FIA Friday press conference - Spain
TEAM REPRESENTATIVES - Guenther STEINER (Haas), Otmar SZAFNAUER (Aston Martin), Franz TOST (AlphaTauri)
Q: Franz, you’ve been in the back-end of the points for the last couple of races. Are you satisfied with that or frustrated that you didn’t deliver more?
Franz Tost: I am upset. Because, especially the race in Portimão was not good for us. We struggled with the set-up because of the special conditions there, with the low grip level and with the wind and we couldn’t provide the drivers with the proper car and the race before, in Imola, we made a mistake with Pierre Gasly, sent him out with the wrong tyres at the start and this, of course, had a very bad influence to the race outcome. Yuki did quite a good job but unfortunately the second half of the race he had a spin where he lost some good positions. Therefore I hope that we reset everything in the proper way and that we are back here in Barcelona with both cars in the points.
Q: We’ll come to Yuki in a minute but how useful is it for you to be back at a track that you know well this weekend – in terms of it being a good benchmark for the team?
FT: Of course, Barcelona is now the first racetrack of this year where we really can evaluate the performance of the different teams and, if you are fast here in Barcelona, then I think you are competitive for the rest of the season. If you are struggling here, then you have to find solutions to catch up. Therefore this race here in Barcelona is very important for us.
Q: On car performance, Pierre said yesterday that slow corners are a weakness for you guys this year. If that’s the case, are you expecting a couple of tough races coming up in Monaco and Baku.
FT: Yeah, OK, Monaco is a completely different characteristic from the set-up of the car. All the cars will be much softer with maximum downforce. I hope that we can sort out this. Today we had, in the slow-speed corners, some smaller problems but I think we can get rid of it. Yuki had a bit too much understeer in slow-speed and mid-speed corners but no major problems, and Pierre was, with the Soft tyres, quite satisfied. With the Hard tyres, he said the car was a little bit too disconnected. The engineers are sitting out together to find out hopefully a proper set-up for FP2 and for the rest of the weekend.
Q: The last couple of races have been quite tough for Yuki. Why so? And what are your goals for him this weekend in Spain?
FT: The goal is, the goals are first of all that he can do as many laps as possible because a newcomer, also if he knows the racetrack quite well, needs to get familiar with the car and with everything at this track. I expect him to be close to Qualifying Three and, in the race, if everything runs well, if we find a proper set-up, he is able to score points.
Q: Otmar, tough race in Portugal for both of your drivers but what did you learn? What did the upgrades bring to performance on Lance’s car in particular?
Otmar Szafnauer: So, we had the upgrade just on Lance’s car and yeah, it was a tough race for us. Lance started 17th and didn’t quite get a good lap in, in Q1, so he didn’t get out of Q1. In the race he was a bit stronger than Seb and partly due to the fact he had the upgrade and Seb didn’t. We’ve got the upgrade here on both cars, so we look forward to evaluating him on both cars now.
Q: What does the upgrade bring in terms of performance. Where is the car better?
OS: Well, we focussed our entire efforts now on the downforce reduction that was introduced through the regulation change, so the upgrade is to claw some of that back.
Q: Looking at one positive from last weekend is that Seb appears to be getting a handle on things. Is that how you guys see it?
OS: Yeah. We always said it was going to take a bit of time and seat-time in our car and it’s proving to be the case. He did a great job in Q1 and Q2. He made a mistake in Q3, ended-up tenth and got a lot of seat-time in the race as well and it looks like in FP1 here, he’s continuing to get to grips with the car. He still wasn’t happy with the balance after the race. And as Seb says, “the speed of the car is one thing – but I’ve got to get the balance right and get comfortable in it and I’m still not quite there yet.” Hopefully this race will take another step towards that.
Q: Well, if he does take another step. What are the goals for this weekend – and does your performance at this track last year give you some confidence?
OS: Yeah, it’s a track that suits our car a little bit more than Portimão, for example, and if we do a good job between now and qualifying, having a chance to get both of them into Q3 would be beneficial and successful.
