FIA Friday press conference - Azerbaijan
Guenther STEINER (Haas), Franz TOST (AlphaTauri), Otmar SZAFNAUER (Aston Martin)
Q: Franz, can we start with you please. Yuki told us yesterday about his move to Italy that’s taken place since the Monaco Grand Prix. It sounds like you’re a hard taskmaster but why is it important for him to make the move to be closer to the team?
Franz Tost: You know it’s a gift to go from England to Italy. Beautiful weather, fantastic kitchen, nice people and, apart from this, he has the possibility to work close together with the team, with the engineers because he still has to learn a lot and, he always wanted to come to Italy, but during the winter months it was decided he should stay in England and now he is in Italy, he’s living there and he enjoys it and we are happy to have him close to us because then we have everything better under control.
Q: Can you tell us a little bit about what you have planned for him? What’s his daily routine? How much contact does he have with the engineer?
FT: The daily routine is quite easy. He has to be in the gym at around 9:00 until 9:30-10:00, then from 10:30-11:30-12:00 he is together with the engineers, then in the early afternoon he has an English lesson then once more together with the engineers and then he’s allowed to go once more into the gym for another two hours. And then he should go to sleep. Easy.
Q: And who devised this programme for him? Was it you?
Q: Now Franz, it’s another new circuit for him here and these two street circuits in a row: Monaco and now Baku. It means it's a tricky part of the season for him. Can you just sum-up how it’s been going these past couple of races?
FT: We must not forget the last races were really not so easy for him. He had never been in Portimão, he has not been in Monaco and this is the first time here in Baku. The level in Formula 1 is really very high and you have to get everything together to be in the front part of the midfield. I must say, also in Monaco, the first practice session, he did a really good job. He was not far away from Pierre. Unfortunately in the second free practice he pushed a little bit too hard and ended in the wall – but it’s part of the learning process. You cannot expect that the newcomer at these tracks does not make any mistakes. We can see even the experienced drivers struggle in some corners. And so far, his learning process is going onwards, and his learning curve also is a good upgrade. We have to support him now. This is also the reason we told him to come to Italy, to work more with the engineers, to analyse more the data, just to come up to speed – especially on brakes, which he doesn’t know – as fast as possible. Also, this morning session was OK for him. He had once locking fronts, I think it was a technical reason, we have to sort this out. The rest was fine. I think in the second free practice, he will improve his performance and hopefully he will not have a crash, or something like this – because important for him is to do laps. Every lap will increase his experience, and then I am quite optimistic for the qualifying and the race because the car seems competitive and we simply have to work with a newcomer. It’s not only Yuki, it’s generally when you get a newcomer more than with an experienced driver, and this is what Scuderia AlphaTauri will do and therefore I’m still convinced Yuki will have a successful season.
Q: Guenther, on the topic of mentoring drivers, Nikita spoke yesterday about some advice you gave him that helped his performance in Monaco. Could you just tell us a little bit about that discussion – and was the improvement for him race-specific or do you expect it to continue on?
Guenther Steiner: There is not one specific thing, he cannot sort these things out in one session. We talked since the beginning of the season and I just tried to give him confidence – though I’m getting worried now after all that Franz said about how good it is in Italy for rookies, that they now don’t want to move to Italy. So, Franz, you have to welcome them as well if they want to go now if it is so beautiful but…
FT: You should know, you are from Italy!
GS: I know it – but I don’t tell the drivers where to go. So, no, seriously, it’s just he needs to grow his confidence, that he did a good job again today, until a few minutes to go in the session. I think the last minutes in the session are somehow the most difficult ones for us after Mick had it in FP3 in Monte Carlo and Nikita in FP1. As Franz assessed, it’s very competitive. We are not looking for the front of the midfield, we are just trying to train the drivers as much as we can. What our two have got as well – and we knew this, this is not a surprise – they have no reference. Their reference is their team-mate, which is a rookie as well, so it’s very difficult. It makes it much more challenging to learn things. I think they just need to get in the weekend and just have the confidence that they can improve and not just looking at times to say ‘I’m good or I’m bad’. There is more than a time. There is ‘how much did I learn?’ ‘how much progress did I make?’ There’s a lot to be learned. And the learning will continue. We knew this going into this season and in the moment it is working out as we saw it coming. I’m not unhappy. Obviously I would like to replace crashes but we will deal with that one anyway we have to. There is no other way to do it but in general they’re making progress, it is getting better, everything calms down so, for me, those are the positive sides of it.
