Wednesday, 25 July 2018

FEATURE: Chasing Pit Stop Perfection

It'll take longer for you to read this sentence than it takes a Formula One team to complete a pit stop. That's how quick modern-day tyre changes are. Well, at least in theory - if you change the tyre choice last minute, it can take slightly longer... 

What is the most important factor for a good pit stop? 
Achieving the perfect F1 pit stop is far from easy. It requires all of its intricate elements to be working in absolute harmony. This is a tough task, particularly when the pit stop falls in the midst of a tense on-track battle. Cars arrive and depart in a little over two seconds. Well, that's the aim, anyway. Anything over that mark is considered a 'slow stop', which is remarkable when you think about the amount of activity that happens in such a short space of time. Outright speed, however, is actually not the most important goal for the team - instead, it's all about consistency. A 1.9-second stop is great, but if you follow that up later in the race with a 3.6-second tyre change that advantage is lost. Teams are looking for their pit stop times to be consistent across not only individual races but the season as a whole. 

What exactly do the individual crew members do in a pit stops? 
Within the tight timeframe of an F1 pit stop, the first step is the car coming into the box and stopping on the marks. One crew member will be holding a stop board, indicating where exactly the front tyre should come to a stop. Once the car has reached its position, the sign will go up and it will then be lifted up by the people operating the front and rear jacks. It's at this point that the tyre crew get to work. There are twelve people involved in changing the tyres, three on each of the car's four corners: one operating the wheel gun, one taking the old tyre off and another placing the new tyre on. Once the wheel nuts have been loosened, the worn tyres are taken off and new ones are then fitted. The wheel nuts are tightened and if the crew members are happy that they are safely on, they will hit a button on their wheel guns to confirm this. While this is going on, there are two crew members positioned at the front of the car to adjust the front wing flags, using electrically-operated guns. There are also two placed in the middle of the car, to steady it on the jacks, clear the radiators and clean the driver's visor and mirrors when required. Another team member is overseeing the pit stop and the pit lane traffic. This person has the final say as to whether the traffic light gantry system goes green, which releases the driver into the fast lane. If there's too much traffic, they'll keep holding down their button until a gap emerges. 

PHOTO CREDIT: Sutton Images.
How long do the individual tasks take? 
It's tricky to break down just how long each element takes, because it goes by so quickly. But, from the car stopping on its marks to the wheel nut being taken off is around five tenths of a second. From there, you need another second for the tyre change and securing it back on is roughly four tenths. Dropping the car takes around two tenths. But, of course, this all depends on whether everything goes to plan. 

How does the pit crew practice for pit stops? 
Naturally, with so much focus on consistency and the need for all of these people to be working in synchronisation, practise most definitely makes perfect. The team completes around 60 practice pit stops over the course of the race weekend. On the Thursday, there's always a change-around, where people swap roles for a few of the stops. Every member of the pit crew has his set role and these are usually kept the same throughout the course of a season. But, people have experience in different task, so a change-around can take place if necessary. And the team doesn't just running through normal, everyday scenarios. They're also practicing possible situations that may come up, like changing a nose (which requires a special side-jack), switching to the spare wheel guns or using the starter motor if the car stalls. To make sure that the pit stops are as consistent as possible from the very first race of the season on, the team does about 60 pit stops per week during pre-season. 

What else can a team do to get faster pit stops? 
In addition to trying to prepare for most scenarios, there's a constant drive for improvement - from the positioning of the crew to the equipment itself (such as the wheel nut design). Fitness is another way to enhance pit stops and the team work hard in the gym to be in the best shape possible. The main focus is on strength, conditioning training and stretching, but there's also training specific to the different roles. 

FEATURE BY: Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport. 

Sunday, 22 July 2018

2018 German GP: FIA Post-Race Press Conference.


1 – Lewis HAMILTON (Mercedes)
2 – Valtteri BOTTAS (Mercedes)
3 – Kimi RÄIKKÖNEN (Ferrari)


(Conducted by David Coulthard)

Q: Lewis, starting from 14th place today, you truly couldn’t have believed you could win this race? 

Lewis HAMILTON: I did. I mean, it’s obviously very, very difficult from that position and highly unlikely, but you’ve always got to believe. I said a long, long prayer before the race started. We did the parade lap, I could see how much support I had out there and I just wanted to stay collected, stay calm. But the team did such a great job, the car was fantastic today. Honestly, I’m so grateful. I would never have though you could do something like that today, but I just kept pushing, I kept believing and it happened. I really manifested my dream today. So big, big thanks to God. 

Q: I’ve seen you emotional on many, many occasions, but you look as if you’re struggling to grasp what's just happened. You know you’ve just won the German Grand Prix and taken back the lead in the world championship?

LH: Yeah, I hadn’t really thought about that. It was so tough out there and conditions were… perfect! The conditions were perfect for business time. When it rained I knew I would have a good position. But then you never knew what would happen after the safety car. The other guys behind had the new tyres on. I would say, as I said, I’m just so grateful for the hard work the team has done and I hopefully this solidifies their belief in me and hopefully my driver solidifies my belief in them. And I guess for those that don’t know me – now you do.

Q: Lewis, truly world-class drive; go and celebrate. Valtteri, tough afternoon, because you had the chance, as did Seb, but ultimately Lewis took it. What are your feelings now? Second place is still a good result, but the win was there.

Valtteri BOTTAS: Yeah, you know, as a driver the win is what you are looking after and when Seb went off I thought ‘now is a good chance’, but I think for Lewis the safety car was better timed, he could stay out, I had to stop. Taking positives: as a team, a perfect result for us, in Germany, our home grand prix for Mercedes, for Daimler, so that’s very good.

Q: We heard the team telling you to hold station and you very quickly said ‘Ok, understand’ or ‘Ok, James’. What was your mind feeling at that moment?

VB: You know, we had a bit of a battle lap one after the safety car with Lewis. I didn’t get past then so then they told me to minimise the risk, which I understand, but yeah…

Q: Well done, great result. Kimi, we just talked to Valtteri and he was told to hold station. We heard you team coming on and not really telling you to move but telling you that tyre temperatures were critical. You said: ‘tell me what you want me to do’. You understood what they were trying to do wanted but you wanted it to be very clear that you needed the instruction to let Sebastian through.

Kimi RÄIKKÖNEN: Yeah, we have certain rules but it wasn’t clear enough. I had speed and obviously it was a bit in a moment in the race that I wasn’t ideally to stop… yeah, that’s what happened. In the end, it didn't change an awful lot. It was a tricky race with the rain and it was pretty slippery in a few places. I had a small moment with one of the lappers, the Sauber, under braking and Valtteri got past me, so not an easy race. Happy to finish. A bit disappointed but I’ll take it today and we’ll try next time.

Q: We saw your team-mate go off in the hairpin there. Do you think the Ferrari was more sensitive in those conditions, it was more difficult to drive than Mercedes today?

KR: I don’t know, I only drive my car, so that’s only what I feel like. In the past it’s been very difficult in that amount of rain and I was surprised by the grip we had. It was very difficult to know where the grip is and where not. Usually when you go fast and suddenly it’s not there, there is nothing you can do.


Q: (Edd Straw - Autosport) A question for Lewis and Valtteri. I heard a couple of communications about steering loadings on the Turn 1 kerb, which I presume was related to the problem yesterday. I think Valtteri there were a couple of messages for you  and I think Lewis you at least had one, mid-race. How big a concern was that and how was it impacting your driving knowing you were having to be a little bit more cautious there for fear of causing a reliability problem?

LH: I hadn’t thought about it really until they mentioned it , but I felt it, it was quite aggressive on one particular part of the kerb, so I just stayed away from it. I had been riding the kerbs all weekend but then it started to become more and more of something that we had to be aware of. I was still running the kerb later on, just not as aggressive. I didn’t have any more problems after that.

VB: Yeah, similar for me. There was one point on the kerb, if you hit it at a certain angle, you can feel it gets you harder, so you try to avoid that and it’s fine.

Q: (Rebecca Clancy – The Times) To Lewis, congratulations. You seem a bit emotional. You sounded like you had a bit of a lump in your throat. You’re sat their smiling, kind of shaking your head almost in disbelief. Are you able to process yet how big this race is in terms of the championship. Was it maybe slightly slipping away from you and now you’ve firmly got two hands back on it?

