FIA Friday press conference - Spain 20 May 2011
Reproduced with kind permission of the FIA
Senior team personnel: Jose Carabante (HRT), Jean-Francois Caubet (Renault Sport F1), Stefano Domenicali (Ferrari), Mark Gallagher (Cosworth) and Adam Parr (Williams).
Q: Jean-Francois, how will the diffuser rule effect you depending on whether you have them or dont have them?
Jean-Francois Caubet: Normally (becomes inaudible) because we worked over the winter on the exhaust. We did a lot of work, but I think the FIA decision was a good decision and the next meeting in June probably, the technical meeting, will find the definite decision. But probably we will keep it like that.
Q: Are you in favour of keeping it?
J-FC: Yes, because if you change the rules I think we will find another solution where we will spend a lot of money nearly for the same thing.
Q: Is it true that Renault are looking for another customer team from an engine point of view?
J-FC: Yes, today we are providing three teams, Red Bull, Lotus Renault and Team Lotus and probably for 2014 we are looking for one more team. We have the capability to provide four teams.
Q: And that is with the new engine regulations?
Q: Are you in favour of those regulations?
J-FC: I think Renault is very clear on this point. We are fully supporting the FIA. It makes a lot of sense for a carmaker like Renault to be road relevant. I think it is a key point for the future of Formula One. We have started work now for a few months and we will be ready next year, November, to provide for four teams.
Q: Adam, it seems as though the team is evolving at the moment. Going into different areas in business. For example, could you explain your link up with the Jaguar Land Rover type of deal?
Adam Parr: We are doing some development of our business but obviously whats happening here at the track is still central to why we exist. But the Jaguar Land Rover partnership is phenomenal for us because they are a fabulous company. They are growing extremely fast. They are investing £1billion a year over the next five years in their base. They launched last year the CX75 concept car and over the last few months we have developed that concept into a road car, a super car, which we will be building with them over the next couple of years. To have a relationship with a company like Jaguar Land Rover is phenomenal opportunity for us and we are very proud of that. Were also very exited about the car itself. It is going to be an astonishing car. A 200mph super car with the emissions less than a Prius, so it is a very exciting project.
Q: Is that the sort of thing, therefore, that you see your KERS development effecting as well? Where you can take that sort of engineering?
AP: Yes, we will be using our KERS technology in the CX75 and, of course, the power train is a downsized internal combustion engine with turbo and a large KERS system, front and rear axle. Very much the concept which we hope we will see in Formula One in 2013.
Q: What are your feelings about those regulations?
AP: Our view is no secret. For several years we have said Formula One needs to move to more sustainable technology. We were big supporters of KERS and we think the new engine formula is fundamental to the future of the sport. We understand that there are other views on that subject, but fundamentall, if Formula One isnt about new technology areas and leading what happens on the road and elsewhere, then I am not sure exactly what it is about. We believe it is essential.
Q: And the diffuser rule. What is your feeling on that?
AP: We have mixed feelings because since Spa last year we have been using the same technology. If it is illegal we are illegal. On the other hand, to take it to another level is a significant investment for us and logically we would like to understand the legality of it before we do it. I think we will be very interested to see how that plays out over the next month.
Q: Mark, to some extent Cosworth had some advisory role in the engine regulations. What was the thinking behind that?
Mark Gallagher: I think the view was always that the manufacturers, from the outset, agreed with the FIA that having an independent engine manufacturer available to Formula One teams was a good idea. The view was: if Cosworth was involved in the creation, or the formation, of the rules for 2013 and the way the engine would be conceived, that if we could do it, then any car manufacturer could do it. I think that was really the concept at the beginning of why Cosworth was involved and that was certainly the case at the beginning of last year.
Q: From a manufacturing point of view how involved are you in the KERS business as you dont seem to provide KERS and your teams dont seem to use them?
MG: Well, of course, in Formula One we worked with Williams on the KERS and the KERS system that is fitted to this years engine is a Williams system. We have really developed that in collaboration with Williams, so we have taken what was last years engine and completely reconfigured it, re-engineered it to accept the Williams KERS system, and that has been a terrific collaborative partnership between two engineering companies to provide that solution. Cosworth, as a group, has got a major electronics and electrical division and you can imagine that a lot of the automotive companies that come to us for research projects, and indeed delivery of complete power train solutions, these days most of them that come through the door want to have some degree of hybridisation, so it is a technology we are involved in. But in Formula One terms, it was absolutely sensible for us, with Williams particularly, to work as we have done and, of course, that system can now be utilised by any of the other teams that are customers to Cosworth so, for example, if Jose (Carabante) or Marussia Virgin Racing wanted to have a KERS system it is available through Cosworth.
Q: Is it bad news to hear that Renault are sniffing around and wanting to supply another team?
