FIA Friday press conference - Germany 22 Jul 2011
Reproduced with kind permission of the FIA
Team Representatives - James Allison (Renault), Stefano Domenicali (Ferrari), Mark Gallagher (Cosworth), Norbert Haug (Mercedes), Monisha Kaltenborn (Sauber).
Q: Mark, how much of a loss has the Williams team been and apparently you are confident of replacing them with another manufacturer?
Mark Gallagher: Yeah, it has been an interesting few weeks as the decision Williams has taken to go with Renault starting next season is, from a human point of view inside Cosworth, disappointing. From a business point of view it doesnt change anything for us because we had always planned our comeback into Formula One as an engine supplier based around supplying new teams with engines. It was actually very fortuitous that a team as famous and successful as Williams came along and asked us for an engine supply. Disappointing on a human level, on a business level we understand the decision and we are just looking to the future now. We have got two new teams that have recently announced big changes. The Marussia Virgin Racing deal with McLaren Applied Technologies is a very interesting one, particularly for us to work with McLaren and Marussia Virgin from next season. Then with the recent changes at Hispania Racing in terms of investment in the team, fresh investment, I think everyone can see HRT has made some good steps this season. Business continues. I think we have been quoted as saying and quite rightly that since 1963 Cosworth has supplied 67 different teams with engines. Actually 10 of the teams on the grid today in some form or other have used our engines in Formula One so I am confident that we will have many good days ahead. The quest for us really is to secure long-term contracts, certainly beyond the V8 era, and with the exciting news of the arrival of the V6 engines for 2014, thats more of a focus for us at the moment so onwards and upwards.
Q: And the teams want you as well. The teams organisation wants to keep you as well.
MG: Yeah, I have to say that although Formula One can often be portrayed as being highly political and there is no doubt that politics does play a part in the sport, Cosworths experience over the last couple of years has been a very positive one. Working indeed with our competitors in terms of the engine working group technically and the work that I am currently involved in with our competitors on the resource restriction agreement covering the V6 engines which is coming along. There is actually really a good sense of everyone working together to try and secure the long-term stability of Formula One, technically and commercially, and of course that is important for us all. You are quite right, we have had some very positive statements made to us by even our competitors as well as teams that comprise FOTA and we are very confident for the future. We are a company with huge experience and a significant capability technically and an impressive track record and we believe that will stand the test of time.
Q: I guess the V6 regulations mean a fresh start for you as well, but obviously a huge investment?
MG: It is a significant investment but maybe in the mists of time people have overlooked the fact that the current engine, the CA, which started life in 2006 was created by Cosworth as an independent company in the post-Ford era. We have invested significant sums in the past on new Formula One engines and we will invest again for the future. The question has never been can Cosworth invest in new engines or do we have the capability to invest in new engines. The question has been does the sport want new engines and do the customer teams want to pay for the new technologies that are coming through and how is that going to be structured? We have got, I think, great clarity now and for us the V6 engine has got a lot of people in Northampton smiling because we have very talented people who quite frankly live for the day when they can get out of bed and design new racing engines and particularly when we are taking on some of the giants of the sport. It is part of the tradition of Cosworth and long may it continue.
Q: Monisha, both your drivers set personal records, one for qualifying and the other for their race performance at the last race, so you must be very pleased with that and also the very fact that you are competitive at this stage of the season?
Monisha Kaltenborn: Yes, we are quite pleased actually with this season. At the beginning of the season we set the target that we wanted to have a reliable car and fast car and regularly score points. If you look at the performance so far we have managed, with one exception until now, to at least finish the race in ranks where you can score points. We didnt quite manage that on the first race so we are very happy with our performance. We are happy with our drivers. Where we do see room to improve is on our efficiency because we could have scored more points looking at our performance so we have to work on that still.
Q: How important is it to be competitive at this stage of the season where we have got a double header plus then the summer break, plus then another grand prix?
MK: This season is extremely important because there has been so much development going on during the season so you really have to keep it up at each and every race event to stay within your group and catch up on the ones in front of you and I think it is especially very important in this particular season with whats been going on.
Q: You are in a battle really with Scuderia Toro Rosso and Force India, the three of you?
MK: It is the three of us and the gaps are not that big and it doesnt take much and you can find yourself in a very different position after two or three races. You really have to keep this momentum going of your development.
Q: So those are the aims are they at the moment, to get ahead of those two?
MK: The aim is clearly to improve our position significantly from last year and we will see where we end up.
