Franz Tost (Toro Rosso), Monisha Kaltenborn (Sauber), Federico Gastaldi (Lotus), Graeme Lowdon (Manor), Paul Monaghan (Red Bull Racing).
Q: A question to you all. The tender document for a commercially available Formula One engine has gone out – what do you think of the idea, in principle?
Franz TOST: I think it’s a good idea. We from Toro Rosso will support it because we want to have this new engine – at least to have the possibility to choose something, to bring up a new engine for lower costs because the current power unit costs a hell of money. b) to be flexible, c) we will have a new sound. And I think that most of the fans and those people here want to have another engine with a better sound – and the rest we will see.
Monisha KALTENBORN: Well, we all know that in the last few years the engine price has been the major cost trigger, driving costs tremendously high, and we are a customer for engines, so what our prime position is that we want the engine prices to go down and we believe there is room to do that. Looking at this alternative, we are a bit skeptical about this because, looking at other series you see how difficult it is if you have two kinds of different engines in one series. It’s not worked in the past. We’re seeing it now, currently, that there are a lot of issues attached to it. That’s one point. The second one is it’s meant to have parity with the current engine and that’s a complex area. It’s not easy to achieve that. And moreover, there’s a world out there and we have to move with that world. Hybrid technology, you might like it personally or not – but that is the demand on the market today. So we have to also cater to these demands, particularly the engine suppliers, so I believe it’s also not going to be very good for the image of Formula One – we’ve tried to move away from such technologies which are irrelevant for the businesses of manufacturers. More importantly we actually should try to get the prices down, which in our view is absolutely doable.
Federico GASTALDI: Well, I agree with both of them. I mean, again, it will be good from my point of view, our point of view it will be good for the sport to have this new engines running. It’s very important, as Monisha said, that the price comes down – we’re obviously also buyers. So, yeah, I think it’s important to move into that direction and keep the prices as down as possible in order for all of us to be more competitive.
Graeme LOWDON: I think Franz’s summary was a very good one. I think we need to welcome anything that is designed to make the sport more sustainable and hopefully, as well, put back into the hands of the teams a little bit more about what they can control. None of the teams here make engines and therefore you can see that there’s frustration among certain teams where they don’t have the ability to fully influence their position in the Constructors’ Championship. There’s no championship for an engine manufacturer and yet it has such an enormous influence. That said, if there is a dominant engine and you have it in your team, then that’s obviously a great position to be in and everybody will be pretty happy with that position. Equally, it there’s teams in that position, there’s going to be teams in the opposite position. Ideally what we want to see is teams fighting it out on the race track.
And finally Paul.
Paul MONAGHAN: To answer your question directly, Red Bull will support it on grounds of cost and supply.
Q: Back to you Graeme, you and John Booth have handed in your resignations recently. You rescued the team from administration last winter, you’ve secured Mercedes power units for the future, so why this timing?
GL: Well, yeah, Abu Dhabi’s going to my last race with the team and rather than focus on the reasons, I would prefer to focus on the fact that the most important task this year was to make sure that the team continued racing. We had to stop before the end of last season, we weren’t in Abu Dhabi last year, and that required an awful lot of hard work and an awful lot of commitment as well. It’s quite well documented, the staff were all made redundant on the 7th of November, 2014 and things looked pretty bleak at that particular time. My own opinion is that Formula One racing teams are pretty precious things and something that deserves effort in making sure it continued. Certainly my belief in the team at that stage never wavered once. We worked very very hard to make sure that the team was in a position to continue racing. And we had a lot of help. Now is probably my only opportunity actually to thank a few people who were instrumental in the team being able to continue and certainly over that period, November, December, January, we received a lot of help from Bernie Ecclestone in particular, also from Jean Todt and I have to say everybody involved in the governing side and the commercial rights side were entirely constructive during that whole period and the team wouldn’t have survived without that input. But also from Ferrari who were really, again, instrumental, not just in the team being able to survive and get an engine deal at very short notice but also from the very first race, a commitment from James Allison in particular. He has a very important and public task at Ferrari, ensuring that their team is in a good position but from our point of view, as a customer team, we received some really pivotal support from him. And of course the staff at the team; we had to get a team back together very very quickly and that would not have happened if we hadn’t have been able to attract a lot of the same faces who were with the team in the previous years. Again, that was extremely important. If that hadn’t have happened, the team wouldn’t have continued as well, so a lot of things had to come together and so from my point of view, this has been a pretty difficult season but that’s secondary to the fact that the team continues, and that’s the most important thing.
Q: Federico, speaking of change, can you update us on the takeover by Renault? Do you have any Renault employees already at Enstone and when do you hope the final announcement will be made?
