FIA Friday press conference - Austria, part 1 16 May 2003
FRIDAY PRESS CONFERENCE - MAY 16, 2003
ENGINE MANUFACTURERS: Norbert HAUG (MERCEDES) and Mario THEISSEN (BMW)
TYRE MANUFACTURERS: Pierre DUPASQUIER (MICHELIN) and Hiroshi YASUKAWA (BRIDGESTONE)
Published with permission from the Federation Internationale de l' Automobile.
Q: The FIA have asked the tyre companies to bring a wet tyre which they will control. How has that affected you, what sort of tyre is it, how easy has it been to supply it, is it one that you're developing constantly? Can you give us some information about that?
Pierre DUPASQUIER: It's a bit of a confusing situation because it has been decided that we were supposed to bring one wet tyre only. Both of us, I guess, had made specific development to try to offer a solution that would cope with the rain pavement we are supposed to face. Which one? How is defined? It's not - understandably - and so they and we came up with some solution that we guessed was capable of coping with the wet conditions of tarmac. Then the FIA came and said, also understandably, yes, but we want to race anyway, and start the race at 2 o'clock whatever the conditions. So we said, okay, listen, in open-wheeler cars you will not race in any conditions. To do it, we have to prepare a tyre for that. What about that monsoon tyre? We said good, let's do a monsoon tyre which will do five laps in the rain and then it will be destroyed, it will disappear. So we are in that kind of situation where we understand that the FIA want to start the race at 2 o' clock whatever conditions we have, but technically it's not feasible to have a rain tyre for Formula One that can race with five centimetres of water on the track as could happen. Then in addition you could have some rivers crossing the track like in Brazil, so what can we do with a river? It's not in our capability. There are conditions where an open-wheeled car cannot race. So what type of rain tyre do we have to prepare to satisfy those conditions? We don't know exactly. I don't know. So we brought four or five different types of rain tyres - I'm just kidding - but just to make sure that we can face any conditions.
Hiroshi YASUKAWA: We are a bit surprised. Until last year we can use three specifications, but suddenly the FIA said you cannot bring just one spec. But of course you know we have to respect the FIA regulations. Anyhow we brought tyres, but if a storm is coming, like in Brazil, our position is that we think it is very dangerous and I think the FIA's decision was very correct and we are basically respecting their idea. At this time, after the Brazilian Grand Prix, we discussed between ourselves, Michelin and the FIA, and finally we brought extreme weather tyres. This time we are following the guidance of the FIA and we bring an extra spec of extreme weather tyres here.
Q: So what is the ideal solution; what would you like for next year?
HY: I think this time the FIA's idea is very correct. Basically, we brought one spec and in case a storm is coming, we have brought what some people call storm tyres, or extreme weather tyres. I think it is a good idea.
PD: If I make a joke I would like to say that we would like to have total freedom to bring the suitable tyres for the conditions. That's what we would like most. Obviously that's not possible for several reasons - practical, logistic and cost - so if you don't do that, I would go along with Mr Yasukawa in definitely having a decent tyre to race on normal wet conditions and if we definitely want to start the race at 2 o'clock, a kind of monsoon which will prevent anybody from criticising anything because the tyre is available even if it's not practical or it will be a mess. But technically the race may start at 2 o' clock, that's a possibility.
Q: Now in terms of dry tyres, the choice has been widened a great deal this year for the teams that you supply. How has that changed for the tyre manufacturers, including technically speaking?
PD: Well, we may not have exactly the same approach but what we feel is that our job is to prepare a tyre according to the current technical regulations, having two tyres the same because we may have eight degrees on the ground or 45 or 48 degrees on the ground so definitely one tyre would not do it. So the circuit will remain the same, the pavement will remain the same, and the difference between cars are very important if you check the result of the race because we are talking about hundredths of seconds, or tenths of seconds. But technically, if you want to put in the computer the differences between those cars, to define a suitable tyre, you will come with the same tyre. But racing in Zeltweg is not like racing in Monte Carlo or Barcelona or whatever, so we listen to whatever information we get from our testing with our teams. Whatever they like we will do it, it doesn't matter so much for us because we can do it, but normally they concentrate on two or three different types or tyre which will suit them. Sometimes somebody wants to do something a bit more... construction differences or rubber a little bit softer, so we do it, but normally when we come up with something it is almost the same tyres.
HY: Actually, of course, we are respecting the FIA regulations but I think one side of this regulation is good, one side is not so good. The good thing is that we can make many specifications and also the teams can chose. But the bad thing concerns costs because it is expensive for us and also expensive for the teams. If we produce just two specifications and the team concentrates on these two specifications - but if you can chose tyres, if there's A, B, C, D and if some teams say A is good and B is good, then if one team has the ability and R&D know-how - and also budget-wise in this case - they can follow it up. If we are concerned about small teams, for me, I think it's very difficult.