Q: Guenther, both drivers saw the chequered flag in Portugal, and Mick in particular had a great race, overtaking Nicholas Latifi. How much confidence will that performance give Mick?
Guenther Steiner: Difficult to say. I mean, this morning it was not good, very difficult session for us for both cars but, you know, I think Mick for sure was happy after the race in Portimão, with his performance. I think that is the best we can do at the moment and he got everything out of it.
Q: And was that his best performance of the year so far, for you guys?
GS: Yeah, I would say so. Absolutely. You know, he’s learning the car, he’s getting better and better accustomed to Formula 1 and I think hopefully it will continue, this understanding of Formula 1 and improving race to race.
Q: There was a little bit of a disagreement yesterday between your drivers about the car. Mick said that he’d made a step forward – the car had made a step forward – in Portugal, while Nikita disagreed with that, saying it hadn’t. What’s the story?
GS: I think I wasn’t here, so I want to hear that story as well, about the disagreement. I think Mick maybe can adapt more, or quicker to what the car is doing. I mean, we all know the car is not very good, and we always said that, so as much as my colleagues here are struggling, I wish I would have one of their cars. In the end, I think Nikita, we just need to try to get him a better balance as well. So the deficiencies of the car, to overcome them a little bit, the car is very unstable in turn-in and I guess Mick maybe can manage that one better and Nikita struggles a little bit more, because he wants the rear end, just to be confident that it sticks. So, it’s one of the things where we need to try to get Nikita into a better spot, that he feels more confident – because if he has no confidence in his cars, it’s very difficult to drive them, because, you know, the speeds you are going, it is not easy, so that is what you are trying to do.
Q: One of your cars beat a Williams last weekend. Is it realistic to think you can do that at most races?
GS: No. I mean, as long as we can take the fight to them, we are happy to be honest, you know. For sure we will try, I always said we will try to achieve something. You cannot come here and do all this work and not try to fight anything. For us, it was a good moment. Even if it is for little things we fight for, you need to keep on doing and improving. The drivers learn in a race like this for sure. Mick learned a lot about racing in Formula 1 because before we were always behind and just making laps basically – which helps as well – but if you start to fight, if you fight for more, at least you have done it in the back end.
Q: (Luke Smith – Autosport, via email) Franz, it’s for you. At the last F1 Commission meeting, AlphaTauri sided with Red Bull and Ferrari and opposed sporting penalties for procedural breaches of the Financial Regulations. Mattia Binotto said that Ferrari wanted more clarity on the rules before it could vote in favour. Could you outline and explain AlphaTauri’s position on this matter please?
FT: It’s quite clear. It is a change during the season and what we requested is simply a clarification. We wait now until the FIA will come up with this and then we will decide how to continue. I don’t want to go into details because, as you know, this is confidential contents – but AlphaTauri, as you know, is absolutely not against cost cap or against any amendments for the cost cap – but it has to be done in a proper way and we simply need to define in detail what the FIA wants with this and therefore we requested for this clarification.
Q: (Dieter Rencken – Racing Lines) To all three along the same sort of lines. Last week, just before the Portuguese Grand Prix, Zak Brown published a letter in which he suggested certain teams were voting in block with their engine suppliers or technical partners or whatever. Where do you three stand on this matter? All three of you are aligned in some way or other to another major team? Where do you stand in this regard please?
GS: I think we vote for the best of Haas F1 always. Obviously, when it goes in line with Ferrari, voting with them helps us, we vote that one. For us, the example is like the question asked before about the penalty, the sporting penalty for exceeding the budget cap, we voted for it. We are under no pressure. Obviously we speak with Ferrari all the time, we work with them – but we are not obliged to do what they say and building this racket basically. I think for us, most of the time, it is beneficial to vote with Ferrari, for obvious reasons but it isn’t always like this. We are still free to do what we do – but we do the best for Haas F1 – the majority of the time goes with what Ferrari is doing. That is our position on that one.
