FIA Friday press conference - Hungary 03 Aug 2007
Reproduced with kind permission of the FIA
Team principals: Flavio Briatore (Renault), Christian Horner (Red Bull), Colin Kolles (Spyker), Aguri Suzuki (Super Aguri).
Q: A question to all of you: the 2008 calendar has been released; what are your feelings about it and the lack of a US Grand Prix?
Aguri Suzuki: Its OK because our sponsor is not the United States and is very important in the Asian market or something like that. But Formula One is very important in the United States because it is a World Championship of Formula One. But otherwise the rest of the calendar is OK.
Colin Kolles: We are basically happy with the calendar. Its unfortunate that there isnt a race in the USA but it isnt up to us.
Flavio Briatore: Very happy. I believe that if you have the USA, we need a proper Grand Prix. Sure, that is not Indianapolis. The logistics are not great. If we do something in the future in America, I believe in doing it in the right place with the right advertising, the right commitment from everybody and make sure people know were there.
Christian Horner: Its disappointing to lose a US race. Its an important race for us. For Red Bull its our biggest market, so hopefully it wont be too long before its back on the calendar. Otherwise the new calendar looks good with Singapore, with the new Valencia street race. Its going to be an exciting season.
Q: Aguri, how has your team developed over the last year; has it grown, what has happened with the team?
AS: Of course, but it depends on the budget. So I am trying very hard and my staff is working very hard as well and just now I am making plans for next year. Of course, the team has to grow. Its very difficult to say how much it has grown but everyone has been working very hard.
Q: Is the intention to build your own car for next year?
AS: Of course. Yes.
Q: Have you everything in place for that?
AS: Yeah, sure.
Q: What about the drivers? The performance seems to be a little bit up and down.
AS: Yeah, because Formula One is very difficult and we are a very small team. We try to get a good result at every race but its very difficult, many very strong competitors, all trying very hard. If something happened in Spain or Canada, which was a very tough race, or something like that, we can get some points or a good result, but if its a normal race, its very difficult.
Q: Colin, weve seen three drivers in one of your cars over the last three races; just give us a rundown how that happened?
CK: Well, obviously this will be the last one because we are not allowed to make any more changes as far as I know. Our young driver programme will probably be finished with Sakon. Well, the situation with Christijan was clearly stated, theres nothing more to say about it. We couldnt find a replacement that quickly, so we put Markus in the car for his home race, it was his home race. We reached quite high publicity, good PR and we will finish the season with Sakon.
Q: Presumably what youre waiting for are the future developments on the car for Turkey.
CK: We will have this so-called B-spec car in Turkey. Its very difficult to have it tested because its really very tightly scheduled. We tested the rear end and the gearbox at Silverstone last week and we had no issues.
Q: So youre quite hopeful of how much of a step forward?
CK: I dont know. Lets be surprised.
Q: Flavio, the team seemed to have taken a leap forward in terms of performance from what weve seen so far today.
FB: Im not sure what you mean. Its nothing, today. Its Friday. Every Friday everybody does a different programme, testing and to be competitive on Friday doesnt necessarily mean to be good on Saturday and Sunday. Were working on the car, we have new pieces. I believe weve done a little step but I dont believe we are strong enough to be finishing close to the podium. If you count to four, the podium is gone already.
Q: What do you think you can achieve in the second half of the season or are you looking forward to 2008 already?
FB: First we need to look at 2007. Sure our performance is not what we expect. Sure its not where we want to be in 2007. But you know the car was late, everything was late - its a long story. The fact is that we hope to be fighting with BMW at the end of the season. We have to be realistic because for us McLaren and Ferrari are really really too far ahead, and to be what we hoped to be at the start of the season. At the beginning of the season it was really a disaster and little by little we have put the pieces together and the team is performing better etc. etc. And we have some aerodynamic pieces here and we have a big step in Monza and from Monza we have another step in Spa. We are still working to be competitive, to finish the season well before we start thinking about talking about 2008. We are doing our best to look good between now and the end of the season.
Q: Christian, ten points at the Nurburgring. Im sure that put a smile on the teams face
CH: Nurburgring was a great weekend for us. We had a very good Sunday afternoon but one of the most encouraging factors of all was Marks qualifying performance on Saturday, third row of the grid. Both the drivers used their heads, the team made the right calls at the right time and it was great to be on the podium and get Renaults first podium of the year.
FB: I wont forget this Sunday, good for you, good for the engine too!
Q: And the reliability was good too. We seem to have been talking about the reliability all year so far.
CH: Unfortunately our reliability record has been pretty poor this year. I think weve only achieved just over 50 percent reliability which is disappointing. But the cars potential has been clear. We have qualified in the top ten in eight out of ten races. The potential has clearly been there but we havent been able to capitalise on that potential but the whole teams working very hard to get on top of the issues and hopefully, following a good test in Jerez, two reliable cars in Nürburgring, hopefully we can have a good reliable run this weekend and get somewhere near the points.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Peter Farkas - Auto Motor) A questions for all of you. Ron Dennis said in his statement two days ago that whistle blowing should be encouraged in Formula One. What do you think of that?
CK: I think we are not in a position to comment.