Q: But were you surprised by the step forward that Nikita took in Monaco – and at Monaco of all places? Such a difficult track.
GS: I wasn’t surprised because it will come. At some stage, there will be a step, and where it is, I cannot define, but I knew it was coming, that he will make progress. He was pretty good in F2. He won races in F2, so why would he not make that step? Like everything else in Formula 1, how much time have you got? Like in every top sport, you don’t have endless time to do this. It was good that it came in Monaco and again this morning he did a good job as well. Hopefully we just can build on this, what happened in Monaco. But you know it’s an up-and-down. There will be races where we are down again until we stabilise ourselves. To be honest, I knew it was coming. If it was Monaco… maybe just circumstances.
Q: Otmar, onto you, can I continue the theme. Obviously Lance isn’t a rookie but do you see Sebastian taking on the mentoring role within your team?
Otmar Szafnauer: Lance isn’t a rookie, he’s been with us for a while now and there’s a good dynamic between Lance and Sebastian. Sebastian does have more experience and the way we go about debriefs now has changed a bit. Sebastian has expanded the way we do things, not just Lance but the entire team have embraced that.
Q: And can we throw it back to that great result for you guys in Monaco. P5, P8, it was a good reward after a tough start to the season. Just how much satisfaction did it give you personally, and how much of a lift has it given everyone in the team?
OS: You know Monaco’s a special place and it’s a bit of a one-off. We will continue to build on what we had in Monaco. It lifted the team, it showed that, in a place like that, we did a good job. Pitstops worked well, our strategy was pretty good and we had decent qualifying – so, if we can continue to do that in other places, long may it continue that we have both cars in the points.
Q: Do you think it will transfer here – because Monaco is a bit of an outlier isn’t it?
OS: It’s early days here. We had a good first session. We still haven’t run the softest of the compounds. We’ll do that in FP2. There’s still a lot to learn and some homework to do tonight to get ready for tomorrow.
Q: And was Monaco proof that Seb is now fully up to speed?
OS: Well, Seb’s getting more comfortable. In Monaco, if you’re not comfortable in the car then it’s hard to extract all the performance out of it. He did feel more comfortable in the car in Monaco and did a good job, both in the race and in qualifying. Is he 100 per cent? I don’t think he's quite there yet – but very close.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Dieter Rencken – Racing Lines) Good afternoon gentlemen. When we look at the budget cap it was introduced in order to level the playing field yet we have all these controversies about flexible wings and whatever else. Surely the budget cap actually regulates these sorts of things through limits on cost control? Would you prefer to see regulation via cost-control rather than strict regulations?
OS: I think there needs to be a combination Dieter. I personally would lean towards having regulation by cost-control so the smarter teams, not the richer teams also have a good chance – but you need technical regulations and sporting regulations as well. So, it’s got to be a combination.
FT: You need strict sporting regulations and a cost-cap regulation. You need both if you are in Formula 1 because otherwise there are always loopholes.
GS: Yeah, I would say the same. We need technical regulations which need to be followed and then the cost-cap comes in, I wouldn’t say at the end, but with it, you know? It needs to be really clear what you can and cannot do, and if there are loopholes, like it seems to be on this rear wing, they need to be closed and we need to move on. But we need technical regulations and the cost-cap is then there anyway.
Q: (Christian Nimmervoll – motorsport.com) This one is for Franz, following up on Yuki moving to Faenza. Franz, I believe you have an apartment in the city centre and Dr Marko says he’s going to be under your personal supervision. So does that mean Yuki is moving into even the same building? How close are you going to be? And if he works hard enough in the team, as you said before, are you going to invite him for your famous Marillenknödel?
