Tuesday, 25 June 2019

New electric series Projekt E to debut alongside World RX in 2020.

IMG Motorsports have today confirmed that the electric development series, Projekt E, will compete on the same weekend as traditional World RX Supercars at selected European rounds of the championship in 2020. 

The aim of the Projekt E series is to evaluate electric racecars in a World RX environment in accordance with the roadmap for electrification of the FIA World Rallycross Championship which was recently ratified by the FIA World Motorsport Council.

Projekt E is a collaboration between IMG and STARD (Stohl Advanced Research and Development).

STARD will focus on the development of electric technologies, charging and safety systems for the Projekt E racecars as a prelude to the phased electric presence in World RX from 2021.

“We have been working with STARD on the future electrification of world rallycross for several months. We have now reached an important stage in the ongoing development of electric solutions for rallycross and in particular Projekt E,” said Torben Olsen, the Managing Director of World RX for IMG, the FIA World Rallycross Championship promoter.

“You will see from the technical details of the Projekt E racecars that the innovative demonstration series will be an exciting addition to our World RX race weekend at selected events next year.

Projekt E will use STARD’s “REVelution” EV powertrain systems which will produce around 450kW (600bhp) combined power, 1100Nm of instantaneous torque and produce a top speed of 240km/h.

The Projekt E concept allows for the conversion of current cars or new builds to current chassis regulations using the REVelution drivetrain.

Testing of the Projekt E cars is due to start next month with the official unveiling of the car scheduled for early September.

Sunday, 23 June 2019

FIA Post-Race Press Conference - 2019 French GP.

1 – Lewis HAMILTON (Mercedes)
2 – Valtteri BOTTAS (Mercedes)
3 – Charles LECLERC (Ferrari)


(Conducted by Martin Brundle)

Q: Lewis, the word that springs to my mind is master class.

Lewis HAMILTON: It’s definitely been a really, really good weekend. I’ve been racing a long, long time but it just never gets old. It’s always such a challenge out there and I just love that trying to find the edge, just bridging the gap and really being on top of this machine. But I couldn’t do it without this incredible team, this group of guys here. All these guys… don’t be shy! And all the guys back at the factory. We’re creating history together. I’m so proud of everyone, so proud to be a part of this team; this group of people, and Valtteri did a great job this weekend as well. Yeah, I’m hyped.

Q: It was warm out there. I can feel the heat still coming off your body. It was pretty tough out there today.

LH: Yeah, well, it’s a beautiful day here in the south of France. I’m still sweating a huge amount out there and it’s so warm still in car. It’s very, very bumpy. It’s actually an awesome track to drive within the race. There are some real technical areas where you can gain an advantage on others.

Q: We heard you managing a few things – gearbox changes early on, settings, then you reported your seat had broken in one place, then the blisters on the tyres – so it wasn’t totally easy.

LH: Well, it wasn’t easy at all. There are always things happening, everything is on the edge. You’ve got to imagine these cars, as you know, everything is running to a temperature, everything is about wear, reliability is everything, so saving the engine where I can, looking after the tyres. I had quite big blisters on the front two tyres. In was a little bit worried. I remember last year, I think a Force India or something, yeah Lance, had a tyre blowout, so I was a little bit worried about that, but nonetheless this has been the best start to the year, so we’ve got to enjoy it.

Q: Indeed, six wins so far this season, the fourth straight victory there for Lewis. Coming home in second place, Valtteri, what can you tell us about your race?

Valtteri BOTTAS: Not that much happening from my side honestly. The start was the best bet for me but Lewis had a good start as well and ultimately Lewis was quicker today. I couldn’t really match his pace. Something for me to have a look at obviously before the next one. But very proud of the team and myself… Yeah, it’s just important to understand today what I can do better for next time.

Q: No particular issues then. Any idea where this great champion is finding this extra speed from the car?

VB: It’s something I need to look at. He was really strong and consistent today, and also yesterday in qualifying. He’s not unbeatable; I know that. I just need work hard.

Q: Charles, congratulations, tantalisingly close to second place, you gave it everything you had.

Charles LECLERC: Yes, I gave it everything. Obviously the first run was quite OK, I felt OK with the car, but the Mercedes were just too quick and the second stint was all about tyre management. I think we did a very, very good job on that. Towards the end, I was catching Valtteri, I think he struggled a little bit to turn his tyre on again after the VSC, so I saw an opportunity but unfortunately there were not enough laps for me to try something. But I think seeing where we were on Friday after the race simulations, I think it’s a great day for us.

Q: Was there a moment where you thought ‘I’m going to have him, I’m going to take second place’?

CL: Definitely. I mean in the last two laps I was catching quite quickly, so I believed it until the last metres.


Q: We’re going to start with Valtteri. Second place today. You had Charles less than one second behind you at the flag. Did you have an issue or were you simply managing the gap to perfection?

VB: Yeah, from my side it was quite an uneventful race in the end, but yeah, we were suffering with some front tyres blistering in the last stint, so we were a little bit concerned and just wanted to be on the safe side so we would definitely make it to the end without any failure on the front tyre. So had take care a lot of the fronts in many of the corners and maybe being a lot on the conservative side, losing some big chunks of time, just by managing and being on the safe side. And in the end, that’s why it became a bit close with Charles, closer than we wanted. After the VSC we struggled a bit to re-start the tyres and lost some temperature.

Q: Were you pleased with the pace of your car in race conditions today, and how did it compare to yesterday in the practice session?

VB: Obviously very pleased for us as a team. We’ve been having another super strong weekend, getting the maximum points pretty much once again, so from that side it’s good. But my gap to Lewis, for sure not pleased with that. I think in the beginning once tyres were fresh there was no issue keeping up with him. Today my issue was keeping the front tyres in a good state. Always halfway through the stint my front tyres were starting to be finished and the gap started to build. That was the difference to Lewis. He was quick today and efficient on the tyres and that’s how he made the gap.

Q: Charles, second consecutive podium, well done. One more lap and you think you might have a go at the man on your right?

CL: Well, it’s always quite difficult to know. One thing for sure is that I was catching quite quickly at the end. The car felt pretty good. I had paid quite a lot of attention to both axles of tyres before and I was just focusing on the end of the race, to have the tyres in quite a good shape and I think on that we did quite a good job. To be honest though I did not expect to catch Valtteri. As he mentioned he had some issues with the front tyres. That’s why I caught him quite dramatically towards the end. It was a good surprise and when I saw that I pushed even more. At the end we finished very, very close. I tried to show myself in the inside of the last corner, but obviously I was too far to try something.

Q: Charles, it’s been a really good weekend for you personally, in terms of pace relative to your team-mate. How encouraged are you by that and also the improvements that Ferrari have made this weekend?

CL: On the first one, I’m very happy because I’ve had a few difficult weekends, the last ones, especially in qualifying. I changed the approach for here. I changed also a little bit my approach on the car set-up and I think it went in the right direction, so on that I’m very, very happy that it paid off and we could see it on the result this weekend. Then on the car improvement we have brought some new parts this weekend, some were good, some other were not, but clearly Mercedes are quite better for now, so we need to work and to try to catch up.