FG: Well, that’s pretty much a call that has to be done from Renault. All the bits and pieces are there, yes, we do have people since Singapore working there already so when it will be announced is their call.
Q: Paul, you appeared in this Friday press conference in Russia and said that you would work with whatever engine you were given. It’s now one month later so are you now in danger of missing the February test?
PM: No, in summary. We are working towards a deal and if one can be achieved, then that will be announced in time but we will still make it, don’t worry.
Q: But from an engineering point of view, can you...
PM: We would still make it, yes.
Q: Franz, it’s clearly been a positive season for both of your rookie drivers. There’s been no official word, I think, that both are remaining with the team for 2016. Can we take it that they are both confirmed?
FT: If the team is on the starting grid then I consider that both of them will be the drivers of Toro Rosso, because so far they have done a very good job and of course we want to keep them.
Q: And can you tell us any more about being on the grid?
FT: It’s not decided yet. We will see. I’m convinced, optimistic, that this will be the case.
Q: Finally to you, Monisha, as Felipe Nasr mentioned yesterday in the press conference, your 2015 strategy certainly worked with 21 of your 36 points scored in the first six Grands Prix of the year as others struggled with reliability and performance. So what’s the plan for 2016, as you look to consolidate your position as a regular and consistent points scorer?
MK: The plan’s very simple. We want to make more points and continue this upwards trend. I hope that we can get more continuity into it and that is not limited just to one part of the season. We need to have regular development and we will already need to start focusing on the following year with the rule changes coming up and we don’t want to be caught again in the situation we were caught in last time when there was a massive change and we were not very competitive. So it’s the strategy just to go ahead into that direction, maybe on the performance side or stabilising or strengthening the company further.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Silva Renée Arias – Parabrisas) I would like to know, if I understood well, Monisha, you said that these new engines have some issues. Can you clarify which kind of issues this engine will have?
MK: I don’t know if the engines will have issues, I have no idea about that. What I was saying was that there are many issues which you need to consider and we also have communicated that to the FIA, particularly talk about parity on the performance side and that’s not easy to achieve. We’re seeing another series that it is quite a challenge. You’re talking with these engines, for example, about refuelling again so to get that parity in with the hybrid engine is already an issue in itself. Then of course, if you look at the financial side of it, what savings we had from stopping refuelling, you’re again bringing those costs in which are not small costs, if you have to introduce that. So we’ve also communicated to the FIA that we will watch this tender process, we’re not saying we’re totally against it but you really have to be sure what you’re doing here, from a commercial perspective, from a technical perspective and for image reasons of Formula One. That’s all we are saying, to just be careful before you do something which until now another series had not really turned out to be a success.
Q: (Joe Saward – Grand Prix Special) It’s nice to see you all smiling. Question: you weren’t all smiling, you look very tired actually. I want to know how you feel at this season, the length of the season. Is it a good calendar or could we make it better, from the point of view of the people involved because it’s not easy to do, is it?
PM: Thank you for noting my somewhat tired appearance! We are given a calendar and I bet if I look back upon the four years when Red Bull won its championships, probably arrived at this race on a bit of a high, thinking here we go: championship shoot-out as it was in Abu Dhabi in 2010 and here in 2012, wasn’t it. So we arrived in a slightly different situation and I’m probably as tired if not the same as the other years. The challenges are different but come Sunday, come tomorrow and Sunday, the adrenalin is going, you forget all of that, there’s a race, goodness me, we want to win one and why shouldn’t it be us here? So the calendar is presented to us, I don’t control it, we’ll deal with it, if we come out champions I’m happier than if we don’t come out champions. It probably affects me more for Christmas than anything else.
FT: Yeah, the year has 52 weeks, we should have 26 races. Tired, you get at home.
FG: Well, I’m a hundred and fifty-eight years old so no other.
Q: Hundred and fifty-eight?
FG: I guess it’s tiring for everyone, for all of you, for all of us so it’s the same thing, it’s just a long season but I think it honestly keeps us in good shape, you know, moving, yeah, might be tiring one day but it’s challenging, it’s good. I like it, I still enjoy it.
GL: I think the cars are very very complicated nowadays, the systems are complicated, the teams are big, there’s lots to do both technically and also commercially. The teams have to work harder now on the commercial front so everybody is tired, you can see that, but I don’t think there’s any lack of motivation. If you can’t get motivated for Formula One, then you can’t get motivated for any motor racing, then I don’t think there’s any lack of motivation. I think that if that starts disappearing then there’s problems. Apart from that, it’s indoor work, no heavy lifting involved.
Q: (Joe Saward – Grand Prix Special) Just to ask all of you, what engine do you think you’ll be using next year?
GL: Whatever’s in my road car! The team will have Mercedes engines next year.
FT: A V6 turbo engine, new regulation.
PM: You’ll know when we do.