FIA Friday press conference - 70th Anniversary Grand Prix
TEAM REPRESENTATIVES – Cyril ABITEBOUL (Renault), Toto WOLFF (Mercedes), Frédéric VASSEUR (Alfa Romeo)
Q: We’re celebrating 70 years of Formula 1 this weekend so I’d like to start talking about that. Toto, perhaps we could start with you. What makes Formula 1 so fascinating for you?
Toto Wolff: There’s many aspects. Formula 1 has grown over these 70 years to a true global sport with technical appeal, sporting appeal and then all the things that Bernie Ecclestone created around it. It is always a pool of content and narrative, there is controversy on track and off track. There is personalities that are competing against each other and it’s almost like, for me, it’s the racing side but also it is a big reality show around it that happens live and all this provides content and I think that’s the integral part of this sport.
Cyril, can you describe the moment when you fell in love with Formula 1?
Cyril Abiteboul: Still waiting for the love to come back! I love Formula 1 but Formula 1 doesn’t love me. No, I think there has been great moments in my childhood. It’s a recollection of probably, when you have the underdogs winning – and I’m sure we will be talking later on about underdogs – but winning the Monaco Grand Prix where no-one was expecting Panis to win – when was it? It doesn’t mean… It’s this constant man and machine fight with the machine evolving, the man evolving and it’s a constant search for absolute performance and the drive for results, the drive for performance that is so fascinating. And, as Toto is saying, what’s happening, both on track and off track, even though if we prefer the focus to be a bit more on track to see a bit more of the man – specifically the drivers rather than the technical directors to fight. But yeah, I think there is fantastic moments to come also in the future for Formula 1. As the technology is evolving there is so much value that has been created around and in Formula 1 that I’m sure despite all the technological change, the change in society, Formula 1 will be able to keep up with all of those changes.
Fred, coming to you. What does Formula 1 mean to you?
Frédéric Vasseur: I think it’s a very good mix between the human performance, show and technology. But on every single aspect of the sport we are pushing to the limit and I think that today, with all the discussion into the paddock, we are reaching perhaps the limit on some topics. But it’s another story. The combination of this is a very unique – and perhaps you have the same in MotoGP – but it’s one of the only shows where you can have this kind of combination.
Q: (DIETER RENCKEN – RACING LINES) Question for Toto. In the last three or four hours you’ve obviously read the verdict from the stewards that emphatically found Racing Point to be in breach and also found that your team had cooperated with them on the 6th of January this year as well as sharing CAD data at least 10 times. Could you explain how Mercedes got to a point of being so complicitly involved please?
TW: Well, we’re not involved Dieter, and we feel 100 per cent comfortable with our position. We’ve read the rules over and over again. The verdict that came out today is extremely complicated. It comes up with an interpretation that is new. New to all of us. We have provided certain data in 2019 which was totally within the rules. The 6th of January that you refer to has no material effect on any of the action because the whole thing was delivered much earlier and all the CAD drawings and designers were delivered much earlier. And Racing Point and ourselves are still of the opinion that is within the regulations. We are prepared to have a discussion on the philosophy – and this is what Cyril and I have discussed last week – whether we want cars to be very similar to other cars; whether we want the cooperation. I see some benefits. I think we have a team that is competing amongst the front running teams now. This was very much the aim. And on the other side, it provides a great source of income for us as a big team. We are able to monetise some of the technologies that otherwise couldn’t, wouldn’t be monetised, and I think it’s a win-win situation. I also get the opinion – and I respect the opinion – of the other side that cars shouldn’t look like some other cars. Now, none of the regulations prohibits that. This special situation arose because a non-listed part became a listed part, so while it was a non-listed part things were supplied. We can have that legal discussion endlessly – but at the end, to be honest, there is zero worry on our side. And when I say zero, I mean zero, that we were in any breach. Nor do I think that Racing Point was in breach. And I believe that if that would go to the ICA, it would be probably a complex matter, because it’s very technical – but I doubt there would be any outcome.