FT: For the Marillenknödel, ooh he must work a little bit harder and have more success before he gets the Marillenknödel yeah? Must wait a little bit. Maybe this is something for next season? No, we are not living in the same apartment, it’s enough if he sees me in the factory. It’s not the most important – what’s important is the cooperation with the engineers and with the trainers – because they do most of the work and so far everything works well, Yuki is happy. How everything will come to and end, we will then see.
Q: Thank you Franz. We’ve spoken a lot about Yuki. Let’s talk briefly about Pierre. Great race for him in Monaco, P6. Why did it all come together for him there? Do you think it was something of a breakthrough for him in the team?
FT: Pierre was from the very beginning onwards very competitive. If you remember, he was on the fifth position in Bahrain on the qualifying, then in the race he had unfortunately the collision with Ricciardo, if I remember right, he lost the front wing – but he was always there. When we struggled, there were technical reasons behind, that we couldn't get correct set-up to the car, either from the tyres or the aero side, and then, of course, he couldn’t show the performance. In all the races, Pierre showed fantastic performance, also in Monaco, and the reason why he couldn’t finishing on the fifth position was because we had problems to heat up the tyres, the Hard tyres in time, and he lost a little bit too much on his out-lap and therefore Vettel and also the others could overtake him – but from his performance, I must say he is really, really doing a good job.
Q: (Andrew Benson – BBC) What’s your position on the way the FIA has handled the flexible wing controversy and how do you feel about them having declared that some cars have wings that go beyond the regulations in their view, but those wings are not yet illegal and that some teams are being allowed to run them this weekend?
GS: I think the FIA has handled it in a very fair way. There was a loophole and they didn’t know about it. They found out that there was a loophole, it was detected or they were made aware of it. Like a lot of these things, how they happen is the FIA is made aware of it because the teams monitor each other all the time anyway and then they reacted and gave it a little bit of time to fix the problem. I’m not talking for the FIA here now, by no means, but to fix a rear wing, if you give not enough time, it could be a safety aspect involved as well. I think with the timeline involved, we need to fix it. There was a loophole. Some people used it and some didn’t and it will be fixed in the near future.
FT: The FIA handled everything in the correct way, because you have to give the teams a little bit of a timeframe. The rear wing is not such an easy thing, because you have to make new calculations, it takes time, then you have to fabricate the new wing and then you have to do a test by yourself and this takes time and therefore I think the FIA made everything correct.
OS: I would have preferred us not to have flexi-wings here, as this is the circuit that it has the biggest impact upon. It’s good that the FIA have acted. It could have been earlier. In my opinion I would have preferred earlier, but better late than never.
Q: Guenther, coming back to you. In 2017 and 2018 this race ranked number one for on-track overtakes. Does that potential for jeopardy provide an opportunity for you or does it fill you with fear?
GS: Ha! I don’t think we have a lot of possibility to overtake people, you know. I mean, it’s no fear as well. We know where we are. I think in general for racing it’s good if there is a lot of overtaking. It’s good after Monte Carlo where there was very little overtaking. But for us as a team it will have very little influence.
Q: (Christian Nimmervoll – motorsport.com) Seb had a very positive weekend in Monaco but at the same time he was very close to failing to make into Q2. Was this a weekend that was a bit on the lucky side or were there actual signs of a performance improvement and if there were could you bit of flesh to the bone in terms of what Seb found?
OS: I think the Q2 issues is that Seb wanted to save an extra set of tyres. He was confident he could make it in. You’re right, it was close, and as it turned out the extra set of tyres helped him get into Q3. Yeah, Seb is getting more comfortable in the car and as I said before, if you are not comfortable in the car in Monaco it can be disastrous. He did a really good job. He felt comfortable in the car and we hope the same will happen here this weekend.
Q: (Chris Medland - Racer) Otmar, Monaco was a strong result for the team but looking at the Constructors’ Championship there is a big gap to Ferrari and McLaren specifically, so it looks even at this stage you will be fighting for P5. Is that how you see it and that does that change maybe how you approach 2022? Or with so far to go in the season are you still trying to target those two teams in front of you?
