FIA Friday press conference - Brazil 05 Nov 2010
Reproduced with kind permission of the FIA
Team principals and drivers: John Booth (Virgin), Ross Brawn (Mercedes), Mike Gascoyne (Lotus), Timo Glock (Virgin), Nico Rosberg (Mercedes), Jarno Trulli (Lotus).
Q: John, just a summary of your season so far. Your first season, how do you feel about it.
John Booth: Well, pretty much as last time I answered the question. The first half was a disaster but it has been steady progress all the way since Monaco really.
Q: How do you feel about next year? It has been suggested that a lot of money needs to be put into the team.
JB: Well, our budget is in place as planned for three to five years and nothing has changed in our budget plans at all.
Q: So there is a straight financial programme?
Q: And there is nothing more to add to that?
Q: Two of the new teams have gone for new transmissions from various places. What about yours? Have you had transmission problems? Are you expecting to change?
JB: We had transmission problems very early on in the season. Ours is a little bit different to the new teams in that it is pretty much our own gearbox with internals manufactured elsewhere, so our situation is a little bit different and we are very happy with the developments we made this year. Next years box is looking even more reliable, so we are pretty happy with it.
Q: So it doesnt really apply to you?
Q: Timo, a summary of your season particularly as you were coming back from injury at the start of this year.
Timo Glock: Yeah, as John said we had a very hard start to the season and it made our life a bit difficult in the first part. I think, for me from Silverstone onwards, we had quite a good development on the car and just improved from race to race. Learned and the team itself just went more and more in the right direction and grew more together and from my side every race weekend I did my best. I had a couple of good highlights where I could out-qualify the Lotus, so I had some good times in wet conditions as well in Singapore and Korea. But we had some races where we were unlucky and we could have been around P13, P12, but thats racing. We have to learn from our mistakes and make it better in the future.
Q: What is required do you think? Can you take the fight to Lotus next year?
TG: It is a bit too early to say as everyone is developing as hard as possible. Up to now I dont know. We will see. We have to improve. We have to learn from the mistakes and just develop as hard as possible.
Q: But you are hopeful of a good season next year?
Q: Are you definitely staying with the team next year?
TG: At the moment it looks like is, yes.
Q: Ross, the car seems to have got better since you stopped developing it. That is not meant to be an insult; perhaps you can explain why that should be?
Ross Brawn: Thank you for that Bob, that was very kind. It has just been consolidation and often when you are introducing a lot of new things, particularly with no testing, it makes the Friday and Saturday practice quite difficult. We had a bit of a low point during the season when we had a lot of new stuff on the car and we did not have it working properly and we have just consolidated those developments since. I think we are not extracting the most from it which has been a good lesson for us and something we will perhaps bear in mind for the future to arrive at the circuit with a package that is more thoroughly prepared before we try and get it on the circuit. We have seen that almost with every team this year that it is two steps forward and one step back because of no testing. I think back to the days of testing we would spend days evaluating things and often things would not work the way we expected. It is understandable but I think we have learnt quite a lot from it.
Q: If you are looking at it with your FIA hat on, has the season been technically perfect in that we have so many teams that are so close at the head of the field?
RB: I think it has been a great season for some of the reasons I just explained. Teams have not been able to bludgeon their way through developments in testing. We have had no refuelling which has brought another dimension. Tyres changed quite a lot this year, so I think it has been a great season. I think we are still concerned that when things stabilise that we ought to have this option of a new rear wing for next year to give some extra spice to the races if we need to. I think the formula is pretty good at the moment. You have to say the racing is great, the whole spectacle is very good. We always need to find ways of improving it but it is not a bad show.
Q: Nico, your feelings on how your car might perform on these next two circuits. As Ross says it seems to be getting better and better?
Nico Rosberg: For sure Korea was a good chance for us and we were a bit further up than we had been in the previous races but I would be careful to say that we will progress. What we want to try and do is just hold our position and at the moment it looks like it is going to be a little bit more difficult here this weekend but saying that tomorrow is rain and if it rains I think we have a better chance. Actually if it rains tomorrow I think we have a good chance to be much further up the gird.
Q: How much can you be a spoiler in the World Championship? You dont want to get in the way of anybody but at the same time you can kind of exploit the situation if you are finding yourself with the front runners.
NR: Of course the situation is always that they have to be a bit more careful. Thats how it is and sometimes you can make use of that. I would be quite happy if I could intervene in the championship fight as it would mean I would be at the front but it is not going to be so easy.
Q: We saw how good the car was in a straight line in Korea. Given the straights here and particularly in Abu Dhabi do you think that might aid you?