Cyril, can we get your reaction please, to the outcome of the protest?
CA: Well, I would agree that it’s a complex matter, it’s a matter that actually features two elements in it: there is a very specific and targeted discussion and protest in relation to one part of the car – brake ducts, front, rear – and in relation to that we are satisfied with the fact that the FIA and the stewards confirmed that some of these parts were in breach of the sporting regulation. It’s the sporting regulation but it really is a technical matter that ends up being placed in the sporting regulation – but it is a technical matter. So, we’re satisfied with that conclusion. I think that the question of sanction is open for debate, and as Toto was saying, for another matter, could be discussed endlessly. We will consider that matter, bearing in mind the advantage that was obviously obtained will keep on going for all the season and it’s a very material advantage. Just to put things in perspective, any teams will be spending 20 per cent of its ATR time, of its aerodynamic time, into developing those parts – so it’s not a small part. The second element that’s part of it, as Toto was mentioning, it’s a wide topic of copying a car. I think, again, in that respect, we need to recognise that what Racing Point has done, based on a car that has such an advantage, against anyone else on the grid, has been a shock in the system, has been a disruption, and I think there has been other disruptions in Formula 1 before, like there has been other disruptions in industries before. We need to see how we deal with it. I think yes, copying has been part of the story of Formula 1 but technology has evolved so much that it’s now possible to do things that were not possible to do before. So, our doctrines, our thinking, or regulatory framework needs to evolve with the technologies that allows you to do some stuff that was not possible before, with a level of accuracy that was not possible before. We’ve been pleased with the statement from Nikolas Tombazis this morning, in parallel to the decision of the stewards about his willingness to tackle that matter and to tackle it strongly, without waiting, for next year – but we need to understand exactly what’s behind that statement. That’s why again, we’ll take a little bit of time before deciding what’s our course of action from that point onward.
Toto, have you got anything to add?
TW: Yeah, I think I agree with Cyril that Racing Point, there performance has somehow disrupted the pecking order. I don’t know how much ATR is really used for brake ducts but I don’t think the brake ducts are the reason that they suddenly compete for the first six positions. I think it’s a splendid engineering team there that has extracted the most from the regulations. I think we can have the debate of ‘do we want this going forward?’ in terms of having copies of whole cars. In our belief there was nothing that was against the regulations because, as Cyril pointed out, the technology exists, and we saw last year on a few occasions, one of our main competitors with the 3D camera – that is quite a thing, you need to have it on your shoulders – scanning our cars. In the garage and outside of the garage. And when you know the technology – it wasn't you!
Q: Who was it?
TW: I can’t say – but it’s pretty obviously who it was – scanning the whole car. And when you plug that into a computer, it gives you all the shapes. So this technology exists, there is nothing that prohibits that, everybody has spy photographers sitting on the roofs of the opposite building, zooming into the smallest detail on every car. If we don’t want this to happen then we need to close that avenue. I’m also, as Cyril says, happy with Nikolas coming out very strong this morning and saying ‘OK, maybe we need to adapt the rules, maybe we need to somehow prevent this Spy photography that has existed in Formula 1 since God knows when, and yeah, I don’t know how to do it but maybe they ban all photographers from every position where they can take a picture of a car but I have all the trust and confidence in the FIA and Nikolas to come with a regulation that is clear – because until now there wasn’t any.
Q: (Andrew Benson – BBC) Can I ask your opinion please on a ruling that declares that cars that were designed in non-conformity with the regulations, were run in non-conformity with the regulations, declares that they will continue to be in non-conformity with the regulations but allows that team to continue to use them for the rest of the year?
