decision for me, I’m very proud to represent Aston Martin for the next few years.”

We’ll just hope that he’ll remain happy throughout the whole Grand Prix this weekend. His team is working hard on delivering, and maybe even challenging the four top teams ahead of them in the Constructor’s Championship. With Honda coming into the team as a new engine supplier in 2026, there are many interesting things waiting for Aston Martin in the future.

“Lance and myself are helping the team as much as possible, we have two different driving styles. We are both trying to help Aston as much as we can, the direction we are trying to develop the car, we arrive at the same conclusion in a different way.”

When other drivers in the press conference were asked if they wanted to compete in Formula 1 as long as Fernando Alonso has, they all complimented the Spaniard and perhaps briefly thought about their own careers in a long term perspective.

“You’re probably, potentially never going to see this again in F1 and if you do, it will be incredibly rare, so a lot of respect,” said Lando Norris.

Charles Leclerc commented: “It’s difficult to imagine myself in fifteen or eighteen years’ time still in F1, but we can see how motivated Fernando is and how high a level he is still performing at. I would love to be racing for many, many years but not just Formula 1 – Le Mans, I would love to race [there] in many years.”

“Huge respect for Fernando,” said Esteban Ocon. “I watched him competing against [Schumacher] and those two guys gave me the love for Formula 1. It’s remarkable [what he’s done]. Truly, his dedication is an example for all of us.”

The Local Hero Zhou Guanyu

It’s of course no surprise the Chinese driver was present at a driver’s press conference ahead of his first home-race in Formula 1. And that the whole thing kicked off with him:

“Great opportunity to race at home, to be back and can’t wait! I want to try and treat it like a normal race weekend, but I’m sure I’ll have plenty of support.”

Guanyu also spoke about the hopes and potential performance for this weekend, throughout the conference.

“Two opportunities [to score] this weekend, and we have the potential, the race craft is okay and points are definitely there to take, but the midfield battle is super tight between all the cars.”

“It’s not a track I actually know the best, but I hope it’s not my only [home race].”

“It’s important to have confidence from the first set-up, and when it comes to qualifying, the drivers will still be learning from those first quali laps.”

Upgrade And New Floor

Nico Hülkenberg spoke about an update the Haas F1 Team is bringing to the Chinese Grand Prix: “It’s not a huge upgrade, just some bits and bobs. Better to have upgrades at this part of the season than not have them.” He also shared his thoughts on the track, saying it’ll suit Haas with its lower speed corners.

One of the other ‘backmarker’ teams, Alpine, is bringing a new floor for this race. Esteban Ocon called the effort “remarkable”. Though, it still doesn’t seem to be a big step forward in case of progress: “We don’t expect massive changes in performance.”

Ferrari

Charles Leclerc also shared his thoughts on the track, and perhaps the news is better for the tifosi than Alpine’s fans: “The level of confidence is quite stable since the beginning of the season, on paper the track could suit us more than Suzuka, but I expect Red Bull to still have the edge. In the race, I think we are quite strong this year – let’s see, it’s been a long time since we drove here.”

The Circuit And Format

The Monégasque driver told us more about the circuit as well: “I’ve only raced twice here, but it has always been a very nice track, a good track to drive on – lots of different lines into the first three corners, which is an exciting challenge.”

“I’ve only raced here once, and I didn’t finish, so mixed memories – but excited to give it another crack,” said Lando Norris from McLaren. He remains “optimistic”, but notes the longer corners “just aren’t good for us”. The team is known to have struggled through the slow speed parts.

Esteban Ocon also confirmed that “FP1 will be crucial”, but doesn’t think it’ll be too hard for the drivers to adapt to the new format of the weekend. Though, as the others agreed, having a Sprint in China will be challenging, especially for those who aren’t familiar with the track whatsoever.

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