LH: It definitely felt… I mean it’s too early in the season to ever really feel like it’s slipping away but of course it never feels good when you face adversity but, the longer you endure it, the stronger you grow. So yeah, I definitely felt at one point, there was Jesus, it’s a steep hill for us, but it’s OK. Y’know, just keep believing, positive things are going to come ahead. Just keep fighting, just give it everything you’ve got because at some stage things will come good. Today is one of the most unbelievable days for me because… I prayed as I always do before the race and my prayers were really answered. It freaks me out a little bit more than normal. And then to see the kind of biblical storm afterwards… there was a lot of negativity before the race. Y’know, I think when you come to England, going around I don’t remember any of the fans booing. We’ve got quite a good group of fans in England. And when I came here, there was a lot of booing. The weird thing is that I was really happy about it. It was unusual. It’s weird that I’m still happy. It was because I kept seeing individually, a couple of different British flags in amongst a hundred or a thousand… a sea of red and then you’ve got a British flag in there. Then you have people from Mexico, people from England, you have people I think from Nigeria or somewhere in Africa with Hamilton shirts on – the name Hamilton on, standing in amongst the red. And it was just so positive for me. That’s why I said at the end, that love conquers all. And I really feel that the rain’s come down and just washed away any negativity. It’s a glorious day. It couldn’t have been a better day for me and one that I will always remember.

Q: (Ben Hunt – The Sun) Lewis, just to bring you back to Sebastian’s celebrations after the British Grand Prix, laughing at Mercedes, promising to take the English flag at his Italian HQ, does that serve as motivation in some sort of way? Do you use that as a boost ahead of race like this? Knowing that you could inflict damage on his title…

LH: Honestly, I don't need to search for a boost or energy from other people’s business. I just focus on mine. I truly believe that… I’m just focussed on trying to be the best I can be in myself. Because the best me… if I’m my best and my higher self, I feel like I’m able to drive like I was able to today, regardless of all the people, who else is around doing whatever they are doing. So, I did say when I came here that you can see things and they can often be maybe a sign of weakness. As I said, if we just kept our heads down, we knew this weekend Ferrari were going to be quick – and they’re ridiculously quick on the straights. I think Valtteri did a fantastic lap yesterday, really great lap when I watched it – but he was just losing down the straights which there’s nothing you can do about. But, yeah, we just… I’m just really proud of my guys as well, not getting phased by this fight that we’re having. They could easily jump to conclusions and say, oh well, they’re doing this or they’re doing that, instead of, you know what? All we can do is control our own destiny. All we can do is work on our starts, try and improve, make sure we do a better job understanding the car, doing a better job, pushing for better aero performance, all these different things. Massively proud of them.

Q: (Livio Oricchio – To Kimi. Kimi, when we have the restart of the race on lap 58, you were on ultrasoft and new tyres, Valtteri also. But Lewis had ultrasoft from lap 42. Were you surprised with the performance of Mercedes in these last ten laps, considering Ferrari seemed to have the fastest car all weekend?

KR: Yeah, for sure. They were very strong. All the stories that we are so quick on the straight. It wasn’t really the case after the restart. Yeah, I think for sure there was some difference I guess, because Valtteri had a good run. I was surprised overall how good the grip was, because it was still some rain and it was pretty decent grip and the tyres were still cold but I think the ultrasoft worked pretty well in that rainy condition. Usually when you have that amount of rain it’s usually pretty slippery but yeah, it was slippery in some places but most of it was still… you had some grip. Quite a surprise overall from what I remember from the past. Usually it gets pretty slippery quickly.Q: (Heikku Kulta - Turun Sanomat) To the Finnish drivers: how long do we Finns have to wait for a Finnish victory or is P2 going to be the maximum for the rest of the season?

LH: I have a fraction of Finnish in me, so that’s all three of us. You have a bit of a victory today.

Q: (Heikku Kulta - Turun Sanomat) Yeah, but we are not hearing the Finnish anthem!

VB: Yeah, hopefully we don’t have to wait long but obviously there was a possibility for that today. Always  through the race, I knew that it is possible and also things started to unfold quite nicely towards the end of the race with the rain and everything. But yeah, like I mentioned before, it was just not for me the best timing for the safety car with the tyres I had. It’s just a matter of time. All the drivers will always want to win and me and Kimi are amongst those. We are both in a competitive car so for sure it’s going to happen at some point.

KR: I will keep trying. Who knows? Maybe, maybe not. We will try every weekend and every race and we’re not far from it but obviously so far it’s not been happening so we will try next weekend again and I’m sure it will come but obviously there’s no guarantee or anything. Things change quickly and we’ve seen it . Home today and come back next Thursday and do a better job.

Q: (Livio Oricchio – Next Grand Prix is on a completely different circuit to the two previous ones, Silverstone and here.  Considering what you know from your car in this season, what can you project for the Budapest race?

KR: Very difficult to say, I think. It’s traditionally been good for us but there’s a lot on the weather, what it’s going to be like there. In the past years we would probably be feeling more stronger to go there but it’s the same as always. It’s going to be close and whoever makes the best out of it is going to come out on top. We go there and try and do the best that we can and see what we get.

LH: It’s usually not our strongest track but I’m hopeful that… it’s not a power circuit so hopefully this extra chunk of power that Ferrari have doesn’t serve them as well there and maybe we can have a decent fight with them but they’ve always been really good on tyres and that’s quite a hot track so undoubtedly they’ll continue to be fast but I really hope that… I’ve got high hopes for it still. Red Bull? Oh yeah, exactly. Red Bull’s power unit has been good. They suffered here for whatever reasons but they will be very quick, I’m sure in the next races where it is really strong for them. So, should be a closely matched race.

Q: (Edd Straw – Autosport) Kimi, can you just talk through your thought process coming up to the second pit stop.  We  could hear on the radio that you were keen to take the risk and just stay out because there wasn’t too much to lose for you so do you regret the fact the team didn’t let you stay out, because even when they called you in you did say ‘are you sure?’ so was there an opportunity missed there?

KR: No, it’s always easy to say afterwards but honestly we don’t know what would happen if we stay out. I’m 100 percent sure that the ultras worked better plus I had very used tyres at that point already but I can’t give an answer if it would have been just fine or a complete disaster, so that’s always an unknown and you try to weigh up the differences and hope that the new tyres will give you some grip to come back. Obviously we knew that the Mercedes will be on one of the some aged tyres but they seemed to be the right decision in those conditions so I don’t have an answer, I don’t think anybody would have an answer what the end result if we stayed out or not. Who knows. That’s how it goes.

Saturday, 21 July 2018

2018 German GP: FIA Post-Qualifying Press Conference.


1 – Sebastian VETTEL (Ferrari)
2 – Valtteri BOTTAS (Mercedes)
3 – Kimi RÄIKKÖNEN (Ferrari)


(Conducted by David Coulthard)

Q: Sebastian, you’ve still got your helmet on but the people want to hear from you. Your 55th and I suspect one of your most enjoyable pole positions?

Sebastian VETTEL: So I just said thanks to the fans. It was amazing to see so many red flags, Ferrari flags, so much support, German flags, all around the track. Yeah, I felt in Q1 that the car could do it and it just kept getting better. I knew that for the last lap I had a little bit in me and I was able to squeeze everything out. Still a bit full of adrenaline but very happy.

Q: Valtteri, it looks to me like you gave it absolutely everything, everyone was stunned when you temporarily took pole position. In the end, the Ferrari was just too quick for you. Was there anything left?

Valtteri BOTTAS: I don’t think so. I think it was a good lap. Of course, maybe we can speak about the hundredths, but not a couple of tenth. Yeah I gave it all and they were just a bit too quick today but we’ll see tomorrow.

Q: What about tomorrow? You a little indication yesterday of race pace. It’s nip tuck between you and Ferrari, so the start is going to be crucial.

VB: It is going to be. Now we are starting on the same compound for this race, so it’s definitely going to be crucial, race pace-wise I think we are going to be close.

Q: Congratulations on your second place. Just coming to Kimi, congratulations, top three. You’ve always been a bit of a specialist around Hockenheim, in fact this is the first time Seb’s outqualified you, but in the end it just slipped away towards the end of session?

Kimi RÄIKKÖNEN: Yeah, I had a small moment in the first run, in 12, I touched the inside kerb and got sideways, so you know, not ideal. And then in the second run I had a little bit of caution because of that. For sure, there was more but today it didn’t come.

Q: So looking towards to the race tomorrow, you need to get the start to work for you to be the perfect rear-gunner for Sebastian?

KR: Well, we’ll try to obviously race ourselves and we’re going to race as a team and I think third place should be pretty for the start itself so we’ll see tomorrow.