CA: Frankly I don’t think that I can comment. I am obviously an interested party into that, so my answer would only be biased. It’s a position of the stewards. Obviously we can only refer to previous cases. Not going very far, ourselves we were found in breach of the sporting regulations last year and we’ve been immediately disqualified from the event and had to remove the contentious device. It was a sporting regulation, not a technical regulation so there is a question of consistency. That’s why, as I said, we are reserving our opposition. But, as I was saying previously, it’s a complex matter but we should not lose sight, despite the complexity, despite indeed the copying that is currently not addressed by the regulatory framework, that there is a black and white situation and judgement and decision on the legality of a part. That’s what we’re going to focus on in the next 22 hours we have left now.
Toto, your thoughts.
TW: I’m obviously not an integral part of this protest so I’m not sure I should really comment on the case, speaking for Racing Point. As far as I have read the verdict, I think that because the regulations are tremendously complicated, and there has never been a situation where a non-listed part because a listed part, that the FIA tried to somehow bridge the gap of finding a solution that was acceptable to all parties. Obviously for Racing Point, the decision that they strongly feel that they haven’t been in breach, and to come back to Andrew’s question, the breach, as it has been found out, the possible breach, was that they have used… they haven’t’ designed something – the rear brake ducts – from the beginning and it’s not their proprietary design. The breach has happened and they cannot unlearn what they already know. They have had these brake ducts on the car. They can also not change them. So the consequence would be, ‘do you want to disqualify a team from the whole championship?’ Because there is no way of taking those brake ducts away. As a matter of fact, if they were to design them again themselves, the same product would come out. On the same side, I think they were trying to balance the interest of Renault out, in saying ‘OK, you guys were right to point out to that topic.’ Asked by the FIA, it probably swung slightly towards Renault’s position and therefore the fine. But I think, if it would go to the ICA, because Racing Point or Renault decides to appeal, it will be a very long, very messy argument involving QCs and lawyers that will take a few months with the outcome unknown. The outcome unknown for Renault, the outcome unknown for Racing Point. I think the FIA tried to act sensibly here.
Fred, can we get your thoughts on the verdict please?
FV: Yeah, even if I’m not involved in the discussion but at the end I’m very surprised with the decision – but I remember that last year I was disqualified for half a millimetre of deflection and two-tenth on the start in Germany. Today, I read quickly the conclusion but it’s clear that if they have asked the FIA before it was banned – but in the end they are allowed to race. It’s just for me a bit un-understandable whether it’s banned or its not banned, they have to take a clear decision.
Q: (Scott Mitchell – The Race) I wanted to ask Cyril and Toto to clarify a couple of the comments they’ve made so far. To Cyril, does that mean you and your team are considering whether or not you appeal on the grounds that the sanctions don’t go far enough? And Toto, the comments that you made about not doing anything wrong with the transfer of parts, and obviously the transfer on January 6th not changing anything. The stewards seemed to agree with that – but why was there a transfer in 2020 when obviously the parts had become listed parts?
CA: Yeah I can confirm we are considering whether or not to appeal. It happens that usually we have one hour to do that but in this particular case, given the complexity, we have 24 hours to do that and then 96 hours to confirm that appeal. So again, because it’s complex, we need to balance carefully the interests of the sport also, and the consistency of the sanction. We are looking whether or not we will appeal the sanction – not obviously on the decision.
TW: I think Scott you seem to have read the verdict of the FIA, why the 6th of January is not material, which we completely agree, and that is the reason parts were supplied, in order to possibly fill a gap for testing. And that’s it. I don’t want to further elaborate on that, because the FIA has been very clear on that point.
Q: (Peter Thomas – Car Magazine via email) We’re talking a lot about technical arrangements but what about the Concorde Agreement for next year. How close are you to signing that?
TW: The Concorde Agreement is a complex topic…
FV: Everything is complex!
CA: Another one!
TW: This one is more complex! It obviously involved 10 teams, the FIA and FOM and we respect that everybody has their point of view and the only interest at heart… We from Mercedes made it very clear that we are happy with a more equitable split of the prize fund, the way success is rewarded and possible for everybody we agreed to. We are I would say the biggest victim in terms of prize fund loss in all of that. Ferrari has maintained an advantageous position. For Red Bull it balances out with Toro Rosso (sic). So it’s us that are hurt the most. I feel that Mercedes has contributed to the sport over the last years. We have part from being competitive on track, we have the driver that has clearly the most global appeal and we feel that whilst being in those negotiations we weren’t treated in the way we should have been. Therefore there are a bunch of open topics for us that are legal, commercial and sporting and in our point of view I don’t feel ready to sign a Concorde Agreement.
