Saturday 31 October 2015

FIA Team Members Press Conference

TEAM REPRESENTATIVES – Vijay MALLYA (Force India), Claire WILLIAMS (Williams), Maurizio ARRIVABENE (Ferrari), Toto WOLFF (Mercedes), Yasuhisa ARAI (Honda)
Q: Claire, if I can start with you. Williams won this race the last time it was here back in 1992. Did you watch that race and what are your thoughts on coming back to this circuit today?
Claire WILLIAMS: I was 14 when that race was one and I don’t remember watching it. I probably did; I’m sure I did. But it’s great to come back here. We won the race prior to that with Riccardo Patrese as well, so Williams has a good history here. I’d love if we were able to repeat that this weekend. Obviously we haven't had some great races in the past few, so the team really needs a strong result here. But it’s a great venue. I think everyone in Formula One for our return to Mexico has really enjoyed the experience so far. The promoters have done a great job with the facilities we have, so it will be a good weekend. 

Q: This time last year you were battling for position in the Constructors’ Championship but you’re looking pretty solid now in third for this season. It’s obviously progress but are you satisfied with the season you’ve had? 
CW: This year for us was all about consolidation. If we are able to secure third this year again, that’s fantastic for a team operating on the budgets we are operating on. We are operating on a budget that is half or a third of some of the bigger teams out there and I’m really proud of the job that everybody in our team has done. It’s been hard work this year. We haven’t had some of the podiums we would have liked to have had but we’ve done a job. But it’s not over yet, we still go work to do but getting thirds again would be fantastic.

Q: Thank you. Vijay, if I can move on to you. It’s a huge weekend for your team, in particular Sergio of course. Are you enjoying it, are the team feeling added pressure this weekend at all?
Vijay MALLYA: No, we are absolutely enjoying being here in Mexico. As you may know we launched the car in Mexico in January this year. Checo has a huge following, we have many large Mexican sponsors and I personally love Mexico because there are many similarities with India, so this is like a home race for us as well.

Q: We are hearing talk of a name change for the team for next season. What can you tell us about it? What does it mean for the team and how is it going to be structured?
VM: We are in discussion, nothing has been finalised, we have many options and I’ll be able to confirm or otherwise once I have something to say. As I’ve said, and as was faithfully reported by Autosport, I don’t like to count my chickens before they hatch.

Q: Thank you very much. Arai-san, can I ask you first what happened this morning in terms of Jenson’s engine and what effect did that have on running this afternoon? 
Yasuhisa ARAI: Jenson’s engine we had planned to change between FP1 and FP2 but we detected, by sensor, a high-voltage failure. Actually we don’t know but we need time to learn. We have to change many items to go out the garage.

Q: There is talk of Honda supplying a second team, or maybe not. What is the current situation and if you were given the choice would Honda rather supply more than one team?
YA: Obviously we cannot discuss details at this moment. We have been approached by the team but discussions are ongoing and nothing has been decided. I always say this season: we are always open, so we are on discussions that are ongoing – that’s it.

Q: Toto, you were invited onto the panel in Austin to celebrate as Constructors’ Champions and we’re delighted to see you now as double champions this season. Tell us your thoughts on Lewis as a three-time world champion and also how he’s changed over his three years with the team? 
Toto WOLFF: It’s clear that when you win a third drivers’ title you move into the ‘Olymp’ of drivers. There are not many who have scored three title or more and he’s part of that. He’s had an extraordinary season, almost without any mistakes. The car didn’t let him down and this is then where he ended up. The journey he had in the team… he started the same time I joined the team. I think it’s normal that as a person you develop, you grow into the team, you get to know the people, the car suits you more and this is the result of three years with Mercedes.

Q: On the flip side, it’s obviously difficult for Nico. Where does he go from here? How does he rebuild for 2016? 
TW: For the team it’s always biitersweet and just to keep the right balance I think he had a season with so many ups but also many downs. Some very good performances, he was always there. He outqualified Lewis on some of the occasions but then he was also let down with the car in Monza, with the engine failure and this is simply where we need to improve – to provide a car that makes them capable of fighting each other, because it lifts the team. Today you could see he has a very strong pace and the combination of the two of them makes where we are. We won the Constructors’ title also because Nico is such a strong contender to Lewis and this is a very beneficial situation to the team.

Q: Thank you. Maurizio, can I ask you how important is it that Sebastian now finishes second in the Drivers’ title race for Ferrari?
Maurizio ARRIVABENE: The championship is not finished. At the moment he is second but I think Nico is hunting him but we will do our best to keep [Sebastian] in that position, even if Toto do not like.

Q: Sebastian drove a great race in Austin. Can you tell us what he’s brought to the team and how motivating performances like that are to the team?
MA: I don’t want to talk about Sebastian, because every time they are asking me questions – he’s a four-time world champion. He’s demonstrate that he is a great driver but he also have a good team around him. He has integrated himself very well into the team and also with Kimi, I have to say, and everybody is going in the right direction. He gave us an additional push and I recognise he is a great driver. By the way, congratulations to Mercedes and to Lewis for the title, the really deserve [it].


Q: (Ian Parkes – Autosport) Toto, you recently signed an agreement with Manor to supply power units for next season. They describe themselves as a team of real racers but two of those real racers, John Booth and Graeme Lowdon, have seemingly resigned form their positions. I just wondered what you make of that and if that poses any threat to the deal going forward into next year? 
TW: Obviously when I spoke about racers, John and Graeme was very much meant by that plus of course the rest of the team, it’s a bunch of real fighters that have shown stamina in keeping the team in the sport. I’ve known John forever, since the Formula Renault days of Lewis and Formula 3 days. Manor means John Booth and John Booth means Manor and Graeme has made sure… was very instrumental in keeping the team alive last year, so seeing them go, from a personal standpoint and from the racing spirit, is obviously a blow. So going forward, we have signed the deal with Manor and I would say we need to give credit to everybody in the team who stays in the team but we are curious spectators from now on.

Q: (Dieter Rencken – Racing Lines) Question to Maurizio. Last week in Austin I asked you what your thoughts and comments were about the possibility of another kind of engine, that was being discussed. You said that you’d rather wait until it’s gone through Strategy Group etcetera before commenting – yet on Monday we heard that Ferrari had invoked a veto against such a plan. Could you please explain the difference and also whether in fact there was a veto that was invoked – and why? Thank you. 
MA: Concerning the veto it is quite easy. We exercised our veto in compliance with our legitimate commercial right to do business as a powertrain manufacturer. There’s nothing to add.

Q: (Kate Walker – I’ve got a follow-up for Maurizio. Given the rude financial health of the Ferrari F1 team’s finances, how do you morally justify exercising your veto? 
MA: I repeat it. I have to repeat again. The rules are done by the Federation and it’s fine but we just exercise our commercial right as a powertrain manufacturer. This is the reason why.

It was a question about the moral justification, given your strong financial position.
MA: Why do we have to justify it more? Here we are talking about commercial right. We are not talking about budget, we are not talking about anything else. If somebody, they are asking you, they give you a specification to produce apple, OK you produce apple in line with the specification. That somebody,  they’re asking you, OK, we want to impose you the price of the apple’, what are you going to do? This is the principle. It has nothing to do with the rest.