OS: Well, I see the gap exactly like you do. There is a bigger gap to the teams in front than to the team’s behind and we have to do a good job for the rest of the season, bring some more upgrades, understand the car better, get the drivers even more comfortable and fight as hard as we can to finish as high as possible in the midfield. It won’t be easy, even for fifth, but we will do the best we can.
Q: (Dieter Rencken – Racing Lines) Otmar with next year’s technology change etc and also the fact that you have a bigger budget than at any time in the past, or certainly the recent past, how is your facility and also your manpower upgrade and recruitment process going?
OS: We’ve added significantly the amount of people we have since we were Force India. The new factory is on track, we have started building already, and it’s a big, big programme to recruit even further. We are at about 535 people now and we will get to about the region of 800 or whatever the right size is under the cost cap and we are strategically working on that now and trying to recruit likeminded individuals that want to come work for Aston Martin Racing and go racing at the highest level. The recruitment process is going well.
Q: (Chris Medland - Racer) Guenther, I just wondered if you were paying attention to how Pietro got on at Indy last weekend and do you look at how your reserve drivers perform outside of F1 and then maybe what they might be able to do in an F1 car if needed?
GS: Yeah, I for sure look at the 500 and this year we were not racing so that’s what I did on Sunday and I think Pietro did a very good job in qualifying – qualifying 13th for the 500 on a one-off is pretty good. In the race, it didn’t go his way. He was out of sequence with the yellow and then he did a fuel strategy that obviously didn’t work out. But I think he did a good job. Obviously I watch him, what he’s doing outside, I interact with him, he doesn’t live so far from me and I mean he is doing one more race in Indycar this year and we will keep watching him. But if I look into it to see how he would do in an F1 car? With this I don’t need to, he did it already last year in Bahrain and in Abu Dhabi we put him in the car and he did a good job, but it’s always interesting if these guys go Indycar racing, especially the 500.
Q: (Sandor Meszaros – Autósport és Formula) Franz, at the time when you made the decision to promote Yuki to the race team, did you expect that working with him would be complicated?
FT: It’s not so complicated. It’s the usual way you have to work with newcomers in Formula 1. Yuki shows a fantastic natural speed. Once more, as I said before, coming to a new race track with this high level which is currently in Formula 1 being shown from all the drivers it’s not so easy to be in the first 10 or qualifying three. But I am convinced that Yuki will show us some fantastic races this year and I am also quite sure he will learn very fast. The question is not how much work, the question is how fast we can bring him forward, how fast he is adapting everything and how fast he can transfer this to the cockpit and the driving and so far I must say he is really, really doing a fantastic job. We all have now the incidents in mind, for example in Imola, yeah, but we forget that in sector one and sector two he had green sector times, he was so fast. Of course when you are so fat the risk is higher that you crash. But he is learning out of this, hopefully at least, and therefore you will see on race tracks that he knows that he will show a fantastic performance.
Q: (Dieter Rencken – Racing Lines) A question for Guenther. Guenther, during the recent Q1 investor call, Stefano Domenicali mentioned that he was hopeful of an American driver in the near future. Now, you, as an American-based team or American-owned team, have you been working together with Formula 1 about an American driver?
GS: Yeah, there is always… Formula 1 would like an American driver and we would like an American driver, but at the moment... Obviously we are looking into it, but there is one thing out there, which is a Super Licence, which not many have got at the moment, and then it needs to be a talent. Then the American drivers they all get a good job in America. For sure, we are always looking and I speak with Stefano about it – what could be done and what couldn’t be done and we try to make a plan for the future. I think it needs to be something not immediate but short you cannot do anything to get someone in because of the Super Licence. It will come. We just need to be patient at some stage. There are a few guys in Formula 2, in Formula 3, sorry, which look promising and let’s see what can be done.
Q: Guenther, have you had any conversations with Colton Herta?
GS: No, I never spoke with Colton but we all know he has no Super Licence.