Q: Lewis, your sixth win of 2019, the 79th of your career. The numbers keep climbing. Lewis, it was an emphatic victory, another emphatic victory. Fastest lap the only thing that eluded you this weekend. Just talk us through the race. There was quite a lot of radio chat about tyres and broken seats. What can you tell us?

LH: I’d still say it was relatively eventful. I think something broke in my seat – like one of the seat stays, so as I was going through one of the corners, all of a sudden the thing kind of dropped and was moving around a little bit. And then the start was good, then the first couple of laps with the tyres was not so easy – I don’t know how it was for the other guys but sliding around a little bit at the beginning. And then after that I kinda got into my rhythm and after that was quite comfortable. Was not expecting the medium tyre to go as far as it did but I was able to continue. The stopped me, for sure, too early. I could have kept going for at least another five, maybe even ten laps, I had a lot of life left still in the tyres. And then we got onto the next tyre which felt good initially but then I got a lot of graining on the tyre. But I was just really working on my craft and really working on… I was continuing to learn about this track, and where you can and can’t push; where you save, where you don’t save and all those kinds of things. With that, I started finding more and more time, and every time Valtteri and Charles but a good time in, I was a tenth or two ahead. So I just kept it consistent, and right at the end, I hadn’t really thought much about the fastest lap. Being that we know Vettel had a free stop, and so, the thing is, with me, my mentality is that it doesn’t matter whether they have a free stop, I’m still going to go for it. The team’s like: don’t even bother. And so, anyway, I came out of the last corner and half way down the straight I decided to go for it. So, I probably lost a little bit in power mode but, other than that, it was a really good lap. It’s always good to be able to push and eke more out of the car. It was a lot of drifting, because the tyres were quite old. Other than that, really grateful. We actually didn’t come here with any upgrades, we just continue to refine this car. My feeling within the car is improving as I get more into the season, particularly in qualifying but also in the race. So just a big thank you to all the guys back at the factory for their continued hard work. It doesn’t go unnoticed. I know we’ve had a lot of success, and they’re used to it but I hope they continue to keep pushing. That’s what I’m doing.

Q: You said earlier that you’re making history with this team. Can you just describe what it’s like to ride the wave that you’re currently on?

LH: I’m not really a good surfer, so I can’t really relate it to riding the wave necessarily. I think the thing is people see success and they often don’t have a real understanding of how much work goes on in the background. Maybe you can try to imagine but then you’ve got multiply that by ten or a hundred or whatever it is. Obviously we’ve got an incredible boss and I think it tiers down from the head. We owe a lot to Toto, of how he manages this team and how he manages us as drivers and allows us to race and allows us to race. But also when you have authority – not authority but respect for each other within in the team, where you really listen to each other. We’ve created a working relationship where we learn so much from each of these races and we take it back and we churn out time. I’ve definitely experienced in the past, in my career, that’s not always been the case. Communication is everything. I think that’s what we have: a great team of communicators and hard workers. There’s not a single person I think that is complacent within the team. They could be out there drinking right now but instead they’ll be working on the car onto the next one. They’re just sheer hard workers. Honestly never through I’d see such a great team and be so fortunate as to be in such a great team. So I’m really, really grateful to witness it and be a part of it, and to Mercedes who have supported me since I was 13. It’s really cool to continue to… particularly because it’s 125 years of Mercedes-Benz.  So, I think we, Valtteri and I, help them to continue to break more records.


Q: (Scott Mitchell – Autosport) Lewis, you mentioned about going for the fastest lap right at the end. You talked, when you spoke to Martin Brundle immediately after the race about the fears with the front tyres, the blisters, managing that. How was it balancing that need to preserve the tyres with the desire to push? I guess you must have felt fairly confident that you were able to go for that lap right at the end?

LH: I asked if anyone else was having blistering and they didn’t reply that Valtteri or anyone else was having the same, so I was a little bit nervous with that. Particularly as it started getting quite deep on the right side. And then it appeared on the left side, and I’m thinking: shoot. I remember last year Lance, I think it was, so in the Williams I guess had the tyre blow up in Turn 10, so I was a little bit nervous for that. Even though I think we had the thin gauge tyre last year as well. A little bit nervous with that. I basically reduced a bit of my speed for a period of time where I wasn’t really leaning too heavily on the front tyre. And then, right at the end, the car’s at its lightest, and it’s only one lap, so I went for it and pushed a little bit more – but not really taking the cake. Fortunately it all held together and I just a little bit off. So we could definitely have had the fastest lap at the end there but anyways.

Q: (Ben Hunt – The Sun) Is there any part of you that thinks about – or doesn’t think about doing showboating. I’m talking the likes in other sports where you see sports starts almost taking the mickey out of their opponents, like pulling over, slowing down, letting people catch up – or are you constantly fearful that you’ve got to be there to hammer home the lap times and try and keep that gap as big as possible?

LH: First, I don’t hold fear in my heart. I just focus on trying to be great and improve as a driver. So it’s nothing to do with fear. I don’t think I’ve ever been one for showboating, so I think, with the world that we’re in today, you can’t win and you lose either way you do it. People having an opinion about one way that you do it or another. I prefer to just keep my head down and keep chipping away at things. Naturally I would love… I really enjoyed the last race and races like that. I’ve never made it a secret. That’s the races I think in general people enjoy most. And, of course, these ones are not the ones that people enjoy the most – but I think it’s really important for people to realise it’s not the drivers’ fault. This is a constant cycle of Formula One for years and years and years, even before I got to Formula One, and it’s because the way Bernie had it set up and the decisions they were making back then, it’s still the same. Until that management structure changes, it will continue to be the same, in my opinion. That’s not my job to do that. My job’s to come here and do the best I can as a driver.

Q: (Christian Menath – motorsport-magazin.com) Question for you Valtteri. Just to be clear on that last laps, you said the front tyres were the problem afterwards – but did you also lose time during the VSC because of the VSC procedure – or was it just the tyre?

VB: I lost a little bit of time in the VSC but I don’t think I was the only one because it was, like super quick, so first you slow down a lot to be positive on the delta, you’re changing the engine modes, then suddenly it was saying VSC ending. So, put in the right mode. I started to go flat-out because I was a lot positive, so I think I got down to maybe +3 on the delta which is bigger than usual. So, lost a bit of time there – but the main issue was the blistering, a lot of front tyre wear. Once you lost a bit of temperature under the VSC, you struggle to get gain it back when you don’t have the surface of the rubber any more there. So, that was the bigger difference, so couldn’t really restart the tyres. 

Q: (Luis Vasconcelos – Formula Press) Valtteri and Charles. Valtteri, yesterday you said the start was going to be the key so what went wrong there, or were you waiting for something to go wrong for Lewis there to make the pass? And for Charles, you had an interesting first couple of corners with Max, so can you explain how that was from your point of view?

VB: Yeah, for me, just the initial pull away, I felt there was decent grip so I went quite deep on the clutch but for some reason I just didn’t get the kick from the engine for the initial part but it was fine, all OK, nice and smooth start but Lewis had a good start as well so there was not enough difference on the start to gain any ground and then after that, like I said, Lewis was strong today on the pace and especially on the front tyre management. My tyres were running out quicker.