Q: (Christopher Joseph ¬– Chicane) Question for the front row [MA, TW, YA] in terms of powertrain. How important is it for you, as powertrain manufacturers, that you have gained some traction in the Mexican market – and what is the relationship between excellence in powertrain on the track and how that relates to road car technology?
TW: To answer the first question, Mexico is a huge market and very important market for us. We’re not only producing cars in Mexico but also it’s the sheer size is very important for us. From the relevance to road car technology, there is a huge relevance – and it goes in both directions. What you are seeing on the roads is hybrid technology and fuel efficiency and this is the fastest lab in the world. We have been part of a sport that set very stringent new rules two years ago in terms of efficiency of those power units – yet those power units deploy more power than the engines before and we are almost there in terms of laptimes with 100kg instead of 150-160kg – so it’s very, very road relevant.

Arai-san – how important is it to be visible to the Mexican market?
YA: Here is a very, very important market for us, of course. We made a new plant in Celaya and opened that plant. Our services are very strong in Mexico. This is the 50 years anniversary for the first win for Honda in Formula One this year. It is a very special place in Mexico.

Maurizio – how important to be visible to the Mexican market and the relevance to road cars?
MA: For us of course it’s important because Mexico somehow is the door of South America. It’s a growing market so for a car manufacturer company it’s a very, very important and this is the reason why we were very happy to have the grand prix here because it’s another opportunity to enlarge the Formula One sport and the Formula One race in South America. The show I think is more completed now with Austin, USA, Mexico now and Brazil.

Q: (Ralf Bach – Auto Bild Motosport) A question to Toto. Toto, can you understand Ferrari’s opinion in this engine case? The veto right and the answer.
TW: This is obviously a very controversial topic and, as with many things, black and white is not the answer. There is… we were… there is a set of rules which were implemented in Formula One two years ago and we started developing those engines three, four, five years ago, based on that set of rules. As large corporations we work on long-term planning. It is part of the budget process. It is part of the R&D process. From that standpoint, part of it is a business case and you need to calculate how much you can charge for those engines, how much you can recover for those engines. Ferrari is a public company now, so it is difficult as a commercial entity to just be confronted with the situation where price is being imposed. It somehow takes away the commercial ability of refinancing. Now, you can say, for a large organisation it doesn’t matter: a couple of millions don’t matter – but they do. It’s how we are being set up, the constant always trying to improve your result and optimise your organisation – which is why it’s a discussion I think we should have behind closed doors. I think it is very important to understand the financial constraints of some of the smaller teams and we remain committed to cost reductions. It’s not like the big teams are stubborn and say “well, we don’t want to hear anything of that.” This is a platform that functions with all of us. We are not just running fronting it and saying we don’t care what happens behind us or aside of us. You need to balance that. I think Ferrari’s first reaction – and excuse me [MA] that I’m talking for you in that case – is the imposing ways are very difficult to cope for a commercially-oriented entity. I can understand Ferrari’s standpoint and I can also understand it’s a very controversial and difficult situation for some of the smaller teams, and of course how it’s being brought forward, it doesn’t look very neat – but there is a much more to it than just a sheer veto and saying “no, we don’t want to have the discussion,” because that’s not how it was.

MA: In fact, what I said, my answer was only concerned to the reason we applied the veto. For the rest I totally agree with veto. It is not a position against the other team. It is a decision that is defending a commercial principle. For the rest we are open to finding any other solution. At Toto explained, you have in a public company, as we are now, but also in a company as Mercedes is, you have research and development costs that somehow you have to recover. I don’t find any commercial entity all around the world that is giving their product out to the market for free – or at cost. So this is the principle.

Q: (Ian Parkes- Autosport) The FIA recently announced plans to potentially introduce a budget engine from 2017. To Vijay and Claire, could you give us your thoughts on that, whether it’s a unit which would likely appeal to you? And to the front three engine manufacturers, again your thoughts on that, bearing in mind the multi-millions of pounds that you’ve spent in developing the current system? 
CW: Everybody is aware that Williams is always in support of any cost control measures in Formula One, and we respect the work that the FIA are doing in that regard. But we also have always come out in support of the current power unit that we have, it’s hugely relevant to the auto industry of today and in Formula One, this needs to be a technically innovative championship. So I think there are arguments on both sides and as Toto said, it’s quite an evocative subject and one that we want to have conversations around with the FIA and directly rather than talking about it in the press at this stage. 
VM: I received a communication from the FIA proposing the new engine concept with outline specifications. I appreciate the cost cutting initiative. I think Force India has constantly been asking for cost control measures in Formula One for good reason, I might add. But it’s very early stages for us to comment on whether we would be supportive of this particularly new engine or not. Having said that, we have an excellent relationship with Mercedes. We have a fantastic power train. Sure, if the FIA feels that an engine should cost six or seven million euros, this gives me a little foot in the door to request my friend Toto for a discount. But having said, we are contractually obliged to Mercedes ‘til 2020 and we respect our contract, but having said, any cost saving initiative is welcome from our point of view and should be discussed by all teams in the strategy group and those who are not in the strategy group, because they are equally relevant and hopefully we can all come to a conclusion.
I just take another minute: I heard what Maurizio said about the recent veto by Ferrari. He further states that he would be very prepared to sit down and discuss cost reduction measures which is something that we appreciate. Unfortunately, in the past, the strategy group has been discussing cost control for the last two years and there has been no significant result. Hopefully now, going forward, we will all sit down with the seriousness that it deserves and find a solution that is satisfactory to all teams that are competing in this world championship. 
TW: Vijay’s a very shrewd businessman so nothing else was expected, same as Claire. As I said before, we cannot close our eyes to what’s happening in Formula One and we need to show respect for every team – the ones that are part of the strategy group and the ones not part of the strategy group, and you need to consider that. And you have to balance that against your own commercial pressures. I think Formula One was successful with the current engines in attracting engine manufacturers. It is a period where we are having four suppliers in the sport, which I would consider as a success and I think that from our standpoint, what we need is a long term visibility of regulations and what’s happening so we need to try to make our customers and partners in the smaller teams save costs as good as we can and have a serious discussion about it and maybe Jean Todt and Bernie’s initiative now is going to trigger more emphasis on those discussions so I take it as a positive. We remain open to the regulations, we are not the ones who make the regulations but we have a voice and we sit there and we hope I can make that argument heard, that we need long term stability in coming up with solutions. If, going forward, we need different regulations in terms of power units we would very much discuss that, if it makes sense or not, but we shouldn’t shake the system too much because that doesn’t fit to the long term perspectives of large organisations like the three of us represent. 
YA: I think that for Formula One there are three major important things. One is sustainability, as you discussed, the cost to a price. And how more attractive and keep the good fun. And also the challenge of new technology; the current regulation is a very good direction, and also the competition. Those are the three major areas which are always important and we always discuss about that. 
MA: I think I tend to full agree with Todt because here you have two companies, they do chassis, they do engine, gearbox, everything on the car so we need to find a bit of a balance versus others because everybody looks smaller but if you compare us and what we are doing to maybe our teams, we have all the respect for them. They maybe do only the chassis. We need to find the balance in between all of us. As Vijay said, we are ready to sit down to discuss, to find a good solution which is making everybody happy and most importantly, it’s helping Formula One to grow in terms of spectacularisation and so on. So, this is our point of view. We want to continue our discussion but as Toto said, you can’t shake the box too much because otherwise you create further confusion. I mean if you apply the rules, the rules need to be discussed, agreed by everybody and equal for everybody, because I don’t think a solution to have three, four, five different power units that they are running in Formula One is going to satisfy us and to simplify also, because most of the time, now that what we discuss in the strategy group is becoming public. I can say something in the strategy group where also we are discussing how to simplify the rules so we also need to do that and to do it we need to unify the rules, to simplify and to look further to enhance the show.

