FIA Team Principals press conference - Emilia Romagna
TEAM REPRESENTATIVES: Franz TOST (AlphaTauri), Mario ISOLA (Pirelli), Mattia BINOTTO (Ferrari)
Q: Mattia, let’s talk all things Ferrari first of all. Let’s start off-track and just talk a little bit about Carlos Sainz. Why two more years with Carlos?
Mattia BINOTTO: Why two more years? I think because, at first, we are very happy with him: the way that he has integrated into the team; the way that he's performing. And I think simply that he is matching the expectations. And after that, we start this experience with him, I think we are very, very happy and it was the right moment to look ahead, to look further and I think that by renewing and extending is like giving the right stability to the team as well. We know that our drivers are confirmed to the end of 2024, and we can build on it. I think, as Ferrari, we are really… our main objective is try to really create the foundation for the future. And together with that line-up, I think it's the best we can do.
Q: Focusing on track now, Carlos seems to be having a harder time than Charles, getting used to this car. Can you tell us a little bit about what his issues are?
MB: I don't think that there are issues. Certainly, he needs to adapt by seeing that he has done a couple of mistakes, which are important. But nevertheless, I think that he is improving himself, he is going faster and faster. And if I look yesterday, when he was driving, he was really driving fast. A shame because when he went off, I think it was not the right time to push to the limits. He knows very well. I think that's a matter of managing the pressure. It’s maybe the first time in his career that he's got a car which is fast enough to compete for the best positions, and he simply need to get used to that – but he will do it very quickly, because I know how smart and how capable he is to manage the pressure.
Q: And can we talk now about bouncing – porpoising. You appear to have the same issues as many other teams – yet you're still extremely quick. Explain to us how that's possible.
MB: I don’t know how that’s possible. I don't know why the others are not as quick as we are on porpoising. But it's true that we are still suffering it, since the very start of the winter testing. We put some actions on the car try to mitigate but it's not yet addressed and solved. And it's always a compromise between trying to solve it and give up some performance, while maybe in the meantime, you expect to have some porpoising and get the best of your car. So, we are anyway certainly trying to develop the car in order to address it definitively – because it's not the best ideal situation, certainly for a driver to drive and to attack corners without getting there in braking with such porpoising. We are aware. It’s, we believe, a potential of development, or a potential of performance to get. Why the others are suffering more than us, I don't know if it’s true or not. I don't know. Is it down to the porpoising or not? I don't know.
Q: You're racing at home. You're leading both World Championships. It's been a while since you've been in that position. Just how good does it feel?
MB: It's certainly feels good. But we are, as well, very aware that it's still a long way. We have had a good start to the season: myself, I said at the launch and reveal of our car that it will take at least five races to have a final assessment of the true potential of the cars. So I think it's still too early to have a final judgement on the competitiveness of the cars today. I think still maybe in Barcelona, we have a better picture. Certainly, some cars and teams will try to address their issues and try to develop further, as we will. So I think it's only by then that we can understand how good is really our package for the season. So, so far happy to lead certainly the Championship, it's a good feeling. But, as I said, we are really conscious that it's only a good start. It's a long way. And I think the balance can change very quickly.
Q: Mario, let's come to you next. Yesterday marks the first extensive wet running for these 18-inch tyres with the 2022 cars. What lessons were learned?
Mario ISOLA: I believe it was really important for us to get the data in these cold conditions because we didn't have any opportunity to test the tyres in this condition last year. I'm happy with the performance of the Intermediate tyre: we know that this asphalt is quite unique because of the time needed to dry the track. Last year we had cars running on Intermediate tyre for more than 25 laps. The Wet, we have a bit less running on the Wet but we have useful data. And so, for the rest of the weekend, we were expecting dry condition but what we collected yesterday is really important.
Q: Well, very different weather conditions today, and with no dry data, what do you expect from the tyres in the Sprint?
MI: It's more for the teams to make a plan. I believe they have to maximise the time in FP2 because yesterday also the few laps in dry condition during Qualifying were with a track that was not completely representative. It will be not easy. I'm expecting probably most of the people starting on and using the Medium compound for the Sprint this afternoon – but as I said, that they have to get data from FP2.