NR: Well, we got the F-duct working very well in Korea and that is one of the things that gave us a little bit of a step in the right direction in terms of performance, so that is something that is going to help us in the last two. But again I would be cautious to say that we are going to be improving by larger steps.
Q: Mike, it has been signed recently that you are going to be using Renault engine and transmission. How important is that for you?
Mike Gascoyne: We are using the Renault engine and Red Bull technology transmission. Obviously it is a very big step forward for the team and I think a lot of the announcements that we have made lately, including the development of our own wind tunnel and development of the factory, all point to a really bright future for the team. Our first year in Formula One was always going to be difficult. We are very pleased at how it is gone. We are best of the new teams at the moment and we want to hold onto that position. But the year was always about building up the team and developing for next year and with the new partners we have got, with expansion of the team, with everything, I think it is a very positive future for the team.
Q: This year then has really been about building up the team?
MG: Yeah, I mean we obviously had to get in and get to the first race. It was obviously going to be a huge task for us as we started so late. But what is important is that you are only a new team once and you have to be in a position next year not just to do the same things as you did this year but to do it significantly better. I think we put those building blocks in place with the factory at Hingham, with the new partners, with everything, to make us step into the midfield. You can see that there are two divisions and that the new teams are running around in a group of their own. If you look at Bernie Ecclestones comments about the new teams needing to shape up, I think in some ways we would agree totally with them. Of course you do. We need to be racing in the midfield, in the second half of the established teams. In our second year that is the only realistic thing and to do that you have to do a lot better than you did this time a year ago. We have spent the year putting those things in place and we are very confident that we have that programme.
Q: Jarno, I need to ask you about these hydraulic problems? Why do you have them and why is it you and not Heikki Kovalainen?
MG: You should ask me, Bob, not Jarno.
Jarno Trulli: Just bad luck. Mechanics doing the best they can but apparently if there is a failure it is going to be on my car. I am happy so far if it happens this year and not next year as this year we cannot really score points unless it is a crazy race. But definitely next year, looking at what is happening, we are very confident that we can start thinking of fighting for points and you dont want to have all these failures. I just accept it. I knew from the beginning of the season it was going to be hard but it has been a little bit more frustrating than what it should have been.
Q: Looking to the future what do you think is possible next year?
JT: I am always extremely careful in talking about the future as no-one has a crystal ball. But I believe that Mike and Tony (Fernandes), I have to say they are doing a very good job, they are working together to put a good package and it is looking very, very promising. I think the real aim is to start thinking about scoring points next year. We cannot afford anymore to show the performance we are showing now. We need to be closer to the guys at the front and try to fight in the midfield regularly next year. But again there is some variables which at the moment no-one knows exactly and I believe that the impact of the new tyres is going to affect the new teams a lot as well as the most experienced teams. We might end up at the beginning of the season where some have got it right and some have got it completely wrong. I just hope to be in the place where we have got it right. Mike is there and he has got experience and Tony has got the power, the effort. He is always pushing everyone and he wants things to happen, so it is really a good atmosphere and the team is doing well for the future. So all I can say at the moment is that it is very, very promising.
Q: Lets go back to Mike for the hydraulic problem; can you explain it?
MG: To be honest, the same group of guys build up the hydraulics packs. They are totally randomly assigned to cars, so theres no reason for it, its just the luck of the draw. We are very disappointed as a team that we havent been more on top of it. There have been some different problems that we havent experienced before, but I think its just one of those things, that Jarnos just been very unlucky.
Q: Its not the way he uses it?
MG: No, not at all, not at all. The system is the system and the driver - he just drives it flat out and treats it or abuses it as they do. The systems designed to cope with that, and we as a team havent done Jarno a good enough job.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Alan Baldwin - Reuters) Mike, in the engine announcement this morning, both the Lotus and the Renault press statements made no use of the name Lotus. Is that purely because of the court case thats pending or is there some other situation behind that?
MG: I think youll probably find that its quite simple in that the name of the holding company that enters Formula One is 1Malaysia, so the Cosworth engine contract was with 1Malaysia, the Renault one is with 1Malaysia, my contract is with 1Malaysia, all the employees contracts are with 1Malaysia. As everyone knows, there is a situation with the name but I think that in terms of the engine announcement it was far simpler.
Q: (Joe Saward - Grand Prix +) Mike, are you going to be working for Lotus next year?