CL: Yeah, I was quite surprised how quick the lights went off but I quite liked it, I think it’s good, it’s a good surprise and it gives something more to the start, but apart from that, I didn’t have a great start. After that I had a slipstream, I tried to place myself round the outside of Valtteri for the first corner but I didn’t take the risk to go round the outside, because he would have outbraked me and pushed me wide, for sure. I would have done the same so I decided to slow down a bit more, go behind him and then I saw that Max actually had a bit more grip and was round the outside of me. Actually I only saw him for one corner so I don’t know if he was there for a long time but I only saw him for turn two and then he was round the outside of turn three but yeah, I pushed in turn three and then I didn’t see him again after.

Q: (Phil Duncan – PA) Lewis, I think I’m right in saying that you’ve dropped just 21 points this season from the first eight races which is a pretty remarkable start. I know obviously you say the team is in a great place and obviously lauding Toto but how do you think you’re doing personally as a driver in the sense that you’re dominating so much this season?

LH: Yeah, I think I just tried to… reflecting on last year was the best year that I had had and I got myself into a really healthy place, condition physically and mentally, but there were still races that could have been better, there always is. So coming to this season, thinking trying to see if I can bring all those deliverables, continue to deliver on the deliverables but then see if I can chip away at improving even more. I definitely didn’t expect us… even when we sit in the debriefs or when we are in the garage, we are like… when we were in Barcelona in testing, we did not think this would be where we were. When the team spoke to me afterwards and said how’s the car, I didn’t really have any good things to say and there was a real worry for the first week and a half until the last day when we kind of figured out how to get the car to work. And then since then, the first few races, practice has been so-so, Valtteri has been super quick and much happier with the car and I’ve been thinking, Jeez, why have I not been as on top of it as he has, for example, or I have been in the past. But little by little, just keep working at it, keep chipping away and it’s getting better and better but the races just continue to be my strongest point, since some point of last year, and that’s really comforting and so that’s an area that I’ve particularly enjoyed. I really do hope that we have more close races like the last race. I really hope Ferrari bring some extra downforce rather than keeping the straights fast, get some speed through the corners so we can start racing each other.

Q: (Ben Hunt – The Sun) Lewis, you mentioned that you want a close fight, you might have to slow down. Any chance of that happening in Austria?

LH: Well, firstly Austria is going to be roasting. I think everyone’s going to have to slow down because it’s going to be so hot. One of the issues that we have is that our cars are too heavy and so the brakes are beyond the limit, they’re always overheating and they’re talking about going heavier in 2021 which is the wrong… I promise you is the wrong direction. But anyways, we’re going to struggle, I think next week will be a struggle because – but I think it’s for everyone, it’s super hot there, really hard for the brakes so how we are going to manage next week I don’t know. You saw a couple of years ago we had two failures in one race so it’s a hard race for everyone so we don’t go there with all the confidence in the world, we know that we might have a difficult weekend. It’s long straights, they’re good at long straights but we don’t plan on slowing down, we definitely don’t plan on slowing down. You look so bored, Ben. Sorry.

Q: (Ben Hunt – The Sun) Off-mike. You led every single lap, these guys are doing their best but it’s just the sport we’re involved in at the moment. You know it, I know it, we all know it.

LH: Yup, but instead of – and I don’t know if you do – but when you write the story and you say that… if you say that it’s boring… no, but if you do, I totally understand it and I remember growing up watching. Don’t point the fingers at the drivers because we don’t write the rules, we have nothing to do with the money shifting, all that kind of stuff… should put the pressure on the people that are at the head, who should be doing the job. I think they are trying to but for many, many years they’ve made bad decisions. Do I have confidence that it’s going to shift massively? I have faith that it’s going to get better, I really, really hope so and to the point that I went to Paris last week to get involved. I was in that meeting, watching all the bosses of F1. I think there was the FIA and all the Formula One teams, and trying to get involved in… I have nothing to gain by it by being there but if there’s anything I can help… they’ve been making all these decisions and never once had a driver’s input in that room, so if that can be the decisive point that helps shift it and the fans can get better racing, I will be proud to be a part of that.

Q: (Livio Oricchio – GloboEsporte.com) Charles, your team always says to us that one of the problems of the car is they do not have the tyres in the correct window temperature. Looks like this weekend it works properly. Did it permit you and your team to have a precise diagnosis about what the problem is with the car?

CL: I think there’s not only this and I think we have been clear on that. We are clearly fast on the straights and not enough in the corners so we need to work on that. We tried to do a step towards that this weekend. As I’ve mentioned, some parts worked, some others didn’t and we need to understand why and from then try to build up and try to understand why the gap is so big at the moment and try to close it.

Q: (Scott Mitchell – Autosport) Lewis, just to pick up on what you said about going to the FIA meeting and the summit. What did you learn from it? Did you go there with a sort of expectation in mind of what you wanted to get out of it or were you there just to observe, listen and how much did it encourage you about 2021 and beyond?

LH: What happens behind closed doors… obviously I can’t say a huge amount about it but it starts off with the fact that for the first time all the drivers are united, so the GPDA, which obviously started a long, long time ago. We have Alex Wurz who runs it for us because he has a little bit more time than we do and he’s a great spokesman for us but we all sit together in a room, particularly after the drivers briefing, and we talk about the issues. Then they bring up the rule sheet and what the things… and we are basically trying to get in the door and trying to be a part of it, and for many, many years they have not wanted us in that room, which I guess is why it’s never happened, because they’re engineers and they’re the guys that make the decisions and we’re just drivers. But the fact is we know how the car feels and so we have good positive criticism and negative criticism that can only help influence a decision. You can’t make a rule change about something without having all the facts behind it and what effect it will have and so… Anyway, so we just go in there to try and be a guide and if we can be a part of the rudder when they come up with an idea we can say actually that would feel terrible in the car and they would be like ‘oh really.’ Was it encouraging? It was encouraging that they allowed us to be there and they were really, really welcoming, which was great, and I’m hoping that they will continue to have us there, some of us drivers or a couple of us drivers each time. They’ve extended the decision of making the rules. I think they need to because they’re nowhere near where it should be in my opinion and they’ve got to make some serious changes to the decisions that they’ve already made of how 2021 should be. But what I’m encouraged by is that Ross and his team are working  - for the first time – on a real aero package that hopefully will have an impact on following, for example. But as I said, the cars going heavier is not a great thing. We need to get the cars lower, I think. People really enjoyed the speed of the cars between the early 2000s I think it was. It still needs to be Formula One, the pinnacle of sport and the fastest cars that there are around the world. So hopefully we will be part of it, hopefully we can make a real cool change and it’s not only that, it’s the format of the race weekend that maybe can shift a little bit for the fans, it’s how we bring the fans in, it’s all these things which can be better.

Saturday, 22 June 2019

FIA Post-Qualifying Press Conference - 2019 French GP.