Q: How far away are you?
TW: That depends on the other side. If you are willing to sit at a table, address the critical topics, discuss them, come to a compromise outcome, then I think it can go pretty fast. But I haven’t seen that approach.
Q: Fred, can I get your thoughts?
FV: I really appreciate the efforts made by all the parties, including the big teams, because the impact is huge for them. We have to understand also that this agreement will manage the sport for the next five or six years and that we have to pay attention to every single event, even if it’s details, but it’s details for the next five years. I would like to go through and take time to fix it and there are some points that we have to clarify. But it’s not a big matter and I think we did the biggest step in the last couple of months and we will find a solution quickly.
Q: And Cyril?
CA: Nothing much to add. Probably 95% of the terms are agreed but as Fred has mentioned there are a number of details for which we probably need to take a little bit of time, give the time to our lawyers, the lawyers representing the 10 teams, to come up with a solution. I think it’s a balancing exercise between, indeed, not compromising on certain aspects that are important, working on those details but also providing a bit of visibility and stability to a sport in a world that is shaking, that is facing a number of unknowns – that are obviously not connected to the Concorde – but I think that stability and a commitment from teams in order to market the sport for next year and the year after that as again the world is changing is also important and that also needs to be recognised in my opinion. But we are all still pushing for a collaborative process that involves all 10 teams rather than teams signing individually.
Q: (Phil Duncan - PA) Toto, just on the financial side of Lewis and things. Will he have to take a pay cut?
TW: This is a very direct question, which I don’t want to comment [upon]. Lewis has been a very important part of the team. We recognise his driving ability, his behaviour and culture within the team, we enjoy his global presence, we respect his opinion on the various topics that are close to his heart and if you look at the impact that he has on Formula 1, not only with him driving exceptionally, he was always worth the expectations in terms of salary, which we respect. Now, the world has changed a lot. We face difficult times and all that. And Lewis completely understands that and we will discuss what that means. I don’t want to lay out financial terms here because it’s truly a matter only between Lewis and I and as we have both expressed we will continue to race with each other – best driver and best team – and come to a solution in whatever amount of time.
Q: Lewis said yesterday that he isn’t in a hurry to sign a contract. Are you in a hurry to get it signed?
TW: I am of the same mindset as him, because there is such a fundamental base of trust between us we have… our relationship has evolved from a purely professional relationship to something more important and we dislike the discussions about money between us, because at the end we have the same objectives and this is the only area where we have a different approach… What was your question?
Q: Are you in a hurry?
TW: Ah, no, not at all. You have sat the two French clowns next to me and they keep interrupting and it’s distracting! So, not at all in a hurry. Same feeling as Lewis. We will eventually sit down somewhere, carve it out in a few hours, and go for pizza – like we did last time.
Q: (Luke Smith – Autosport) Another contract question, this time about Valtteri Bottas. Valtteri said in pre-season that he wanted talks to be a lot smoother this year, to try and avoid any outside distractions or unnecessary talk and he seemed much happier yesterday about how talks went. How much happier were you with these talks and do you feel it was a quicker resolution all around?
LW: With Valtteri it’s the same situation as Lewis. We have an absolute alignment. They are very realistic. There is not a manager on the table who tries to optimise beyond a possible breaking point. And Valtteri was always like that. We are both not optimisers to the end to make one party leave the table with a bad feeling, so the discussion about renewing the contract took five minutes.
Q: Toto, why only the one-year extension?
TW: In 2022 the regulations change. We love our current line-up, we respect the two, and we need to be open and flexible and see what happens beyond that. It doesn’t mean that we haven’t got any trust in either Valtteri or Lewis but it’s just important to have the option to look at the movements in the whole driver market.