Q: Otmar please.
OS: Yeah, we too vote for what’s best for us. We consider everything that’s in front of us and we do what’s best for Aston Martin Cognizant F1 Team.
Q: And Franz please.
FT: We vote what’s in the favour of Scuderia AlphaTauri.
Q: (Scott Mitchell – The Race) It’s a question for Otmar please. Otmar, what’s the latest on the discussions you started with the FIA over the process to change the floor rules for 2021? Did you get the answers you were looking for and are you still seeking any kind of in-season change to address the consequences of that rule change?
OS: We had good discussions with the FIA to understand the process and how we got to where we got to. The discussions have almost come to an end. I think we made good process to have a better understanding of what transpired.
Q: (Christian Nimmervoll – motorsport.com) Following up on Scott’s question actually, Otmar, given it seems pretty unlikely that the outcome of this will be that the floor rules will be reverted back to what it was before, will you share your thoughts please on what, from your point of view, would be the desired outcome – and maybe Franz and Guenther, can they also share their thoughts on if they feel there was a flaw in the rule-making process that lead to this regulation? Thanks.
OS: Well, for us, what we have to do now is, like I said before, we have to work hard to make up the deficit that was introduced over the winter. We have a new package here on both cars that was introduced in Portimão – but Portimão, the nature of the circuit is a lot of low-speed corners, so we’ll be able to evaluate what we’ve done here and we have to work hard to bring even further upgrades later on in the year to get us back to the performance levels that we had last year.
Q: Franz, your thoughts please?
FT: We all know the process when a new regulation is coming in and this new floor regulation was fixed last year and was agreed by all the teams. It was sanctioned by the Formula 1 Commission and the World Motor Sport Council and therefore I don’t see any chance that this regulation can be in the short term changed. Then it is up to the teams to interpret the regulations the best possible way and get the most out of it.
GS: I think there is not a lot to add to what Franz said. The regulations they were changed, it was voted. I don’t know the detail of what was requested for and it wouldn’t make a lot of difference to us anyway.
OS: Just for the record, it wasn’t voted, it was done on safety grounds and it was unilateral.
FT: No, it was fixed. The Technical Working Group later…
OS: Three teams voted against the Technical Working Group but the Technical Working Group was an indicative vote. The Technical Working Group doesn’t have a right to vote anyway. It was just an indication, but then it was done on safety grounds anyway. That’s just for the record.
Q: (Dieter Rencken – Racing Lines) Guenther, I would could clarify exactly how the technical structure now works within Haas F1 as obviously you still have this year’s car which was a Dallara-designed and manufactured car and then you have next year’s car which is basically being done by the Ferrari satellite. How’s it working at the moment? I mean is the one doing work on the the other car and how do marry all this under the budget cap given you’ve got two totally separate operations running?
GS: Oh, there is a lot to answer here, because a few statements were not correct you made Dieter. The car is always designed by Haas F1; it was and it still is. It’s just from different people. We had our people last year… two years ago, sorry, not last year, as last year we stopped for quite a while, more people from Dallara and we replaced some of the people from Dallara with people from Ferrari and it’s not a satellite Ferrari team, we have got the Haas F1 structure but we still have an office at Dallara as well because we use about an average of 30 people from Dallara as well. Nothing has changed in the principle it’s just that instead of having some people from Dallara before, we got some people from Ferrari for the future. Not a lot has changed it’s just the exchange of where they are coming from.
Q: (Scott Mitchell – The Race) Otmar, I just wanted to clarify something you said there about the objection from the three teams in the indicative vote and then what the Technical Working Group did. Did Aston Martin object in the first instance to these rule changes?
OS: Yes, we did. We objected on the basis that they were more favourable to high rake cars actually and we objected to that and then proposed other regulations that would be more equal. The vote in the Technical Advisory Committee is just indicative and it was seven to three at the time.