1 – Lewis HAMILTON (Mercedes)
2 –  Valtteri BOTTAS (Mercedes)
3 – Charles LECLERC (Ferrari)


(Conducted by Paul Di Resta)

Q: Lewis, another solid job, another pole position, you’ve got to be delighted with that? Valtteri’s pushed you all the way this weekend.

Lewis HAMILTON: Yeah. Firstly, a big hello to everyone, bonjour. It’s not an easy track. Obviously there are a lot of run-off areas but it’s quite technical and Valtteri has been quick all weekend. So just chipping away, chipping away, and my last two laps were the ones. The last one I was up nearly half a second but I lost it in the second-to-last corner, so I’m happy that I got the potential our of the car; the team did a fantastic job.

Q: Was that the wind? Everyone was complaining on the last run that it was getting more edgy, losing lap time at the end. Was that where you lost it?

LH: I think so. The wind has been picking up and it’s quite gusty around the track, so you have to be quite dynamic with how you attack the lap. There are certain points at which you can attack and there are others where you kind of have to give way a little bit to the wind. I took a little bit too much into that last corner and the gust just took the back end. But nonetheless I still was up, which was a good thing. Yeah, just really happy. I think we’ve just been working really hard on the engineering side and making sure… Bonno and those guys did a great job. This one’s for Carl in our team, who had a big clean-up earlier on and looked after us. Just overall, great teamwork.

Q: A master class again. Valtteri, it’s looked a very solid weekend, you’ve looked in a class of your own, but just at the end Lewis stepped it up that level and you couldn’t quite get him?

Valtteri BOTTAS: Yeah, I think Lewis had a really good lap in the end. It’s been super close between us all weekend, all about fine details and hundredths of a second. The qualifying, the win changed completely to the opposite direction and there were a couple of corner where my line didn’t quite work then, so I had to work them out. But I think initially Lewis got it right today, but yeah, as a team it’s good.

Q: I guess still very confident for the race tomorrow? The car has been under you all weekend and similar conditions expected.

VB: Yeah, it’s been a really, really strong package we have had here this weekend so obviously enjoyable and hopefully it will be the same tomorrow. It’s a nice long run into Turn One, so hopefully I can do something there.

Q: So visually tonight you’ve got to focus on the lights and get your reaction time improved?

VB: Yeah, I think the race start is going to be one of the key things tomorrow for me so focus on that.

Q: Charles, you got the biggest cheer when you pulled up here and I know this holds a very special place in your heart, it’s close to home, but these guys have been untouchable this weeke3nd haven’t they?

Charles LECLERC: Yeah, definitely. At the end pretty happy with my lap. Unfortunately today it was not enough but we need to keep working and I’m pretty we’ll close the gap at some point, but yeah, today I think this is the best we could have done.

Q: And expecting similar conditions tomorrow, we know the straights are pretty long here. Can you challenge them on the first lap, can you get involved and make it a fight for them?

CL: Well, that’s definitely the target, so a good start will be very important. We are quite strong on the straights and they are quite strong in the corners…

LH: I’m looking forward to a race with this one!

CL: Yeah, because in Bahrain we couldn’t race so much! Yeah, hopefully tomorrow will be a good race.


Q: Well Lewis, both of your laps in Q3 were good enough for pole position. Can you just describe the challenges of that session for us?

LH: Yeah, we’re all working our butts off out there. It was very hot here. The track is up at 50, nearly 55, nearly 60 degrees, but it’s still challenging with these tyres, making sure you optimise and get everything out of the tyres. We’ve just been chipping away at improving the set-up of the car. Bit by bit…. Qualifying was when it was at its best, so a really great performance there. I think just generally the guys are really great at the timing and everything, getting us out in the right window. I don’t k now if people watching realise how important getting out at the right time is. You know, positioning on track is everything. I think through Q1 and Q2 Valtteri just had the edge and I was still dialling in the car, but once I got to Q3 I knew where I had to find the time, and it’s just about going out and doing it. The first lap was fantastic, really, really happy with it. However, I knew it was still relatively close and I needed to find some more areas in which I could improve. I went out for that second run. The second run, I was on for one of the best laps I have done for a long time. And it’s crazy: it never gets old, it never gets easier, and it’s always such a challenge, regardless of what position you are battling for. I was up four-and-a -half tenths coming into the second-to-last corner, but it’s really gusty out there, and I think I just lost the back end, partly through that or maybe going too quick. Nonetheless, really, really happy. If anything it gets harder and harder to get these poles. Valtteri has been doing some epic laps in practice and qualifying through these first races and the Ferraris have been on our tail – obviously a bit of a bigger gap today – but I’m still thinking the race is going to be a close battle, so I’m really grateful to be where I am.

Q: Your pole time is 1.7 seconds faster than last year. How much of that is car and how much is that track surface?

LH: The track surface for sure definitely helps. The cars have evolved. They are an evolution of last year’s car so it is continuously getting better. Last year when we were here we had a solid package but the changes we made from last year’s faults have just made it better this weekend and yeah, ultimately I think I drove here last year… It wasn’t the first time I’d been here but it was the first time I had raced here. So coming here I had that knowledge, so you naturally improve your understanding of where you can push and where not. I don’t know what percentage is but it is an improvement all round. Again, in the team’s performance, in how we’ve dialled in the car and how we’ve delivered through the session has also improved this year. That’s why we’re such a strong team because on all elements we’re firing on all cylinders.

Q: Valtteri, coming on to you. As Lewis says, you’ve been on fire throughout practice and Q1 and Q2. Where do you feel the car performance slipped away in Q3?

VB: I think the car was behaving well – but all weekend I felt pretty good in the car and in a happy place but obviously I always knew it’s going to be close when it comes to qualifying as it’s been all weekend. I think ultimately in the end Lewis in Q3 managed to get some better laps and he deserved to be on pole. From my side, in Quali 3, the first lap felt OK but the wind direction changed throughout the qualifying, Turns Eight and Nine, I think, struggling all weekend a little bit. At some point I found some good lines there but they didn’t any more work with that wind direction. So small details here and there. There’s no massive things. In the second run I was a bit unlucky with no cars ahead, so I had no tow at all, so losing on all the straights. Tried to make the most of the losses in the last couple of corners and lost it. It’s unfortunate: obviously was hoping to be on pole but second is a good place here, it’s a long run into Turn One.

Q: All three of you in this press conference are going to be starting the grand prix on the Medium tyre tomorrow. In these temperatures, how much of a challenge is tyre wear going to be tomorrow?

VB: If we would be on the Soft tyre, it would be a big challenge. So I think with the Medium, even if it’s warmer, based on what we felt yesterday, it’s pretty robust. I know all cars at the front are on the same tyre, so no big drama there.

Q: Charles, coming on to you. Great performance by you all weekend. How confident were you coming into qualifying today?

CL: Well, I was completely aware that my weak point in the last few grand prix was putting the car in the right window in Q3, so I really worked hard for that and I was very happy to see that there were improvements this weekend on that. My Q3 lap felt good. As Valtteri said, the wind was quite different during the whole Q3, so it was quite tricky and lost quite a lot of time in Turn Eight – Turn Nine but overall, apart from that, it was a good lap, and the car felt good for the right moment, which is in Q3. So, on that, I’m very happy. Then the gap is still quite big so we need to work and hopefully tomorrow it will be an exciting race.