AS: Yeah, I think so too.
CK: It is not our problem.
CH: Its a difficult one. Formula One is a competitive business, people move from team to team and obviously when they move from team to team they take ideas and knowledge with them in their head.
CH: But it is supposed to be in their head, not on pieces of paper. I dont have any drawings of any Renaults.
FB: Are you sure?
Q: (Anne Giuntini LEquipe) To Flavio and Christian, sorry for the others. It was said that some other teams attended the last world council meeting. Were you there at the world council as observers? And in the court of appeal there could be some observers. Would you be there?
FB: We already had somebody in Paris last time. We have our lawyer to assist the meeting in Paris in the world council. Already we have somebody there.
Q: (Anne Giuntini LEquipe) And will you be in the court of appeal as well?
FB: Absolutely, of course.
Q: (Anne Guintini LEquipe) Why is it interesting for you to be there?
FB: Because I am in Formula One like McLaren and Ferrari. This issue about this story involves everybody sooner or later and I want to know exactly what is going on because I think it is part of our job. If you see the newspapers in the last two months we are not talking about which drivers won the race, lost the race The spy story, if you want, was predominating everything and because we are part of this business we demand to know exactly what is going on because it is probably damaging everybody a little bit including me, including everybody. Stuff like this is not good for the sponsors, it is not good for anybody. We hope we find a final step and we hope something happens. I think that is the way we stop talking about that.
CH: We didnt have anybody in Paris last week and we wont have at the appeal. The matter doesnt concern our team, nor any employees of our team. We trust in the governing body to make the right decisions, so we wont be present.
Q: (Dan Knutson National Speed Sport News) A question for all of you. Are your drivers allowed to publicly criticise your teams and if they are not and they do, do you have a policy to deal with that?
CK: This is actually confidential information.
CH: From a Red Bull point of view, our drivers have reasonable freedom of speech. We have got an Australian and a Scottish guy who are both fairly vocal. Yes, they have freedom of speech but obviously it is not very wise to criticise you employer too often. They are both sensible guys and they dont really have any restrictions.
FB: Renault is not a dictator. If somebody is not happy, they criticise the team. Sometimes the team is not doing a good job and has not really done a great job and I think the driver has the right to complain like I have the right to complain if the driver is not doing his job. But I think it works in both ways. At the beginning of the season our driver said our car was not competitive and I think the driver is right. The media is very important, the public is very important and I never defend the driver if he makes a mistake and I never defend the team if it is not performing well. Its as simple as that.
AS: Yeah, our team is nothing because it is a very small team and last year it was a very bad car. So the driver understands that it is a team that is not performing very well. But still, now our team is growing up but I dont think our team is something.
Q: (Sal Zanca Associated Press) A question for all four. Did you agree or disagree with Ron Dennis when he said Ferrari had an illegal advantage in the opening race?
AS: We dont know, it is not our decision. So we dont say anything
CK: We dont have the seven hundred pages, you know?
FB: I think the floor changed after the race. Looked like it was not right in the first place.
CH: Obviously there was an issue with it. There was a clarification that came out from the FIA after Australia but obviously the car passed scrutineering and was deemed legal. So after that the clarification came out about the floors and I think Ferrari werent the only team that had to make adjustments.
Q: (Joe Saward Grand Prix Special) The question of intrigue, and whether it is good or bad for the sport. There are a lot of people who think intrigue is good for the sport. Where is the limit between what is good and what is bad?
CK: You know the limits, most of the time, after you try the limits. It is very difficult to say for me. I dont know.
AS: Me too.
CH: Ill let Flavio answer first. Ill listen to what he says.
FB: Depending on what you are looking for, and what is the rule, you go as closely to the rule as possible and this is the limit. After that, when we are talking about something else, it is the way somebody is operating. Some teams are operating some ways and some teams are operating different ways, there is no limit.
Q: (Joe Saward Grand Prix Special) The point is that you have said that intrigue that is bad for the sport. I would argue that it is good for the sport but there is a point that it turns bad. At what point does it turn bad? Is it when it goes to court?
CH: Ill try and answer Joes question. I think intrigue is a part of Formula One, it always has been and I think it has to fundamentally remain a sport. Formula One is obviously a glamorous sport and there is a degree of, you know, Hollywood involved in the business. But it should stop short of ending up in the courtroom, a civil courtroom with a kind of industrial espionage type scenario that currently exists between two teams. So I think intrigue in Formula One, with drivers, with teams, will always exist and can be healthy for it.
Q: (Dan Knutson National Speed Sport News) What are the chances that Giancarlo Fisichella will be driving for the team next season?
FB: I have never bet on anything in my life, so Im not betting about Fisichella. I dont know.
Q: (Dan Knutson National Speed Sport News) It is your decision, isnt it?
FB: Yes. Today I dont know. It is your decision for something but today I have not decided yet. I have three or four races to see what is going on. We started in a difficult way with a difficult car but I wanted to see with the performance of Heikki as well and then I try to choose the best for my team in the future. At this moment I am thinking and I believe I will decide in September around Monza time, I dont want to decide before. I have the option until September, I dont want to really decide before. It is only the result that makes me decide yes or no in the future.