Frédéric VASSEUR (Alfa Romeo), Simon ROBERTS (Williams), Mario ISOLA (Pirelli)
Q: Fred, can we start with you. Great race for you in Monaco last time out with Antonio getting a point. Are you confident that pace can translate to here in Baku?
Frédéric Vasseur: I am not so confident. I think the layout of the track is not the best one for us. We are doing a step forward over the last couple of weekends and we are always there. But we all know that Baku is one of the most chaotic races of the season and it means we have to do a good job, a strong job, from the beginning to the end, and to be there at the end, and probably we will have the opportunity to score points at the end of the weekend.
Q: So you see the jeopardy as an opportunity for Alfa Romeo?
FV: Sure. It’s always an opportunity. If it’s not an opportunity we have to stay at home!
Q: Can we talk about the strengths of the car? It is a great step forward from last year. Now you’re five races in and you’ve learned a lot about it, tell us more about it?
FV: It’s quite clear that we made a good step forward on the PU side and it’s the same for Ferrari, and for sure it’s helping a lot. On the global aero package we are still there. Last year we also had a decent level. We improved a lot during the season last year to finish always in the mid-group of Q2 at the last four or five events and we started from there. But with the support of the engine now we are almost always in Q2 and it’s a good step forward.
Q: Antonio has taken a good step forward too. If I had told you pre-season that he would outqualify Kimi four to one in the opening five races, what would have been your reaction?
FV: I’m not Madame Irma so I don’t know but honestly I think it was already the case a little bit at the end of last year. But for me he improved probably more in the race management than in the quali pace. That quali pace was already there in the second part of last season and now he’s also able to do a very good management during the race and to have strong race pace.
Q: Mario, you’ve gone softer on the compounds in Baku compared to 2019. Can you tell us a little about what you learned in FP1 and how it will impact the race?
Mario Isola: Yeah, we decided to go softer because analysing the race in 2019, the hard was not used. It was used only in P1, mainly at the beginning of the session and then teams focused on the medium and the soft. That is why we decided to give an extra chance in terms of different strategies by selecting the C3, C4 and C5, that is one step softer. I can imagine that a one-stop race is still possible using hard and medium or hard and soft. It is probably marginal if they consider a strategy of medium and soft in terms of wear. This morning, as predicted, we had a big, big, track evolution. If I look back at other races here in Baku we always have a lot of track evolution and therefore it is difficult to assess the delta lap time from first practice. I hope we have better data in the afternoon. The wind is another important element to consider because we know how these cars are sensitive to the wind and the wind is probably making their life a bit more difficult in finding reliable data from P2.
Q: It’s been a busy time for Pirelli since Monaco, because you’ve been testing your 2022 wet weather tyres at Paul Ricard with Ferrari. How did it go?
MI: It was a very good test on a different circuit. Obviously in Jerez it was difficult to have the right level of water on track, so it was a good test for intermediate tyres but we didn’t reach the right level for the wet tyres. In Paul Ricard it was possible to have two days testing with all the conditions and also to better understand the crossover. I believe that we have a good tyre, talking about the intermediate. It’s still a work in progress for the wet because, as I said, the first session was not really representative for the wet tyre. I’m confident that in the next session that is planned in September at Magny Cours we can finalise the product for the slick tyre we spoke of last time we saw (each other) and it is still good and the planning has gone as predicted. We have three sessions scheduled in Spielberg, Silverstone and Budapest, so we will finalise the new compounds in these three sessions.
Q: Simon coming to you now, Mario touched on the windy conditions there. Given that both drivers have told us this year the car is very sensitive to wind, how nervous do these conditions make you?
Simon Roberts: Interesting, because today neither driver really commented on the wind affecting the car, so I’m wondering if we’re just getting used to it and for everybody else beginning to get into that space. Yeah, it wasn’t really a feature for us. The wind yesterday was amazing and luckily we’re not in that but yeah, today was not any issues so far.
Q: Well, what about progress with the car? Do you think you’re going to be a little bit more competitive here than you were in Monaco last time out?