Q: Talk to us a little more about the race tomorrow. How confident are you of taking the fight to these other guys here?

CL: It’s going to be difficult because their race pace on Friday was very, very, very strong. I think a good start will be very important and then we’ll see what happens, and then we’ll see what happens. Obviously if we’re in front at the start it will be easier – but it’s not going to be easy.


Q (Scott Mitchell – Autosport) Lewis, as mentioned just now, you were able to recover from being behind Valtteri from FP2 onwards. Did you feel that you had a bit in hand from practice or did really need to turn it around and pull something out of the bag in qualifying?

LH: No, I think it was very close. It was very close throughout practice and, as you saw at the beginning of qualifying, we are within half a tenth, or point-zero-six between us. I definitely didn’t feel like I had something extra just sitting there. There were just areas to improve and I knew where they were, I just hadn’t done them yet. So, what was most important was that I did them on my first lap in Q3, which is obviously the most important one. And then the second lap was also even more in that direction. Unfortunately lost a large proportion of the time – but still improved nevertheless. I think Valtteri’s been… our cars are very, very similar in set-up and so we kind-of also push towards the same direction, which is really good for the team, and staying ahead of him is not so easy, do definitely had to pull something special out in Q3.

Q: (Luke Smith – crash.net)  Charles, we heard you a couple of times in qualifying asking Ferrari to get Sebastian to create more of a gap to you. Did you feel he compromised your qualifying at all?

CL: No, not at all. The only thing is that I think, twice – can’t remember when exactly – we were very tight on time to go through the finish line, so that is why I was just asking the team to say to Seb to just push because I would be very tight on time, so that was the only reason. But no. He, of course, did not compromise my quali.

Q: (Ben Hunt – The Sun) Lewis, do you feel untouchable at the moment? You’re kind of crushing it out there. I just wondered how you feel every time you get in the car. Is it a close fight? You keep saying it is but when we’re looking at the time sheets you just keep delivering.

LH: I definitely don’t feel untouchable. I never have felt that way. I do feel strong but each weekend I come in and I feel that I’m starting on right foot, Valtteri goes and puts in bloody good laps every time! So, I’m constantly being pushed by Valtteri and obviously the last race obviously a lot closer. There’s some races where we as a team are not being pushed necessarily as hard as we’d like to be by the others. Nonetheless , still there’s the battle within us. If you look at a lot of the races, it’s been half-a-tenth to a tenth-and-a-half between Valtteri and I – so still have my work cut out, still have to perform, still have to deliver. So the work ethic is exactly the same and the stress is just exactly the same as if we were fighting the Ferraris or… yeah… usually I get better when I get into the season. I’m definitely getting a lot more comfortable with the car as we get into the season and I don’t expect that to stop.

Q: (Joe van Burik – Racingnews 365.nl) Charles, would you say there’s a specific area in which you are lacking compared to Mercedes, or is it just general pace?

CL: I think it’s general grip around the corners, to be honest. We are quite quick around the straight or in the straight but in the corners struggling a bit more. This weekend there’s something interesting that we didn’t understand completely yet but sector one and two we don’t seem to be so far off, or at least, during the whole weekend FP1, FP2, FP3 but in the sector three we were losing quite a lot most of the time. I don’t know how it looks in qualifying but it was like this in FP1, FP2, FP3 so we need to work on that and try to understand where is the issue.

Q: (Thierry Vautrat – Sud Ouest) Lewis, I would like to know… you didn’t sleep well on Thursday night, how worried were you to lose your Canadian victory?

LH: No, that wasn’t what kept me up. I just… I don’t know. I don’t sleep a lot in general but this particularly night I was excited to sleep like I am every night and I was just tossing and turning. I was awake and then actually when you’re awake and you’re frustrated with not being able to sleep, your mind rattles and obviously I had lots on my mind but it wasn’t necessarily about that, it was some other things that were going on. But nonetheless, I got really great messages from friends who naturally worry when I post something like that. I think more the reason that sometimes I express that is just because I realise firstly that I have a platform that a lot of people are going through a lot of stuff in their lives and it’s never too late or soon to try and encourage, so that’s what kind of… it was the kind of words of empowerment more, just how I sometimes get low and then I’m like I’m going to get through it, I’m going to fight through it. I got a lot of real positive responses from a lot of my fans who… they’ll write and it will be like ‘I’m going through a really difficult time right now but you’ve just lifted me up’ and so that’s a great feeling when that happens. And my friends did the same for me, lifted me up.  Came in, had a good day yesterday, slept like a baby – not exactly like a baby but like a baby last night – and came here today on a real positive.

Q: (Scott Mitchell – Autosport) Lewis, just to pick up on the same sort of topic; when you posted on Instagram the first message referred specifically to what you were concerned about, coming to the circuit, the reaction you might get on Friday.  Was that in any way related to the fact that you were at the memorial (service) on Thursday? It’s not the first time that I guess you’ve faced criticism or anything for what you’ve decided to do so is it anything to do with that?

LH: No, I think the weekend started off a little bit different, you know. We arrive usually on a Thursday morning or the Wednesday night and then I obviously got here on Thursday evening. We got through our programme, no problem, but if you’re used to a normal four day programme and you change it it’s not always the easiest. For sure, it was definitely odd coming here when I heard that there was… Ferrari was spending time focusing on something else. Naturally, for me, with my team, I would be having them focus mostly on trying to improve the car but then we came here and obviously we had that but then I think when I arrived in the morning I heard that Karun Chandhok had… it was Karun Chandhok’s video that was the new evidence, and I was pretty relaxed after that. Yeah, I just put it behind me. But the last race was obviously… it’s not always easy when you hear boos, for example, but that’s a part of the game and if anything it generally spurs me on. But I know I’ve got a lot of great support when I come to these races, and particularly as I said, on social following I’ve got a lot of great people following me there so even if you feel crap, it’s not a bad time to say something motivational and that’s really where I was.

Q: (Ben Hunt – The Sun) Charles, how much of Ferrari’s pre-race preparation has been disrupted by this futile appeal and also the other thing I wanted to pick you up on was Lewis says that he’s only going to get stronger. Have you at Ferrari and you individually got anything that can stop that, anything that you can fight back with?

CL: Well, on the penalty thing, I was not concerned personally, so no I didn’t feel any difference in terms of preparation for the weekend. I felt that the team was completely focused on that.

What was the second question? Well, I think, of course, there’s definitely more to come also from us. Whether it will be enough or not, only time will tell, but we are working to get better, race after race. We have brought some updates this weekend, some have been good, some others not and we need to understand why the ones that haven’t been positive, why they haven’t been, and try to understand this to get better in the future.

Friday, 21 June 2019

FIA Team Principals' Press Conference - 2019 French GP.