Q: (Andrew Benson – BBC) Otmar, this is for you. You keep saying that these rule changes have more badly affected the low rake cars more than the high rake cars. How do you know that? You haven’t got a high rake car to compare and the statistics in terms of the way the teams have progressed from one year to the next don’t necessarily tally with that argument. So what’s you technical explanation for why that’s the case and how do you know?
OS: Well, we developed a high rake car for many, many years, since the high rake concept started with the blown floor and we were one of the only ones, actually the only one, to change from a high rake philosophy to a low rake. So we’ve got the ability internally, through both CFD and doing tunnel runs, as well as having the experience of both, to have a look at the changes and to be able to determine if it is more detrimental to one philosophy than the other, which is exactly what we brought up in August of last year and we were, I think, proven correct. And as for statistically not showing that, if you just look at the last race, without the pit stops for Mercedes, for example, I think Lewis was 34 seconds ahead of Max at last year’s Portimão and had they not had the pit stops at the end to try to get the fastest lap I think this year it was four seconds in it. So they lost 30 seconds in one race to a Red Bull. And we too. If you look at our times, where we finished, we too were about 30 seconds behind from where we were last year. Just look at the first three races. Look at both qualifying as well as race results.
Q: (Alan Baldwin – Reuters) Question for Guenther. With Mick clearly getting more out of the car and Nikita struggling a bit, I just wondered if Mick is taking on much more of a leadership role within the team? He’s clearly ahead. Is that putting more emphasis on what he gets out of the car and his set-ups and everything as far as Nikita is concerned?
GS: Surely we look at Mick to see why he’s getting more out and try to get Nikita up to the same speed. So the focus is actually more on Nikita, to get him up to speed, than on Mick. We just need to understand why he gets more out of the car, see how the car is set up. It’s too early to put up a leadership because the next thing is someone will say Mick is the number one and it’s not like that. It’s an equal status. Both have got the same car and that is what we will keep. We are only on race weekend four, not even race four yet, so I think to jump to all these conclusions is too early but for sure Mick is at the moment ahead but I’m pretty sure we can get Nikita there as well.
Q: (Christian Nimmervoll – motorsport.com) Question to all, please. Formula 1 is currently discussing a cap for driver salaries. What do you think would be a reasonable number for that?
FT: At the end that is up to the teams. I think it should not be more than around 30 million for both drivers but once more this is in discussion and it depends then always how much financial resources the different teams have and in which direction we will go.
OS: Yeah, I think the number that Franz mentioned was mentioned in the discussion, so in that region.
GS: I think we are in early discussions so I think there needs to be done a lot more work before we get to a number and how it is applied and all that stuff, so I don’t want to get to a number.
Q: (Chris Medland - Racer) Otmar, what was the other solution that Aston Martin proposed and what was the reason given, if there was one, as to why it was not accepted or looked into further?
OS: We proposed to not have the second changes made, because the changes came in succession, and we thought the first change that was applied was enough to slow the cars, so we suggested to just keep it there. But there were others suggestions that were proposed and not by us but early on and I’ll give you the example of reducing the rear wing size and that would have affected every body equally, but that wasn’t chosen.
Q: (Dieter Rencken – Racing Lines) Guenther, I would just like to follow up on something you said, please, just for clarity. The ex-Ferrari people as you call them. They are based in Maranello, I believe. Yes, I realise it is a completely sealed off area but are they concentrating only on the 2022 car or are they doing some work on the current car as well? And equally, is Dallara doing anything on next year’s car.
GS: Sorry, I forgot to answer that before, it was my fault Dieter. No, they are concentrating on the ’22 car. As I said plenty of times before, we abandoned the ’21 car. We did a little bit of work on reliability issues with the ’21 car but they are now getting to the end, so all the people in Maranello, because this is Haas people and Ferrari people, they are focusing ’22 and Dallara they switched over to ’22 and they do the odd job on the ’21 car if it is needed but not performance, just for issues if we have one.
