|PHOTO CREDIT: Karun Chandhok|
Q: Following the passing of three-time Formula One World Champion Niki Lauda this week, we asked all of the drivers yesterday for their memories and thoughts of Niki. We’d like to start in the same fashion with you today please. Cyril, is we could start with you: your thoughts and memories of Niki?
Cyril ABITEBOUL: It’s another sad news for the Formula One community. Frankly, I had not a lot of interaction with Niki, but clearly he was one of the role models that form our youth and the reason we are admiring Formula One – for the fantastic animal that you come across in life. He was a model of resilience. He was taking the fighting spirit very, very hard and impressive what he managed to do over his career. Any meeting with him was kind of fun. You never knew what could happen. He will be another person badly missed in Formula One.
Christian HORNER: It’s a huge loss for Formula One - the whole paddock. Obviously for Mercedes where he was so active as well. I think it was a shock for everyone. Obviously he’s not been in great health for the last pretty much 12 months. He was an iconic person. What he achieved in the sport was phenomenal. Just the most remarkable story. You only have to watch the movie, which I think is a pretty decent representation of actually what happened and the fight back that he had, which obviously happened prior to my really understanding of who he was. When I really came across him, he was working as a commentator, quite an outspoken commentator at that time, and he managed to where all these hats, commentating for RTL, running the Mercedes team as their chairman. He was just a larger than life character, obviously as an Austrian, and us an Austrian team, he spent a lot of time with us, particularly Helmut Marko, a very close friend of his, as they pretty much had grown up together. We’ll certainly miss the breakfast where he would come, pretty much every morning and Helmut and he would be like the two old guys in the Muppet Show, Waldorf and Statler I think it was, and they’d basically be commenting on all aspects of life, none of what I’m going to repeat here, that’s for sure – but his openness, his sense of humour, his ability to say “how did you screw that up?” something “was rubbish” – or complement you when you’d done well. He was a great guy, a great personality and he’ll be very, very sadly missed.
Claire, your thoughts?
Claire WILLIAMS: I obviously had the pleasure of knowing Niki through our relationship with Mercedes. I can’t profess to knowing him extremely well but everything that he’s achieved in motorsport is extraordinary and, as Christian said, watching that film really demonstrates exactly the kind of character that he was. Latterly, working with him in the Strategy Group meetings, he was always the voice of reason. When Niki talked, people listened. Personally, we always had a bit of a joke about my single status. I think I probably wouldn’t have got married as quickly as I have if Niki wasn’t pressuring my husband into proposing – so that will always be a nice memory for me. The sport has lost an icon, hasn’t it. Our thoughts go out to his family.
Zak BROWN: Yes, I echo what everyone has said before me. He was an absolute legend of the sport. A loss for all of us. Never met anyone who didn’t like Niki. He was a real likeable guy, a real racer, had a strong opinion and when you look at what he came back from , that’s a real inspiration. I think not many would have been as brave as he was – not only to come back, but to go on, win World Championships. He won his last World Championship with McLaren. So, a lot of people in our factory, Mansour Ojjeh, one of our owners, were was super-close to Niki, so it feels like we lost a member of our family and, of course, the whole racing community has. Just wish his family the best and just grateful to have the fond memories here in Formula One forever.
Andrew GREEN: Unfortunately I never had the honour to work with Niki. He was the background to my youth when I was watching Formula One. He was a big part of it. Some very big images from back then, and part of why I got into the sport. What he did from then until now is just incredible. He’s a real icon and will be sorely missed.
Q: We’ll now turn our focus to this current season. Christian, we’ll start with you. For Red Bull it’s been a consistent start to the year. Max Verstappen in the top four at every race and this is usually a race that you target victory at. After the way FP1 has gone, is that a realistic target for you again this weekend?
CH: I think it’s been a strong start to the year after the engine change over the winter. I think we’ve been very consistent, we’ve had two podium positions, we’ve finished in fourth place every other grand prix. Obviously, having introduced some upgrades in Barcelona, you ought to try to optimise those and Monte Carlos has always represented a track that we’ve performed well at. We’ve had an encouraging first practice but I think having seen Mercedes’ performance, particularly in the slow speed sector of Barcelona, they are absolutely the stand-out favourites for this event, so if we can get anywhere near them, and put a little bit of pressure on that, that would certainly be our target going in to the weekend.
Q: Cyril, you’ve got last year’s Monaco Grand Prix winner driving for you this season – but currently sitting eighth in the Constructors’ Championship. Were you expecting to be a little bit higher at this stage of the season?