TEAM REPRESENTATIVES – Claire WILLIAMS (Williams), Zak BROWN (McLaren), Mattia BINOTTO (Ferrari)
Q: We are celebrating 70 years of Formula 1 this weekend, so I’d like to kick this session off discussing that? Mattia, what makes Formula 1 fascinating for you?
Mattia Binotto: First, it’s a great sport, it’s something on which we are passionate. As Scuderia Ferrari, we are very much linked to F1. We have been there since the very start. We are the most successful team in terms of victories and championships, so I think in the end celebrating the 70th is somehow an honour and I’m very happy to be here.
Q: Zak, what’s your first F1 memory?
Zak Brown: I can – the 1981 Long Beach Grand Prix. Williams won. I think it was a 1-2 if I’m not mistaken. I was about that big and went with my family and I remember meeting Eddie Cheever and the cars used to be displayed in this aquarium and all the fans had access to them. That was my first Formula 1 race and I’ve loved Formula 1 ever since.
Q: Thanks. Claire, what does Formula 1 mean to you?
Claire Williams: My God, where do I start? It means everything. Everybody knows Williams’ history in this sport. We’ve been racing for 44 years now and that’s an awfully long time. It’s a big part of our family – it is our family. We feel incredibly privileged to have raced in this sport for so long and we feel incredibly privileged that we have been so successful in this sport for so long. It’s the pinnacle isn’t it? We all know how privileged we are to work in it, to be surrounded by such incredibly bright people that design these extraordinary race cars. Every time I’m in the garage I look at them and think, “how do these people know how these things work?” It’s an extraordinary sport. The drivers are superheroes. The fact that they get in these cars every weekend and do what they do blows my mind every time I see them. Away from the track as well, everything that goes on behind the scenes. It consumes you. Formula 1 is all-consuming and it’s a wonderful sport to be a part of.
Q: (Andrew Benson – BBC) Can I ask all of you for your comments please on a verdict that came out that this morning that declared that the design process for a component to be in breach of regulations, declared that those components were run in breach of regulations, that they would continue to be in breach of regulations if they continue to be run, but allows them to be continued to be run for the rest of the season?
MB: Obviously it’s a 14 pages verdict and I think we need to go through it very carefully, pay attention on what has been written. One thing that is important is that it has somehow been clarified that there has been a breach of regulation. I think that is the starting point. Obviously that is relative to the braking ducts but as you said there is an entire concept behind, which is about copying: are we allowed to copy or not, an entire concept. But the two things need to be split. But on the braking duct there is a breach of regulation, that is a fact and it has been clarified. Is the penalty sufficient or not? Again, I think we need to go through carefully the 14 pages. There are 24 hours eventually for an intention of appeal. I think as Ferrari we will be very careful in understanding and deciding what is the next step.
ZB: I’ll give you my initial reactions, because like Mattia we are still reviewing the 14-page document. My initial reactions are that Racing Point has been found guilty and I am concerned that they still have those… what were deemed illegal in Austria on the race car now. I think that is confusing for the fans, how something that is not legal in Austria is still on the car. Around this whole copying, obviously they claimed that they had coped the car via photography. It’s clear from reading the document that is BS and therefore you have to question anything else around that car. I think this is, potentially, the top of the iceberg, the starting point of looking at what’s happened here, because I don’t think it’s healthy for the sport. The constructor gets the penalty, but the drivers don’t. As teams we all compete with each other, but then all the drivers compete with each other and they’re able to keep their points when driver drivers are fighting for the Drivers’ Championship. So, I think it’s thrown up a lot more questions than answers and there’s new evidence that we’ve now been able to see and it’s something we are going to review quickly and understand the appeal process and whether that’s something that we potentially want to participate in.
Q: And Claire?