Q: Sebastian, what a performance from you in the car this afternoon?

SV: Well, thank you very much. I think it was not an easy day. This morning we woke up and some clouds and quite a lot of rain. But I was surprised how quickly the track was drying and in qualifying the car was really, really a pleasure to drive. Some days you can feel already when you go out and you do you first flying lap that you’ve got something in your hands that you can play with and that’s the feeling I had today and from there it just got better and it was more about tuning myself in the sessions before. Sometimes I did get the laps together and sometime I did not entirely; I was trying different things. But I knew in Q3 I could get quite a bit out of the car and myself and made it work. Yeah, really happy. Both laps on the limit and then the adrenaline kicks in and it’s quite a good feeling to get everything right. So I was really happy with the car and the work we have done overnight to squeeze a little bit more out of the car. It feels so quick around this track with these cars and it’s really enjoyable. To do it here, just minutes away from where I come from, where I was born and grew up I think means a lot, so thanks for all the support this weekend; to see the fans, the red hats and the German flags waving all around the track, no matter, really cool, looking forward to tomorrow.

Q: Very well done. Valtteri coming on to you: tremendous final sector from you in Q3 but can you just talk us through your laps in that final session and how are you emotionally now, are you frustrated?

VB: Well, for sure it was a tough battle for the pole and in the end today Ferrari was just a little bit quicker, especially Sebastian has a very nice lap. I think if I could do the lap again I’m sure there would be hundredths here and there, maximum one tenth, I think, but just a bit too quick. Otherwise, yeah, a good lap, especially the last sector. That was something I missed in the first run of Q3, so yeah, for me the feeling with the car was quite and yeah, that was the result.

Q: Kimi, we’ve talked about Q3 with the other two, so just talk us through the session please.

KR: So-so. I think in the end it’s not too bad but there was one moment in Turn 12 in the first try and then obviously after that I knew there was quite a bit of lap time but tend to be a bit safer and not to have mistakes and lose positions more. I was a bit compromised because of that. The car was working well and, for sure, there was more lap time but this is what we got today.


Q: (James Roberts – F1 Racing) Sebastian, of all the laps that you’ve done in your career, where does that one rank, in front of your home crowd today?

SV: To give you an honest answer, I don’t remember all the laps I’ve done in my career. I’ve done quite a lot – but yeah, I think today is definitely one of the best moments. Yeah, I… I have a bit of a mixed relationship with this track. It seems sometimes we were really close in the past then for some reason it didn’t come together. So far this weekend it’s been great. The car is behaving well. I think we improved it for today. Tomorrow we need to be sharp. I don’t know what the weather’s going to be like. I think anything can happen. For now, that doesn’t matter. I’m just happy. It’s great to get the lap together here and obviously it means a lot with the support that I get – and we get as a team, with so many passionate German tifosi. I think it’s quite nice. That’s what counts and that’s what I feel now. And yeah, I was happy with the lap. Very happy. I think I have done decent laps, I have done bad laps. This is one of the better ones but I don’t think… I’m not a fan of saying this is the best I’ve ever done. I hope the best I will ever do is yet to come.

Q: (Heikki Kulta – Turun Sanomat) Valtteri, how much more pressure did that put on your shoulders for the Mercedes home success when Lewis is so much far away behind?

VB: For sure it’s important race for us as a team, obviously. One of our home races: home race for Mercedes; home race for Daimler. So, it is a big one. This is now where we start from. We need to make the most out of tomorrow. I’m in the second [place]. It’s going to be a long race tomorrow and I’m sure Lewis can still come back to a good position. We’ve seen many mixed races, anything can happen. So, we won’t give us still on a very good result for tomorrow.

Q: (Heikki Kulta – Turun Sanomat) Kimi, you have never had a home race and today we saw how much that helped Sebastian to get more push. Would that help you also to once in your life have a home qualifying race?

KR: I don't think so. I don’t think he suddenly drives this weekend faster than he’s been driving at other races just because it’s in his home country. So, I don’t see it makes any difference in my view.

Q: (Livio Oricchio – Sebastian, you normally say your car in race conditions is even better. Is it possible to be even better than that? Second question, there will be a change in the President of Ferrari. What will be the impact of that for you and for the team?

SV: On the second question, I don’t know. First question, I think for the race usually we are a bit quicker, so… the last couple of qualifyings… the last one was very close with Mercedes. Here we seem to be a little bit ahead. Yesterday was a good day. I think from yesterday to day we improved the car. Obviously the track was quite a bit cooler so I think everybody has the sensation that the car was a bit better today because the track wasn’t that hot. Nevertheless, I think what we were lacking in places, we were better today. Yeah, I’m quite confident for tomorrow but, as I pointed out, the race is tomorrow and there’s a lot of things that can happen, that can bite you, so we need to be sharp and awake. But for now, I’ll just enjoy the pole and tomorrow when I wake up, I’ll think, yeah, we look forward to the race and try to be there. That’s what counts. We’ll see what the weather does – but one way or the other I believe that we’ve got a strong package. So we need to make the best of it.

Q: (Sonja Kreye – SpeedNews) Sebastian, what would you say what it takes to perform such a lap as you did to get the qualifying and the pole position,  considering if you’re talking to someone who wants to become a professional race driver, a young talent?

SV: Practice! Obviously we’re talking about how many laps I’ve done before. I think we all would jump in the car, going into qualifying. We’d know what is coming towards us. It’s a mixture. You need to have confidence in your car, in yourself. You also need to enjoy it, have fun. Yeah, usually you’re quite busy around the lap and I think one of the greatest feelings that I sense when I drive the car is that I’m not thinking of anything else, and that can be very stressful but it’s also a great feeling and makes you feel very free. That’s what I felt today, I didn’t think of anything else and it felt good and obviously after that you see the people around and you take everything in.

Q: (Joe van Burik – Autocar NL) To all three of you: would you say getting the tyres right on Sunday is more crucial and trickier here than ever this season?

KR: I don’t know really. How do we know until tomorrow? Obviously we know after the race here whether it was difficult or not. There’s been many races this year where it has been tricky. I think it depends a lot on the weather, how it’s going to turn out to be tomorrow. If it’s something like yesterday, for sure it will be not that easy but I think it’s impossible to say, what we’re going to get and how it’s going to be, so we prepare the best way that we can and see what it brings.

SV: Yeah. I don’t know. I think we have some tricky races for managing the tyres. I don’t think it will be the trickiest, I think it will be one of the trickiest. How tricky? As Kimi said, we will find out tomorrow. Obviously you try to prepare as much as you can but if it’s tricky it’s usually tricky for everyone so we will see.

VB: Nothing to add. I think it’s not going to be the most difficult race in terms of tyres. We’ve had difficult ones already so we will see tomorrow.

Q: (James Roberts – F1 Racing) Sebastian, how significant is this and how sweet is it knowing that your title rival will be starting down the grid with Lewis having his gearbox problems in Q1?

SV: Well, obviously we saw it but I don’t know what exactly happened. I think it doesn’t really matter. We will see what happens tomorrow. Obviously you look after yourself and obviously for me it was a good session. We prepared the car well and everything went smoothly. Obviously you always try to push the limits. You don’t wish anything bad or something like a technical issue which he had, I understand, to happen to anyone, so it was a shame to see him go out and I mean it, but you look after yourself and try to do the race tomorrow which is the most important part of the weekend.

Q: (Livio Oricchio – Sebastian, do you believe that if you finish the first part of the season with a good margin in the championship and considering the car you have, the step forward Ferrari made, you go to the second part with a good advantage in terms of being World Champion?

SV: I don’t know what to believe to be honest. I try to get the maximum points every weekend, especially at this stage of the year. Later on, you find out whether you are in a good position or not but yeah, if we can score points and if we have a quick car, a car to fight for wins then I believe that puts us in a very good position, and then you add up your points towards the end and you see where you are, so I don’t think right now is moment to stress about the championship.

Friday, 20 July 2018

2018 German GP: FIA Team Members' Press Conference.

TEAM REPRESENTATIVES – Bob BELL (Renault), Andrew GREEN (Force India), Pierre WACHÉ (Red Bull Racing), Paddy LOWE, (Williams)

Q: Bob, can we start with you please. Hot off the back of FP1 here at Hockenheim. New front wing, one of the things you have been trying out. How different is it and is it performing as you were expecting?