Q: Final one for me, can we throw it back a couple of weeks to Melbourne and Alex Albon’s performance there. He did almost the entire race on the one set of tyres. Were you surprised to see that?
MI: I was surprised of the strategy because in the past we saw in few occasions, drivers pitting at the beginning of the race and changing the tyre and trying to go to the end of the race – like Rosberg in Monte Carlo – but nobody did the opposite strategy. So, it was quite curious. The Hard tyre is a tyre designed to last for the majority of the race with very low degradation. So, I was not surprised of the performance of the Hard tyre in that condition. That was very good. And also, other teams commented the same. Obviously, we have to provide tyres with different level of degradation and different level of wear. That is the reason why we have different strategies. But coming back to Albon, it was curious to see that he decided to pit at the last lap.
Q: Franz, it wasn't a smooth qualifying session for you yesterday. Can you explain to us what the issues were?
Franz TOST: Not smooth? It was a horrible qualifying session! I must say that the morning, we were quite competitive with Wet tyres, worked well. Then with Intermediates we had a little bit problems the first two laps to bring them on temperature, but then it worked as well good. Then, in the qualifying with the dry tyres, at the beginning we were there. Both cars were always in the front part of the midfield. And then we simply missed at the last minute, to do a push lap, last lap, and therefore some other cars overtook us. And now we are at the back of the field.
Q: Do you believe the performance is in there still. In the car?
FT: Yes, I believe the performance is in the car. At least a better performance. I don't know whether we would have done it into Qualifying Three. I think so. But, for sure, better than we are now.
Q: It's been a difficult opening few races for the team. The performance has fluctuated. Can you just talk us through the start that you've had in 2022?
FT: A difficult start, let me say. I must start with the testing: We had fantastic tests. Barcelona as well as in Bahrain. We did, I think in Barcelona, 1500km and in Bahrain 2000km without any problem. At the end, we had 3500km. We were safe on the reliability side. And then we came to Bahrain, and the car of Pierre Gasly, we saw after a couple of laps, that fire came out from the back because the battery exploded or caught fire. And this was, of course, then not finishing, which was a total surprise for us because we never had any problems at the beginning of this year with the battery. And then we came to Saudi Arabia and we killed two engines on Yuki’s car. And this was also a big surprise because, if you know that you have only three engines, it's not only that Yuki had to start from the back in Saudi Arabia, but he will also have a couple of penalties waiting for him for the rest of the season. Now that means from the reliability side, we are by far not there. I expect it but also the performance we have to improve.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Adam Cooper – motorsport.com) For Franz and Mattia. There's a lot of talk with the drivers in here yesterday about this schedule, with the Friday morning media sessions and so on. It's clear they're not happy about it. They've written to the FIA. I think it's fair to say the media are not happy with it either. What are your thoughts on this schedule and has it actually worked? Are your guys able to have an extra night at home before they come to the track?
FT: What the media wants: to have them here on Wednesday, Tuesday, Thursday, whatever, no problem, just let us know. Drivers will be here.
MB: Obviously, when you've got such a change, I think you need to go through the experience and judge it after few appointments, and few events. I think certainly we can try to collect the feedback and together with FIA and F1, F1 Commission, we can certainly try to discuss and try to review if there is anything that we can do to improve. But I think it doesn't mean that implies that we need to change. I think it's only a matter that, at first, we need try to collect information, collect experience. If you look at the overall schedule of the calendar, a number of races, I think it's important still to try to reduce the length of the weekend and that was the attempt. I think that was an important attempt, if I look at the mechanics, certainly they are resting more today. And for us, that's a key element. But certainly, open to discuss.
Q: (Jonathan Noble – motorsport.com) To Mattia, the characteristic we've seen all season, of the Red Bull being quicker end of straight, with the top speed, and your advantage being in traction and low-speed corners has continued here this weekend. First of all, how much is that down to levels – or do you think your car's inherently draggy? And secondly, is it an issue you're concerned about or comfortable about? Especially if we go to tracks with longer straights or higher speed? Are you happy with where you're running at?