CA: Yeah, of course, I think you can even say that it’s not the season start that we wanted, that we were ambitioning working for and advertised. It takes clearly a reaction from all of us. In my opinion obviously there has been a collection of issues, not excuse, but issues over the first five races that do not reflect the ambition, the level of our drivers, the level of the team. So it’s up to us to react and come up with clear answers to the different issues. We hope to see those answers starting to kick off with this weekend. Indeed, we have last year’s grand prix winner. It just creates another obligation to come up with the best possible car at this point of our journey.
Q: Claire, the start to the season probably not gone the way Williams would have envisaged either – but since the start of the year you’ve had better qualifying performance in Barcelona and then the test, working on some new ideas. Do you feel like there are shoots of recovery now? Are you starting that rebuilding process?
CW: Yeah, you say it wasn't the start to the season that we envisaged – but I think we anticipated what was coming. Yeah, I definitely feel that we can see some light at the end of the tunnel now and I think probably just from the time sheets and the last race in Barcelona, we demonstrated that we are closing that gap. It may be slow but we all know that it takes time to bring performance to your car. There’s definitely a lot of good work going on back at the factory that people may not necessarily be seeing yet. The aero team are doing a great job finding performance in the tunnel and we’re going to be bringing that to races over the coming weeks and months with a package coming mid-way through the season that we will hope will bring some significant performance to us. Yes, there are definitely signs of improvement. I think there’s a certain positivity in the team at the moment. Morale is still pretty good, and that’s all we can ask of everyone: just fighting hard, not giving up and keep on bringing performance to the car.
Q: And Zak. I’m sure you’ll be facing questions about last weekend’s events in Indianapolis from the floor but focusing on Formula One right now, McLaren actually extended its advantage in fourth in the Constructors’ Championship in Barcelona. Would you say that’s actually ahead of expectations for this season?
ZB: It’s early in the season and the midfield is so tight, I think the swing can swing at any one race. We’re pleased that we’re sitting fourth in the Championship. We think that’s realistically, on our road to recovery, about as much as we’re going to be able to realistically achieve. So we will fight hard to retain that position, and those behind us are going to fight hard, of course, to knock us out of fourth, and we’ve got a long way to go, so I think anything can happen – but I’m really pleased with all the effort everyone at McLaren has put together. We had a better winter testing, and certainly have built a better race car. Drivers are doing an excellent job, we’re quick on pit stops now, so you can feel the team’s coming together. We have Andreas Seidl now and James Key who’ve joined, so I feel I’ve got all the right players on the field, so to speak and now we just need to put our head down and execute.
Q: Andrew, if we look at Racing Point, that’s one of the teams looking to close down McLaren. You introduced a new upgrade package in Barcelona – but it looked like a tough weekend for you. So, what worked with the update and what still needs to be optimised?
AG: Yeah, we were sort-of anticipating Barcelona was going to be a tough race for us. It has been, it’s been part of the DNA of the car for while, which is something we’re actively working on back at the factory. From what we see the upgrades did what they were supposed to do. I think we were quite content. We’ve got a route forwards and the car is evolving quite quickly and it will do over the next half a dozen races. We think we’ve got a good direction to go in – it just takes time. Like Clare said: you can’t change cars overnight, these things do take some time to evolve in the factory and come to the track. We’re happy with the route we’re going in. Are we happy with where we are now? No. But we can see that we’re going in the right direction.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Scott Mitchell – Autosport) Claire, in the build-up to this week you announced Jamie Chadwick as a development driver. You explained that it will involve simulator responsibilities to begin with. Is there a plan – or a hope – to give her on-track opportunities or the opportunity for that partnership to maybe evolve in the future?
CW: Like you say, we’re delighted that Jamie’s joined the team. She’s obviously part of the W Series Championship this year. She won the first event and then she had a good run in Zolder last weekend. We announced her on Monday, she’s going to be doing simulator work, as you said. Full immersion in the factory, working with the engineers to support her campaign this year and to just help… well it all goes to promoting women in motorsport. Doing this for her is hopefully going to elevate her competitiveness. At the moment it is reserved to simulator work and then coming to a few races with us to see the team trackside and how we operate in F1. There are no plans at the moment to put her in an F1 car at this stage.
Q: (Oliver Brown – The Telegraph) Question for Zak. The Indy 500. You gave a fairly remarkable interview to the Associated Press about the full reasons behind Fernando’s failure to qualify. I just wonder, how embarrassing has this episode been and how do you explain how a company of McLaren’s sophistication can make these kinds of errors.