Bob BELL: Yeah, it’s a reasonably different concept for the front wing. We successfully tested it OK this morning and thankfully we did it on Nico’s car, because Carlos lost track time. We still have to go through the data on it to understand what exactly it is doing. Driver feeling is positive, but we need to go to through the data to be absolutely sure it’s doing what we expected it to do, everywhere.

Q: And did it survive the trip through the gravel as well?
BB: Yes, it did, thankfully.

Q: Just on the subject of FP1, I think there was a coolant seal issue on Carlos’ car. Are you confident he is going to be out for FP2 later.

BB: yeah, to be honest we could probably could just have got him out for that bash at the end of the session, but it wasn’t worth it. It was a very minor leak but buried deep inside the car so it wasn’t quick to fix, but yeah he’ll be fine for this afternoon.

Q: Now, Bob, you’ve said in the past that it takes a team five years to get to the top from coming into Formula 1. This is now year three for you guys. Can you give us a progress report as to how things are going and what the target is for both the end of this season and for 2019?

BB: My quotation of five years was based in on historic evidence with what happened when Red Bull took over Jaguar, Mercedes took over Brawn, when Renault came in after taking over Benetton, and of course those were in different eras. Formula 1 is significantly more complex, the teams involved are significantly bigger now than back then, so I would say now that five years is a minimum. In terms of being of progress, we’re reasonably on track. We had very much hoped to secure fourth place in the championship this year. We’re in the fight for that. It’s going to be close, but we’re still confident that we can get the job done. So that’s good. We’re on target in terms of where we hoped to be on track, we’re on target in terms of where we hoped to be with development of the organisation – that’s rejuvenation of facilities, recruitment of staff, methodology, process, all those good things. And looking slightly further ahead, then I think next year again, realistically, if we can secure fourth place, close down the gap to the top three teams, then I think we will be in reasonably good shape.

Q: Thank you. Andrew, if I could come on to you now, because Bob has just said he wants P4 this year. I guess that’s definitely a position you guys are going for. Cehco told us yesterday in the FIA press conference that he thinks it’s still achievable. Just how much harder is it for you guys to get that P4 this year?

Andrew GREEN: It’s quite obviously a bit trickier than last year, we secured fourth with a few races to go. That probably won’t be the case this year. But no, we still believe we’re in the hunt. We’re still pushing hard. It is very close. There are a few teams in that portion of the grid who seem to be just swapping places and alternating the scoring of points. It could take one extraordinary race to push someone out of reach or another team into contention. It's that sort of level of competition at the moment. But we are still there and for as long as it’s mathematically possible to do it, we’re still going to be pushing.

Q: Has your development rate this had to be faster than previous seasons, just to stay where you are?

AG: Yeah, the development rate is at least as great as it was last year, that’s for sure. There is performance coming out of the current set of regulations at at least the same rate as we have had for the last 24 months. It’s still an arms race. If you bring new bits to the car and your make it go quicker you move forward. If you don’t bring new bits to the car you go backwards, because everybody is. Bob is an example; they’ve just brought a new front wing. We haven’t. So it’s going to be a tough race for us.

Q: On the subject of wings, can we just throw it forward to 2019 with the new regulations that are coming in. Can you just give us an update on where Force India is with progress on those new regulations?

AG: Yeah, I think those regulations were officially defined a few weeks. We have been working on the basis of those regulations for a couple of months, mainly in the virtual world, in CFD. We’ve made some progress. We’ll be testing some parts in the week after Hungary, to confirm the direction that we are going in and the changes to the car that these regulations make. The front wing is key to everything that gets set up further down the car, so changing that is a big step, so we want to make sure we are developing in the right direction, so we are bringing parts after Hungary just to confirm that. It’s an interesting set of regulations that’s for sure. I’m not sure that it’s a pretty set of regulations, but it is interesting.

Q: Can you give us any numbers as to how much less downforce they will provide?
AG: It is a significant chunk, yeah. We hope to battle our way out of it by the time we get to the beginning of next season, but yeah, it is a significant change.

Q: Thank you. Paddy, let’s talk front wings. It seems to be what we do! You brought something new here. Has it done what you were expecting?

Paddy LOWE: Yeah, very similar to Bob, although we were testing it on both cars. So we have got two new front wings and we are able to run them effectively in anti-phase across the garage. So we had a perfectly executed programme to learn what we needed to learn, gathered a lot of data. You saw we had a lot of rakes. I think we managed to cover the entire car in flo-vis at the end. So yeah, a lot of analyse, but the feedback so far is pretty good, so an encouraging start.

Q: Now you said recently that what you are going through at Williams now is the toughest challenge of your career. I just wanted to ask you about that. Why is it tougher than what’s come before?

PL: Well, in the end you are solving problems, not only problems about a car but about an organisation and trying to understand how to effectively tune it up to be more competitive and to get back to the front of the grid and those are very, very difficult problems to solve and that is very taxing on me and my colleagues. As you know, Formula 1 is a very impatient sport and very visible, so when things are not going well it’s very clear for all to see, it’s on TV. You see, for example, what happened in Silverstone, we had two cars starting from the pit lane, which is certainly a new experience for me and probably everyone else in the team. That came as a result, ironically, of trying to push the boundaries from where we are. We need to keep learning and learning very fast. We do a lot development days on Fridays, that’s a test day. We had a test that we ran and frankly it wasn’t ready to race. We had committed to it too far in advance. These sort of things happen when you are trying to push yourself really hard. But you do that and it’s a very public problem, at your home grand prix. That certainly makes it tough.

Q: Can you put a timescale on when you expect Williams to be back where they belong? In terms of sorting out the issues with the current car, is it 2018 or are you already looking at 2019 now?

PL: I was somewhat comforted by Bob’s perspective of ‘this is a minimum five-year programme’. He’s very right. Formula One is a very, very competitive sport these days. All the teams, incredibly professional, operating at an extremely high level, so I can tell you that, even though we are at the back, in an absolute sense, we are not doing a bad job. It is very, very difficult to produce even a car that is coming last. Takes a huge amount of effort and commitment from everyone concerned and a high level of technology. So, it’s not easy. We would like to recover ourselves off the back, very definitely. If we can do something within this season, that would be great. Clearly with the rule change for next year, that’s a fresh challenge – but also an opportunity. So, we see that as a good chance to make a bigger step that we might do across a normal winter, so a lot of focus on that.

Q: Would a more experienced driver line-up have helped you this season?

PL: Well, the better driver, the better. Everybody would love to have a championship-winning driver in their car but that’s not possible. You have to work your way up to that on merit. The merit that they would want to drive for you and the merit that you can afford to pay their salaries, so, we can’t all have championship-winning drivers. We have a driver line-up, we’re very happy with the two young guys, they’re very talented and yes, their feedback doesn’t come from such a great level of experience as championship winners would provide but I don’t think they’re the problem we have at the moment. The car isn’t quick enough; there’s a lot of things to do to get a much better platform to work with, and that’s what we’re doing.

Q: Pierre, you’re technical director. The structure at Red Bull, Adrian Newey has been chief technical officer for a long time – but there was not technical director prior to your arrival. Just why the need for one now?

Pierre WACHÉ: As you know, Adrian is still involved in the Formula One project. This year’s car and next year’s car – hopefully – with his talent. But, as you know also, he is splitting his time with a supercar in the Red Bull Advanced Technology programme. Then, the team requested a technical leadership in a different organisation to compensate his split time, and a reorganisation to put a technical director in place. That’s the main reason, I would say.

Q: Confirmation came through this morning that Daniel Ricciardo has engine penalties this weekend. Is that a tactical move? A strategic move by the team to leave you in the best possible shape for the Hungaroring next weekend?

PW: Yes. We were not forced to take the engine penalty. Even if we don’t take a full engine penalty; we are mainly MGU-K and Controller and Battery penalty here. We don't want to take this penalty in Budapest for sure. We have to take it at one point before shutdown to go through the race weekends. Then yeah, it’s part of the tactical aspect.

Q: Exciting times for the team. Of course, Honda coming on board next year. Can you just shed some light on how you’re ramping-up to their arrival? For example, have you got some Red Bull Racing engineers down with Toro Rosso in Italy? Or have you got some guys over in Sakura in japan? How’s the integration with Honda going?

PW: First of all, it’s a very short-term relationship we are trying to build now. It’s not a long time ago that the announcement was done. Then Toro Rosso are experiencing some relationship with them. Us, we’re just starting. We don’t have yet some people in Toro Rosso to learn how it works. We create this relationship. As you know, with now 12 years we are in a relationship with one manufacturer, Renault, creating some great links. Then we have to rebuild that. It takes a very long time. On top of that, as other people mentioned, the new regs are coming and the integration of the engine is on top of the new regs development. It’s a massive challenge for the team. I hope the Honda and Red Bull relationship will be a success.