SR: I’d hope so. We’re working to our programme and it is about getting the tyres to work and as Mario said, we’ve got different choices here than last year so that’s all new for us and then we just tune in the aero package on the car and making sure we give the drivers something they can be competitive with.
Q: And we’ve already heard from Fred about Antonio Giovinazzi’s progress since last year; I wanted to ask you about Nicholas Latifi. He seems to have made great strides as well. In what areas do you feel he’s made the most progress since last season?
SR: We think he’s matured a lot over the winter. Obviously it’s his second year in the car and I think that’s the main difference, so he now joins us at a race weekend absolutely knowing what’s going to happen, how we’re working with him and vice versa: we know how he’s going to work with us and I think that gives him confidence early on in the day, through FP1 and FP2 and it allows us to build to a better place. But yeah, we’re really pleased with the progress he’s made and just looking forward to continuing that through this season.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Sandor Meszaros – Autósport és Formula) Mario, a few days ago in an interview, David Coulthard criticised Pirelli. He said that this era is pretty boring for him because the drivers complain too much because they have to avoid pushing hard enough on these tyres. Have you got any comment on this statement?
MI: Yeah. I spoke to David and I have to say that he was not criticising Pirelli but he’s obviously… he likes the tyre war era, he likes to have a competition in Formula 1 that is not only for engines, cars but in his opinion is also about tyres. He doesn’t like the current system, where we have tyres with some degradation that, as you know, they are designed to have this level of degradation. It is and it will be a different story next year when we’ve been requested to design the new 18-inch tyres with different characteristics: less overheating, less degradation. He was just expressing his opinion about the current regulations and the current system and I fully understand because he is a driver that used to drive more than 10 years ago when it was a completely different situation. We know that with the current cars which are very fast, even if much heavier compared to the past, you put a lot of stress on the tyres, this generates degradation and also when you follow another car you lose downforce and it is an additional element so we are working together with the FIA and F1 in order to have a different situation for next year. I’m sure that if you don’t lose downforce, when you follow another car, and with tyres that are designed with different characteristics we can achieve the target.
Q: (Dieter Rencken – Racing Lines) To the two team principals: in this period of financial regulations, do we actually need very stringent technical regulations of the type that bans flexi-wings? How do you feel about that?
FV: So far for us it is not an issue because we are below the cost cap. It means it’s more an issue on the budget side but it’s not an issue on the cost cap. But for sure, for the future, we need to be able to predict what could be cost and expenses during the season and it means that we need to have something consistent, even if we have to keep some margin for emergencies but for sure it will be a key point into the performance, the budget management in the future.
SR: Yeah, like Fred, currently we’re operating under the cost cap. We’re focusing on making sure we are fully compliant with that going forward, because it’s not just about the level, it’s about how you document everything and how you go racing. In terms of the rules, we’re just looking for fairness and consistency so nothing more than that.
Q: (Scott Mitchell – The Race) Mario, you mentioned the impact on the weight of F1 cars briefly. I was just wondering if you could explain a little bit how much the weight of the cars has pushed Pirelli to the limit, in terms of tyre technology and what the tyres can actually withstand, because I think next year, the 2022 cars are going to be almost a hundred kilos heavier than the first hybrids. The cars are also going to be quite considerably heavier than the first set of cars that Pirelli would have been designing tyres for back when it first got this contract.
MI: This is true, it is not only the weight of the car that is stressing the tyre, it’s the level of downforce, the speed. There are many parameters that we have to consider and obviously we are designing tyres for next year, keeping in mind all these numbers and also asking the teams that are providing mule cars, to give us cars that are representative of next year’s cars, even if they are mule cars but the weight is the same that is in the regulations for 2022, weight distribution, level of downforce also. We are designing tyres with these characteristics in mind. Obviously they are different compared to the past but that’s our job.
Q: (Luke Smith – Autosport) Simon, George Russell’s performances have won him huge amounts of praise throughout his time at Williams, both on and off track. Do you feel he’s grown into a leadership role at Williams and how much has helped bring the team forwards?