MB: I'm not sure that’s correct. If I look at Jeddah, certainly they were a lot faster. If I look at Bahrain, there the DRS effect was certainly powerful, and the way they were catching us on the speed, on the on the straight, was significant. But then if I look at Australia, I think that they put on some downforce, and the speed was very similar between the two cars. As well, yesterday, on the Wet certainly. Difficult to judge with DRS off. But I think if you look at the rear wings they’ve got, certainly it increased the level of downforce. And I think when running on similar wings, we are pretty close on the speed as well. So, I don't think there is a big difference in there. We know that we can improve our wings in order to make them more efficient, but I'm not expecting it to be an issue for certain circuits. We as Ferrari, certainly will have new wings for medium-low downforce on the next races when necessary. And then it's only a matter of compromise, and the compromise on what you believe is best in terms of not only qualifying lap time, but race pace, tyre degradations. There have been races where I think our choice was the right one. Maybe in Jeddah, or just for, let me say, for a few laps, their one turn to be the right one. But that, I think, is great: the fact that we may have different solutions, different set-ups, choices, makes only the race more spectacular.
Q: (Dieter Rencken – Racing News 365) Primarily to Mattia but also Franz, if you’d like to answer, please do. Mattia, you're a very experienced engine engineer, you also sit in the WMSC on behalf of the teams etc. VW Group recently delayed their decision again, allegedly because they said the engine regulations aren't set yet. How far are we from that process? And what still has to be done?
MB: I don't think that we delayed. I think that in December, a framework for 2026 has been voted, which is clear. And I think from the framework, obviously we need to translate that into proper regulations, which is the work that FIA is doing in collaboration with the manufacturers. That's on the power unit and then there will be as well the chassis, because on the chassis, there is much to do as well, and it's a process which are started. And the objectives, try to vote them by… or to finalise the regulation by June. Certainly, the time is going, June is very close. Are we close to the final regulations? Maybe not: there is still much to do – but I'm pretty sure that we are getting all together and we will put the right priorities. We can certainly try to achieve them. It is important for us to have those regulations defined, as it is important maybe for Volkswagen Group, but not only. I think as well for the current manufacturers, because we need to decide on what we need to develop and what are the boundary conditions. So, I think is in the interest of the sport, the F1, FIA all the manufacturers, try to get there. There are open points, no doubt, because I think that's part of the discussions. We've got an F1 Commission next Tuesday, where it's in the agenda at least to discuss the Power Unit 2026. I'm pretty sure that all the open points will be raised and the proper working groups will be set up in order to progress.
FT: Nothing to add from my side.
Q: (Jon Noble – motorsport.com) To Franz and Mattia: before the start of season everyone was talking about this year being one of massive development, a huge upgrade war. But actually the start of the year has been quite quiet in terms of upgrades and changes. Is that something you expect to change as we move into the second half of the season? Has it been just down to the cost cap and the way the calendar has shaken out that’s held back a lot of upgrades?
FT: I can only talk about our team. Of course, engineers are always coming with some new ideas, some upgrades, but we have every weekend use a meeting from the financial side, where we discuss what we can afford for the cost cap and not. And it was quite clear that we cannot bring all the upgrades that maybe the engineers want to bring because it's not within our cost cap. And we simply can't afford it. That means it has a big impact the cost cap to the development processes.
MB: We are only at race four and if I look at the past seasons as well, I don't think that at race four there were much developments brought to cars. If I look at our competitors at least, they already brought some developments. Some of them in testing. Some of them even here in Imola and some maybe small developments from race one to race four so I don't I don't think that so far it has changed much compared to the past. On top of that the budget cap certainly, we need to pay attention to it. And we cannot simply drop developments at each single race. And on top of it, I think there is the fact that the regulations the way it is. It's somehow prescribed. And we always said it's quite a prescriptive regulation. So I think there is quite a lot of freedom in choosing the overall concept or architecture. And that's the reason why we can see quite different cars. But by the time that you have chosen it, how much you can chase on the front wing, on the rear wing, on the bodywork, it's very little so. So I think that as teams because we’ve got a budget cap in place we are simply trying to make sure that by the time we are bringing a package, it's a proper one. And maybe to do that it simply takes a bit more races.