Q: Are Renault being less forthcoming with information now they know the relationship ends at the end of the season?

PW: For sure the information for next year’s engine they will not share with us but on the current engine and how we operate on the track and try to extract the performance, we don’t have any doubt that Renault would like to win races with us.


Q: (Dieter Rencken – Racing Lines, Gentlemen, overnight the FIA published the tender for the 2020-2023 inclusive period. 2020 will use the existing tyres but 2021-2023 will be 18-inch tyres, a narrower front tyre by 35mm and no blankets. What are the implications on this from a technical perspective?

BB: I wasn’t aware of that. That’s new. I think the biggest challenge will be, perhaps for the tyre manufacturer, if it’s a change of tyre manufacturer, in doing two different types of tyre over the space of a year. I think that’ll be the biggest challenge for them.

Andrew, anything to add?
AG: No. I knew nothing about it either. Dieter’s well ahead of the game here. Yeah, like Bob said, that is a big challenge for any new tyre manufacturer to come in and do one set of tyres for one season, and then a second set of tyres for the remainder of the contract. It’ll be interesting to see how it plays out.

Paddy, the ramifications for the teams will be huge as well.
PL: Yeah, we weren’t aware of that either. I know the idea of 18-inch wheels has been debated many, many times over the last ten or more years. So, it’s an interesting thing to make a commitment to that because it’s not absolutely clear that’s a great way forward – and I think we need to analyse the implications technically by going that direction. Certainly, it makes a very different tyre. A much heavier package as well and quite challenging to design and manufacture tyres that will take that duty at that profile.

PW: I think it will come also with some chassis regulation change that it will affect the car behaviour and, for sure, this kind of tyre size will change the car balance and the way you operate, even more if, as you mentioned, we will not have any blankets. I’m pretty sure the challenge will be how we can be consistent, create some lap-time during quali and be consistent during the race without any massive issue in terms of build-up the laps, degradation, and warming up. Depending on how the regulations will be proposed in terms of chassis will influence this aspect.

Q: (Julien Billiotte – Autohebdo) Questions to Paddy and Andrew. There have been reports that Lance Stroll and his financial backing might switch from Williams to Force India. How much of a worry would it be for Williams and how much of a boost would it be for Force India?

PL: I’m not worrying about it. It’s that type of time in the season when there are lots of stories around the media about drivers doing this or that. As far as I’m concerned we’re working very much in the present with Lance. It’s true he hasn’t committed for next year. We haven’t committed to him either, so that is an open point. Where it lands, who knows. We would love to stay with Lance and that’s our assumption at the moment.

AG: It’s not really an area I get involved in, to be honest. We get told what drivers get put in the car and we make sure they fit. I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.

Q: (Edd Straw – Autosport) To pick up on the new tyre rules, specifically the tyre blankets, apparently banned for 2021, this is something that’s been talked about a few times over the past ten years. It’s going to come in and then it’s been dropped, for pretty valid reasons so just wanted to get everyone’s thoughts on that, specifically safety concerns, the practicalities of actually dealing with things like tyre pressure limits etc that are caused by this, so I guess we could start with Andrew and work our way across in terms of whether this is a good idea and could it have serious unintended consequences?

AG: I’m guessing, given it was only published yesterday, that there hasn’t been a lot of discussions on it and it will need a lot of discussion. There are a lot of issues that will need to be solved and going forward, especially alluded to a few of them with the changes to the rim diameter, the way we operate the tyres, how we operate them without blankets. There’s just so much to talk about and agree on that’s it difficult to say, right here and now, what we’re going to do because we need to start the discussions.

RB: I’m sure that a set of tyre requirements from the supplier can be agreed upon that will deliver tyres that will be capable of being operated safely, without blankets. Plenty of other racing series do it so I don’t see any reason why we can’t in Formula One. If those specifications for the tyre allow us to get around some of the limitations that we face in operating the tyres at the minute, pressures, cambers, all those things, and make that task less onerous on the teams and produce more consistent performance throughout the life of the tyres, then I think that’s all to the good, and I’m sure that is possible to do. But it takes time to be sure what those requirements should be and to give the tyre manufacturer, whoever it is, time to develop the tyres. That’s not the work of five minutes.

PL: Yeah, it’s very difficult to know and again, it’s been debated many times. I quite like the spectacle of a grid with all the equipment, including tyre blankets. I think that’s part of the impression that Formula One gives of being a very technical sport, the pinnacle of motor racing, so I would miss it from that point of view. But on the other hand, if you’re reflecting on what Bob says, if it drives us towards tyres that have a much wider window to operate in, that could be a good thing. I know at the same time they are talking about moving qualifying perhaps to formats where there are less laps, more criticality around doing single laps and again, if that’s around tyres that aren’t prepared with blankets that would drive us towards tyres with a wider window which I think would be a good thing for the sport.

PW: I think, on the technical side for the manufacturer it will be quite difficult, even more when you see the evolution of pressure you have without blankets, starting at 13 degrees, finishing at more than 100 degrees. With the energy we are putting in the tyre in Formula One is higher than other categories, then for sure it will be a big challenge for the tyre manufacturer. As an engineer, when it’s challenging, it’s quite interesting. I’m pretty sure we can find tricks and some possibilities on the car to use and to operate the tyre in the best way but it will be a big challenge for the manufacturer.

Q: (Alan Baldwin – Reuters) Paddy, Mercedes in Austria, after James Vowles made a mistake, made much of their philosophy of being able to put your hand up and own up to a mistake because you learn from your mistakes. You’re obviously familiar with that from your time there. I was wondering if Williams have a similar philosophy and whether you’ve put your hand up and admitted to mistakes since you joined and are others doing the same?

PL: Yeah, I’m always prepared to stick my hand up. I don’t necessarily do it in… that was quite a public demonstration I thought, to actually announce it over the radio in a race. I don’t think that happens very often but I would be the first to admit where things have gone wrong. Even if I look at what I’ve contributed in the last year at Williams, there are certainly things I would do much differently if I had my time again, that’s part of a process of development and understanding an experience. The main point is that you proceed together as a team, the team becomes stronger,  I think, if people are honest and work in that way so I’m very much a supporter of that.

Q: (Sam Collins – Racecar Engineering) Sorry to bring it back to the tyres; talking in general terms, because I know we’ve tested on the low profile tyre before, could you tell me what the implications for the inboard suspension are, particularly at the front where the packaging volumes are quite restricted?

PW: I think, just by reducing the profile of the tyre, you reduce the deflection of it, that, as for sure, if you have the same front ????, the influence of the inboard suspension will be higher in terms of deflection. For sure, the spring will take more. I think there is more control for the chassis people of the ride height of the car. Then on this aspect it’s not so bad and also the influence of  the tyre deflection on the aero side will be reduced. Without saying that, as Paddy mentioned before, all the packaging of the brake ducts, the weight of the car from the spring mass will affect the performance of the car. That we have to take into account. Normally the packaging should be OK, it’s more the deflection of it and possibility that it will be higher.

PL: Yeah, I don’t think we can really add to what Pierre said. I think it’s a different space to work in. Mostly you have more volume actually, so a lot of things that you might want to do are easier because there’s more space.

RB: No, not a lot to add. I think what will make a huge difference to the packaging inboard of the front of the car will be mainly what we do with uprights, brake drums and all the outboard kit, understanding what the tyres need, in terms of suspension kinematics, all of that, I think will be a bigger problem and a packaging exercise at the front.

AG: I suppose we have to wait and see what the regulations are that define that area as well because we’re assuming… or everyone’s assuming we can use all that volume inside the bigger rim but maybe the regulations won’t allow us to do that, so we’ll have to wait and see.

Q: (Dieter Rencken – Racing Lines, If we take the bigger rim, could one actually go to a bigger brake, in other words a non-carbon-type brake, maybe a composite or steel brakes?

AG: Anything’s possible, Dieter. Let’s see what the regulations are. But yes, you could.

Q: Bob, would you welcome a different material?
RB: I’d welcome bigger brakes. I think for that new formula we will need them. We’re getting close to the practical limits with the current brakes, without spending a lot of money, which would be good to avoid, so yeah, I think it does represent an opportunity to redress some capacity in the braking system.

PL: I can’t add to that.

PW: Nothing to add.