Q: James, how much has it meant upgrading the wind tunnel from 50 to 60 per cent?
James Allison: Well it is a lot of work, thats for sure. People call wind-tunnel models models but they are not really models at all. They are things that cost almost as much as making a real car and almost as complicated. Just changing the model from 50 per cent to 60 per cent is already a large engineering exercise but in our case as well the wind tunnel working sections wasnt really quite big enough to support a 60 per cent model so we needed to strip that back to its bare skeleton and replace it with something that was man enough for a 60 per cent model, so all told it was a project that started around about a year ago and culminated just recently.
Q: How much time do you think you lost and is it now back on track totally?
JA: Well very little actual wind tunnel time, as one of the most precious things to all teams is to keep that tunnel running and to keep the aero development going so we made sure we could do the swap-over with the minimum amount of disruption to the actual tunnel testing. We had the tunnel down for 12 days.
Q: You are now FOTAs technical mastermind. What sort of responsibility is that?
JA: Well it is a significant responsibility. I think everyone would agree that FOTA is a group that has acted strongly in the interests of the sport and very constructively and the technical regulation working group is one part of what FOTA does. Its a part which tries to look constructively in the medium and long term to contribute to making the rules of the sport work well, working hand in hand with the FIA to do that, and hopefully I can pick up where some of my predecessors have left off in looking after those meetings in an efficient way.
Q: You said before this race you would let the cars do the talking when it came to the modifications you have got on the cars. What did they say today?
JA: Well we have had a reasonable day today. What I meant by letting the cars do the talking is that we have got a number of improvements to bring over the next several races that we hope will restore us to something closer to where we were at the start of the year than we have been in the last two or three races. It is very easy to talk about youve got this and youve got that but it will be much nicer when we have actually put it on the track and everyone can see it so hopefully thats what will happen.
Q: Stefano, the Silverstone result was excellent but it was said to be a circuit that didnt necessarily suit the car. Does this circuit suit the car better, Hungary even better perhaps?
Stefano Domenicali: We are discovering day by day what is going on in internal development and what I can confirm is that we have done a significant step in terms of performance and this is the positive thing at the moment what we can say. I agree with James and let the car speak. This is what we need to see here tomorrow, above all on Sunday and in Hungary. It is a good reward for the team because that result came after a couple of races where we could have achieved more in terms of result but thats it. It is something that we need to put back and make sure it wasnt just one race. This should be the target for every time. We know that the competition is very tight and difficult so lets be very concentrated here this weekend as it will not be easy at all.
Q: Also there is the double header with Hungary coming up and then the break as well?
SD: Yeah, it would be nice to have a good result before the break mainly for the spirit and for the classification but we have learned this year that every weekend is different from the other. The only thing we can do is to make sure that the drivers and the team is fully concentrated on the job. Today we had quite a massive programme to do some comparison, a couple of checks on the car, and we need to make sure that we take the right decision for qualifying tomorrow. I am guessing that the weather will be quite tricky so thats the objective of today.
Q: The president (of Ferrari, Luca di Montezemolo) has suggested that Felipe Massa will be staying with the team next year; can that be confirmed?
SD: Have you seen anyone below the president not confirm what the president is saying? At least not in my company; maybe Norbert you can say something later, but apart from that, Felipe had an agreement with us up to the end of next year, so yes, I can tell you.
Norbert Haug: One time, I suppose, just one time.
Q: Norbert, everyone in your team was very upbeat coming here but the cars didnt look very comfortable this morning. Maybe it was better this afternoon?
NH: Well, I wouldnt say upbeat. We had a difficult start at Silverstone and recovered quite well. I think we were 12th and 16th, 17th after lap one or after lap two and then came home sixth and ninth, so at least this was a good recovery, but, of course, we are still not there, to fight with the top three teams. Renault is quite strong, close behind us. We need to establish a better pace. We are working very hard, we are committed and we are working through our programme. Thats what we did today. I dont think it was too bad this afternoon. We produced consistent lap times in the race simulation and of course we know that we cannot beat the top three teams, so probably our aim has to be sixth, seventh, eighth, something like that, in qualifying. The race will probably be under rainy conditions - that, at least, is what the forecast says today - having said that, it was not precise for today, so this may change - and this is what we can do. We need to build on what we have, step by step.
Q: Tell us of the importance of this race at the historic Nürburgring, as your home race, particularly for the new Mercedes GP Petronas team.