Q: (Scott Mitchell – The Race) It's a question for Mattia, please. Mattia, there have been some stories in Italy that after validating the reliability of the 2022 power unit, Ferrari has been a bit more confident to run it slightly more aggressively, and just increase the performance slightly. Is this correct? And how do you assess the performance and reliability of your engine so far?
MB: This is not correct. I think that we redesigned completely our power unit from last year, especially on the combustion side, we got a new fuel. On the hybrid, we introduced some developments last year that we have somehow kept in terms of concept for the current season. But through the winter, we try to focus ourselves on the best performance and to get from that the right reliability and what we've got at the start of the season is our package and now it’s frozen for the rest of the season and the next years. But there is not really in terms of revs or mapping anything. We always went for the maximum performance and try to get reliability from it.
Q: (Dieter Rencken – Racing News 365) Again, a question for Mario. Mario, the way that I understand your present contract, it was originally supposed to expire at the end of 2023. And then came COVID. So it was extended to ’24, which would have taken you in line with the current regulation, which will now probably be delayed another year to end of ’25. So where do you stand on this? Do you ask for another extension? Or is there a chance we could have another tyre supply for one year?
MI: That's a difficult question, because obviously it's not in our hands at the decision and in general we are happy with our experience in Formula 1 and we want to continue but we had already an extension for 2024, you know that this contract is subject to a tender process and it's up to the FIA to decide how to manage the situation together with Formula 1.
Q: (Claire Cottingham – racefans.net) A question for Mattia. Mattia, is the Russian driver Robert Shwartzman going to have to outings practice outing sessions as he was meant to this year and if not who instead will take his place?
MB: Who is our…? So our Russian driver… Robert. No, no, no, it's… I need to wake up! I didn’t have my coffee yet! Robert. Robert is born in Israel. He's got an Israeli passport. In terms of licence, it’s not a Russian one. And he was in agreement as well with Russian companies that somehow he interrupted his, let me say, any agreement he got with those companies. So at the moment he is still our test driver and he will remain as that. And if we will have in the future any opportunities to let him drive, we will probably let him drive.
Q: (Adam Cooper – motorsport.com) For Franz and Mattia: as the budget cap gets tighter, are you confident that it's being efficiently policed by the FIA? Or do you have any concerns that are still there are still some grey areas that some teams might be able to exploit?
FT: No, I trust the work the FIA is doing. And therefore, I don't think that any team will get an advantage, which they shouldn't. And I'm convinced that FIA will police everything in the best possible way.
MB: As Franz said, I fully trust FIA, but no doubt that it’s a brand new regulation and as all the regulations, there is always a competitive advantage if you can try to read them in the proper ways. It doesn't mean that there are grey areas, but it's the way that teams may understand or read or interpret the regulations themselves. So I think there is the need of a big effort from FIA to try to police. I think that in order in order to do that they need to reinforce the internal staff. And the number of people that somehow are auditing and policing, because it's a key element. I think it is as important as the technical and as the sporting regulations because as a matter of fact it is a proper regulation, or maybe today the CFOs are as important as technical directors. So I think at the end, it's important that FIA put really the maximum effort into trying to understand the different assets of the different companies and teams, how they spend the money, how they justify the way they're spending it. And I think in that respect, it's a huge and difficult task. But we are trusting them. I'm pretty sure that they will organise themselves to do it. But I think that further effort is required.
Q: Mario, can I just ask you about Miami? Excitement is building. What can you tell us about tyre choice for that race and anything about the asphalt, corner speeds?
MI: Yeah, we got some information from the organiser, to understand which type of asphalt we are going to find in Miami and together with the simulations provided by the teams, we decided to nominated the C2, C3 and C4. It's a conservative choice, obviously, but we believe is the best option for Miami. It's a bit of an unknown for everybody. It's street circuit, so with the characteristics of a track that are usually different from any other track, and I'm quite excited to go there and see what happens.
Q: (Dieter Rencken – Racing News 365) Mario again. Regarding the tender the contract etc. You said you you're quite comfortable with your Formula 1 Campaign. I believe that the tender would have to open at the end of this year to give two years’ notice, the way that the timing currently stands. I mean, is your board willing to continue?