Thursday, 19 July 2018

2018 German GP: FIA Drivers' Press Conference TRANSCRIPT.

DRIVERS – Brendon HARTLEY (Toro Rosso), Nico HÜLKENBERG (Renault), Sergio PÉREZ (Force India), Sebastian VETTEL (Ferrari)

Q: Brendon, go back to two weeks ago at Silverstone. That was a horrible-looking crash. How are you now? No lasting effects, I hope.

Brendon HARTLEY: Actually, waking up on the Sunday, I was ready to go. Almost no knock-on effects, which was a surprise after watching the replay myself and seeing how spectacular that looked. In fact, the impact was smaller than what I had in both Canada and Barcelona. I think I’ve probably taken the top three crashes of the season all by myself! Hoping something like that doesn’t happen again. But no, I was physically ready already on Sunday and felt perfectly fine.

Q: Let’s talk to you now about the relationship between Toro Rosso and Honda, if we can. How do you feel that has developed as the season has gone on? Do you feel the development rate has increased as the year has progressed?

BH: It was a really positive start from the first laps in Barcelona testing where I think a lot of people had written us off before the season had even started. I think collecting nice laps on that first test was a really positive start and I think everyone at Toro Rosso saw it as a good opportunity having Honda on board. We’ve had an update already in Canada and yeah, the progress keeps moving forward every weekend. I think it’s only positive, I would say, the relationship between Toro Rosso and Honda.

Q: Do you sense there’s pressure to introduce engine upgrades this year, to help prepare Honda for next year when they’re going to be with Red Bull Racing as well.

BH: I think there were always updates planned, one of which has already come and I know there’s some other stuff in the pipeline – but at least from what I’ve seen. I haven’t seen any added pressure. Of course, we’ll welcome all the performance gains that we can – but honestly the way the team’s working together and systematically going through it, collectively as a team, Toro Rosso and Honda together. I mean, it’s all going in the right direction.

Q: Brendon, this is your first time here since 2009 when you raced in Formula 3. What are your expectations of Hockenheim in a Formula One car?

BH: Yeah, looking forward to it. It’s a proper track, it’s got history. Obviously not the same one that was raced many years ago through the forest. Yeah, I like it, I’m remaining optimistic. Surprisingly optimistic after the last few races I’ve had. Most of these bad results over the last few months have been out of my control, and I still feel strong and in good spirits and ready to take on this weekend. As we’ve all seen from P7, the last of the top three teams, to the very back, it’s an extremely tight battle. If we manage to eke two more tenths out of the car, from any area of development, that could mean securing quite a few points – or not securing. It’s extremely tight and we just have to bring our A game and get everything together over the next two days.

Q: Nico, Brendon’s just giving his thoughts on the German Grand Prix. There was no German Grand Prix last year – just how special is it for you to be racing on home soil this weekend?

Nico HÜLKENBERG: Yeah, it’s definitely good to be back. Hockenheim, which is a place with a lot of memory for me. My first ever race in single seater racing, Formula BMW in 2005 was here; lots of racing in Formula 3, so, I’ve always had good moments here, the circuits always been treating me well. Good results, even in Formula One, two times seventh. So, it’s good to be here, I like the place, like the area. I hear it’s pretty sold out for this weekend, which is great news so looking forward to start the weekend here.

Q: We’re pretty much at the halfway point of the season. Just wanted to get your assessment of yours and Renault’s progress in 2018.

NH: I think it’s been OK. Of course, we missed out a few opportunities and results here and there. Sometimes technical issues, sometimes just with having a few difficult weekends. I feel the last two, three, four weekends have not been brilliant for us, we’ve always had a little hiccup somewhere and we’ve given away a little bit – but I think that’s just how it goes. Over 21 races it’s really hard to be perfect all the time. I think in the bigger picture, we’re fourth in the Constructors’ Championship, which is pretty decent. We have more developments in the pipeline over the next few weeks, which hopefully puts us in a good direction for the rest of the season. Obviously, we want to be more competitive and stay where we are.

Q: Neither car was in Q3 at Silverstone. Did that track reveal the car’s shortcoming?

NH: Not necessarily. I think it’s a little bit track dependent. We feel Silverstone wasn’t great for our car. It was just a little bit difficult. We were boxed in a bit, we felt. Before that we’ve been to Q3 many times. Not all the time. It’s not always the most important in the midfield battle. Sometimes it’s actually good to be outside and on a different strategy, to upset a little bit. Of course, we’re pushing at Renault, everybody, to make the car more competitive, faster, trying to keep a gap in the midfield battle. But it’s really tight and it is track-specific. So one track suits better Haas or Force India, the next weekend the Toro Rosso is faster. I think, on balance, us as Renault, we have been pretty consistent.

Q: You say the team is working hard to put performance on the car – so how much quicker is the car than it was in Melbourne?

NH: It’s hard to quantify in terms of lap-time – but for sure we’ve developed the car since. There’s been quite a few new parts since. Here and there, some little things. It’s hard to measure – but if you see the gap to the top three teams, then you still think ‘that’s too big’. We don’t like that, but they’re doing at the same time, an amazing job and it’s really hard to catch-up. Yeah, especially as race drivers you always feel you want more. You want it quicker, you’re impatient. This weekend we had some stuff which I’m excited to try tomorrow and see how it goes.

Q: Sergio, coming to you. We’re doing a bit of a half-term report. So, tell us, what’s your assessment of yours and Force India’s season so far?

Sergio PÉREZ: It’s been a bit up and down in the first half of the season. We were expecting more, up until now but we’re certainly improving; getting closer to the top of the midfield battle. I think we’re definitely getting closer and improving there. Still a long way to go and we should be in a good position. We’re certainly making good progress. I think the season has started quite slow for us but then we made some good progress and I think right now we are in a good position to start fighting for good points.

Q: So, who do you feel you’re battling with at the minute. Can you go, on performance terms, toe-to-toe, with the guy on your left, for example?

SP: I certainly think so. I think there is a good chance. Definitely the midfield battle, as Nico described, is so much track dependent, track-to-track, small margins so everything down to the Sunday y’know? To the Sunday afternoon. There’s a lot to gain, even if you don’t have a great qualifying, there are still plenty of points that are valuable there. So, I think we should be in a good position. I still think fourth place is possible for us in the Constructors’, so that’s the main target.

Sebastian, first thoughts, concerning these new spec, 2017-spec cars really. It’s the first time we’ve used them here at Hockenheim. How much of a different experience will it be, compared to 2016 with the old-spec cars?

Sebastian VETTEL: I think it should be more fun. Cars are faster, faster mostly, or mainly in the corners, so I think it’s always great if the cars are faster. I think here you have some corners, high-speed corners – Turn One and also the entry to the stadium, which, yeah, they should be a lot more fun – but also the medium-speed sections around the track. I think generally the cars are better, more fun to drive, so it should be better, more enjoyable than two years ago. And hopefully we are more competitive – that’s also more enjoyable!

Q: Pole position in 2016 was 1m14.3s. How much do you believe you might be able to shave off that this weekend?

SV: We’ll see. I think it’s not always straightforward to compare. I think the cars are faster, as we mentioned, but we also obviously but a lot of downforce on, so we lose a bit of speed down the straights – but I think we should be faster. We also have the ultrasoft this weekend for qualifying, so yeah, how much I don’t know but by quite a bit. As I said, the faster you go, the more fun it is.

Q: You’re leading the Drivers’ Championship; Ferrari leading the Constructors’ Championship. The development curve at Ferrari this year has been very impressive. Have you noticed a step up in that area compared to last year?

SV: Well, the team is still improving, still growing. Obviously, the team has been around for a long time and I have been now part of the team for three and a half years – but I think we are getting stronger, we have a very, very good group of people, a good mix of people on board. Yeah, you’re trying all the time. Sometimes obviously, there’s also the element of the stuff working better than expected, sometimes it works less than expected but I think overall, I think you can say over the last two years maybe, since the last time we were here, that, yeah, I think by the end of 2016 we had a sort of lock opened, and since then I think there was a certain momentum starting to keep going and to develop. Since then I think we kept it going. Obviously the ’17 regs gave us the chance as a team to catch up, because before we were a bit behind – but since then, also last year, I think we had a great pace, a great car and we were able to develop it. Missed a little bit of performance at the end of the year. I think we learned from that and hopefully we can do it better – which still have to be seen but I think the car has potential.

Q: You’ve won at the Nürburgring but not here. Would winning here on Sunday mean more to you than simply 25 points?