MG: No, maybe they might want to supply Stefano with an engine. I think Cosworth is not the only potential victim of Renault wanting to have a fourth team. But, actually, Cosworth wants to have a fourth team and I am sure if Norbert Haug was sat here he might say he would like a fourth team. The reality is, in all seriousness, competition on the track technically is always matched by competition off the track commercially. We are well used to that at Cosworth and we believe we have an extremely good product and we dont really fear competition from anyone.
Q: Stefano, is this pretty much a home race for you with all this support for Fernando Alonso?
Stefano Domenicali: For sure it is special event as you feel the atmosphere that is around mainly Fernando. It is an added pressure that we have on top of the fact that as you know we announced yesterday the extension of the agreement. That is an important element at this stage of the season that put once more here in Spain something special. But this is part of the game. We know that wherever we go the supporters of Ferrari are a lot and this is the greatest thing of our brand.
Q: The contract with Fernando. Is it a surprise to be such a long contract?
SD: No, I think it is a natural evolution of the relationship between the team and Fernando. It is a natural evolution as it gives a sign of stability for the future. It is important in this moment when a lot of things are changing, it is important for the guys that are working at home, to see how Fernando wants to keep fighting with us. It is a sign of great responsibility to all of us as we know how strong he is and how dedicated he is to the team. That is the reason why we felt it was the right decision for us.
Q: Coming to the engine regulations. It is always perceived Ferrari are against them. is that the case or is it a wrong view?
SD: As you know we always discuss our position. As you can imagine, on the road car side we are a manufacturer that produces a very specific car with a very high number of cylinders. But as always in our co-operation with the FIA we are discussing it and I think the discussion is still on and in a constructive way we are trying to work on this subject as it is an important element for the future, both on the technological side, but also we need to consider the level of investment that the new project needs. These are the things we need to consider as a lot of things have moved on in a couple of months and it is another thing that has to be considered, full stop.
Q: What are your feelings on the diffuser regulation?
AP: Well, the diffuser is something that some teams started a good job earlier than other teams so, as always, a big reward to the one that understood the potential of that development on the car. Then, of course, we have seen that and we were working flat out to see how we can improve that area of the car. The meeting that will (take place) in two, three weeks is fundamental, as we need to understand what will be the future of the development. If that area, let me put it this way, closed, then we need to target a new area of development, and as you know, the season is very long. But after I would say six, seven grands prix, the margin that some teams can have taken put the other teams in a different situation so thats another element the technical people will consider.
Q: Jose, as a home race how important is this for you as a Spanish team.
Jose Carabante: Yes, this race for us feels like home. For us it is a very special weekend. The atmosphere is different, so we always try to do the best here. We feel Montmelo is like home and it is a very, very amazing weekend so lets see what happens.
Q: Very often there is discussion about the health of the team. How healthy is it and does it have the money to continue?
JC: Okay, after our first season it was not an easy beginning. Now I think we are in a different position and the result is clear. We are improving in all the areas. I think that every race we are looking at how we can improve and the result is clear. We are also starting to think about 2012. There is already in place a contract with the Mercedes wind tunnel that is going to mean that for next year we have time to prepare properly the programme.
Q: And your feelings about the diffuser. Do you want the diffuser or would you prefer a different decision from this meeting?
JC: What is important, especially for a small team, is also about the costs. This is something that that we hope stays in consideration. The costs in Formula One, I think that it should be affordable and should be in the right way. We need stability in the technology side and we need to know what the future is going to be otherwise we take the wrong way and it is going to be difficult to start in a different way and we are not in a position to spend money. just trying things. We just hope the decision is clear and we hope that the small teams opinion will be taken into consideration.
Questions from the Floor
Q: (Joris Fioriti - Agence France Presse) I have two questions for Adam Parr. Youve experienced a terrifying beginning of the season with no points in four races. Why does your car work so badly; What can be done to solve the issue and whats the atmosphere in the team like? AP: Well, the atmosphere of a racing team, when you have a performance like this is very tough, for all of us. In my opinion, the reason why the car is slow is lack of downforce, which is affecting every aspect of performance and particularly the degradation of the tyres, so thats the area we are focusing on. As I said, its not a party.
Q: (Joris Fioriti - Agence France Presse) How do those performances endanger Williamss life in terms of finances and would you have floated part of the company on the stock exchange if you had known those results?
AP: Its a good question. Obviously, if we dont improve our performance, it does have some effect on our financial position. But that takes time, and we have some time in which to turn things around, and we, of course, have taken very prompt and very decisive action to do that. One of the things that I know about markets is that if you knew yesterday what was going to happen tomorrow, then youd be a very rich man, so I dont think theres much point at looking at what I would have done if I had known things now which I didnt know before.