TEAM REPRESENTATIVES – Claire WILLIAMS (Williams), Frédéric VASSEUR (Alfa Romeo), Cyril ABITEBOUL (Renault), Laurent MEKIES (Ferrari), Zak BROWN (McLaren)

Q: I’d like to start with the three Frenchmen on the panel, and ask you about your home grand prix. What does it mean to be racing at home this weekend and what are your first memories of Paul Ricard?

Frédéric VASSEUR: The first memory of Paul Ricard is ’90 or something like this, in Formula Renault. It was during the French Grand Prix and we were at the back of the grid. But it was a good first one, for the first memory at Paul Ricard. For the French Grand Prix, for sure the approach is a bit different. We have more solicitation but we have to stay focused on the race and to consider the race as another one.

Q: And Cyril, home race for you and the team?

Cyril ABITEBOUL: Déja on avait decidé de la faire en Francais cette conference de presse. On en a marre de parler en Anglais un permanence. On est majoritairement Francais, donc on la fait en Francais. Sorry, switching back to English… The French Grand Prix: well, it’s obviously nice to be back here. As far as I’m concerned I don’t have direct memories of racing, because when I started it was Magny Cours. My first memory and first attendance in Paul Ricard was for some testing and for the launch of the Renault F1 car, the Mild Seven blue car, whenever it was, 2004 maybe, we’ll have to check, It was crazy the amount of testing we were doing here. As for this weekend, it’s good to be here. As far as I’m concerned I don’t see it as extra pressure, but more emotion, more opportunity to see some faces that are just smiling and cheering for a result. I know there has been a lot of negativity about the last edition and they are taking that extremely seriously, I’m talking about the traffic situation. We know that there is a limitation with the geography, which is a fantastic place, but it has its own limitation. But unfortunately I think it’s putting under silence some great activities that they are doing, I’m thinking in particular about the 10,000 kids that were running into the paddock yesterday and it’s fantastic and so energetic for everyone to see at first so much activity you have in Formula One. We are talking a lot about not doing enough for young people, the young generation in Formula One and for once there is a promoter doing something about it and I think we need to give a match to that.

Q: Thank you Cyril, and Laurent?

Laurent MEKIES: For me, the first memory here is when my parents took me here back in ’88. Cyril was talking about the kids earlier so we went there yesterday to speak to some of the schools the organisers have brought here and it’s great to be able to pass that on. It actually started here, with my parents, in the grandstand. Then, apart from that, for us it’s technically a more complicated track compared to Canada, but nevertheless we will try to step up at this kind of track where it has been a bit more difficult for us so far.

Q: Thank you. Fréd, if I can come back to you. It’s been a tough few races for Alfa Romeo. What have been the issues with the car and how confident are you of finding a solution?

FV: For sure the last two or three events were a bit more difficult but sometimes it’s so tight that it’s related to the small details. I think in Monaco we were always in the top 10 in the free practice. We made some mistakes in quali, and then we disappeared and we had to start from the back. We have to be probably more efficient on the weekend in terms of exploitation because for sure we did a step back during the last two or three races but the expectation is still to score points and to score points with two cars and to be back in the fight in the midfield.

Q: And a quick progress report on Antonio Giovinazzi. He picked up the Trofeo Bandini last weekend in Italy. How do you sum up his progress so far.

FV: If you have look at the last race in Montréal and Monaco before he is matching Kimi in quali and in the free practice that he is stepping up. For sure in Montréal, Monaco and then at Paul Ricard that he has also to discover the track and it’s not an easy one. But now that we are back in Europe that he knows the next tracks and he has the experience of the first races and he will be into the pace.

Q: Cyril, really solid result for the team in Canada, with both cars in the points. Nico Hulkenberg was in here yesterday and he said that level of performance has always been in the car but that it has been masked by ‘human errors’. Would you agree with that?

CA: Oh yeah, 100 per cent. At the same time it’s good to be able to put Montréal, but for me what was more exceptional and needed to stop is what we were doing before. There was nothing exceptional with Montréal, it’s what is expected, it’s what is planned; it’s what we are capable of doing. It’s more bad races that stopped in Montréal. It’s not that it was a good race. There have been human errors everywhere. There’s not one single area of the team or one single department that was to blame, and therefore why no sanction? I know that we are in a world where people are expecting quick sanctions. I don’t buy into that. I don’t believe that. In particular when mistakes and problems were coming from different area we’ve managed to stay together, to stay focused, to keep our head down, and obviously to get that performance in Montréal. But obviously it has to repeat. It can’t be an isolated one that event.

Q: You’ve brought some upgrades here. How were they performing in FP1?

CA: It’s a bit early to say, in particular because FP1 is always masked by a lot of track evolution. We know that some of the tarmac has been re-surfaced, so it will be interesting to see, and very important also for the decisions we make in terms of set-up, in which direction the track is actually evolving. There is nothing very alarming. There is nothing particularly exciting either but more work to be done and analysis is going on.

Q: You’re now only two points behind McLaren in the Constructors’ Championship. What are your goals for the rest of the season?

CA: The goals for the rest of the season are not changing. It’s a clear P4 that we said we would want to deliver. So that’s that same as last year but a bit further away from the midfield but a bit closer to the top teams. We know it’s going to take a couple of seasons to reduce and hopefully bridge the gap to the top teams. You can’t pretend it’s going to happen in one season or in one winter. To answer your question: trying to beat McLaren. Clearly they have done a step this winter, they have a good car. They also have a good engine. I expect more fights with them, but that’s interesting. We are super happy to be fighting with McLaren. McLaren is a very aspirational brand, they are a carmaker, so very excited to be racing against them.

Q: Thank you Cyril. Zak, perhaps we should come to you. A clear P4 is the goal fro Renault. How confident are you of holding onto it?

Zak BROWN: Well, we’re going to give it everything we’ve got. It’s a very tough midfield. Renault is very strong, but so are three, four other teams and it’s very close. You can see by one good race weekend, this early in the year, I think Renault went from, I think, they were eighth to fifth, two points behind. So, we know that some others can have some good weekends like that and we can have some bad weekends and the order will get mixed up pretty quickly. So we are going to keep giving it all we got. We do have a pretty good car; we do have a good engine. We’ve got two very good drivers. The team is executing very well very pleased with that. And yeah, I think it’s going to be an exciting race in the midfield.

Q: It’s going to be a development race until the end of the season. What are the strengths and weaknesses of your car and how easy is it going to be to develop it?

ZB: It’s faster in some corners and slower in some other corners. Everyone obviously kind of understands their car and the areas in which they need to develop. I think we have a good understanding of where we need to improve our car and that’s exactly the areas that we’re looking to develop. And as you say, it’s going to be a development race. There are just a few tenths between that P4 and P9, so I think development is going to critical to success this year, and execution.

Q: Lando said recently that it has been an up and down season for him. How would you assess his first seven races in Formula One?

ZB: I think he’s done a very good job. He’s been very fast. He’s not made the rookie mistakes. He’s learned each weekend. Carlos is a very good benchmark for him. He has very high expectations, as you would expect. So I think in his eyes, he’s had some ups and downs, but from our point of view, he’s doing everything that we hoped he would do and he’s been very impressive.

Q: Claire, for the second consecutive race Nicholas Latifi has been in the car in FP1. I just wanted to ask you how he is developing?