SV: Yeah. Absolutely. I think the fact that racing in Germany, I’m afraid that probably this is the last time for a while, as far as I understand – which would be a shame to lose one of the classic races, and the fact that I’m literally from here – it’s just half an hour away were I was born and grew up – so yeah, the area means a lot to me and it would be great to have a good weekend.


Q: (Sonja Kreye – Speed News) Question for Sebastian. As far as I remember, Nico Rosberg, when he became World Champion in 2016, he dedicated some of his success to some mental work that he does, like meditation and hypnosis – don’t know what he does – but do you also follow something like this? Do you have a mental routine? Do you do some mental work?

SV: I think it’s a very broad subject: I don’t know what Nico was doing or not but I think we all have our routines. Some of it is conscious, some of it – a lot of it – is probably sub-conscious. I think everybody knows from their own experience that you have some things that you run through before the start, or before a test, or whenever it gets important, we all have some sort of routine that we follow. Something that we do different to other people around us. It’s the same for us. Obviously when it comes to qualifying on Saturday or preparing the race, I think yes, I have certain things that I try to go through, I try to visualise and go through the track and so on. I’m not practising meditation or doing some of things that people maybe think of when they talk about mental preparation. So, as I said, most of it I think is a certain routine. We have the qualifying, it’s always the same things happening, so you know what’s coming and it’s important to be there, to be sharp, to prepare – but yeah, I think we know what to do.

Q: (Wolfgang Monsehr – Rennsportpresse-Agency ) Two questions for Brendon Hartley. Number one: is there a regular exchange of info or experience with your sister team, either you and your Red Bull driver colleagues or engineers. And question number two: you come from a relatively small country, New Zealand, but with a very rich motorsport background, starting a long time ago with Bruce McLaren, Mike Thackwell, Chris Amon etc. You’re representing Formula 1 as a New Zealander, over in America it’s your countryman Scott Dixon. Both are totally different championships but nevertheless do you have with him a regular contact and exchange of experience – Formula 1 to IndyCar and IndyCar to Formula 1?

BH: OK, so the first question was regarding Toro Rosso and Red Bull. They are two very separate teams. Obviously we share the same catering, so there is some crossover and I’m also good friends with Max and Daniel, as I am with some other drivers in the paddock. The crossover in information is relatively small but probably not my area to discuss but I’m not well informed on exactly how much information is passed, but I should mention that they are two different teams and everything on the Toro Rosso is manufactured by Toro Rosso in Faenza and in Bicester, where the winds tunnel. The next question: I am very aware of the rich history and I knew Chris Amon very well. Especially when I travelled away from New Zealand I realised how rich the history is and you mentioned Scott Dixon and yeah we do keep in contact. I think that’s the nature of being from a small country and flying the flag and we’re all very proud of that. I think we’re not the only two. It’s fair to say there are many other New Zealand drivers representing on a very level and yeah, I’m proud to be one of many.

Q: (Alan Baldwin – Reuters) Seb, Lewis’ deal with Mercedes as a two-year extension was announced today. He’s locked in for two years, you’re at Ferrari for two years and Max is at Red Bull for two years. Your thoughts on how the future is lining up?

SV: Well, congrats. I don’t know why it took so long. I think it was pretty clear. Yeah, no reactions. For me it’s clear, that’s what matters to me and what the others are doing doesn’t really matter. I have my place and my mission and what I want to achieve and in all honesty, that’s all that matters.

Q: (Udo Döring – Darmstädter Echo) As you mentioned, Sebastian, it could be the last German GP maybe, so another question to both of you who are from Germany, what are you thinking about this and why do you think it’s so difficult to keep the grand prix in Germany in these times?

NH: Yeah, of course it would be a big shame, Germany being the car nation that we are, and to not have a grand prix would be disappointing and sad. I guess it comes down to commercial questions, simple as that. Germany has a big history in racing and in Formula 1 in particular. Maybe the nation is a little bit full or tired or racing, I don’t know, but we’ve always been around for decades, with Michael, with Mercedes, with Seb, with Nico before. Germans are a bit spoiled when it comes to that, because we’ve always been successful, we’ve always been around and I don’t know if it’s an effect of that, but I think ultimately it’s the commercial aspects that play the biggest part.

Sebastian, have you got anything to add?

SV: I think it would be a shame to lose the German Grand Prix because it has so much history. As Nico said, for car manufacturers Germany is well known. We are a car nation. I think probably it’s to do with the fact that generally you have to pay money to get a grand prix. Other nations are prepared to pay money. Other countries are prepared to fund the grand prix and I think that’s where the main problem is; Germany is not ready to spend money on having the grand prix, to advertise Formula 1, to advertise racing, to advertise Germany, to attract people coming here. So I think the view on that is different to other countries and that’s where probably the problem is. I mean, I know the track well here, I know the people that work for it and they are working very hard for the event to get people coming here and it’s tough for them to actually make some money, because simply they have no funds backing them up from the county or state or I don’t know the country, supporting them financially.

Q: (Jo van Burik – To follow up on Alan’s question regarding Lewis’ contract, a question to Seb. The battle between you and Lewis’ has seemed to bring a lot to Formula 1 over the past few years and this season most notably. Do you look forward to maybe continuing that for another two years?

SV: Yeah, with the result the other way round, yeah, I look forward to that. I think any battle is good. Obviously it’s always great if it’s tight at the top, it’s always great if you have a lot of cars fighting for podiums, for wins. Now this year already we have six cars, which is already a lot better, also being part of it, than the previous years I think some years ago we had even more cars on the podium, fighting for race wins and so on, so that would be great to see the gap closing. Normally that’s something that happens naturally if you just let things be. I don’t know what… obviously for ’19 we have a small change and ’20 should be fairly stable and then we see what happens in ’21, but that’s quite far away. But in general it’s always exciting as a driver if you can fight for points and fight for podiums and then fight for wins and you want to fight the best and Lewis has been one of the best since he entered Formula 1, so it’s good to be there.

Q: (Heikki Kulta – Turun Sanomat) Seb, how different would it be for you if Charles would be your team-mate instead of Kimi?

SV: I don’t know. I don’t know Charles much. I know him a little bit through the programme. Kimi is Finnish, Charles is French; I think they are quite different… or Monegasque. Sorry, sorry… sorry. I like Kimi. I think we get along. We have never any issue. Sometimes on track. I remember I drove into him, crashed into him. But I think the way we handle things is very similar, very straightforward, so I think it’s great to work with and great for the team, but it’s not my decision so we’ll see what happens.

Q: (Phil Duncan – PA) Seb, we saw after the last race some comments from Lewis and from Mercedes about the events that happened on the first lap. I know Lewis has since retracted those comments but do you think, in a way, that you and Ferrari are getting under Lewis’ and Mercedes’ skin this season?

SV: I’m not a big fan of getting more out of it than there seems to be. I think it’s fine, you know. Obviously it was silly to say it but we are racing and we’ve all been there, it’s never great if you get hit without doing anything wrong, then it’s also fine to express your opinion, even it’s not right or reasonable, but it’s human. I think it’s fine, so we shouldn’t… it’s two weeks ago, we move on.

Q: (Frédéric Ferret – l’Equipe) Seb, if you win on Sunday, do you think it could change the future of the German Grand Prix? And do you feel more pressure than usual?

SV: No, more excitement. I hope since we had a bad World Cup that people didn’t put their flags away and they turn up at the weekend and wave them for Nico and myself. We get a lot of support. From what I hear it should be packed, so I’m looking forward to that. Obviously if there is a chance to win, I want to win and if that helps to keep the grand prix, that’s a bonus. As I say, it would be a shame to lose it. It would be great to come back next year, or the year after.

Q: (Luke Smith – Sebastian, following up on Heikki’s question: do you have a strong preference for Ferrari to keep Kimi for next year or are you more open-minded than in previous years about your team-mate?

SV: What do you mean ‘previous years’? Well, I like Kimi. As I said, I’d be happy to continue like that, but it’s not for me to mention, to decide. Charles, one way or the other, will have a great career. He’s a great guy, he’s fast, he’s got everything, so yeah, definitely, he has no rush. He’s young, but if you’re young you’re always in a rush with everything. I don’t know. I don’t know when, what and ultimately who but as I said it really doesn’t matter to me. For me it’s clear where I am next but I think both of them would suit into the team.

Q: (Christian Menath – Seb, on paper, at least two of the three last races of the triple header we’ve had were a bit more in favour of the Mercedes. Mercedes said they had the strongest car the last three races. Do you have the feeling you survived the worst part of the season now?