CW: I agree with everything that Mattia and Zak have said so far. I think for us at Williams we’ve always made of position around this kind of circumstance pretty clear. We’ve always been protective and proud of our status as an independent, true constructor that designs and manufactures our parts ourselves and then takes them to race track and races them. And then the results come thereafter. Obviously it is a very long document that the FIA have sent out and it is within the FIA’s jurisdiction power to determine what penalties are imposed for any breach of sporting or technical regulations and they have done that. Whether I agree personally, or the team, that the reprimand is appropriate or the sanctions that they put in place are appropriate I’ll bite my tongue on that. I think we all need a little bit of time to fully compute the outcome of it and to determine whether or to decide whether we take it any further forwards.
Q: (Christian Nimmervoll – Motorsport.com) To all three: in the earlier part of the press conference, Toto explained how teams use spy photography and 3D cameras to copy parts from other teams, to have a detailed look at them. From your experience, is it possible, by the use of such methods, to copy a complete F1 car to the extent that Racing Point did with last year’s Mercedes?
MB: I think it’s very difficult or likely impossible. You see that has never happened in 70 years of Formula 1, it means that it’s not an idea that someone simply thought about today but simply because we believe that it’s not possible to simply copy and understand the full concept behind the car. So there is something on which, again, because we sent a letter to the FIA, we really argued the entire process and entire concept. We believe the regulations are clear enough. We believe that there may be a breach of regulations in what is that process but probably at the moment, looking ahead and looking forward, it’s something on which we need to clarify. I don’t think that the verdict of today is sufficient because again it’s only relative, eventually, to the brake ducts but not the entire concept so as Zak said, I think it’s only the… it’s like an iceberg, at the moment it’s only the tip of the iceberg. There is much to discuss further. But back to your question, again, I think that if it has never happened so far, in all the history of F1, you know it means that somehow it’s almost impossible to do.
ZB: I agree with what Mattia has said. If it was that easy it would have been done before. The sport’s been around a long time. The engineers and designers do take inspiration, if you like, from the things they say on the car, to be able to replicate a car as they’ve done. Everything that I’ve been told by people who are much smarter than me on this topic say there’s no way you do it with a degree of accuracy that they can so I think the brake ducts and the… revealing that they had information beyond photography just begs and question of what else wasn’t done by photography?
CW: I’m not sure I can add a whole lot more. I certainly don’t believe that you can reverse engineer a car or a complicated element which a brake duct is from a photo, so no, I would disagree. As Mattia and Zak have both said, if you could, then everyone would have been doing it and we would have had a much closer field than we do now, which at times has been separated by four seconds, so no, I don’t believe that this is the case.
Q: (Christian Menath – Motorsport-magazin.com) I understand that you’re a bit confused at the penalty that Racing Point received for the break of regulations, but don’t you think in the end that it’s a wise decision, because what else could you do? If you ban the brake ducts, you probably ban Racing Point from racing the whole year. If you don’t penalise them, you open the door for further copying, so don’t you think that in the end it was a wise decision for Formula 1, in the interests of the sport and Formula 1 should just accept it and move on from now and verify a few points?
CW: Again, it’s well above my pay grade to tell the FIA what they should have done or shouldn’t have done. As I said earlier, I think the one confusing element is this discrepancy between the sporting and technical in that you can run what has effectively been deemed an illegal part, that shouldn’t have been put on a race car because it was, in effect, copied from another team, to a degree. And to me, that isn’t right. I think, as Zak said, it’s confusing for the fans to have that, to see now that a car that has been in breach of regulations, to still be allowed to run those parts doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me anyway. But I also think that there are wider implications on this. If the car is in breach but still allowed to race with those parts and not to have to… you know, whenever we take our car and the FIA come to us and say that part’s not quite right, you’ve got two races or whatever to rectify it, then that should be the case in the circumstances, that the very fact they are allowed to continue to race has much broader implications on teams further down the grid, when it comes to prize fund money, when it comes to the order of the championship, but I’m not sure that I agree with that.