Q: (Will Buxton – NBC SN) Toto said a few moments ago that we can’t be blind to the situation in this sport any longer and yet the use of the veto by Ferrari shows that if not blind, it could possibly be argued that there’s a slight blurring of vision. I would like to ask the members of the panel that don’t have the right of veto for a simple yes or no answer; should anybody in this sport, should any team in this sport have the right of veto over regulation? 
CW: I think it is what it is. I think it’s like a lot of things in Formula One, that it is in the regulations that if Ferrari have that veto, it’s a historical veto they’ve had for many years. I don’t believe that they’ve exercised it on a regular basis but they obviously exercise it when they feel opposed to something and opposed to something that they believe that they should be opposed to because it’s important to them and Maurizio has laid out the reasons why he used... Ferrari used their veto. Where I sit, Williams, we’ve always just abided by the rules, they are what they are, like a lot of things in Formula One and we just go along with them. 
VM: I sit on the world motorsport council of the FIA so I’m not going to express my personal opinion. The FIA president Jean Todt has already issued a press statement surrounding this entire issue of the recommendations that were made for cost control measures, that Ferrari vetoed it, and he very clearly stated that he does not intend to contest the exercising of that veto so that’s it as far as I’m concerned. 
TW: Well, there is not a yes and no answer to this, it’s much more complex than this and I think it is an historic right which is a right that was earned in participating in the sport for fifty or sixty years, God knows how many years, and having amassed this tremendous amount, the question is is the veto the right way in terms of honouring that. It’s up to others to make that judgement so considering that, I think that somebody like Ferrari needs to have different right of opinion and expressing themselves than somebody who has been here ten minutes.

Q: (Dieter Rencken – Racing Lines) Arai-san, major corporations move employees, they give them projects, they give them assignments etc. I’m hearing from Japan that your assignment is a three year assignment, that there were two years to set up the Honda F1 programme and one year to introduce it in the field, i.e. this year. Can you assure us categorically that you’ll still head the programme next year or will somebody else take over? 
YA: I don’t know. I can’t say here.

Q: (Christopher Joseph – Chicane) Just further to your response, Toto, you talked about the veto and in general you’ve all spoken about the veto being part of the historic nature, the DNA, if you will, of Formula One. Is it perhaps time that, seeing as teams like the Williams team, all the independent garagistas as they were called, should they not have a veto, are they just not equally part of this great circus? 
TW: If we all had a veto, it doesn’t make any sense any more. No, I think this is really such a complex discussion which we shouldn’t have in public. My personal opinion is that you need to respect Ferrari’s position. It is the strongest brand in Formula One and it has done a lot around Formula One and has been honoured in various contracts be it the veto or be it with commercial rights. And whatever the ways of that being honoured is another question. Is veto the right thing to exercise your position or not, I don’t know, but it’s not a discussion we should be having here. 
MA: I would like to add also that we are not applying the veto to every single meeting. If we do it, we think a lot about it and we do it if, in our opinion, it’s necessary to do it and the last one, I remember, was applied by Jean Todt actually a couple of years ago, many years ago.

Thursday 29 October 2015

FIA Thursday Drivers' Press Conference

Drivers - Carlos Sainz (Toro Rosso), Pastor Maldonado (Lotus), Will Stevens (Marussia), Fernando Alonso (McLaren), Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes), Sergio Perez (Force India)

Lewis, if we can start with you: you’ve had a few days for it to sink in and now you arrive here as a three-time world champion. How does it feel and how were the celebration?

Lewis Hamilton: Well, hola everyone. Is it como estas?

Sergio Perez: Como estas.

LH: Como estas? Really happy to be here in Mexico, it’s my first time and the last few days have been relaxed, not too hectic, a little bit of partying but obviously conscious that we have the race this weekend, so couldn’t do too much damage. So I plan for more the end of the year to really go in. I don’t think it’s really sunk in yet. I think every day I’m kind of pinching myself, thinking ‘I can’t believe it’s really happened’. And I guess probably, like, yesterday I was straight back into business, I hit race mode, so I’ve not really been thinking about it that much but still it’s a good feeling.

You haven’t won it before with three races to go, you’ve only ever won it at the last, so what’s the plan for the rest of the season, still maximum attack?

LH: For me it’s always maximum attack, so we’ve still got these three races. For example, we’ve got the Mexican Grand Prix here, the first time in 23 years. I think it’s exciting for the Mexican people; it’s exciting for me, and as all us driver [feel], you love to have your stamp on the first race back here, so that’s the target and yeah, we’ve still got big races to win.

Thank you for that. Sergio, big week for you, busy week for you. Are you enjoying all the attention? Is it what you dreamed of?

SP: Yeah, it’s definitely a big dream for me to be able to race in my home country. It’s been more than 12 years since I raced in my country, so definitely it’s going to be the biggest day of my career on Sunday, because to race in front of my whole people, all my country, it’s something very special. You know how Mexicans are. So, it’s going to be the most special day of my career, no matter what result I get on Sunday. I really hope that we can have a great result and cheer all the fans that are doing the effort to come. But definitely it’s just going to be a dream come true on Sunday to race in front of my crowd.

You’re on a bit of a roll right now in terms of performance, so you’ve got a lot of confidence coming into this race. It’s the perfect time to have it for you, isn’t it?

SP: Yeah, definitely, we’ve been having a very good couple of races; the last six have been really strong for us. I think there is a very good chance we can keep up the momentum. I’m looking forward to do that and try to score as many points as possible on the weekend for the team and for all the people who are coming to see me on Sunday.

Thank you. Fernando, you drove a great race for little reward unfortunately in Austin, but you’re clearly not lacking motivation. Where do you think that inner steel, that inner strength from?

Fernando Alonso: Well, I think the team is doing a good job and everyone is pushing to improve the situation. All the new parts that we bring to the races they seem to deliver what we expect from them. Definitely there is a very nice direction in the team this year. It has been tough; it has been frustrating at times. But we kept all united, we kept all moving in one direction, one team and for next year I think we are putting some of the problems we had this year in [their] place for next year. So you keep enjoying racing and when the circuit suits a little bit our car there is a little bit of extra motivation and we push a little bit harder. It was the case in Austin, where we felt more competitive in all sessions over the weekend. In the race as well, it has been probably the best race of the year for me, Austin. In the first 20 laps I think in nine of them was quicker than Lewis and this didn’t happen for the past two years and a half! So this was very good news and definitely I enjoyed the race and, as you said, zero points for an issue in the last 10 laps but it was definitely a different feeling compared to the rest of the year.