Q: (Ian Parkes - Press Association) Stefano, just looking at the situation of your second driver, after Fernando signed his contract yesterday. Felipes contract expires at the end of next season, so does that of Lewis Hamilton. Is Lewis a driver that you would consider signing for Ferrari, and secondly, given what happened between Lewis and Fernando at McLaren in 2007, is it possible that those two drivers could ever work at a team like Ferrari?
SD: I consider Lewis one of the top three drivers at the moment, one of the fastest drivers, so in that respect, for sure, I consider him a potential driver for the strongest team. So I dont see why I have to say no to your question. So, I can reply to both of them in the same way. For sure, never say never. In life, people can change, can have a different approach. We have seen so many things happen everywhere around the world, but for sure, Lewis is a strong driver and who knows what can happen in the future?
Q: (Alberto Antonini - Autosprint) Jose, as you establish yourself as a team in your second year, are you planning some restructuring for 2012, like employing some more people, more technicians or readapting your structure?
JC: For the future, one important point is that there is already a programme in process with the wind tunnel. Another priority that I would like to mention is that we are always thinking of the possibility to move all the team to Spain and we are working hard on this. I think that the idea of having all the team together, especially here in Spain, will make us a strong team.
Q: (Dieter Rencken - The Citizen) We have three representatives from the engine companies here: Ferrari, Cosworth and Renault. How committed are your operations to the 2013 regulations and more particularly Mark, how committed is Cosworth to Formula One after 2012?
MG: Thanks Dieter. Were completely committed to Formula One long term. I think I said last year, when we came back into Formula One, that the three years that Cosworth had been away from Formula One were something that we never wanted to see repeated, so were back in Formula One long term. Were totally committed to 2013. We have been heavily involved, from the outset, in the creation of the 2013 regulations in terms of our input to those discussions and we work as hard as ever and of course when a new programme comes along, you actually re-double your efforts because youre running the current programme and also looking to the future. The one aspect of the 2013 regulations that concerns us, and its a significant concern, is that when we look at our customers and we consider the future from the point of view of Cosworth as a business in Formula One, were here to service our customers and we know that our customers do not have an appetite to spend more money on Formula One engines, certainly, so we believe that there is a responsible discussion to be had about the costs involved in the 2013 programme because what we want to do at Cosworth is simply to be in Formula One long term providing highly competitive engines but of course, engines that are also affordable and sustainable for the teams that are using our engines, because without that, they wont be a Formula One business for teams, if they cant afford to compete. So were very clear that the costs remain an issue and the regulations, as currently drafted, do leave a number of options to spend a great deal of money, and I think there was always a clear understanding that to have new regulations, whilst being welcomed from the point of view of innovation, would never be welcome from the point of view of creating a financial space race which I think everyone in Formula One does agree - or at least they should agree - is not what we want at a time when were really still emerging from what has been a very difficult economic time for many many teams.
SD: For me, on my part, Ive always said its pretty easy. I totally share the second part of Marks answer but as always in this discussion, we do it with the other manufacturers and the FIA, so I think its something that of course we are progressing in this discussion and really, you know our position is not really to make official declarations outside but try to work in a constructive way with all the parties involved. But I think that what Mark said is really a fundamental point. If I may add to that, for sure Ferraris position is not willing to find new customers because our structure is basically the one that we have so the future for us will always be to supply the engines to ourselves and a maximum of two customers, no more than that.
J-FC: For Renault, things are very clear. We have fully committed to the 2013 engine. In terms of strategy, it perfectly fits with the market. We conducted a long study on what would be the future market for road cars and we think that in between five and six years, probably 60 or 70 per cent of the total car market will be hybrid or electric, so to have a relevant engine is a strategic problem. In terms of costs and price, in terms of price, we dont think there will be a huge difference between the current engine and the future engine, except probably the battery.
Q: (Italian) Stefano, there are some complaints today concerning the tyres. Is the situation as tough and as terrible as Lewis has said or not?
SD: I dont know what Lewis said.
Q: (Italian): Terrible tyres.
SD: Terrible tyres. OK. But thats the tyres that we have to race, so unfortunately thats the situation. For sure, the lack of grip today was a problem, but I was saying to our drivers, to our team, we need to maximise what we have. At this moment, for sure the situation is not great in that respect but this is the tyres that we have here and we need to make sure that the drivers and the team will use them in the best way because, as I said, nothing will change, at least in the short term, and we need to maximise it because for sure, for qualifying but also in the race it will be very difficult, it will be another challenge for all the drivers and all the teams.
Q: (Italian) Adam, it is said that it was Williams who suggested to the FIA to have a look at the blown diffuser situation. Is that correct or not?