Q: (Scott Mitchell – The Race) Otmar, when you raised these concerns more, in hindsight, could you have contested the point more? Is there anything you could have done at the time to challenge this instead of pursuing after the fact, now, when we are already into the season?
OS: I don’t think so. I think we pointed it out at the time and once the regulations were written in and accepted we worked hard at trying to claw back all of the downforce we lost.
TEAM PRINCIPALS - Frédéric VASSEUR (Alfa Romeo), Simon ROBERTS (Williams), Mario ISOLA (Pirelli)
Q: Fred, why don’t we start with you? Good to see Robert back in the car this morning for FP1. It didn’t end well but it would be interesting to hear what he said about the car?
Frédéric Vasseur: Yeah, well, for sure he was a bit too optimistic at the end of the session, but on the other hand he did a very good first stint. He was directly on to the pace, and it was good to have another feedback and a new push like this and we did the same last week with Callum and Callum also did a good job and it’s also a good approach.
Q: You mention last week. Start of the race: tell us about your reaction to what happened on lap one in Portimão?
FV: I was quite close to buying a dog for Kimi, or a stick! For sure, it’s a shame but the circumstances were like this and he had to make some changes on the steering wheel and he was more focused on the dash than on Antonio but it is what it is.
Q: What happens in that situation because Kimi told us yesterday that he didn’t stay around…?
FV: Ah, what’s happened is that when we went back after the race, Kimi was the first one to apologise and this could happen. For sure he didn’t do it on purpose.
Q: Was Antonio’s car carrying any damage at all?
FV: No, we were very scared about the puncture. He had a small damage on the floor on the rear of the car but it was not a big one.
Q: Let’s talk about car performance now. After the race Giovinazzi said 12th is about our level at the moment. Do you agree with him or is the pecking order is going to fluctuate from one race to the next?
FV: It’s so tight between P6 and P16 or P17 or P18 that at the end, from one week to the other one you can move from Q3 to the back of the grid. Even from quali to the race that you have big changes and for sure in that situation we have to do the perfect weekend, without any mistakes, to score points. To have a DNF in front would help for sure but it was not the case last week. But we have to be focused on our job and to avoid to do a small mistake as we did at the last couple events.
Q: How difficult is it to extract performance from this car, because there was a lot of optimism after testing, and yet it’s always been as Antonio says, P12?
FV: Yeah, but we did a huge step forward in terms of pure performance compared to last year. Last year in Barcelona we were something like 2.8% off in P1 and we are 1.5% this morning. It’s half the gap. Now, race specification is a different story. You have to be at the right place at the right moment, you have to avoid any mistake and perhaps we are struggling today to put everything together, but I’m not worried. As long as the pace is there it will pay off.
Q: Fred, Jan Monchaux said last weekend that Antonio has stepped up this year. Do you agree and just tell us a little bit about how Antonio has grown as a driver and his influence on the team now?
FV: It’s not easy to start alongside Kimi, for sure. Probably he struggled a little bit at the beginning, to find his own place, but now he’s getting more and more confident, he’s doing the job in qualifying and into the race he did a very strong performance last week, to finish I think it was four or five seconds behind Sainz and Pierre, for it’s a good result on our side. For sure, we were P12 and that’s not the goal at all but if we are able to finish all the races just behind Sainz, I think that we will score points.
Q: Simon, can we start by throwing it back to Portugal where it was a tough race for you guys? How much of a surprise was that?
Simon Roberts: It wasn’t such a surprise. We were, I guess, over-optimistic, having had such fantastic qualifying but the true pace of the car never really changed. We had a good start - George had a good start. If it hadn’t had been for the red flag – who knows? That was kind of the race pace, those conditions on that day… it was quite unique conditions in Portugal and you saw in Imola, two weeks before, it was the same car but it was much more competitive. I think we were disappointed because we were so optimistic but the reality is, when you look at the data, it was less of a surprise.
Q: Now both drivers have talked about the sensitive nature of the car; what are you guys doing to cure it? What can you do?