You’ve said you think McLaren can find two and a half seconds over the winter. What makes you so confident, what have you seen?

FA: Well, I think the lack of performance we have in some areas of the car are quite fundamental issues that should have a not too difficult answer, let’s a say, or not too difficult a solution. It’s just we need to copy the direction everyone has apart from us. It’s some of the time that we feel we will recover with not much penalty, because for the others they already have it in their package. So some of the performance gain we expect will come for free but it’s true that all the competitors will work very hard over the winter and they will recover a couple of seconds also, so we need to make an extra, but we are feeling optimistic, we feel confident of next year being very competitive. We are realistic at the same time. We understand that in Formula One there are no magic things for being one year out of Q1 and the next year fighting for the championship - that’s a very, very optimistic target but we will try our best.

Thank you. Pastor, what can you tell us about your race in Austin? You managed to avoid all chaos and end up in the points.

Pastor Maldonado: Yeah, to be honest it was quite difficult from the set-up and balance point of view with the car during the entire race. We were not as quick as expected, as always, during the race. But yeah, when I saw the people fighting in the front, I was very cautious and trying to get the places from other car mistakes and yeah it was quite clean from my side and very consistent. At the end, P8. For sure we were expecting something but a few more points. It’s important for us at this stage of the season, so looking forward to continuing like this and going in the points.

Your new team-mate was announced in Austin. You’ll essentially be team leader next year. How do you feel about that? Does it change your outlook; do you feel added responsibility?

PM: Yeah, I hope it will be a completely different year to this one, with more resources. We need to push harder than this year, especially on the car and you know, yeah, try to be more solid on the development.

Carlos, coming to you. At this point in the season there is a lot of personal pride at stake. The battle between you and Max is really tight on track, even if the points don’t show it. Are you enjoying that battle and how do you come out on top with three races left?

Carlos Sainz: Yeah, I think it’s been a great year for both of us. Apart from the results, apart from the show, I think we are both learning a lot. From my side, I am enjoying a lot every single race, especially these last two. Obviously I started from the back and had to make my way through and I enjoyed that a lot. Everything is very good. We just need to make sure we keep learning, I keep learning until the end of the season. We have three races. I think it’s important to finish on a high, so keep the momentum up from the last two races and yeah, finish the season on a high.

It was your first time racing in Austin and conditions were difficult to say the least: schedules changing all the time, let alone the conditions. What did you learn from it and what confidence did you gain from that weekend?

CS: It was a much more difficult race than you may think for me, because my first lap in the dry in Austin was during the race. So I had no data, absolutely nothing, no information from the car, from the tyres. All of a sudden we had to go on slicks and I was learning every lap, lap by lap. I was enjoying it a lot. I knew I couldn't do any mistakes. I couldn’t push so hard because I needed to learn the track and even though we had lots of problems during the race to come up with a P6 and finally a P7 with the penalty was a great achievement. So I was very pleased with that race, probably one of the best of the season for sure and I cannot wait for Mexico and to continue in that way.

Thank you. Will, same question to you really: first time racing in Austin, although cut short. Changing conditions, first dry running in the race, just talk us through what you learned from that weekend?

Will Stevens: Yeah, Austin was a pretty cool weekend. Clearly not as much running as we hoped but the track was actually really good fun to drive in the wet - we were really having a lot of fun out there. Clearly the race was cut short for me, which was disappointing because it looked like the race was the best opportunity to have a good race besides Silverstone. It was disappointing. Then race looked good fun and I hope that I was out there to enjoy it.

You’ve got three races to go now. Do you think you have had a successful season and what indications have you had about next year?

WS: Yeah, I think the year has been really good for me. My pace has always been really strong this year. I’ve only been out-qualified by team-mate four times this year so pace has never really been an issue. The last few races haven’t really gone our way. A few things have happened that have made it a little bit more difficult. But if I was to assess the year as a whole, I think it’s been really positive and for my options for next year, obviously we are pushing hard and everything is moving in the right direction.


Q: (Dan Knutson - Honorary) Lewis, you’ve won three titles now, going back to when you won the first championship, what changed within you and what changed all around you after that first championship?

LH: I think quite a lot really. I think a lot of growth a lot of… there has been a lot of movement around me of course: different teams; different management team; different people around me. But I guess just grown a lot and through those experiences, it’s taken a long time, gone through the hard route. Before I got to Formula One I didn’t have any preparation for media and for press conferences like this stuff, so I felt like I was thrown in the deep end. It took a long, long time to really acclimatise, firstly to that side of Formula One, but also the fame. I think being able to feel comfortable within yourself, come out of your shell a little bit more and be comfortable and sure in who you are. It’s helped me drive better than ever today. Just over those years you learn more and more about racing so you hopefully improve. I definitely think as an all round driver I should be better today. Well, I am better.

Q: (Livio Oricchio - Lewis you won the championship, your team also won the Constructors’ Championship. What are you goals now? Do you go to the race maybe taking some more risks to fight for the win really - you don’t have anything to lose now.

LH: I think I generally have a really balanced approach. Balanced between risk and not-too-much-risk. I don’t think I need to change it really because it’s done me well this year with the ten wins. So I think keeping it the same and, of course, there’s not pressure this weekend but to enjoy, just enjoy the experience. And so that’s what I’m going to try and do.

Q: (Ricardo Roga - US. News) This is for Fernando Alonso. One year ago you were here, near the track. How do you see all the complex of Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez right now?

FA: Yes, I was one year ago here. Obviously many things changed and now the circuit is ready for the grand prix. I didn’t walk around, I think I will do it this afternoon. On the simulator it looks interesting. Very different part of the circuit with a very long straight and then the second sector with medium speed corners and the third sector with very low speed corners. A challenge for the engineers to set up the car. I think the last sector with the stadium area, that will be quite enjoyable for us, for drivers, being so close to thousands of people. Hopefully we will put on a good show for everyone. I think the passion and the atmosphere we’ve felt from a few days in Mexico is quite special. How people live Formula One here. With Checo also having a good weekend hopefully, we will see a fantastic weekend.

Q: (César Herrera - Diario Récord) Hi guys. For all the drivers, after seeing the track, what can you expect from the race on Sunday? Do you think it’s going to be a funny race? Do you think this track has opportunities to be the finest of the season?

PM: Yes. A lot of expectation from our side for this race. It’s maybe the most expected one for all of us. Very special for me. Very close to my country, Latin American, Spanish-speaking, a lot of friends here. I’ve been here in the past as well so, yes, very special. Of course, you make an amazing job on rebuilding the track. For sure it’s very difficult to predict something before we jump in the track and we test with the car. We just only can work and see from the outside but not from the car. I’m 100 per cent sure it’s going to be very spectacular for all of you.


CS: From the outside I managed to do the track walk yesterday and I was surprised with the amount of grandstands, especially the last sector and the entry to the stadium. I think it was very special. It’s something that we don’t have yet in Formula One and it’s going to be very interesting. And new tarmac so new circumstances, new degradations, new strategies. It’s going to be interesting. And those couple of long straights are for sure going to create some movement in the race and maybe with the rain coming that’s a bit expected now, it could be even more interesting. Hopefully we can have as good a race as in Austin, as good a show as in Austin and people in Mexico enjoy it.