ZB: Yeah, I think a) it still early days in reviewing the document. I’ve got a lot of confidence. The FIA is looking into this matter. Nikolas Tombazis made a statement earlier that they’re going to continue to look into this and modify some rules in ’21 and beyond. I think ten very intelligent teams that are all pushing the envelope and I think there’s a difference between what they’ve been found guilty of in pushing the envelope in a sporting design, interpretation of rules way. And I think, as I mentioned earlier, the drivers, the constructors, the sponsors, the fans… I don’t think running the car with the part that has been deemed illegal… I just don’t see how that makes sense, I don’t see how that’s fair for the sport and as I said, I think the FIA will look into it further because we now know the brake ducts are illegal but how do we know the balance of the car isn’t?
Q: Zak, it’s probably worth pointing out for everybody, the brake ducts themselves aren’t illegal; it’s the process, not the part, isn’t it?
ZB: Correct. It’s pretty confusing for the fans out there. I understand the technicality behind that. When you go through technical inspection something has to be a certain weight, size, dimension and it passes that test but how it actually arrived on the car has been deemed illegal, so I think that needs to be clarified and cleaned up for the future, that you can breach the sporting regulation but be clear in the technical regulation and then it continues on because if you read the documentation, there were docked because of the unfair competitive advantage that they had in Austria. But aren’t they still carrying that unfair advantage this weekend? So, as I said, it’s confusing and that’s why it needs to be cleared up.
MB: I don’t think there is much to add to what has been said. As I said initially, the most important point that has at least been clarified is that there has been a breach of regulation and now is the penalty and the verdict the right one? I think we’ve got 24 hours to go through the document and understand it, so I would not judge it right now. That’s all.
Q: (Jonathan McEvoy – Daily Mail) Zak, what’s your feeling about the man who runs Mercedes also being a shareholder – in the light of today’s events – in Aston Martin? Do you think that’s a little bit smelly or are you at ease with that?
ZB: I think the sport has had, over the years, owners that have had multiple relationships. Red Bull owns two racing teams. Some sports, you’re not allowed to have ownership that crosses over into other sports. I’m quite relaxed that the sport… you know, some people who promote tracks but also own teams in it, so I think the sport has navigated that and it just needs to continue to do so.
Q: While we’re talking about finances in a loose sense, can I ask you three please about the Concorde Agreement, because Toto Wolff earlier told us that he was still some way off signing the new agreement? Where are you guys at, please?
MB: I think we already mentioned it a couple of weeks ago. I think as Scuderia Ferrari we are ready to sign. I think the deadline of the 12th of August is coming pretty soon. There is still very little (elements of) wording that need to be addressed – it’s only a legal matter – but on all the principles, we are somehow happy. It’s a long time that we discussing with FOM so it’s not here on the last day that now we are putting a long discussion we’ve had so I think we have a great understanding with Chase. I think that the proposal is certainly helping the small teams, which is important. As Ferrari, I think our role has been recognised which for us is quite important and overall, as I said, we are ready to sign so it’s clearly waiting for it and quite excited.
Q: Zak, are you ready to sign?
ZB: Yeah, McLaren’s in the same position as Ferrari. We’ve all been negotiating this for some time. We’re ready to sign. We’ll be able to hit the August 12 deadline. Some very small dotting the i’s, crossing the T’s but all the fundamentals are there and I’m really excited for the future of Formula 1. I think the new Concorde Agreement – I’m not even sure we’re calling it the Concorde – but to do that by deed pole, is going to bring a much healthier sport, more competitive sport and the biggest winners are going to be the fans and if we have a lot of happy fans around the world then that means a lot of happy promoters and happy sponsors and very healthy competitive racing teams.
CW: Yes, you’ve got the triple, you’ve got the three most historic teams in Formula 1 ready to sign the Concorde Agreement. Williams are in a position to do so as Mattia is. We’ve got some minor legal issues to resolve but we would be ready to sign it to meet the deadline. As Zak said, I think it’s fantastic for the sport, we can move forwards. We’ve got some great new regulations coming online for 2021 which is certainly going to level the playing field and make this sport… or give it a much brighter future which we’re really excited about.