SR: Well, we’re doing everything we can. The challenge with these cars, with the combination of a lot of homologated components and then some mandated changes to the floor and rear brake ducts, the first thing we did which the guys at the factory and the girls at the factory, was recover as much performance as we could to try and make our car competitive. I think – and the data shows we have done that. The car is a better car than it was last year. The down side is that it’s more sensitive so occasionally that gets exposed, other times it doesn’t. It’s a combination of circumstances really.
Q: Let’s look at some positives now because we haven’t had you in the press conference since you guys had a great run – didn’t end well really in Imola but in terms of pace and qualifying, both cars through to Q2. That was a big step, especially for Nicholas, so can we talk about him? How’s he grown and evolved as a driver from last year to this?
SR: Yeah. Last year was his first season and everyone learns a lot in their first season but he’s come back into this year really super-positive, full of determination and super-fit and I think we can see that. Nothing revolutionary, just a really nice build on everything he’s been doing and all the support he gets, it all works, yeah, it’s really good to see.
Q: There have been a few job ads going around for Williams, especially in the aerodynamics department. Tell us a little bit about that; is it targeted at 2022?
SR: So it’s part of our transformation. The objective is to rebuild Williams back to a much, much better condition and there’s no silver bullet, there’s no quick wins. As you know, we operate underneath the cost cap so luckily, unlike other teams, we’ve got some flexibility and some headroom, so it’s part of a strategic plan and it’s just addressing things which we think will make a real difference going forward.
Q: Mario, thanks for waiting, we’ve been to three very different circuits so far this year. What have you learned about the new constructions and how they’re performing?
Mario Isola: I believe that the new construction is working as expected. We can use at a lower pressure, that was one of the targets, to have a more robust tyre. In terms of performance. It’s difficult to give you feedback because there are also changes on the cars that are obviously affecting the performance. I will say that only Portimão was a bit different compared to other races, probably because of the type of tarmac in Portimão, but for the rest, I would say that the result and the feedback is in line with our expectations. Now that the team have had the opportunity to balance the car to spend time on the set-up, which was not possible last year while testing, during free practice, they start to learn the new construction better and start the performance with the new construction.
Q: You’ve just said that Portimão wasn’t an outlier but Lewis said after the race in Portugal that he was able to push harder for longer. How much satisfaction does a comment like that give you?
MI: That was one of our targets when we decided to nominate C1, C2 and C3, knowing that, knowing as I said, the tarmac in Portugal is quite unique, with a very low micro-roughness and very low grip, which means that the cars are sliding but due to the track evolution during the weekend and probably the temperature that was a bit higher compared to the rest of the weekend, the hard compound was the key or the surprise of the race and Lewis was able to push, that is what the drivers are asking of us and it’s also what we addressing for next year with 18 inch tyres.
Q: You’ve brought the same tyres here to Spain; it’s a more abrasive circuit, so what can we expect to happen here?
MI: It’s a completely different circuit. We have also to take into account the new turn 10 because we know the sector three in Barcelona is the part of the circuit that is over-stressing the rear tyres with some sliding and overheating. With the new turn 10, I believe that the layout is going in the direction of helping the rear tyre a little bit, but it’s probably a two stop race, as it was last year, for the majority of the competitors. Then we see what happens during the weekend in terms of temperature. Last year we came in Barcelona in August, it was much warmer than our expectations for this weekend. There is also a very low chance of rain for Sunday. Probably it’s not going to rain but cooler conditions for Sunday and teams have to collect important elements during practice to define the strategy for the rest of the weekend.
Q: Mercedes were testing the 18 inch tyres at Imola after the race. What feedback did you get from the team and the drivers?