WS: Similar to what Carlos said. I think the weather looks pretty unpredictable for the weekend. So we saw from Austin it can be a pretty exciting race and I think with the long straights for sure there’s going to be some overtaking. So, I only arrived here yesterday, it’s my first time in Mexico, so, looking to get used to the city a little bit. There’s always a really good atmosphere in places like this and I’m sure Checo’s doing a good job with helping promote it. Looking forwards to the weekend. It should be a good one.

Checo, you probably know this place best…

SP: Yeah, it’s great to hear all of the drivers so happy to be here in my country. That makes me feel very proud of what we have done. I think, walking through the paddock, it looks like we have done a great job for the track and we can compare this track against any other around the world. And the track layout itself, the circuit, it’s a great circuit. It can really offer good racing. We have one of the longest straights, which generally always helps to have good racing. So, I would really expect to have great racing between all of us on Sunday, which will be great for the fans.


LH: Well I just arrived so I haven’t seen the track as such. I haven’t walked around - but hopefully I’ll get the chance to walk around later. But from the simulator it looked pretty awesome, and from images I’ve seen. And knowing that… generally the crowd really is what makes the atmosphere and makes the weekend. I’ve heard this weekend is sold out and I know… I’ve got some Mexican friends that I spend Christmases with, so I know the spirit of the Mexicans. If they all come out in their thousands, I think it could be one of the most amazing weekends. So I’m looking forward to that.

SP: They will, don’t worry!


FA: Yeah, the same. Nothing really to add. The atmosphere on the weekend is amazing. It’s one of the very first things that we need to enjoy and experience. The race itself, how it can be, it’s impossible to predict. We should not judge on Sunday afternoon on whatever race it was. In Russia we saw a very boring race the first year and very exciting race the second. The circuit was exactly the same. Sometimes in football you see 0-0, sometimes 5-4. It’s difficult to predict, this sport. First we need to enjoy this weekend and put on a good race for all the fans.

Q: (Alan Baldwin - Reuters) If I could ask all the drivers, just how physical and demanding is it going to be with that combination of altitude, the long straight. Is it going to be more demanding than other races this season?

FA: Again, we should wait until Sunday but yes, definitely there is a little bit different conditions here. So, we should be taking care of this race a little bit better than others in terms of physical preparation with altitude. With these cars we drive now, it should be OK. If we had this race ten years ago with cars eight seconds quicker, it would be very tough.

Lewis, any concerns about the altitude?

LH: I think it’s going to… I really don’t know what to expect. Naturally by having higher altitude, I train in high altitude during the winter so I anticipate it’s going to be more physical for us - but it also depends on how much grip there is. On the simulator I had not much. So, I guess we’ll find out tomorrow. We’ll have a much better idea about it tomorrow.


SP: The same to what they’ve said. I think we have to wait until Sunday and see how we end up after the race. I don’t expect big issues as I think having those compounds it shouldn’t be such a big issue.

LH: There should be champagne and tequila on the podium and sombreros.

SP: There will be…

Carlos, anything to add?

CS: No. I agree with them.


PM: Yeah, I agree with them. We have to wait and see. It’s something new for all us.


WS: No. Not much more to add.

Q: (Peter Windsor - F1 Racing) To everyone, in view of the kind of weird situation we had in Austin where Nico seemed to pass Daniel Ricciardo at the end of the virtual safety car period, with Red Bull still thinking it was continuing, presumably it was all legal but it was odd. What are your collective views on virtual safety car and how difficult it is to restart from that, to keep the delta?

FA: I don’t think it’s a big issue. I know in Austin it was a little bit strange because we had many of them and we were always in a group of cars but we have to sit down with the race director and try to find little tweaks if necessary but it’s the same for everybody and it’s like all the rules: you need to be spot on, you need to be focussed, you need to be clever. I don’t think that whatever solution we find, it will be always a tweak that someone will spoil. I don’t see any big problem.

WS: I actually think it works pretty well to be honest. If there’s a scenario where it doesn’t need to be a safety car, it normally keeps everything as it was and normally they can clear it quicker. I think generally it works pretty well. I think sometimes... in Russia we had a situation at the start where the virtual safety car came out pretty quickly and all the cars at the back bunched up quite a lot. I think how you go into it sometimes can be better but overall I think the system works pretty well.

LH: Yeah, I don’t really have much more to add to it. I think it works well. It not the easiest to stay to the delta but it’s the same for everyone and we do our best.

PM: Yeah, happy with that. I guess what we saw in the last race was a bit extreme just because of the conditions and I was not happy. On the other hand what happened to have a spectacular race so quite good.

SP: Yeah, similar to all the others. I don’t have any issues. The race was very extreme. We had plenty of virtual safety cars and that didn’t help but I think at the same time you have to be on it because especially in Austin, by the time that my team advised me that it was going to end was a very short period, about three or four seconds, really short period whereas in the past it was a bit longer in that respect so something to look at with the race director.

CS: Yeah, I have no issues with it. I think it works pretty well. So obviously just like another restart of safety car, you just need to be on it. It’s not easy when the message comes because you have to do a lot of changes while you are trying to look out for the green panel but that’s all. As these guys have said, it’s the same for everyone and it’s just sometimes you will get it perfect, others not so much and you need to be on it.

Q: (Daniel Johnson - The Telegraph) Lewis, since the race in Austin, have you discussed the turn one incident with the Nico or the team at all? And secondly, obviously Nico is in quite a close battle for second in the drivers’ championship and Mercedes would like him to finish second. Will you help him out at all in that respect?

LH: We haven’t spoken, not that I think we really need to. The team has not asked me to support him in that role as I’m here to win the race. The team has won the constructors’ championship so I think from here on there’s not really a huge benefit for the team for me to start helping. We’ll see what Toto wants me to do.

Q: (Ian Parkes - Autosport) Lewis, just following on from that, Toto was quite clear after the race that he did feel the need for talks to take place, that he didn’t want any fall-out like that which occurred in Spa. Why would you suggest that you don’t think there’s a need for any talks? And secondly, as a supplementary question, what happened with the cap flinging incident? Are you and Nico going to have a chat about that at all going forward... with the cap flinging incident that happened in the green room?

LH: Ah, OK. The reason for me is just that I’m very easy going and so I never really have any problems. I think Toto feels that he needs to perhaps sit with Nico to see where his head’s at. Obviously we don’t want any tension in the team. Generally we do often come together and just keep it transparent. I don’t really have anything to say about it but of course I’m sure we will sit down and see what Nico’s feeling and whatever emotions he has and try and dilute them and then move on. In terms of the cap thing, I don’t know, it’s pretty funny so I don’t really have much else to say about it.

Q: (Jorge Koechlin - AutoMundo) Checo, your dream, when we met when you were five years old and racing go-karts against your brother and you’ve come all this way with great talent. Do you feel responsible for this happening today in Mexico? And there’s a name that comes to mind, Carlos Slim. How has it been all this time and how do you feel together with him today that this is actually happening?

