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FIA Friday press conference - Austria, part 2 16 May 2003

Norbert Haug (GER) Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport in the press conference.
Formula One World Championship, Rd6, Austrian Grand Prix, A1-Ring, Austria, 16 May 2003


Published with permission from the Federation Internationale de l' Automobile.

Q: Norbert, we are looking forward to the new McLaren. Is it going to be a new Mercedes engine as well?

Norbert HAUG: It is a new engine, indeed, certainly the baseline is the engine we are using right now but it is completely new in every detail at the end.

Q: So to some extent the track testing must involve Mercedes as well as McLaren...

NH: Yeah, as usual. We did a lot of testing on the dyno already and we will start soon with the new car and then we see where we are.

Q: Now it has recently been announced that the idea of multi-race engines is going to be dropped - are you happy with the idea of single race engines?

NH: Well I certainly think that was a step in the right direction and I think we can cope with it. It is a much better rule than the one that was suggested like six races with one engine, not that we couldn't do that - I think all the manufacturers could. In DTM, for example, we had three engines for a two car team for the whole season but obviously that is limited on revs and I think Formula One should be in a position where really the technical side counts at the end of the day so the strongest limit I can imagine is one engine per weekend. We shouldn't go any further.

Q: In terms of customer engines, are you quite happy to supply them?

NH: Yeah, we made the offer and we will see what is going to happen. We need to develop possibilities and are in discussions. Nothing is fixed, everything is open.

Q: Mario, you have said you cannot produce customer engines...

Mario THEISSEN: We certainly can produce customer engines but we are not in a position that we can say we can do it for next year and we can get the cost to the figure that is on the table because this would be below our own cost and I think we are not prepared to do that. We certainly can produce some 50 engines for that amount of money but it wouldn't help the independent teams because what they need is competitive engines and not some engines and they are certainly more expensive.

Q: So it is a logistical problem to some extent?

MT: As I said we are not prepared to do it in 2004. This is a question of logistics and capacity in our factory, machines as well as people, and on the other hand it is a matter of cost.

Q: A lot has been written recently that BMW wants to stay in Formula One but they haven't signed with Williams. What is actually stopping you signing with Williams?

MT: I wouldn't say there is anything stopping us - we are still in the process. We have certainly several options but first option and priority would be to extend our partnership with Williams. But, of course, if we do that we want to be successful not just BMW but also Williams and certainly at the moment we are not in the position we want to be in so we are currently talking about how the team has to be structured, has to be organised, what the processes have to be in order to get to the top and this is I think quite a constructive process that is going on and I am quite confident that at the end of this process we will have a satisfying result.

Q: What has to be restructured?

MT: Well, if you look at the operations of the team it is about processes, how people work together, how development processes are organised, and of course the structure related to this - how people are grouped within the company. Then, of course, it is about the competence of the people and about the resources and tools available. That is what we are talking about.

Q: Does that suggest you are not happy with the way it is happening at the moment?

MT: We are not happy and saying we I mean BMW as well as Williams. We are not happy with the position and the competitiveness we have at the moment and we have to talk about how to fix that, and it is about the operation of the team.

Q: So it is for the present as well as the future...

MT: Certainly more about the future than the present - if we went to Williams talking about the future partnership we certainly don't talk about the FW25 because at that time this year's car will be history. We are talking about the key factors of competitiveness of a future team.