MI: We have positive feedback with the characteristics of the new tyres in line with the drivers’ expectations and with previous tests. It was very important to confirm, on different circuits and different cars and drivers that we get the same feedback for the new product. Don’t forget, we have to build one tyre for 20 different drivers and ten different teams so the tyre is the best compromise across all the teams and the confirmation from Mercedes on the best option that was also the best option for Ferrari, for Alpine, is a good starting point because now we have the possibility in Barcelona, after the race, to start focusing on compounds and then we want to develop a new family of compounds with completely different characteristics in order to reduce overheating… not having overheating is almost impossible but the target is reduce overheating and degradation and design a tyre that is in line with the target letter which was also written together with the drivers.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Andrew Benson – BBC) Simon, if I have interpreted the drivers correctly, they said that you’ve chased peak downforce this year with less concern for consistency and predictability. First of all, is that correct? Secondly, it’s quite an unconventional approach – teams normally prefer to go for consistency and predictability, because obviously conditions at tracks aren’t stable and drivers like consistency – so why did you do it? And thirdly, are you having second thoughts about that approach for the future?
SR: Yeah, that wasn’t the strategic approach. Our approach was simple. There were changes to the regulations and we were going to lose downforce and the team worked as hard as they could to recover that downforce. And I think we’re not the only team. Look up and down the pit lane under certain conditions and all the cars are more sensitive than they used to be last year. Our car may or may not be worse than others but it’s a consequence of the regulations and what we could within the homologated parts and the time available. It wasn’t a plan, it wouldn’t have been a great thing to do.
Q: (Julien Billiotte – AutoHebdo) Simon, it’s fair to assume that Williams will lose George Russell at the end of this season. What kind of profile are you targeting to make sure there is no big drop in performance on the driver front in 2022?
SR: Yeah, we haven’t thought too much about that yet. George is with us all year and that’s what we’re looking for, but going forward, you know, it’s a new era for the team and we’re going to be looking for performance and performance comes in drivers as well as what we can with the car so yeah, that’s all I can say really.
Q: (Dieter Rencken – Racing Lines) To the two team principals: Zak Brown last week published a letter in which he implied that certain teams were voting in line with their major engine suppliers or technical partners or whatever. The two team principals present both have major teams as suppliers. Do you actually vote on what’s good for yourselves or do you vote for what’s good for your major supplier?
FV: For sure on the engine side it’s quite clear that we are aligned with our engine supplier. For the chassis and all the other decisions regarding the chassis or the sporting regulations we all have our own approach and very often we are not aligned with the engine supplier. SR: Yeah, similar. On the engine, we obviously support Mercedes but we look after our own interests, first and foremost on everything else.
Q: (Julien Billiotte – AutoHebdo) Fred, how much of contender is Calum Ilott for an Alfa Romeo race seat in 2022?
FV: Guys, we did three races in 2021! We will see in the course of the season, he will do some other FP1s and then we will decide for the drivers but as we did in the past, we are used to taking the decisions by the last quarter of the season and we won’t do it before.
Q: (Sandor Meszaros – Autosport Es Formula) Simon, this is Roy Nissany’s second year with the team and he was in the car in FP1. Can you please tell us how he has progressed since last year, how much of his technical understanding is getting better and better?
SR: Yeah, so it’s always great when we’ve got Roy with us in the garage. He’s a bundle of energy and always very positive. He did a great job again in FP1. I think the conditions were very difficult when he first went out, the track was green and he was on the prime tyre but at the end of that session he was very consistent, he worked his way through our programme and did absolutely everything we could have asked for. The consistency was there, his understanding of the car is growing as you say, but we have given him time on the simulator so yeah, he does a great job, we’re very, very pleased.
Q: (Dieter Rencken – Racing Lines) Fred, when I had a look at the car sales for Alfa, which is something like 50,000 units for the year. Can they really afford to be in Formula 1, particularly given the new structure with Stellantis and the new CEO etc? Are you expecting to keep them for next year or could we see a change back to Sauber from 2022 onwards?
FV: You have to ask the question to Alfa Romeo first but we are in discussions for the future and I think that the brand and the name Alfa Romeo is an iconic one, it’s an important name also for the group and the history of the brand is directly linked to F1 and I hope that we will be able to continue together.