SR: Yeah, it’s been great having George in the team and he has grown and continues to grow. He’s still relatively young in his career and we just want to make sure we give him the best possible experience and help with his ongoing performance going forward.
Q: On the subject of his off-track leadership role, does he get involved in some of the bigger decisions back at Grove or is he very much a racing driver?
SR: So, we’re always talking to the drivers about the direction of the car. They spend a lot of time in the simulator. George is very active in that programme and it’s part of that whole decision-making process so with his team of engineers in particular, they will set direction in terms of making the car better and we try and weave that into the programme we’ve got running forward but this year is different, the car is very carry-over, we’re fairly limited on what we can do so I think going forward into 2022 and beyond it’s all going to open up again and driver feedback and driver involvement will come into play much more.
Q: (Dieter Rencken – Racing Lines) Mario, if I understood you correctly just now you said that the tyre characteristics for next year will change. That implies that you have a different set of targets or target letter. Could you just elaborate on that please?
MI: Yeah, the new target letter is just stating that we have to design a tyre with less degradation. The numbers of degradation are in the target letter, the data lap time is defined in the target letter. We have to focus on compounds with a wider working range and to reduce the overheating. These are the main parameters that are interesting to know that there are some other technical characteristics but mainly this is a summary or what we agreed. Obviously the degradation cannot be zero for all the compounds because otherwise there is no reason to have strategies with more than one stop or using different compounds so we have to look at those targets and try to design compounds with these characteristics. What I can tell you is that during our tyre development tests, we obviously measure the degradation and we ask the drivers to push each lap, to simulate what will happen next year and the results are very promising. Then next year we will have different cars and we have to validate the results on the new cars but the results so far are promising.
Q: (Andrew Benson – BBC Sport) Mario, just to follow on from that, you’ve been using the word promising quite a lot when you’re talking about these tests but just to be specific about it for a moment, from the test, you did sound like you were very close to finalising at least some aspects of the build of next year’s tyres. From what the drivers have experienced so far, have you been able to produce a tyre that they are able to push for long periods of times, multiples of laps, on the limit, without suffering thermal sensitivity and overheating issues that have been characteristic of the tyres for the last few years?
MI: I’m using the word promising just because the development is still ongoing and we haven’t finalised the product for next year yet but the numbers that we collect from test sessions are in line with the target letter. That is why… we saw some others in which we can improve and we are working around that. Obviously we have to design five compounds to race on 23 different circuits so we need to collect more data in different circuits with different cars to be one hundred per cent sure that we are on the target. How can we produce tyres with these characteristics? We had to completely change the approach. We have to redesign the compounds and we are talking about introducing a new family of compounds with different ingredients and also in terms of construction, we have designed a construction with some characteristics that are going in the direction of reducing degradation and overheating. If we want to say that the overheating or the thermal sensitivity will be zero, I tell you that that is impossible from a physical point of view so forget the possibility to have a tyre with zero overheating or zero degradation that in any case is not in the target but we can heavily reduce it and the challenge for us is to produce a tyre with these characteristics.
Q: (Scott Mitchell – The Race) Another one for Mario: obviously the testing is being conducted with the mule cars and there are obviously estimations that you can make about what the cars are going to produce performance-wise next year, but presumably those first days of pre-season testing with the real 2022 cars next year are going to be really important to work out what the tyres are doing in reality, so with that in mind, how much potential is there for a significant shift, I suppose, in the characteristics of the cars on the 2022 tyres, and what sort of flexibility do you at the start of next year to adjust the tyre compounds and specifications as necessary?
MI: Talking about the mule cars, as I said, because now the technical regulations is available, teams have the possibility to prepare some simulations and we did simulations also to prepare mule cars that are representative for next year. It is true what you say, we cannot have a final feedback until the pre-season tests next year, for sure, and in any case, when we start the season next year, there is no plan to – once the tyre are frozen and this is what the regulations state – we cannot change the tyre unless there is a specific reason that we have to agree with the teams and with the FIA, so there is no plan to review the compounds during the season. Obviously all the data collected next year with the real cars will be useful for us to upgrade the product for 2023 but there is no plan to do that during the season.