Good morning and welcome to Mexico City ahead of this weekend’s Mexican V-Prix, round seventeen of the 2018 Formula Virtual season. Joining us for today’s Thursday press conference; on the back row we have Kazuki Armos of Meteor International FV Team and Adrian Arnello of Arnello Milner and Ronson Autosport. On the front row are; Arthur Lapierre from DS Automobiles Team Mathershaw, Jamie Franklin from Franklin, and Nick Forrest of North Star Racing. Welcome to you all.
Reporter: We’ll come to you first, Arthur. Congratulations on another win! Kangur has now won five races this season and is now Adrien’s closest competitor. How would you say Allar has developed as a driver this season and has he reached his peak, or is there plenty more to come from him?
Arthur Lapierre: Thank you very much! We’re ecstatic about Allar’s progress, and to have both drivers at the top of the standings in a season where the drivers have had more input to the overall speed of the package is testament to the quality we have at DS Mathershaw. Allar has an awful lot more to come as he matures yet further, so I believe that even if 2018 isn’t to be his year, he’s surely in with an excellent chance of the title in years to come.
Reporter: Regarding Adrien’s issues in Italy, can you shed any light on what went wrong?
AL: God knows. It’s the second time this season that peculiar pit stop has hit his race, and if it costs him the championship then I know he’s not going to be a happy man at all.
Reporter: Absolutely. Okay Adrian; you showed good pace in Italy, with Schnyder mixing it with the FIRST cars for some time. Since the start of the season you haven’t really moved forwards, was this a case of the track suiting the car?
Adrian Arnello: We were pretty sure our car was gonna suck hardcore in a straight line, so we bolted on Supersofts and hoped for the best.
Reporter: There are rumours that you’ve re-signed Kovalenko but there’s been no news on Wilson. Do you plan on retaining her?
AA: Yeah, so Dmytro and Finn are with us for another couple of years, that’s right. Emma’s contract was a multi-year deal so she’s still gonna be doing testing and reserve roles.
Reporter: Ah, that clears that one up then! Kaz, another double retirement took the tally for the season to thirteen retirements, which I believe equals the record. Your drivers have taken a lot of stick this year, but do you think the car has had much more to do with it than their talent?
Kazuki Armos: The car is not developed. We can’t blame the drivers.
Reporter: As we missed out on having you in for the hundredth V-Prix press conference; what are your favourite memories of Formula Virtual down the years?
KA: Season three – the one opportunity Meteor had to fight.
Reporter: Good memories for the team I imagine. Over to you Jamie; yourself – and the Franklin team in general – have seemed bullish recently about your 2019 challenger. Is the general feeling around the garage that Franklin are on an upwards trajectory back to the top?
Jamie Franklin: We’re Franklin. Did you really expect us to not be back on top sooner or later?
Reporter: Maintaining that confidence then! Perhaps with good reason; your 2019 driver Tumo Kinnumen has outscored Giodano with relative ease in his three races with Japanese outfit Ocelot. As much as it must hurt to lose third place to them, how sweet is it to see him outperforming their lead driver?
JF: There’s a reason we signed Tumo. We know he has talent and has earned a chance at a top seat. But to be fair, it’s Giodano. It’s not like he’s beating a top tier talent.
Reporter: Ouch, that’s a nasty jab! Alright Nick; with two races to go, you’re ninth in the championship but one point behind seventh. Do you think you can improve your position?
Nick Forrest: Yeah, I think there’s every chance we could at least move ahead of Lopez in the standings. It’s pretty nip-and-tuck between us in qualifying at the moment, but it does look like we’ve got the edge in race pace for the time being. Phoenix, unfortunately, look like they’ve developed a bit too far ahead of us for this year at least, but I think with a little bit of good fortune on our side, we could be able to move ahead of the both of them. When you consider that without the Malaysian race where both our cars were taken out through the fault of other drivers, we’d be in a very solid seventh, just ahead of Phoenix and eight points clear of Lopez, that just shows how much of a mountain we’ve had to climb since then. And it’s my belief, even if we stay in ninth, that the North Star crew have performed fantastically well this season to be as close as we are going into the final two races. Hopefully we can move back up a couple of positions in the standings, and end the season on a high.