MI: Usually the tender is released not at the end of this year, but mid of next year, because it's the same process we had in the past. That means that the decision is for the end of next year, to give one year’s time to the winner of the tender to prepare for the season. And yeah, we are hoping to discuss with Formula 1 for the future. Clearly, as I said already, it's a lot going on. And we have to discuss more in detail about that. But it is a tender. So at the end is up to the offer and the characteristics and the elements that are included in the tender.
Q: (Jon Noble– motorsport.com) Looking forward to Miami: the sponsor interest and sponsor activation and corporate buzz around Miami seems as big as anything we've seen in Formula 1 before. How important a race is this? And do you sense it's moving something forward in Formula 1 we've not seen before.
MB: Generally speaking, I think that the F1 business is going very well. And it's not only Miami. Miami is one example, but it's all what's happening around us in terms of sponsorship interest, in terms of new track coming onto the calendar. So I think it's a great moment. I think it's thanks to the show that F1 is showing. It’s thanks to… Certainly during the COVID I think we had at least we have been great, and F1, FIA has been great to organise still calendars with 17 races in 2020. And, and last year as well, several races more than 20. So overall, I think it's very positive. And you can see Netflix, the digital communications, the broadcast, it's all good and positive. And as we're looking at the race track when you're coming to see so many people now being there. And it's fun. And I think the business is going really very well. And we can see as a team as well, the interest of sponsors has increased, which is great. And Miami as you said, it's a fantastic example. In the Americas things are going very well. And we can only be happy with that.
MI: Miami is important for us because the United States is a very good market for Pirelli. And we are planning to activate these events with the local market, probably more than what we have done in the past. So happy to go to Miami. And that's a good boost for Formula 1 in the United States.
FT: I'm very much looking forward to go to Miami. I think it's a fantastic venue over there. And I'm looking forward to all the events which we have, because Scuderia AlphaTauri nearly have every day something, also Red Bull is activating a lot of topics over there. And therefore I think it will become a fantastic race weekend and it's good that the interest in Formula 1 is increasing so much. Also from the sponsor side from the fan side. And that's positive for business.
Q: (Carlo Platella – Formula Passion) A question for Franz: AlphaTauri brought some upgrades here in Imola. Did they behave as expected?
FT: The upgrades behaved as expected. Yes.
TEAM REPRESENTATIVES: Guenther STEINER (Haas), Jost CAPITO (Williams), Mike KRACK (Aston Martin)
Q: Gunther, I feel perhaps we should start with you after what was an incredible day for the team yesterday, how important was that result?
Gunther STEINER: I think every result is important but to have a performance like it yesterday, it's nice for the team. I think we started off strong this year and then in Australia, we had a little bit of a dip in performance. But, you know, we knew the car was doing well, the car is doing well so it was good to come back like this yesterday, under difficult conditions with the rain, always different conditions, a little bit more, a little bit less, but just executing what we did and how we went out. And also for Kevin for his confidence and everything. He just did a fantastic job. I think Mick was almost there, just a little bit missing; that little bit will come as well in the next races.
Q: As you said it was difficult conditions, can you just elaborate a little bit more on how good Kevin Magnussen was yesterday?
GS: Very good. I mean, there is not more words than that when he was very good. He was always in a very good state of mind, in my opinion, was always very calm, even when he went off, and then got himself back on the track, stayed calm, and then went out and did this time, so that shows in which state of mind he is in the moment. It's just like, he knows he's in a good place. He knows that he can do the job very well and he's just happy to be here.
Q: It's not easy to overtake here at Imola. There's only one DRS zone. Can Kevin keep it on row two for the race?
GS: I don't know. We will try to. As you say, overtaking is not easy here. It depends a little bit on the start. First of all, we need to protect the position we start in into the first turns, but I think we can do a good race, you know, so we will try our best because it's important; now you can score points, or more points in the sprint race down to eighth position and then obviously the starting position for tomorrow. It's very important, but we cannot say ‘oh, we don't take any risk or nothing’. No, we take calculated risks and try to do the best this afternoon.
Q: Jost, it wasn't such a smooth day for Williams yesterday. First of all, can you talk us through the brake issue? Similar, it seems, from the outside to what we saw in testing, is that the case?
Jost CAPITO: No, is completely different issues. So what we had yesterday, you have to heat the tyre through the brake temperature. And then if you want to do as the maximum and then it's easy to just get over the top and that’s what happened?