ZB: I’ve spoken a lot about Indy Car, as you pointed out, and I think this is a Formula One environment, I have my Formula One shirt on, so I prefer to talk about Formula One. To answer your question, we got it wrong and I thought it was important to be transparent and open as much as sometimes the truth hurts. I think the industry isn’t necessarily that open, that often. And we got it wrong and I’m responsible for that. I felt I needed to share with everyone. There’s of course little stories behind each of those individual issues and how they transpired but y’know, we didn’t execute and therefore we didn't qualify for the Indy 500. It’s happened to the best of them before and we learned a lot. I was watching this morning, a little tribute to Niki and, when he grabbed his Laureus award, talked about how he learned more from losing, which is what made him a winner, so we’ll dust ourselves off. We’re racers. It was a big, public failure. I wanted to communicate what happened. Yeah, it’s embarrassing. It’s not to the McLaren standard. It’s not acceptable – but it happened and we’re going to learn from it and we’ll come back stronger.
Q: (Dieter Rencken – Racing Lines/racefans.net) A question for all of you. Give or take a week we’re a month away from Formula One’s self-imposed deadline on the regulation changes for 2021. Given the magnitude of everything that’s required – governance, commercial, sporting, technical etc – can it actually get done in time?
Q: Shall we work our way along the line with that one, starting with Cyril?
CA: Thank you! It’s vast question and the usual question. Will we have a signed contract by FIA, Formula One and all 10 teams by end of June or mid-June for the World Motor Council? No, obviously no. But in my opinion there has been a lot of groundwork already covered. I think it’s all about trying to agree what will be the key principles for 2021, from a commercial perspective, financial perspective, the key principles on the technical side and the sporting side. And in my opinion we are probably 80% or 90% from that point, from that milestone, so with enough faith and enough goodwill from all participants and probably a bit of a push from the key stakeholders, FIA and Formula One, there is no reason why something cannot be presented at the World Motor Sport Council that will be advanced enough to give useful guidelines for the remainder of the year, so that we have a complete set of guidelines for the end of the year. That’s my opinion, obviously, but there is still some work to cover.
CH: I didn’t understand any of that.
CA: We are not partners anymore. You can’t make fun of me anymore. It’s not part of the contract anymore!
CH: But it’s still enjoyable. Sorry, what was your question about? Regulations coming out. Look I’m sure something is going to be presented. It will probably nowhere near what actually gets signed. I’m sure the regulations will change and evolve. Something will come out in June, it will change in September, October, probably in November, and yeah, there’s plenty of ground to cover, but there is a watershed where something will be put in front of us fairly shortly and then the fun really begins.
Q: Claire, is June realistic?
CW: I’m going to be really boring now after that, aren’t I? Clearly we’re getting close to ’21. When we first started these negotiations, it was a long time ago and we’re now at that point where we need to have that full set of regulations so that we can plan and prepare out businesses for that season. As Christian says, I’m sure there are going to be some further negotiations after that point. For a team in our position clearly when it comes top the technical regulations we wouldn’t want too much movement after that. People are going to start working on those, people are already working, and we don’t need to be wasting resources with a huge change subsequent to the issuance of the first draft. I don’t think there’s much choice. We have to get those regulations out and so I believe it should be done and I’m sure it can be done.
Q: And Zak?
ZB: I agree with everything that I’ve head. I don’t believe we’ll get it done in June and it will play out over the second half of the year and we’ll get there and racing will go on.
Q: And Andy?
AG: I can only speak from a technical aspect, but I know that the FIA and F1 have done a huge amount of work in the background on this. We were exposed to some of it last week in a technical working group meeting. We could see that it’s quite well evolved. It’s going to need some tidying up for sure. We have meetings planned from now until the end of the year, which is where we all anticipate it’s going to go to. It’s a significant set of changes, bit like I said, they have done a huge amount of work in the background and I think we can get there.
Q: (Sam Collins – Racecar Engineering) Predictably, another question on regulations, but this time the 2025 power unit regulations, which we hear will be completely different to what we have now. I’d like to ask the whole panel this, as there are some different opinions on this, what you’d like to see in the new power unit for 2025, what technologies and what things are good and what things are bad?
Q: We’ll reverse the order then and start with technical thoughts first.