SV: No, generally I would agree. I think they had the fastest car in the last couple of races. I think in Silverstone we were a match. Obviously in quali we just missed out by a little bit. If it’s within the same tenths I don’t think you can say one is stronger than the other. I think in the race also we had good pace, which was great for us, because Silverstone has been a place where we were weak. The places before they were a bit stronger. We’ll see how things evolve here. We brought some stuff to Silverstone, which should also work here. I think it’s a constant chase to find the advantage and then one track suit you more than others but I think we have a great car and we still have great potential to make it better.

Q: (Alvero Rodriguez-Martin – Momento GP) Nico, sometimes it seems Carlos and you struggle more than the other teams with degradation. How do you work on that and do you expect that to be a problem here?

NH: Maybe at some races that’s true, not every race. Again, I think it depends a little bit on the track and temperatures. Yes, we had some problems, I think. It comes down to how your car is using the tyres and I think there are some cases where our car is quite hard on the tyres and then we pay a price with degradation. We know about it, we try to address it, we work on it, it’s a constant subject. I think this weekend here with the temperatures being very hot is going to be a good test for us to see if we’ve made some improvements there.

Q: (Walter Koster – Saabrucker Zeitung) Seb, during the last race at Silverstone your teammate Kimi asked for more power but his engineer refused his wish. Kimi answered indignantly ‘It’s not permitted for me to think for myself?’ To what extent can you make your own decisions on track and how much is decided remotely on your behalf by the team? I can tell you all that I know a lot of people who don’t watch Formula One because the technology is too complicated and they feel the races are manipulated. Formula One seems to be more removed from the fans than before. Do you agree with this, and please remember my first question?

SV: I don’t remember the question! Yeah, I do remember the question. What was the question now? I think that what happened in Kimi’s race as far as I remember was more about strategy, not about engine power or energy so it was more about strategy. In that situation I think it’s fairly simple, you drive your car and you have a feeling about your tyres, of where you are in the race. You’re racing the others around you but you can’t see everything that’s going on around you which obviously the team on the pit wall can see, all the cars, all the lap times and if you were going to pit, then they know where you’re going to come out, which is something which we can’t see because we can’t see 20 seconds behind us. So I think that was the argument or misunderstanding at the time. I think yes, I agree with your view that people get the impression from outside that a lot of it is remotely controlled but that’s not fair. The cars are very complex, the technology inside the cars is very complex and it needs more than one or two, three mechanics which maybe Formula One had 40/50 years ago to run a car. You need a lot of people. Obviously in terms of technology it’s also very impressive but my view is also that from outside the engine… most of the car is covered anyway so you can’t see. Some people… if you’re a tech nerd it’s great but not everybody is and from the outside you want to see cars fighting, you want to see cars race and are driven by us to the limit and that’s what matters. I think there’s always been an interaction between technology and racecraft, driving the cars, in the past. I think the driver is the key element to driving the car, even though the technology behind it is complicated to run but equally it’s not our fault and for the future, I would love to simplify things so that people get a better impression. But I can understand why they get the impression. Do I think it’s fair? No it’s not, because I know I’m driving the car and I know these guys are driving the cars.

Q: (Phil Duncan – PA) To all of you: if you owned a Formula One team, would you spend £40m a year on a driver?

SP: Yeah, I would hire myself!

NH: I agree with you, it’s a good way out! I think an individual driver can make the difference and be worth that. It’s possible, yeah.

Q: Brendon, how important is the driver these days?

BH: I guess the question was is if you’d pay 40 million but I guess it depends on the budget and which currency. Total budget and currency It’s a good answer by Sergio, look after ourselves if we’re still driving.

Q: (Lennart Bloemhof – Volksrant) Sebastian, you’re the World Championship leader driving a Ferrari, still the future of German Grands Prix is unclear. Getting back to the remark of Nico, I’m curious: are the Germans too spoilt regarding F1 wins, especially during the Schumacher era? What is your opinion on that?

SV: Well, by the sounds of it you’re Dutch so… I think Nico has a very valid point, I think it’s normal that if something happens for the first time there’s a lot of excitement and I think in Germany Michael was the one that kicked off Formula One and made Formula One popular. Now it’s different in different countries. I think in the UK for example, for some reason… they invented racing maybe, they always had great racing drivers, no matter what era. Now in the Netherlands, if you look, obviously Max… there’s a certain boom is created for us, all of us, all the drivers because there’s a lot of fans coming. Obviously for him it’s fantastic but also for all of us and also for Formula One, we all benefit from it because people are very excited about Formula One. We can see that in a lot of places in Europe mostly but yeah, in Spa but also Austria it was great to see. For Germany, I think it’s true that Michael was the one that probably had that boom initially and since then, obviously, it’s great for Germany to have German drivers. We had a time, I think, when we had five or six Germans. Eight? A lot of German drivers on the grid, now it’s only Nico and myself. I think that’s something that’s going up and down but yeah, it’s probably true. Then in general, Germans are a little bit difficult to get excited. I think other nations are a bit easier to trigger in that regard so maybe that’s also one of the things but as a I said, I hope that because of the fact that we failed in football this year that people saved a little bit of money on barbecues and so on and they can come here and go camping this weekend. Weather’s supposed to be great.

Q: (Jo Klausmann – Nico, you surely followed the record runs of Porsche with the 919 Evolution car in Spa and the Nordschleife. Question: would you have liked to have driven that car and would you like to do something similar with an evolution Formula One Renault?

NH: Yeah, I would have liked to drive that car but I would have been way off the record or the pace, you know. You really need an expert for the Norschleife there. Timo was perfectly qualified for that, I’m not. I’ve done a few laps there but it’s a crazy circuit and you probably watched the on-board and you see how bumpy it is, how dynamic. It’s a hell of thing and the speed he goes, it’s pretty insane, positively insane and a cool thing to do by Porsche to go and crack a few track records and do some funky stuff. Yeah, very tempting. I know that car, obviously, but in that conversion it must be so much fun and cool. The thing with a Formula One, we would be struggling with ride heights and damper travel and stuff.

SV: We can resurface the track. It’s the fashion these days, so re-surface the Nordschleife. Let’s go there.

Q: (Louis Dekker – For all drivers: if you would change something in Formula One or you could say let’s keep it more or less the same, what would you do? Would you be open to reverse grids? Two races in one weekend for instance?

SP: I think we have a great sport. My main target would be to make it more competitive. At the moment we seem to have got used to talking about two groups in Formula One, whether they are a midfield group and the front runners. I would like to make it a lot closer so that everyone can have the chance to fight for victories or podiums and I think that would make the sport a lot bigger.

BH: The reverse grid would have helped me the last few races. I think it’s a good point from Sergio that the top three teams are obviously out of reach but actually the midfield battle is really really good but if we could be a bit closer that would be a way. I don’t know about the technology point that was raised before. I personally like the fact that Formula One has always pushed the limits of technology and I like being involved in that but I guess just making it in a way where the fans can understand it a bit more. I know, for example, the engine regulations are very tricky to understand, even for the team members sometimes so maybe a bit more simplicity in certain areas.

NH: I think we want to have more racing, more wheel-to-wheel action, guys battling all over the field for corners and I think the aero has become very dominant; it always has been but especially now maybe more and that obviously doesn’t create the best racing so if there is a way to desensitize, keep the performance but lose that characteristic of the cars to allow a car to be close. Make a move now, it’s really frustrating sometimes, you make an effort you know you can get behind the car but as soon as you get there it’s like somebody’s pulling the plug and you’re left with not much then, your tyres overheat and it’s a downward spiral. So anything to fight that would help to make a better show, more racing and it would close the field like Checo says.

SV: I think they’re all valid points. Probably the first action: double the cylinders, take the batteries out, maybe we need one to start the car, that’s enough usually.

Q: Sebastian, your reaction to two races in a weekend?

SV: No, no, I think the format is fine. I think it’s wrong to look at changing the format. It’s not my decision so it’s a bit pointless to talk about it but I wouldn’t be a fan. I think it has been like that for a long time for a reason. I think the 300 kilometer Grand Prix is a Grand Prix. If you should make it half, then maybe for some people then a boring race is only half as boring but that’s not the way I look it. I think it’s a challenge, it’s a Grand Prix distance and it’s something that… you do your first race and you’re surprised by how long the race can be and that’s a physical and mental challenge for that duration and I think it would be… yeah, if it becomes a sprint race, I think it would be a different sport in a way and I wouldn’t mess with the format. I think we need to find other ways to get excitement and get the grid together and whatever but not the format.