Q: Well, let's look at some positives for Alex Albon now. Throw it back a couple of weeks to Melbourne and his wonderful run to 10th place. How surprised were you by the strategy, making that work and just the performance and the job he did there?
JC: First, Alex did a fantastic job. He treated the tyres very well and it seems these tyres fit well to our car. We could have driven the whole race on one set of tyres and they got faster and faster. So Alex did a fantastic job and the tyres were good to the car. And the strategy developed during the race. It was not the planned strategy, because we had no idea how long the tyres really last.
Q: Nicholas Latifi - he's having a harder time of it. Has confidence become a bit of an issue for Nicky?
JC: Yeah, of course, I think it's a heads game, isn't it? He's capable to drive very fast and do the same lap times as Alex if he is in the right place, I'm sure. The cars are a bit more difficult and trickier to drive than last year's car and he has to get his head around it and he gets the full support from the team. And, no, of course if you have a couple of offs that makes… you have to fight again the confidence then but he will get the full support of the team and we are sure he will get there.
Q: Mike, what did Sebastian's Q3 performance yesterday do for morale in the team?
Mike KRACK: Well, as you can imagine, after the first races, it was a booster for the morale. The first time I saw smiling faces yesterday but it was only a spot of the moment. I think it was good to enjoy the moment yesterday but today is another day. The problems are not disappearing overnight but you have to enjoy the moment when it is the time to enjoy.
Q: Do you think you'll have a tougher time of it in the dry today?
MK: Yes, I think so because I do not believe that the car is standing where it is supposed to stand from a pure performance point of view but that does not mean that we're not going to give a hard time to the people around us and behind us.
Q: In the press conference yesterday, Sebastian alluded to lots of new parts in the pipeline. How extensive will those changes be? Is there even talk of a B-spec car coming?
MK: Why a B-spec, A-spec, C-spec? It's always a matter of naming, how you define it. I don't like so much that definition because you create a lot of expectations and you devaluate the development that you do during the year so for me it's important that every race, every session we try to be better than the previous one to continuous development event by event, we have done so far. With what happens you cannot always spot it. Obviously then also here with the conditions it's also more difficult to also
validate what you have done because you have the sprint, you have FP1way you have prepare qualifying and also with the weather conditions we were having, but we are bringing improvements. We're trying to do better each time we do it and so far, I think the progress is not massive, but we see some.
Q: (Christian Nimmervoll – motorsport-total.com) Mike, F1 posted an image of a team principles dinner last night, but you were missing? Can you tell us why?
MK: Yeah, because I took the picture. No, seriously, no, I was not present. We had a little communication problem that prevented me from going so that that's the reason behind it.
Q: (Adam Cooper - motorsport.com) For all three of you: the drivers made it clear in here yesterday that most of them don't like the new schedule with the Friday media and they're complaining that they're still working on Thursdays anyway. What are your thoughts on that? Do you sympathise with the drivers. And has the system worked? Are your guys actually getting an extra night at home with this new schedule?
GS: Yeah, it is coming up now we have done three races, so this one is the fourth one with the different schedule so I think we have to sit down and see what works and what doesn't work. As I always say you have to do it and then see what you can do better. I think some things are better, some things maybe are not as good but I think it needs a bit of discussion and then maybe we have to readjust it. But in general, I think it's not a bad thing what we are doing, but we need to look into how we can make it even better and to make the savings in our time work for everybody even better.
JC: Yeah, that came up also last night when we were talking about… mainly who goes to bed, at what time and who wakes up at what time and how to physical proof… physical practice at what… it was quite interesting. What we also discussed, that came up a bit in discussion and said we should do it a couple of more races, and then discuss together and analyse what's better, what's worse. And then yeah, make changes if we think we can do better.
MK: Well, I cannot really compare to how it was before. So yeah, I think you know, it's never easy to make a schedule that suits everybody so I think we all pay to do a job and everybody tries as best as he can to accommodate. So as the two guys before said, we wait a couple of races and adjust when needed. But yeah, I think it's secondary priority.