AG: What a question: 2025! I think what we have now is an incredible piece of engineering in the back of the car. But it could just be too incredible. I think what we have is potentially something where the technology bar of the power unit is just way too high and I think I would like to see something that is just slightly simpler. That’s my view. I think I’d never say no to more horsepower. I think the sport can’t have enough horsepower. We need to make the cars harder to drive. I think more power; a simpler power unit. That’s where I would be going.
Q: Zak, your thoughts?
ZB: More power would be great. Less expensive would be outstanding.
CA: There is the message!
ZB: And I don’t know that it’s achievable but if we could have some diversity in the engine itself and not be limited to a certain amount of cylinders, things of that nature, I think would maybe spice up the show. But whether that’s achievable or not… We don’t build engines, so Cyril is best to answer whether a scenario like that would be feasible.
Q: Claire, your thoughts on 2025?
CW: Again, at Williams we don’t build engines and I’m certainly not an engineer who is educated enough to give you a sensible answer. But from our perspective, as Zak says, something that is cost-efficient, environmentally appropriate and loud. Noisy would be nice.
Q: And Christian?
CH: Emotionally, a normally-aspirated, high-revving V10 or V12 engine would be a wonderful thing to have back in Formula One, but unfortunately I think they’re rather outdated now. I think as Andy was saying, the technology in these engines is phenomenal. We’ve now got a period of stability with the engines until 2023 I think or 2024, so it’s important that Formula One makes the right decision for the future. Obviously the automotive sector is moving an awful lot at the moment and what technologies are going to relevant then? Because when that engine comes in in 2025 that’s going to have to be for a 5-10- year period, so we’re actually talking up to 2035, which is a long way down the pipelines. The romantic in me says go back – loud, noise, high revs, normally aspirated.
Q: And Cyril, from a power unit supplier point of view?
CA: The romantic in me would say the same thing, but obviously in 2025 the world will be different, that’s for sure. Electrification will be a profound trend, so it’s not going to go away. In my opinion we need to look at the next couple of years to form an opinion regarding MGU-H road relevance, because it’s clearly a component that was introduced for that purpose. Right now, we don’t’ see any application on road cars but it may come. It may actually be in the pipeline of some manufacturers, so we need to be careful not to be basically in reverse in that respect. And then diversity of technology would be great but we need to be careful not to open up the field and create some discrepancy. One thing that might be interesting that starts to be discussed is not necessarily not the next generation of engine but the next generation of fuel, because we still believe that Formula One is about hybrid technology, not full electric, for a number of reasons. Clearly we need more power and sustainable power and long races, but there will be new forms of fuel coming up in the next few years, whether you are talking about more bio-fuel, so a different composition, or even synthesis fuel, coming from non-fossil sources, that could be attractive and that would require new development. So, probably the way forwards. Less exciting, obviously, than a very high-revving, normally-aspirated engine, but still probably the way forward if we want to be relevant, not just to car makers, but to society.
Q: (Jerome Pugmire – Associated Press) A question for Zak. Just picking up on what you said earlier about the need for transparency and coming forward with the reasons for what happened. Is the motivation behind that because fans are owed those explanations or more the sense that the people who did not do their job properly need to face up to that or is it a combination of both that prompts that?
ZB: No, I think anyone that maybe didn’t get the job done, you have a private conversation with them. I don’t think that would be ever be appropriate to discuss in an open forum, which is why names in a variety of areas were mentioned, and that was about being transparent with our fans and partners and not glossing over something that was not as minor miss but was a major miss. I felt obligated to explain that to the world and the best way to do that was via the media, to get the message out, and I’m glad we did it.
Q: (Julien Billotte – Auto Hebdo) – A question for whoever would like to answer. There was some hope at the start of the season that the new regulations, the 2019 regulations, could shake things up a bit in terms of the pecking order, and here we are five races in, Mercedes is winning everything and the top three are miles ahead of the midfield. What makes you confident that 2021 can be the game changer that Formula 1 probably needs?
Q: It was whoever wants to answer and you all look delighted to jump in. Christian, why don’t you start?
CH: Thank you very much. Look, the regulation change this year; the outcome was rather predictable unfortunately and it’s up to us, the teams competing against Mercedes to close that gap down. I think for 2021 it’s a clean sheet of paper, it will be a big regulation change and I think one of the things that we debated is that you need to be a little bit careful, because if you release very early regulations then quite the teams that have more resource quite simply put that resource earlier on than the smaller teams. So it’s about finding that balance of when is the right time for full regulations to be released. And I think the cars will be a lot simpler. Inevitably teams will get it right and teams will get it wrong. But hopefully the concept of what they are looking at should put more inference on the driver to be a bigger variable than he or she currently can be. And that’s what Formula One desperately needs. It needs the drivers very much to be the stars, to be modern day chariot racers and that we have wheel-to-wheel, exciting, and to a degree, unpredictable racing, because serial winning like we have at the moment, the teams in many respects are getting too good at predicting the outcome of a weekend with the updates they introduce. Hats off to Mercedes, they’ve done a better job than anybody to be in the position they are, but hopefully the technical regulations will be the biggest driver to shuffle that around and change that, and hopefully introduce more variance.