Reporter: It’s certainly been a great battle to watch, the scrap for seventh. As for 2019; you’ll be running Halvosen and Garcia for next year, how crucial is it to have an experienced driver like Halvosen in your line-up when you are bringing a rookie in?
NF: There’s definitely a lot of positives that come from having a driver of Johan’s calibre as part of our team, especially with Gabriele coming in as a full-time driver next season. He’ll have a very highly talented guy alongside him to not only learn from, but to act as a benchmark of sorts. We’ve seen great things from Gabriele in the junior ranks, and I think if either of our drivers has a bit of an off race next season, the other should be able to score a good result for themselves and the team as a whole. It gives us a great balance of experience and potential, and I reckon it’s put us in a very good position for our future in the sport.
Reporter: It’s an incredibly exciting line-up, for sure. Onto the fan questions now anyway, and the first one is for you actually Nick. Ha.. oh dear; “Is your team related to Patrick?”
NF: Uh… not to my knowledge? Although having said that, there has always been a vacant chair and someone missing when my family gets together for Christmas, I should probably ask them about that.
Reporter: You’ll have to let us know. Next one here is for you Jamie, it just says “White or yellow?”
JF: What are we talking about here? Rice? Women? Discord? You’re going to have to be more specific.
Reporter: I imagine the question is regarding the Discord!
JF: In that case – yellow. Do you really expect me to be white alongside the people who aren’t even good enough to get into the sport? I’m a three-time Champion. Show some damn respect.
Reporter: I imagine whoever sent that one in may be after your colour! Anyway, moving on. This one’s for you Arthur; “Is there any truth to the rumours that Nintendo are going to be your title sponsor next year and you’ll be running as Nintendo DS Mathershaw?”
AL: Bearing in mind we’ve already announced SFR to be our title sponsor from 2019, I’m not sure this fan has been paying attention to anything happening in the paddock – as funny as their joke is, SFR are with us for a long time to come alongside Air France, Matmut and all of our sponsors.
Reporter: Here’s one for you Kaz; “Is Vocquelin distantly related to former racing driver Pastor Maldonado?”
KA: Most certainly not.
Reporter: Okay Adrian, last fan question is for you. “There have been rumours about a change in FV theme music, can you shed any light on Ryan doing this? How does he come up with his music?”
AA: Oh the other guy, the composing guy right? I’ve seen him work away at it before but I’d be useless at the helm! He uses a computer and keyboard, I know that much. FL Studio, I think the program is. Records real stuff from time to time but mostly just does it all in the computer. He mentioned he gets ideas from all sorts of everyday noises. Cars passing, birds, ambient sounds, that sort of thing.
Reporter: Sounds interesting! That’s all for the fan questions today but before we wrap up, a question to all of you; if you weren’t the team principals of your FV teams, what would you be or do with your time?
JF: I’d probably be dominating some other series, the same way I did with iGP before Formula Virtual was born. The same way I did when iGP came back around as a series alongside FV. In terms of personal time, I don’t think it would be much different to what I already do.
AA: I’d probably be drinking!
Laughter around the room
AL: I’d probably go back to my day job running Lapierre Formule – my son Didier wouldn’t be best pleased that I’d be back though!
NF: Slightly similar to Arthur, I’d probably still be in my old job, heading up North Star Energy back in Scotland. Really pushing the renewables sector forward. I don’t know if they’ll have me back now, though, having been flying around the world burning petrol for three years!
Reporter: Ha, I imagine they’d take a rather dim view of that! Alright guys, last question now; what are your hopes and expectations for this weekend?
JF: We’re still aiming for wins, as we always do. We had good pace in Monza before the retirements, and you can never count us out.
AA: Bit of rain would be nice.
AL: Hopes? One or both titles. Expectations? Same as always – maximise our own performance and see where we stack up.
NF: Hopes are to grab a point or two and move up into seventh in the constructors’ standings. Expectations are that it’s probably going to be quite tricky, as it usually is, but as Adrian said, a bit of rain could make enough of a difference for it to happen. Just not *quite* as much as there was in Malaysia, please!
KA: Meteor are hoping for a double finish, that’s a realistic goal.
Reporter: Great stuff, thanks guys, that’s all for today’s press conference. Don’t miss Friday practice tomorrow ahead of the Mexican V-Prix!