MG: Well, I work for 1Malaysia as Ive just said, thats who my contracts with. Obviously there is a situation there have been discussions in Malaysia. Theyre confidential as far as we understand, from our side although there seem to be a lot of stories doing the rounds today. All I can really say is that looking at the future of the team, as I said earlier, we have a fantastic future. Weve built a great team. I think with Tony, Nasa and Din, the three shareholders, we have three fantastically committed shareholders that I personally am very proud to work for. They are absolutely determined to be in Formula One for the long future. Theyre fully committed. The team is fully behind them as well and I think the announcement that weve made in terms of engine and gearbox supply, the wind tunnel is everything you should be doing to build up a Formula One team that will be able to take on the established teams. Thats really all I can say. Im an engineer. For me, the job I do on Monday doesnt alter if the name changes. Ask Ross, hes been through a couple in the last couple of years and dealt with it very well. But Im absolutely convinced that come what may, with our shareholders, with the team that weve built up, that the future for our racing team is very bright indeed.
Q: (Joe Saward - Grand Prix +) Ross, do you think you will be beating Team Lotus next year?
RB: Ive no idea. I think that as Mike says, theyre putting together a very nice organisation. What its called is down to them. I hope as many of the new teams as possible do come through and establish themselves well in Formula One. We need those teams in Formula One and Im delighted to hear that these new teams are making really strong plans for the future.
Q: (Joe Saward - Grand Prix +) Can I ask another one about the FOTA situation and your position on their technical committee; have you got any sense of unity yet on the engine decisions which need to be made by the end of December?
RB: Theres still a lot of discussion going on about the best route for the future in a full spirit of co-operation between the FIA and the teams. I think we are still in delicate times economically, so we have to be careful of the plans that we make, that we can find enough support for doing a new engine. I think thats all under discussion at the moment. I think all sides are sensitive to the issues and a good solution will be found.
Q: (Gaetan Vigneron - RTBF) John, the Belgian driver Jerome dAmbrosio was driving for you on four Fridays in the morning; whats your opinion of him, and on which element do you base your judgement for his eventual future?
JB: Well, Jeromes done a fantastic job this year, particularly under very difficult circumstances in Singapore - on a damp track that he didnt know before. One small mistake in four outings is pretty good. We continue to evaluate him going forward.
Q: (Alan Baldwin - Reuters) Mike, your drivers for next year, is any decision imminent?
MG: Yeah, I think a decision is imminent. I think this year we made a clear statement with the drivers, picking two experienced drivers, two race-winning drivers for a new team. And part of that process is that its very important going forward to have drivers of that quality when were in a position to go racing properly which we want to be next year. So we will make the announcement when its due. As I say, there have been a lot announcements and Im sure it will come out in the very near future.
Q: (Joe Saward - Grand Prix +) Jarno, you went to America on your way over here; did you have a good time, did you go and see NASCAR, test any NASCAR or anything like that?
JT: No. I always go to Miami because I love it and try to meet up with Juan Pablo (Montoya). There was also a triathlon competition which I didnt enter. I was just there. I didnt watch any testing. I know that Juan Pablo was testing somewhere a few days before but honestly no, I was there for a holiday and I think people are just they are making up rumours and this story about the future.
Q: (Joe Saward - Grand Prix +) Well, you did test a NASCAR last year
JT: Yeah, at the end of the season, yes. I enjoyed it.
Q: (Alan Baldwin - Reuters) Question for Ross and Mike really; John, I guess you wont be using KERS next year but the other two presumably will be, and I just wondered if you could say how competitive a team can be without using KERS next year?
RB: I think you saw last year that there are advantages and disadvantages. Its extra weight, its extra packaging. You need extra cooling. Against that, you have the performance of the KERS but I think the reason were committed to it is that its very important strategically. I think you saw the situation at the starts sometimes with KERS systems, and we didnt want to be in a situation where - as we faced last year - we were getting beaten off the line. So its a very important technology strategically, and fortunate in that I believe Mercedes have the best system. They certainly had the best system last year and I believe will have the best system next year in terms of performance, weight and packaging. Were committed to KERS. Its a good signal for Formula One as well in terms of the technologies were encompassing, and I think that with the new regulations to control the costs of KERS, then its more affordable and more available for more teams.
MG: I think Ross has said it all. Strategically it is a very important thing. Its something that were looking at, maybe not for the start of the season because weve still got a lot of things to get in place that we havent been able to do as a small team but I think you have to look at the strategic options for racing. Again, I concur, its exactly the sort of message that Formula One should be sending out.
Q: (Gaetan Vigneron - RTBF) Nico, have you learned something special from working with Michael Schumacher this year that you didnt know before, technically speaking or concerning the approach to a race weekend and so on?
NR: In general, I can judge myself fortunate because not only Michael but also to work with people like Ross who have a lot of experience and a great track record and everything; theres always things that you can pick up and its just been an interesting experience for me, and working with them then also helps me improve myself because I pick up bits and pieces and so for sure its been good for me.
RB: I think Nico has also contributed an awful lot to the team, its worked very well. Its been two way traffic, so Im delighted with having him in the team and the contribution hes made because its not just on the track.
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