NH: No doubt this is not quite as Monza is for Ferrari but it is our home race, it is our second home race after Silverstone because the team is based in England, obviously. The Silver Arrows were born here 77 years ago, as you know, so this is a big tradition and we need to fulfil it, we know that but we cannot win on our own means at the moment, we know that, but I think the good thing is that Mercedes is present in Formula One and who knows Mercedes knows that they are going to get the job done, we are going to get the job done but we are still a young team, a learning team, but we dare to be there, we dare to have the competition, we like to fight with the guys. Were not good enough, at the moment, but we have won in the past, we won six World Championships with our partners, seventy-five races out of 250 so far, so this is not such a bad score and now we are building up something new and I am very grateful that our board gave us the support and gave us the opportunity. It makes sense commercially, we are very good in that respect. We are not good enough in the points standings at the moment but believe me, we are working on it.
Q: I know its only Friday but its interesting to see your two customer teams, your two partners, McLaren and Force India very much on similar performance today.
NH: I wouldnt rate that too highly. I think McLaren-Mercedes has to be better. This was the case in the last couple of races. We started ahead of Lewis in the last race. He was on used tyres in qualifying, Nico was on used tyres but they are quicker, they belong to the top three. They have won two races already, could have won more by the way. They could have won four. It was very close in Barcelona and in Monaco. Stefano could have won in Monaco as well, from the sheer speed but they are just better at the moment but not forever, thats for sure.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Ottavio Daviddi - Tuttosport) There is an FIA idea to close cars for safety reasons; I would like to know your opinion on this. I think all the aerodynamics would change if this was the case.
JA: This is something thats been under discussion for a few Technical Working Group meetings now. Were looking to try to look after the drivers head, both from large scale things like tyres and also small scale things like the very unfortunate incident that Felipe suffered. There are a few suggestions around: one of them was looking into a fully enclosed canopy. Another one was looking into a visor-type where its still open above the drivers head but he has a visor in front of him. And then there is a third type of proposal as well, where there isnt a see-through windscreen at all but there is like a roll (bar) structure in front of the driver that would anyway deflect any big objects. All those things are still in fairly early discussion and you would have seen from what the FIA proposed, published recently, that they are showing some of the very early research thats being done into the feasibility and practicality of this type of solution, but there are a lot of questions to answer before we can bring it to a practical solution. The closed canopy would have an aerodynamic effect - not a bad one, it would be easier to manage the airflow around a closed canopy than an open one - but there are all sorts of other things to discuss, like egress in the event of an accident, keeping the canopy clean, for example when it might get covered in oil and the like, so each of the proposed solutions has advantages and disadvantages and we need to do the basic research to find out what is the best way forward.
NH: I think that if this makes sense for Formula One it needs to be applied to all formula: the junior drivers, everybody and I think we should carefully think that idea through.
Q: (Flavio Vanetti - Il Corriere della Sera) I would like to ask your opinion about the fact that the international Federation has decided that from 2014 only electrical power units can be used in the pit lane. Do you agree and do you believe that this thing could match the opposition of the World Motor Sport Council?
SD: I think that this is something that we have started discussing. There are different opinions on that. As you know, there are some manufacturers that are keen to go ahead with this project. Some others fear that, not from a technical point of view, just from a show point of view, it is something that we need to make sure that the sport is happy for. This is a topic that in my view, because of the situation that it is for 2014, it can still be discussed, we have the time to discuss it in a proper way. There are different opinions on this subject because on one side there is the technical aspect and on the other side there is the sport and the passion. You may say that in the pit lane, with no noise, it would be difficult for the people to perceive the passion that Formula One is all about. On the other side, you may say that Formula One has to be the pinnacle of motor sport in terms of new developments and research and so this goes in the opposite direction. I think this is something that we will discuss.
JA: Stefanos summed it up fairly neatly. There are technical hurdles to be cleared in order to make it happen but nothing thats impossible, just things that make the configuration of the car change relative to what weve got today. It is a complication from a design point of view, but its not an impossibility. From what I understand, the idea has been trailed in various groups and it largely receives a positive reaction as a useful initiative, but there are pros and cons with it from an operational point of view that were still discussing.
Q: (Ralf Bach - R&B) But is it not too dangerous for those working in the pit lane who wont hear the cars?
SD: This is possible, because on the main straight you could have cars that are normally running with the engine on so this is a factor that is under consideration, this is one of the points that James is basically mentioning. Its an element of consideration, for sure.
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