Q: (Dieter Rencken – Racing Lines) Question to Claire to start off with, it’s all to do with the Concorde Agreement. Claire you said something about the Racing Point situation affecting the prize money and I would imagine here you were talking about the fact that a team could finish higher up the order than it normally would and therefore get more money. But is it not also true that in order to qualify for any prize money whatsoever, a team has to be a constructor and that is defined – and I’m reading from the Concorde – as a person who designs the listed parts as defined below for its cars, and also that it should only use those listed parts on its own cars. So could a case not be made that in terms of the verdict, that maybe the team against which the verdict went may not qualify for prize money at all this year?
And then the other question is to all three: could you see yourselves signing the Concorde without, say, Mercedes who seem to be trying to delay the process?
CW: If I understand Dieter’s question correctly, about prize fund money, I think, you do qualify, obviously, as a constructor for your prize fund money and it is important that we are quoting the definition of being a constructor. I don’t want to say a whole lot about it but I think it’s only right that teams should operate within the regulations that are laid out, they’re there for a very particular reason and it would put other teams at a disadvantage, teams like ours which rely heavily on the prize fund money, when we’re operating within the regulations, we feel very fairly or very rightly that the playing field should be fair for everybody and should be operating within those regulations in order to qualify for their prize fund.
Q: And Claire, would you be happy to sign the Concorde Agreement without Mercedes?
CW: As I said, Williams are ready to sign the Concorde Agreement and that’s our decision and we will be ready to do so next week.
ZB: Yeah, we’re ready to sign the Concorde. I believe that all ten teams that compete in Formula 1 today will be on the grid in ’21 so I’m not too worried about it, but McLaren’s committed to Formula 1 and I’m sure everyone else will come along whether they all sign at the same time or it’s staggered. I’m confident you’ll see all these ten teams on the grid next year.
MB: As I said, we are ready to sign so I think we will go for it. On the other side, I don’t know what will be Mercedes position; that’s up to them to decide. I hope they will sign, I think it will be great to have Mercedes with us next year and the followings. I think we are the only ones who have been there since the very start of Formula One, 70 years, so it’s true as well that some things sometimes are there and cannot be there, so at the end, I think Ferrari will be there, they have always been part of the history. We’ll be there in the future, we are fully committed and we will certainly sign.
Q: (Sandor Meszaros – Autosport es Formula Magazine) I think it’s fair to say that Andreas Seidl has contributed a lot to the re-vitalisation to McLaren since he joined last year. Would you be so kind as to summarise how delighted you are with him about his contribution, working methods and what’s he like as a team principal?
ZB: I’m extremely happy with Andreas. I’m not going to get up and dance! He’s done an outstanding job. I’ve known Andreas for some time, before he joined us in Formula 1. He’s exactly what we needed to provide leadership direction to our racing team. Of course, the racing team is made up for a bunch of great men and women so it’s not any one person that makes the car fast. The team enjoys working with him, he’s a no nonsense type of individual. We have a great relationship. I know what my role is, he knows what his role is and together I think we’re doing a good job getting the team back towards the front of field but we still have a long ways to go but very happy, extremely happy with the work that Andreas is doing.
Q: Mattia, the performance development division has allowed you to step back from the technical department; do you do that with a heavy heart after 25 years at Ferrari in the technical team and how hard is it going to be to resist getting involved?
MB: As you said, 25 years. Since the very start, I grow up, different roles. I think each time you jump into a new role, you need somehow to organise yourself to work so when last year I moved into the team principal role, we had to re-organise ourselves. I was technical director, I don’t think you change that in one day. It took some time but more than a year after, I can say that at least today we’ve got a technical department which is well organised with clear responsibilities, senior people leading it, now full responsibility but all the tools and my support to do it. I think having technical feedback, certainly, I will always be very curious and interested and certainly I will share with them the progress and the direction.