Claire WILLIAMS: Yeah, he’s doing a great job for us. Anyone that knows Nicholas, he has a really lovely way about him. First and foremost it’s great to have him as part of our team. He’s taking part in several FP1 sessions for us. He took Robert’s car in Canada and it was George’s turn to step out today for him to take over. He’s doing a great job. He’s great at integrating himself into the team and knowing and understanding what’s required of him when he gets into the car. Friday’s are obviously for understanding the new parts that we’re bringing to every race, and he’s just going through the work that needs to be done with the engineers.

Q: I wanted to ask you about how you are developing the car, because it was great to see George Russell raving Magnussen and Albon in Canada. What have you got in the pipeline to help maintain this progress?

CW: Yeah, it’s great, we’re racing for P15! Obviously no one is happy about that at Williams, but I think we have to take the positives out of that, you know, the fact that we started this season qualifying 19th and 20th and invariably finishing in 19th and 20th as well. We’ve had great reliability, so invariably those numbers have been a bit higher, when other cars have dropped out. But George has finished ahead of several cars over the past few races and that’s been really great to see. Obviously so much work has been put in behind the scenes at the factory to bring new test items to every race. We’ve brought some considerable new items over the past few races to address the weaknesses we have. Clearly that’s a work in progress and we’ve got to make greater strides forward and hopefully prior to shutdown we’re going to have a more substantial package to bring to the car, once we’ve got that through manufacturing etc. So it will be good to see where that takes us. We’re only early days in this season so far, but it’s nice to see the incremental gains coming at each and every race and we’ve just got to keep on that pathway.

Q: Thanks. Laurent, there’s a hearing this afternoon about Vettel’s penalty in Canada, so I was wondering if there is anything you can tell us about the new evidence you’ll be presenting?

Laurent MEKIES: I think the first thing that we would like to underline is that we very much respect the work of the stewards. We know it’s a very, very difficult job to take. It’s a complex world, complex races, and therefore we are fully supportive of what they are trying to achieve. Now, in the aftermath of the Grand Prix of Canada, we had access to a number of new evidence, we looked at them and for these reasons we have requested of the FIA this right of review because we believe that this evidence is quite overwhelming when it comes to establishing that Sebastian did not breach any regulations. Now, I think going further would be inappropriate because the hearing is this afternoon so we’ll leave it to the stewards and again we are fully supportive of that process.

Q: It hasn’t been the easiest start to the season for Ferrari. How do you assess the peaks and troughs of the opening seven races, from your position as sporting director?

LM: I think there were tracks where we were competitive, just generally very competitive – think back to Bahrain, to Baku, and obviously Canada, we were able to be a match to Mercedes. And I think it’s also fair to say that on some of the tracks we were simply lacking core performance. Here will be a good benchmark for us, because as I say, it’s a track where normally from a characteristic point of view we have been suffering a bit more this season, so I would be hopeful that we would step up a bit.


Q: (Rodrigo Franca – VIP Magazine) Question to all please. Of course, about the new regulations for one year and a half. Every time there is a new regulation, sometimes a new team gains a lot, as we saw with Mercedes against Red Bull the last time the rules changes. As five teams not in position number one, do you think that might occur in 2021?

ZB: yeah, I think any time you have a substantial regulation change it can throw up some surprises. That can be someone figuring it out that maybe hadn’t the year before, and that can also be someone who’s, y’know, been at the front gets it a little bit wrong. I think that’s probably more unlikely because they have the ability to recover quickly if they don't come out of the gate strong – but I think it’s going to be exciting: the new rules; the cars are going to look different; the racing should be better – so I hope it doesn’t just throw up one surprise. I hope it brings the whole field much closer together and have less predictability in the racing that we see.

Laurent. New rules?

LM: I think you’re absolutely right. Every time there is a regulation change, there will be an order change, whether it goes in the right direction or not, will be to be established. As Zak says, there is a lot of good concept in there, we just have collectively a lot of work to do to make sure all the changes that we introduce are positive and they don’t fight back against us.

CA: On the change of regulation, because as you know it’s quite an extensive set of measures, we think that by far the most impactful measures will be ones on the commercial and financial side. So, I think that technical and sporting can have an impact on the show but frankly not really on the pecking order, on the competitiveness because Mercedes, Ferrari can always take advantage of any sort of regulation, given the advantage that they have right now from a financial perspective. That’s why we are so keen and loud about securing things like more equitable prize fund distribution and a budget cap. Those two things, we believe, in the medium to long term are what is going to improve Formula One in terms of overall competitiveness of the grid. 2021 change of technical regulations: for me, it’s a different story. That why the focus, as far as we’re concerned, is more on the financial side.

FV: Yeah, honestly I think that the target of the regulation is more to close the gap between the teams than something else. That the big teams will keep an advantage on the small ones. As a small team, I think the most important is to have the consistency in the new regulations and to keep the regulations for a certain period. If we are changing the regulations each two years, it will be more and more difficult for us to catch up. I’m fully supportive of the new concept and the new regulations but I think that we have to keep it for at least five years.


CW: Clearly for a team like us in the position in which we’re in at the moment, having a regulation change is useful. It means that we can hopefully capitalise on it. We’re doing everything at the moment that we can to make sure that we interpret those regulations when they come out to their fullest, so that we can hopefully take advantage of them. It’s our greatest opportunity. I think if we had stable regulations for the next five to ten years it would be much harder work for us. But, as everybody else on the panel has said before me, we need to get to that point of signing them off. They’ve got to be the most positive regulations that they can be, particularly from the technical side – but equally, we need to make sure that, prior to October, the financial regulations that are on the table at the moment remain as they are. They’re still not quite, exactly where we’d like them to be, with the cost cap where it is, including the exclusions, it still takes the cost cap to a higher level than we’d probably like it to be and enables the bigger teams to spend more than we’re able to do against those new technical regulations that are going to come in, and therefore maybe do a better job.

Q: (Alan Baldwin – Reuters) If I could ask two questions, one to Laurent to follow up your earlier comments about the stewards’ meeting, and then a question to the other four about the regulations. Laurent, you said it’s quite overwhelming, the evidence you’re presenting. Does that mean overwhelming enough to overturn the result of Canada?

LM: I think that’s very much the part where I don’t think it would be appropriate to go through now. I think, again, we are very respectful of the FIA processes and we’ll be meeting with the stewards’ in an hour’s time. So, I think we can probably have the discussions next weekend.

Q: (Alan Baldwin – Reuters) If I could ask the other four about the regulations. We’re talking a lot about 2021 and technical and sporting regulations – but the other issue, perhaps, is who is running the sport at that point. I think Chase’s contract probably expires at the end of 2020. You may be dealing with somebody who may not be around. How much concern is there about transparency and the actual Formula One side of things? Who’s actually running the show? Some of the names that have been bandied around in speculation – some thoughts on that really.

CW: Clearly we all hear the rumours but it’s not something that’s been discussed in an open forum. We’re just working to the current situation that we have at the moment. I’m too busy with other stuff at Williams to focus on a whole load of speculation in the wider paddock.