AP: As I said earlier on, we have been doing this exhaust blowing since Spa last year but there is another level which other teams are doing, as Stefano said, they were clever enough to do that. Before embarking on any major investment, we would always check the situation with the FIA because there are some arguments concerning the legality of this, especially because of a change in the rules this year compared with last year so yes, we - and I dont know if we are the only team - but we have checked the situation with the FIA to make sure before we spend a lot of money.
Q: (Byron Young - The Daily Mirror) Stefano, could I just ask you about the answer you gave to the Lewis question? Surely Fernando wouldnt want to have Lewis in the team, wouldnt let you have him in the team, would he?
SD: Why are you so worried about that? We have had a priority unfortunately about that, about our situation at the moment. But I think, first of all, if I speak about that, I feel that it is not correct for the other driver that we have, Felipe. As a team principal, I want to make sure that both of my drivers feel really that they have the maximum atmosphere within the team. So really now the focus is to make sure that both of them are working in the best environment that they can. Going back to your question: as I said, in life, never say never. I dont want to say that by saying that, that its a possibility but I dont want to ignore the possibility also with other drivers that are very strong: Sebastian Vettel is another very, very strong driver. There are a lot of drivers - well, a lot is a big word - but there are a few drivers that are really very strong but I dont think that speaking about this subject now is correct for the team, because I am totally focused to extrapolate the maximum value out of the current drivers that Ferrari is very happy with.
Q: (Byron Young - The Daily Mirror) But you said Lewis is a possibility and I know Felipe is a possibility and he will be looking at his own career as well. Would you say that Mark Webber is a possibility, because hes out of contract at the end of this year?
SD: I can say that everyone is a possibility but I didnt say that he was a possibility, I said never say never to very quick drivers. As I said before, I consider Lewis to be one of the top three drivers of them all.
Q: (Alan Baldwin - Reuters) Question to Mr Carabante: your team is the only one in the paddock which is not a member of the Formula One Teams Association. I was just wondering if you had any plans to rejoin and if not, what advantage you get from being outside?
JC: OK, first of all, I would like to say that FOTA is not our enemy, we just took the decision last year to take a different way because we think that it is the right decision for the interests of the Hispania team. OK, Stefano says that you can never say never, so I cannot say what is going to happen in the future but right now, I think that we have taken the best decision for the interests of the team.
Q: (Dieter Rencken - The Citizen) To the two non-engine representatives: how do you people feel about the 2013 engines, particularly given the fact that they could possibly increase your engine budgets by anything up to five times over the present levels unless they are subsidised by the manufacturers?
JC: This is very, very important, as you say, especially because of the costs. For a small team, as we are, the budget is very important, so we have to try to ensure that all the costs are affordable for us. This is very important. At the end, we will take the decision that the regulations say but for sure, the best for us - not just for us, for all the teams - that have a good and affordable budget and this, I think, should be the future.
AP: As I said, I think were very passionate in believing that we must bring new technology into Formula One in 2013. From my personal perspective and our teams perspective, if you look at sponsorship in Formula One, there are very few teams, if any, bringing new sponsors into Formula One and the fundamental reason for that, without any question, is the sustainability of the sport, because if you look at our global audience, you look at geographical presence, you look at the quality of the racing, especially with these tyres, it is absolutely riveting. Formula One is in fantastic health on its own current terms, but there is a fundamental flaw which is that many companies do not want to be associated with the sport at the moment because of the perception that it is not green enough and there is not a single big company in the world for whom sustainability is not a core part of their brand. So I think that for the sake of the future of the sport and attracting new sponsors, attracting a younger audience, we absolutely need to do this and as far as the costs are concerned, I agree that what Mark and Stefano said, that the rules as set out today, could be improved a little bit, in very minor ways that would make a significant reduction in the cost for developing and providing those engines. So I think that with an intelligent debate, which is going on at the moment, we can achieve everything that everybody wants.
Q: (Joris Fioriti - Agence France Presse) Stefano, you said before that Lewis Hamilton was part of your top three of your fastest drivers. I guess Fernando Alonso is another; who would be the third driver?
SD: Sebastian Vettel.
Q: (Joris Fioriti - Agence France Presse) OK, and the second question: why is Ferrari always threatening to withdraw from Formula One whenever there are issues about engines or anything? Doesnt it weaken your position in the end?
SD: Maybe I dont understand. Who is thinking to did you hear anything from me, thinking about withdrawing from Formula One?
Q: (Joris Fioriti - Agence France Presse) From your side no, from Luca di Montezemolo last week.
SD: Well no. I dont think that he said that. The only one who is here, with all respect, that has always been in Formula One is Ferrari, since the beginning. All the others can speak and say something but they came, they went away. Facts. In Italian there is saying that is not really good to say but facts are the relevant thing, you know.
For tickets and travel to 2011 Formula One races, click here.
For Formula One and F1 team merchandise, click here.