SP: Yeah, it’s been a great trip. As you say, Carlos has been a great supporter of my career, a great friend of mine and we’re so proud of what we have achieved in terms of the Mexican Grand Prix. It’s not only the both of us, there’s been a lot of people - the government... as I say, so many people involved to try to bring this race to make it happen and it just makes me feel so proud to actually arrive here, see all the drivers, see all the teams, all the worldwide media and it’s something that makes me feel extremely proud and I’m sure we will do a great event and I have no doubt that this event will become very popular for everyone, all amongst the F1 family.

Q: (Jim Virtuno - Associated Press) Sergio, what did you hear, growing up, about the Mexican drivers who came before you in Formula One and with all the excitement around you and your home race, can it become a negative pressure sort of thing? You have to just sit back and focus on the racing rather than everything else that’s going on.

SP: What I’ve heard from the drivers... I mean it’s been a long time since we don’t have a driver and I even grew up with a Mexican driver in Formula One, so all what I’ve heard, what I heard from the people, from the Mexicans, obviously from the Rodriguez who are the most popular ones, yeah, I think they were great. Unfortunately they died at a very young age. I think they had a lot more to offer to the sport and to Formula One. In terms of Sunday, I think it’s very positive pressure Obviously there is a lot of pressure but I take it as a very positive one, there will be a lot of energy, people really supporting me and what I have to do is what I do every weekend, it’s focus on myself. Once I put the helmet on, it’s time to focus on what I’m doing, I have to do the normal procedure that I do throughout the races. There are a lot of things that we have to do before the race start, before qualifying and so on. Obviously there is a lot of pressure but a very positive type of pressure and I see that it will give me a very good motivation to do well this Sunday.

Q: (Osvaldo Anaya - Estadio Newspaper) Lewis, yesterday you told us that you expect this main straight to be one of the fastest if not the fastest of the year. Could you elaborate on that?

LH: Just my engineers told me that it’s going to be the fastest, the fast straight, right?

SP: It’s a very fast straight, yes.

LH: Because it’s quite long, because we’ve got the high altitude, we’ve got the least amount of drag, probably of the whole year, so I think because we’ve got the turbo... I think in the past, it was the V8 and the normally aspirated engines, we would have lost power alongside with the downforce, but with this car we don’t, we lose downforce and drag but we don’t lose any power with the turbo so it should be pretty unbelievably fast this weekend.

Q: (Thomas Goubin - AutoHebdo) Checo, you said that your last race in Mexico was twelve years ago, I just wanted to know what was this race and what memories you have of this race?

SP: Yeah, they’re not great memories because it’s a very long story and we don’t have all the time to go through it but basically on the Sunday they didn’t allow me to race because I have a special licence to race, I was twelve years old and I had a special permit to race against drivers of twenty, 25 years old. I was winning the championship and one race before I had a contact with another driver so the federation took the licence away and they were giving me the chance to race and not, so in the end they allowed me to qualify. I qualified second but then in the race they didn’t allow me to race so that was my last experience here in Mexico, so I hope on Sunday will be a lot better.

Monday 26 October 2015

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Saturday 24 October 2015

FIA Team Members' Press Conference

TEAM REPRESENTATIVES – Matthew CARTER (Lotus), Vijay MALLYA (Force India), Franz TOST (Toro Rosso), Christian HORNER (Red Bull Racing), Eric BOULLIER (McLaren)


Q: Christian, we’ll begin with you. First of all, what’s the… you’re smiling? 
Christian HORNER: I’m just very upset to hear Toto is ill and couldn’t make it, that his helicopter couldn’t fly unfortunately. Anyway, I wish him well and hope he’s OK. I’m sure there will be no fine, obviously. It should be about 100 million, apparently.

Q: Daniel Ricciardo was here with us yesterday, talking about the update Renault engine. What’s your final decision then on when and if you are going to use this updated version? 
CH: I think the situation for the Renault engine, for the updated version, which they are referring to as the D-spec version, Renault have confirmed earlier today that the conditions for it to run in aren’t quite right yet, so that has been postponed to Brazil, which for us makes more sense. We wouldn’t want to be taken engines out of the car here or next weekend in Mexico.

Q: I’m sure it’s been a very intense period for you, trying to find a way forward for next year and beyond on the engine front. Would it be accurate to say that some kind of deal with Renault or Honda looks likely now or would you rule out those two options?
CH: I think as we sit here there has been a great deal of speculation and interest in what the engine supply we are going to have next year is. As we sit here now, nothing is fixed. There is a lot of discussion going on in the background and hopefully there will be a resolution fairly soon.

Q: OK, coming to you then Eric on that, can you clarify the position from McLaren’s point of view with respect to Honda and a secondary supply of engines. Is there an advantage to having another strong team helping to develop the power unit from your point of view?
Eric BOULLIER: It’s difficult to comment, other than we are happy with our partnership with Honda and this is what we wanted to achieve, to be a works team with an OEM. I can’t comment obviously on what Christian just said or whatever happens.

Q: From the little running you’ve been able to do today how much of a step forward is the updated engine that Fernando is running this weekend going to be? 
EB: Well, I think we were one of the most active teams on track this morning. We did enough laps to confirm what said after Russia, which is clearly an improvement of the engine. I think all his engineers were happy with the numbers and the mapping they were running through this morning.

Q: Franz, coming to you, another team boss on the lookout for an engine. What are you going to be using next season?
Franz TOST: We will see. We are still negotiating. It is not decided yet. Hopefully it will be soon the case because otherwise the timeframe will become quite small but nevertheless we are still optimistic that we will do it.

Q: As you say, it’s getting quite late in the design process. With your resources that you have in Faenza, how much of a challenge is it to build a car now without knowing what engine you’re going to be using? 
FT: It’s a challenge because every day we lose will decrease our performance for next year, but we have an emergency plan for the design office and pay for the production and I’m still convinced we can do it in time.

Q: OK. Matthew, coming to you. Obviously we are aware that the process of being acquired by Renault is ongoing, but how much planning have you been able to do? For example, with the letter of intent were you also given a set of blueprints for a 2016 Renault engine that you can start designing around? 
Matthew CARTER: Absolutely, yes. Again, it’s difficult for us to talk in any great detail but we certainly have an idea of the route we are going to go down next year. We can’t confirm anything at this stage but we certainly are heading down that route and things back at Enstone are taking shape.

Q: Now, Romain Grosjean has confirmed he is moving on, does the Renault takeover have to be completed before you make your selection on his replacement?
MC: No it doesn’t. I think there will probably be an announcement at some point this weekend with regard to our second driver.

Q: Can you give us a little foretaste?
MC: I can’t. The announcement will probably happen in the next hour or so but certainly after this press conference you will be aware of which direction we are heading in.

Q: Very good, thank you for that. Vijay, podium last time out in Sochi. In the last five races Sergio has scored 39 points to Nico Hulkenberg’s 14, what’s been going on there? 
Vijay MALLYA: Well, I guess Nico hasn’t had the best of luck. He hasn’t finished as consistently as Sergio has but I think overall from a team perspective, since we launched the B-spec car in Silverstone we have shown we are a lot more competitive and I’m quite pleased about that. But Nico is a top-class driver and I’m sure he will score points going forward.