Q: Claire, for a team playing catch-up at the moment, does the late release of regulations do you think benefit you and equalise things a little bit across the field?
CW: Yeah, as Christian said, if we can have those regulations released slightly later then clearly for a team like ours, then we’re not going to be battling as a team like Christian’s or Toto and Ferrari, who can all put so much resource across three programmes. For a team like ours, it’s much harder to do that but it’s just more about having clarity on when those regulations come out for us and to make sure that those regulations are defined as when they come out rather than people tinkering with them in the TWG or whatever and then there’s a second draft to them. We just need them as soon as possible but not too soon so that people can’t put an arms race against them.
ZB: Well, yeah, I would agree with what I’ve heard the additional add I would have is it’s going to come along with the budget cap so not only would the rules be very different, there also won’t hopefully be unlimited budgets to be able to put against developing the new car. As far as timing, coming out, I think later the better but they have such great resources, the teams at the front, that they will just have the ability to push out more boats in more directions over a shorter period of time so I think the technical rules, tied to the budget cap is what’s going to maybe drive some change in the sport.
Q: Andy, from a technical point of view does it feel like a big opportunity?
AG: Potentially. I think the technical regulations definitely focused on allowing cars to follow more closely, I think that’s quite clear, but I think, with every season there’ll always be teams that do a better job than the others so there’s always going to be a quicker team and a slower team and the problem is, you line those teams up and that’s the order on Sunday afternoon and I think you’re going to get the same result so I think that somewhere along the line, there needs to be a look at the sporting aspect as well as just the technical side, otherwise we’re just going to end up with cars that can follow each other but they’re going to follow each other in a procession.
Q: And Cyril?
CA: The only thing I would say is that we basically need to do the opposite of what’s been done this year. I don’t think the intent of this year was really to change the pecking order; it could have been a secondary benefit but this year it was a superficial change, late and we need a drastic change early if we want to change things, in my opinion.
Q: (Stuart Codling – F1 Racing) Claire, right at the top of the press conference you said you had a big development step coming in the next few months. Now, bearing in mind what you’ve already just said about the 2021 regulations, what is the Williams development road map over the next few months? How far do you take development of the current car? When do you start looking at 2020? Does 2020 in effect become a write-off as you start thinking about 2021?
CW: No, nothing is a write-off at Williams, ever. It never has been and it never would be, regardless of where we are. It’s just not our mindset a Williams. We don’t write a season off just because we aren’t doing well. For us, at the moment, we’re really looking at ’19 and ’20 very much as almost two seasons, where it’s just evolution and development and we’ve just got to keep bringing performance at each and every race, and as I said earlier, we’ve definitely seen that we’ve done that, we’re closing the gap to the ninth-placed team and we’ve got to keep doing that as the season progresses and we’re looking at obviously what 2020 looks like from a development perspective, what we’re going to be focusing our resources and attention on, to make sure that we certainly do a whole lot better job next year for us. And then again, we’ve got to look at ’21 and make sure we’ve got the right resources in place and the focus in place to take advantage of that situation. Clearly, as everyone knows and have talked about a lot, ’21 could be a really great opportunity for us with the cost cap that’s coming and with whole new technical regulations.
Q: (Daniel Horvath – Racing Line) Zak, Nyck de Vries is no longer part of the McLaren Junior programme. Could you tell us what was behind this decision?
ZB: Well, we’ve got our junior drivers, junior driver and Sergio and we’ve got two very young – well, one very young Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz who we’re extremely happy with and we don’t see the need, at this point, to stack up some drivers and then run into a situation where you don’t have a home for them, so we felt that it was best – because we felt it would be highly unlikely he would end up in a McLaren, given our current driver situation – that he would be a free agent to be able to drive for other teams because often, when a Junior driver is under a contract that then deters other teams from taking them and then ultimately can end up sometimes hurting their career which we don’t think is the right thing to do.
Q: (Louis Dekker – NOS) Christian, do you agree that this is your best chance to beat Mercedes and is Max ready for redemption in Monaco after difficult years?