Q: (Ian Parkes - New York Times) Mike, I'm sure you're aware of Sebastian's comments in yesterday's press conference here with regard to his future. He's left things very open as to not only staying with Aston Martin, even in f1, although he did say he has the taste for wanting to stay. From your perspective, do you want to retain Sebastian beyond the expiry of his contract at the end of this year and obviously the next question beyond that is, what do you have to do to ensure that you can keep him, obviously giving him more competitive car, quite naturally?
MK: Yes, so I'm not going to speak about contracts here but obviously, if you have a driver like Sebastian Vettel, that you can keep motivated by giving him the car that deserves the quality of his driving, I think you would be foolish not to try to retain him. But I 100% understand his comments. He wants to see progress, he wants to see the car moving forward, because he's not a driver that wants to fight for P18 or P16 or whatever so I fully understand his comments and it's up to us to deliver the tool that is needed for him to perform.
Q: Mike, I know this is only his second race of the season but he's obviously been involved in all of the meetings via Zoom earlier on. What has impressed you about Sebastian in this year?
MK: Well, everything. He has a very, very competitive approach, despite the big success that he was always already having. He has a very high work ethic that I really share and that I really appreciate. There is no time of the day where it's too late to work or to have some input so from that point of view, it's really… it's a pleasure to work with him, because, first of all, he's what I described already, but then also he's a nice guy, he's a nice fellow and he understands where our limitations are at the moment, but he doesn't stop pushing, and he is realistic about what we do. So it's a matter of trying to merge what we think we have to do, what he thinks we have to do and be open, transparent, have good conversations and move on.
Q: (Alan Baldwin – Reuters) Jost, going back to Nicholas's confidence. He's had a couple of crashes in the last four races that have triggered safety cars and had a major bearing on the outcome, including the championship itself last year, I just wondered how much of a cumulative effect that's been on his mind and what do you do about it?
JC: No, it's difficult to say. I think what impacted him most last year was the comments and the threats on social media were really where we helped him to get over that. And think, of course, if he had these incidents for a couple of times that as mentioned before, it's not just boosting his confidence, but we try to boost his confidence, we work with him and I think he's getting better on that. And he has to learn that and I think he's on a good way.
Q: (Christian Nimmervoll – motorsport-total.com) Question to all three: the Volkswagen Group's supervisory board has approved Audi and Porsche to enter Formula 1 in 2026 and it's not a secret that Audi is looking for a partner. Would you be interested in entering talks with them? And have there been any talks yet?
MK: I think for any team who has not a manufacturer on his side it's super appealing to have this possibility so I think we will be lying if we say we are not interested in something like that. So I will be very interested to talk.
JC: Yeah, I think that’s the same for us and I don't think the board decided that they go, they decided that they can continue to look into it and this is a different thing, two different outcomes.
GS: Obviously, as Mike said, who would not speak with them, but we didn't have any talks?
Q: (Adam Cooper – motorsport.com) As the budget cap gets tighter, are you totally confident that the FIA can efficiently police it? And do you have any concerns that there might be some grey areas out there that teams can exploit?
GS: I think there is always grey areas but I think the FIA is putting a lot of effort and good work into it to be on top as much as possible. There's always grey areas but normally the grey areas they have discussed between the financial people. Nobody's trying to pull the wool over anybody's eyes. You know, it's like one of those things; if you find grey area to exploit it, but I think there are not a lot of loopholes to do anything which wouldn’t end up in being big penalties.
JC: Yeah, I think it's safe to say exactly the same and the amount of work we do with a FIA - each team does with the FIA on the cost cap, on the policing of that is immense. And I think there are a lot of discussions with the finance guys of the team with the FIA, how to still improve that. If a team identifies a grey area, I think there comes discussion comes up in that group. And it's just now we filed after the first year and, of course, it's such a complex system, it has to be further developed. And I think there is a good cooperation within all the Finance Directors of the teams to develop it further. But it's a lot of work with the FIA too and that's… they police it pretty well.
MK: Yeah, I agree with Gunther and Jost on this. I think we are all aware that it's a sensible thing to do. But it is like with sporting and technical regs, you know, you read them carefully, and you'll see areas where you can explore more, if you call them grey or not, so if you go over the limit or not, you will be told like you do with technical and sporting as well.