Q: Now you and Sauber have made a formal complaint to the EU competition commission. Monisha Kaltenborn was in this press conference a couple of weeks ago in Sochi and spoke about this. Can you share your thought on it and what you believe the outcome will be?
VM: I can’t predict the outcome. We have lodged a complaint basically saying that the distribution of Formula One income is disproportionate and disadvantageous to small teams and it’s a process and we’ll just see where it goes.


Q: (Seff Harding – Xiro Zone News) The question is for everyone. There is talk about returning to the V8 engine, which has been a fan favourite, and I wanted to get you guys’ thoughts on it and would you be prepared to return to that powerplant for next season?

CH: We might have to because we don’t have an engine! If you look at the plus points of the V8s were, the sound was the obvious one for the fans. It was quite simple technology compared to what we have now, so the costs were significantly lower, but the machinery that we have now through the regulations we have, they are incredible bits of equipment and I think what we need to do is rather than look backwards, look forwards as to what should the engine develop to be for the future. And I think there are elements of what we have that are strong at the moment but I think it can be improved and I would certainly love to see the volume go back up and certainly the cost of development come down.

EB: I think Christian said everything but as far as we are concerned, as McLaren-Honda, Honda joined the sport because of the challenge of the technology and obviously, yes, some may regret the engine noise of the V8 and some regret the cost as well but it's true that we have to look forward and as a piece of technology it’s brilliant, once it works, in our case hopefully soon. It’s a nice challenge to run these engines.

Anything to add from the back row, gentlemen? Matthew? 
MC: I think I tend to agree with what Eric said and the relevance of the new engines to the road car and the benefit that the road cars can get from the technology means we are going down the right path at the moment?

Q: (Daniel Johnson – Daily Telegraph) A question for Eric. It emerged over the last week or so that Kevin Magnussen was fired by an email… OK, ended his contract with McLaren via an email from Ron’s PA on his 23rd birthday. I just wondered what you thought of that as a piece of man management by Ron, you know, is that really fair to Kevin? Is he owed a bit of an apology from the team?
EB: So, first of all, he has not been fired, as you said. I want to tell you that his contract was ending this year, so there was an option to renew it or not and we decided to not renew it for several reasons. We as McLaren that Kevin obviously has a great talent and he has to be praised for that and he should get a drive in Formula One next year and his career should get there. Anyway he will have a successful career I’m sure. As far as I am concerned by the process, I will not comment.

Q: (Daniel Johnson – Daily Telegraph) What does it say about the culture of McLaren? 
EB: Next question.

Q: (Ian Parkes – Autosport) Question for Christian. Obviously  hindsight’s a wonderful thing but do you not now consider it a catastrophic business mistake to cancel your contract with Renault without having a replacement in place first of all.
CH: That’s an interesting question. I think that, if you look at our relationship with Renault, it’s been unconventional from the start. I remember asking Flavio Briatore for the supply of the engine back in 2006 and somehow we ended up sponsoring Queens Park Rangers and sponsoring the Billionaire club for a year before receiving the engine – and since then we really we’ve enjoyed huge success with Renault during the V8 era and the collaboration between the companies was very strong during that period of time. And during that time they obviously had their own team and then they sold their team. I think obviously what’s happened with the regulations that came in for last year, the V6, the hybrid regulations, expectations were set and promises were made and inevitably in any relationship like the competitive environment that we have in Formula One, when promises aren’t fulfilled then frustration sets in. It’s not something that’s bubbled up just over the last few months. It’s been a progressive thing – probably on both sides in fairness. Despite the very best efforts of all the people involved, for whatever reason it hasn’t worked, and so the decisions that have been made have been made for a reason – and in the interests of the team moving forward. Red Bull’s goals and objectives in Formula One are to compete and to win. Unfortunately we haven’t felt that those objectives have been mirrored over the last couple of years. So, therefore, decisions have been taken based on the philosophy of where the team wants to be. So the situation that we’re in for next year is that we’re looking to find a competitive solution to enable the team, first of all, to continue racing but racing competitively – and competitively for the foreseeable future.

Q: (Dan Knutson – Honorary) Eric, yesterday Fernando Alonso was telling us he’s very confident the team can make up a big chunk of time for next year. What do your computers and analysis show? How much can you improve, engine and chassis-wise, next year? 
EB: It’s an easy question because defining targets are always easy on paper. We know where we want to be as McLaren-Honda and if we get there we can obviously get what Fernando said. I’m not saying we’ll be there but we know we want to be there. We are definitely working on how to be there.

Q: (Dieter Rencken ¬– Racing Lines) To the back [MC, VM, FT] basically there are five teams that are disadvantaged under the Strategy Group and revenue structures, the way they stand at the moment, yet only two of those five have actually lodged the complaint with the EU. So the question to Matthew and to Franz, do your teams not feel disadvantaged by the structures – or why did you not join in the action? And Vijay, are you disappointed that only two teams of five have actually taken that step?

Matthew, let’s start with you.
MC: I think we’re in a unique situation in terms of where we are as a team. From my own personal opinion, would we have taken a different route if we weren’t under the potential new owners, as we are, then possibly we would have done. However, as things stand at the moment, we are trying to plot a course through the turbulent times that we’re in at the moment, the best way that we can. We’ve been advised and we have discussed at a fairly high level, the route that we’re going to take and we’ve decided that we would not join the action.

FT: We signed a contract a couple of years ago, we knew the contents and therefore there is no reason for us to claim against the commercial rights holder.

And Vijay, your feelings?
VM: First of all, even if one team complains, it is still a complaint. What we have sought is the intervention of the European Commission to determine whether the current distribution of income pattern is fair and equitable or not. I hear what Franz has said about contracts being signed. Yes, I can confirm that contracts have been signed but the disparity between the contracts was something that was unknown at the time those contracts was sign. And it’s never too late to complain, is it?

Q: (Alan Baldwin – Reuters) Eric, Adrian Newey said the other day in an interview that he understood that McLaren had a veto on Honda supplying another team with an engine. Is that the case?
EB: I think it’s better to not comment any more on this discussion because obviously as we said already there is a lot of discussion behind the scenes. McLaren and Honda are official partners and obviously there is a due respect of understanding from each party.

Q: (Graham Harris – Motorsport Monday) A follow-up for Christian. You say you’re looking for a competitive engine for next year. Does that include Renault?
CH: Does that include Renault… obviously discussions have been going on with Renault to understand what their plans are for next year but I think until they commit to whether they’re going to be in Formula One or not, it’s difficult at this stage to take that any further.

Do you not have a contract with them officially for next year?
CH: We have an agreement with Renault that runs to the end of next year which there’s obviously been a lot of speculation about and I’m sure there will be confirmation about that agreement in the coming days.

Q: (Luigi Perna – La Gazzetta dello Sport) Question for Christian, considering the position which you are in now, maybe it would be better to consider the possibility to have a Ferrari spec, not the latest spec but a 2015 spec for next season, don’t you agree?
CH: It may well be the case. I might agree with you. At the moment everything is open.