CH: Well Max’s track record here has been a tricky one and I think particularly last year, obviously, was a tough weekend for him. We had promising pace in the first session. I think Mercedes is a mighty machine this year but Max has been in the form of his life, he’s driving incredibly well and it probably does represent our best chance since the beginning of the year to at least get close to them and hopefully put them under a little bit of pressure. Yeah, hopefully we can build on the first session and through the rest of the weekend.
Q: (Luke Smith – Crash.net) Zak, how much did last week’s failure to qualify for Indy impact your relationship with Fernando Alonso with McLaren? And how involved are you in helping outline Fernando’s future racing plans beyond the end of the current WEC season?
ZB: Our relationship with Fernando has never been stronger. He was obviously very disappointed. We let him down, he deserved to be in the race, he was an absolute star as he always has been when he’s raced with us, and my personal relationship in working with him. What he does post-Le Mans is up to Fernando. We have a contract with him for some McLaren activities. I think when you come off an emotional weekend like that you want to take some time to reflect and see what he wants to do in the future and if that aligns with some of McLaren’s activities then that would be great but just like he’s been driving with Toyota, I think he’s a bit undecided on what he wants to do yet so we will pick up those conversations when I see him in Le Mans.
Q: (Dieter Rencken – Racing Lines, Racefans.net) The equivalent FIA conference in Spain two weeks ago, Mattia Binotto said that they were negotiating to retain the Ferrari veto, the implication being that this was in order to save the teams or to protect the teams from any sort of dubious rule changes. How do you feel about them retaining the veto and do you think that Ferrari should be the watchdog?
Q: Claire, can we start with you?
CW: Why do you keep coming to me? No, I think it’s just silly if I can be honest. I have a problem in our sport anyway in the fact that I feel it’s far too democratic. I’ve been quite open about that. I feel that F1 and the FIA should take more ownership of the regulations. We run it too much in a collegiate way, which is detrimental when we all have our own agendas. We need to be looking at this sport and its sustainability into the future and protecting it and protecting the true DNA of that. By doing that by committee I think can be very difficult. And I really don’t feel that one team should have a right, a veto. That makes no sense to me at all.
CH: It’s pretty outdated now. That veto was put in place – from my understanding – years and years ago to stop regulations changes. Ferrari had V12 engines, they didn’t suddenly want that to be vetoed, those rules to be changed because there were all these British garagista teams that were coming into the sport. But that was in the sixties and things have obviously moved on. I think it’s a right – if I’m not wrong – for the longest standing team, not bespoke just for Ferrari but they are the longest standing team. You can view it two weeks: you can say, OK, it’s a safety net, if they are there representing the teams, but ultimately they are there representing Ferrari. Probably, if we’re going for a clean sheet of paper it makes sense for it not to be there and as Claire says, same rules for everyone.
CA: I would concur. I think we need Formula One to be progressive rather than defensive and the ability to block due process can be perceived or decided to be a positive for the sport is probably not good. Having said that, we completely recognise the specific value of Ferrari to the sport but which can be reflected probably in the commercial agreement and not in the governance.
ZB: I think it’s very kind of him to offer to represent the teams’ interests but I think, as has been said before me, we all have varying interests and I think like Claire said, Formula One themselves want to do what’s in the best interests of the sport which I think ultimately is in the best interests of all us and we we’re best having our own individual negotiations when and if that is appropriate and as Cyril said, I think Ferrari bring a tremendous amount to the sport and that can be recognised in other ways.
AG: I try hard not to get involved in F1 politics.
Q: (Jerome Pugmire – Associated Press) Christian, you were speaking about Max being in the form of his life. Yesterday he said he’s matured a bit, do you sense that and is that linked to his form and in what ways do you think he has matured if he has?
CH: I think really if you wind the clock back 12 months it was probably the lowest weekend, last year, of his career, having a car capable of winning and crashing in FP3 and not being able to take part in qualifying. That was very tough for him and I think he went away from that race and he reflected hard on it. Since Montreal last year he’s really just stepped things up a gear and he’s been a phenomenal force whenever he’s been in the car. The way he started this season has been outstanding. He’s overachieved in certain aspects and I think he’s got that roundedness of maturity and is very much leading the team development-wise. I think he’s enjoying and relishing that role as well, so yeah, if you compare Max Verstappen May 23, 2019 to the equivalent time last year he’s evolved a tremendous amount and I think that’s again the benefit of experience as well.