Reproduced with kind permission of the FIA
Engine suppliers: Mattia Binotto (Ferrari), Denis Chevrier (Renault), Mario Illien (Mercedes), Otmar Szafnauer (Honda).
Tyre manufacturers: Pierre Dupasquier (Michelin), Hiroshi Yasukawa (Bridgestone).
Q: A question to you all: the FIA has introduced measures to save costs this year such as two-race engines and fewer sets of tyres per driver per weekend. Have you saved money?
Mario Illien: Obviously the notice for the change in the rules for this year were relatively late and apart from this, we have to develop a new engine, a V8 for next year, so overall the cost for this year will be up compared to last year. If you would have stability and maintained what we have this year, sure the cost would have been reduced because we are using less engines than we did last year.
Otmar Szafnauer: Very similar for us as well. The regulation change was made quite late and therefore we had to embark on some re-designs which have proven to be costly, so this year we wont be saving any money.
Mattia Binotto: On our side, by doubling the mileage between 2003 and 2004, we have been able to save ten percent on our budget. I think that the trend of this year is very similar to the trend of the previous year so we are again expecting to save more or less ten percent between 2004 and 2005. The V8 engine, as Mario was mentioning, I think there will always be a time when you have to completely change a project, as we did in the past from the V12 to the V10 and in some ways that is an extra cost, but there is always a time to do that, to reduce the general performance, so now is the time simply to do that.
Pierre Dupasquier: Well it s maybe a bit different for us, because development-wise, we dont change anything, we keep working at the same pace, with the same development, the same moulds, the same machinery and everything, the same engineers, it doesnt change anything. But on the other hand, since we need less tyres for the Grand Prix, for the week, our testing has been the same, that hasnt changed anything but for the Grand Prix itself it is fairly different. We had ten used by each driver now we have four sets. It makes a significant difference, more than half. So for tyre economy, themselves, the cost - which, when youre overseas is very important, its an important factor - yes, we save significantly in that aspect.
Denis Chevrier: We knew this winter would be very challenging, technically, so there was no point in expecting cost-saving during the winter, but we have really significant expectation in terms of saving the amount of engines we have to produce for some things as tests and races, producing less engines with absolutely brand new parts and in the end, we should match some cost-saving.
Hiroshi Yasukawa: Yes, Mr Dupasquier already explained. I agree. Basically nothing has changed with testing. But concerning teams, they do much mileage but at racing itself, we can reduce transportation and total number of tyres.
Q: A question for the two tyre manufacturers: the fact that the FIA is not going to adopt a one-tyre formula but in fact it throws it open to as many tyre manufacturers as want to come in - what are your feelings about that?
HY: Im very happy and Im pleased with the FIA and I think they made a very good decision.
Q: Do you think other manufacturers are going to come in?
HY: I hope so.
PD: I dont know if we can hope that more manufacturers are going to come in but we strongly fought the idea of a single tyre manufacturer since it doesnt make any sense. We like to understand, we like to work, we like to develop, we like to race and producing 20,000 tyres in the winter time and shipping them by DHL doesnt make sense to us, and its not what we like in Formula One. Yes, we do it in other disciplines but its not the spirit that we understand the way Formula One should go, so we are very happy with that decision, as long as it is still the decision.
Q: A question now for the engine manufacturers: most of your engines have now done two races. What have you discovered when youve opened up those engines, has it been a nasty surprise or has it been pretty much as you expected?
DC: Yes, its easy to give an answer. It was not a surprise that the engines that we fitted into the back of the cars in Melbourne would have to do two Grands Prix. We worked hard for the complete winter for that. We significantly tried to be harder on the dyno than we are in race events and what weve seen at the end of this second Grand Prix in a row was in accordance with our expectations, so its very challenging technically but most of the other competitors succeeded as well, but our engines were in good condition.
MB: On our side, I have to say that there have not been any big surprises. Its true that racing is not always as testing or testing on the dyno by the fact that you are doing all the total mileage in six days, something that you are not normally experiencing during the winter testing. On the other side I have to say that generally, looking at all the teams, we have not done a lot of mileage, even on our side, we had an engine change for Michael in Australia, we didnt finish the race with Rubens, so we havent achieved all the mileage. I have to say that for Ferrari, there was also the experience with Saubers engines, which was very useful, so we analysed a total of four engines, and by the end no big surprises, everything was expected.
OS: Yes, unfortunately we had the engine problems at the last Grand Prix and at the first Grand Prix we strategically didnt finish the race. But no, nothing that wasnt expected after wed done the mileage that is required for two Grands Prix with the engine. We think weve overcome our problems of the last Grand Prix and hopefully two races from now we will look inside and not find any surprises.
MI: No surprises really when we took the engines to pieces after the race. We had a lot of winter testing, we did about 6,600 kms in the car and that was positive. We did a lot of dyno work, so those things were giving us some confidence. Obviously what we didnt or couldnt simulate exactly were the hot conditions as we saw in Malaysia. Obviously its packaging whether you get the cooling in every area you need it, and that, obviously, especially this year, was extremely hot but it didnt prove to be a problem.
Q: How much are you expecting from the conditions here? We have hot conditions and they are expected to get hotter, in fact, Renault are expecting that. Is that true Denis?
DC: For sure, we have the experience of what was normally the hottest conditions in the Formula One season, which was expected to be in Sepang, so it was in accordance with predictions. Here, it is proving to be at least the same amount but we are not discovering anything, so everything we learned in Sepang should be applicable here, even if we have an extra step, we will have to match with it, and we are reasonably confident to be able to do that.
Q: Mattia, does your cooling have to change very much, especially with a new car?
MB: I have to say, the experience from Malaysia was very useful, even if nothing was really unpredictable. But here we have a new car so it was quite important to check that today everything is going well and I have to say that on the cooling side everything was matching as we expected, so we should be okay.
Q: Is the cooling package you have going to be sufficient for the heat we have here, Mario?
MI: It is sufficient, obviously. Like the other guys said, Malaysia was the proof of the package and from what we have seen here it is slightly better than Sepang, so I am confident we will be alright.
Q: We had almost double the humidity at the last race to what we have here. How much does the humidity change things, Otmar?
OS: From a cooling perspective, like Mario said, it is a bit easier here than it was in Malaysia. Because the conditions in Sepang were so harsh we are hoping engine longevity here will be a bit better. For us, we had our problems, we had two weeks to come up with a robust solution and I think we have done that and we aim to finish the race well in the points.
Q: Pierre and Hiroshi, the track temperatures are virtually the same today as they were in Sepang on the Friday and yet they were significantly cooler for the race itself. What are you expecting for Sunday?
PD: We are careful on prediction because things can change rapidly, but anyway it will probably be between what we had last year and today, so we will wait until the track stabilises a bit. It was developing rapidly this morning and this afternoon, and we will see where we are.
Q: But it is not a problem, not something unexpected?
PD: No, it is absolutely not a problem. It is maybe smoother than we expected.
HY: No, I think maybe we like these temperatures or perhaps a bit down, but anyhow our tyre is very strong in any temperatures, we are not worried about it.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Alaric GOMES - Gulf News, UAE) Mattia, was there an element of being cautious when your two drivers went out, especially with Rubens?
MB: It is normal when you have a new car, even if you have done quite a lot of mileage in testing, that everything has to be checked really carefully because all the conditions of racing, the fact that the temperature was very high compared to what we have experienced during testing, everything has to be done carefully and we have to be cautions. Rubens had an issue with the gearbox, so it was important to check all the components, to understand the issue.