Q: (Christopher Joseph – Chicane) Question for Vijay and Matt. Vijay, you spoke about ‘it’s never to late to complain’, a) why did it take you so long and, that’s the business rationale behind the decision: what do you think is the sporting rationale and how will that play out for you in the future?
VM: I don’t see what bearing the European Union complaint has on the sporting side of things. I remember last year here in Austin there was much speculation on whether three teams would be boycotting the races. We raced here in Austin, we raced in Brazil and Abu Dhabi, we completed the season. Here we are again a year later – but fundamentals remain fundamentals. You exhaust various options and avenues of dialogue and, if you still remain unsatisfied, then there is a Commission to go to, which is what has been done.

Matthew, anything to add?
MC: No.

Q: (Christian Menath- Motorsport Magazin) Christian, you said that the chance of running a Honda engine next year is 25 per cent as is the chance of running every other engine. That means that quitting F1 is no more an option for you. 
CH: For me it’s not an option, we have to find a solution and I’m working very hard to ensure that the team’s on the grid and competitive for next year and beyond.

Q: (Alan Baldwin – Reuters) Christian, you said ‘for me it’s not an option’. Is it still an option for Mr Mateschitz?
CH: Well of course it is, it’s his team at the end of the day. He recognises the commitment and the skill and determination that’s within the team. Again, he wants to find a solution going forward. He’s committed to helping that and behind the scenes is obviously involved in numerous discussions to try and facilitate that.

Q: (Ian Parkes – Autosport) Just following up again Christian, so what’s changed behind the scenes then, that these discussions have now taken place, that you’re not now going to quit F1, because that has been something that Dietrich has suggested could happen for quite some time now? 
CH: That could still be his prerogative, that could still be his decision to do that. Indeed, if we don’t have an engine then we can’t race but my position, as team principal of the team feeling the responsibility for the in excess of 800 employees that we have, is to ensure that we’re on the grid and we’re racing and we’re racing competitively next year so therefore I’m working hard to try and ensure that we have a solution.

Q: (Dieter Rencken – Racing Lines) It appears as though Pirelli will get the contract from 2017 going forwards and I believe that one of the points that they insist upon was that there is some form of testing, both for the 2017 cars and beyond. How do you feel about a possible return to testing? 
FT: We will increase the costs dramatically. Personally I am totally against this testing. We have some testing sessions at the beginning of the season and this should be enough. We have 20 races and if you look at the calendar, if you want to do some tests in between, you need to build up a test team which means we have to bring in another ten, fifteen mechanics, another five to seven engineers and at the end of the year, we have spent around ten million more and I’m just asking whether this is necessary. Absolutely not. I can give you the answer, because we have seen now the last years that without testing we can also achieve our goals. It’s just wasting money. 
EB: Well it’s true that it’s going to bring the costs up. This is not something that we’re obviously in favour of. We also need to understand that Pirelli maybe needs some track experience so all in one I guess if they can cover the cost or most of the cost of it so we can maybe find some agreement in the middle or in between, not having to necessarily bring back testing like in the old days but maybe a few days. 
VM: I agree with what Franz said. I think it will be unnecessary and a huge increase in cost and we’re only talking about cost control which also has not been implemented in spirit but now to go back to the old testing days will only once again drive costs out of control. 
MC: There’s probably a fine line between the old testing days and what Pirelli are suggesting. I think it needs to be looked at in more detail. I also think that if they’re suggesting that they need to do this testing to prove the safety or to prove the reliability and ultimately that’s going to increase the safety within the sport, then it’s possibly a good thing. 
CH: Well, I think if you take all the valid points that have been made, I think the other difficulty is that the tyres for 2017, the diameter and the width is significantly different so it’s not as easy as just bolting those tyres onto a current car. The downforce levels are going to be significantly different in 2017 to ’16 so therefore it’s going to be very difficult to build a car that is going to simulate what Pirelli need for 2017 so they’re going to have to rely a little bit like the rest of us on accurate simulation in order to make sure the product fits what it’s required for or find another way, outside of Formula One, of testing those tyres.

Q: Dieter Rencken – Racing Lines) Eric, you seem to be against any form of increased testing yet Mr Dennis was recently quoted as saying that he favoured testing, he wanted a return to testing. Is that correct or not? 
EB: I didn’t say this. I didn’t say we were against testing... I am against testing. Definitely this is not what I said, I think. I think we are in favour and as long as some of the costs can be covered. Talking about the Pirelli testing.

Q: (Will Buxton – NBC SN) Christian, when BMW pulled out of Formula One, Peter Sauber came to the rescue of his team. When Honda pulled out of Formula One, Ross Brawn took over his team. Sauber’s now celebrating 400 races and the team over at Brackley has just taken a second championship. You’ve said that Mr Mateschitz’s future might be whatever it is, maybe to pull out of Formula One. You’ve said that your intention is not to quit Formula One, not to have the team quit Formula One, to save the team. Is there a potential then, if Mr Mateschitz does want to pull his team out of Formula One, that you will take that responsibility on your own back, to save the team, potentially as Arden International as it’s been so successful in junior formulae? 
CH: Well, this weekend is actually our 200th Grand Prix and when you look at what Red Bull’s achieved in that period of time, 25 per cent of those races have been won, more than 100 podiums, four drivers’, four constructors’ world championships. It’s been a tremendously successful period for Red Bull. My objective is very clear: it’s to keep the current status quo running for the foreseeable future. Ultimately the final decision lies with Dietrich but he is an utmost fan of the sport, otherwise he would never have committed the kind of funds that are required to be competitive in Formula One. He’s been involved in Formula One, not just as a team owner for the last ten years but ten years prior to that as an investor in the Sauber team and prior to that as a sponsor. He’s invested in a lot of young drivers that owe their careers to Red Bull and his vision, and I believe that discussions of other shareholding or change of shareholding... they’re not applicable at the moment. The focus is purely on finding a solution to our engine predicament, that we can move forward for next year and the future.

Q: (Michael Schmidt – Auto, Motor und Sport) Eric and Christian, if the European Commission finally shares the view of Force India and Sauber, what would that mean for your operation, how would it affect it and do you think then that the field would come closer together? 
EB: No idea, no idea because you started your question with ‘if’.
CH: Money is an important factor in Formula One. The promoter theoretically could take the view of if he chose to give all the prize money to the winning team. It’s then down to the teams to decide whether they wish to enter or not. So it will be interesting to see how the EU rule on something like that, because does that mean that we could say that teams unwilling to supply engines, is that anti-competitive? So everything could therefore end up in the commission.

Q: (Alan Baldwin – Reuters) Christian, if I can come back to Ian’s earlier question about how you got yourself into this pickle, I’m not sure you entirely answered it earlier on. There’s been speculation that what’s happened to Volkswagen with the emission scandal may have derailed your plans to some extent. Can you just comment on that? Is that the case? 
CH: Well of course there was – as publicly known – there has been discussion with the VW Group which obviously... with their current issues probably Formula One is the last thing on their mind. There were other discussions that will become apparent no doubt in the future as well, other promises that were made. There’s an awful lot of speculation and conjecture about our situation at the moment. Once everything is finalised I’m sure it will all become extremely clear. 

I would just like to add Happy Birthday to Dieter. I know this isn’t answering your question but I gather he’s 87 today and he’s looking great on it.