FV: Yeah, we have to stay away from the rumours, and we have enough to do and enough topic on the table to deal with. I think it’s enough for the team and for the promoter.

LM: Not much more to add, sorry – apart maybe from the fact it’s a reason why we want to secure what needs to be secured as quickly as possible. There were some discussion about pushing back – it was not just a discussion, it was actually decided – but that’s why. We know the world is changing. People can be changing – but it’s not for that reason that we want security. It’s important for everyone to have some security and stability and visibility on what’s going to happen in 2021, irrespective of individual situations.

ZB: I don’t think I have much to add. Obviously it’s a very important role, whoever does it, whenever they do it, and I think if it can just be done in a transparent manner when that time comes. Obviously leadership of any sport is particularly important, and as Cyril said, we’ve got to get nailed down now what the future looks like because whenever that transition happens, it’ll be coming in to new rules set in place and just need to make sure they execute against it.

Q: (Dieter Rencken – Racing Lines / racefans.net) The way that I understand it all teams last week signed the implementation agreement to delay the 2021 regulatory process and, above all, to waive their right to challenge the financial regulations. Which means that, well Claire, you did make a comment, but for the rest of you, are you then comfortable that the financial regulations address everything that your teams need for the future?

ZB: I think we made a big step forwards, signing-off on the headline number. Like Claire, I think the exclusions are probably a bit too much but I think, as we all know, with ten teams you’ll have ten different views, or probably five or six different views on what the magic number should be. I’m glad we’ve laid out the spirit of what it should look like. I think that’s an important part, again, as Cyril said, y’know when you look at what 2021 looks like, it’s not just the technical and the sporting rules but it’s the economics around it, so I think we made a step forward in ticking one of the boxes.

LM: Mattia was the one driving that for us at Ferrari but I think in principle we have been supportive of the idea of a budget cap. As Zak said, it’s been a long discussion to try to find the headline numbers but now we are moving on, we have definitions. It will never be a 100 per cent system, as you say, it will never tick all the boxes but, as you say, it’s a starting point.

CA: As you know, Renault had some reservations about pushing back that deadline and that vote on the new regulations but on the basis that it looked like an important thing for the governing bodies and some of the teams we accepted to make that happen because obviously it required unanimity of all teams for this to happen, and also on the basis of the guarantees that indeed we have obtained that Zak was mentioning. A budget cap would always be a compromise. It’s a novelty for the sport, it’s a new framework. It exists. I think we all need to be positive about its existence.

FV: As you know, we are ten around the table. Ten teams, with ten different views, ten different structures and you will never find something fitting for everybody. But at the end I think you have five or six teams that will stay more than far away of the cost cap. For some others it’s a bit harsh to manage but at some stage you need to have someone able to take a decision and the decision is done and we’ll have to stick with this.

Q: (Scott Mitchell – Autosport) Cyril just touched on the reservations that Renault had about delaying some elements of the rules. So, for the other four, would you just be able to tell us how easy was it for you to agree to delaying implementing or finalising other elements of the 2021 regulations?

CW: Certainly for us, we were very happy that the technical regulations were going to be or could be delayed. There was clearly quite a lot of work that still needed to be done on those so delaying them to October, we were fine with. I think the concerns for us were around delaying the financial or sporting but it was presented as a package and we had very little choice. So, knowing everyone else had signed it around the table, we conformed, and, in as much as we have been assured those financial and sporting regulations won’t change hugely, we were comfortable with it.

FV: We spent a lot of time over the last months – or more than months probably – on the financial discussion and probably less on the technical and sporting and I think it was a bit in a rush that we have to fix everything for last week. It makes sense to postpone. We had the discussion about financial regulation because we don’t want to open again the discussion to change completely the situation.

LM: It made complete sense for us, given the amount of work that still needs to be done on the technical regulations. It made complete sense to delay them to October. I think we all want to avoid situations where we are locked into something that is not as good as is could be. I think collectively there is a lot of work in the coming months to try to get that to the right level from the concept point of view. We will get there but we need to get all the right details right, so we think it was the right decision.

ZB: I think it was the right decision. We were aware of this date for over a year and so we all agreed a hold about 12 hours before the deadline, so that’s about how smooth the process was. I just hope we can genuinely work together so we’re not agreeing six hours before the October deadline. We know what’s coming. We’ve had a year, year-and-a-half to work on this and I really hope we take advantage of the extra time that we have. There are a handful of meetings set up and that we can genuinely move forward with better rules than we had in June.

Q: (Julien Billiotte – AutoHebdo) To everyone except maybe Laurent: if the decision on Vettel were to be overturned today, are you not afraid that this could open a can of worms and set a precedent whereby decisions could be reviewed more frequently, or perhaps do you see it as an opportunity for you to challenge the FIA stewards more often?

ZB: Well, not knowing what evidence Ferrari has, it’s hard to have a view on if the decision’s changed, was that a good or bad decision? I don’t know, because ultimately we don’t know what case Ferrari’s putting forward. I think in general I’d like to get to a point where… you know, we’ve got so many penalties in Formula One now for a variety of whether driving or mechanical or technical, and I think we need the fans to know that when the race is over, that’s who won, and it doesn’t get changed at a later date. So I don’t really have a view again on the specific Vettel-Hamilton incident but I think as a sport we need to be a little less complicated in the technicalities of all of our rules so it’s a bit easier to follow.

CA: I think Zak’s answer is great. If this is really a problem for the sport, we’ve had some things that we need to look at, irrespective of the decision that’s to come, whether it’s positive or negative and irrespective of the evidence, if we think that there is really a problem with this type of decision, with the intervention of stewards, maybe that’s something that we need to consider. Maybe we need to set up some form of panels of experts, or wise men who have had a look at a number of situations, of other lives, who have had a look at what’s going on in other forms of racing, including in MotoGP, to see what’s done, what’s possible in modern racing without encouraging silly behaviour, because it’s true that we also want to see action, we don’t want to see lawyers, like Seb was saying, driving their car but it’s very difficult, very difficult, and in my opinion we maybe need to disassociate that special case of Seb in Montreal but that of all situations which happen on a very regular basis that is quite negative for Formula One because I don’t see that happening in other racing formulae – or maybe I’m less exposed to that – and we need to sort it out. I’m sure that there is enough brain power to find a solution if there is a problem.

FV: Yeah, nothing to do with the Seb case, but I think we have to avoid to have too many hearings after the races and to fix the results of the Barcelona race in July and so on because it will be a mess for you and for us. And the second thing that I think that we have to keep in mind is that the position of the stewards is not easy. I heard plenty of comments and from tons of drivers, team principals and journalists but we all had 10 looks at the image and we had time to react, we had comments from everybody but they have to take a decision in live, and I think for the sport it makes sense that when you have a drive-through you have a drive-through and end of story, you can’t ask for minus 25 seconds on your race time. At one stage, that makes sense because we need to be fixed on Monday and apart from that, we have too many rules and at the end that, for the stewards also, it’s not easy to stick to the rules during the race.

CW: I’m trying to think of something else that someone hasn’t already said and I’m struggling, so I will just say ditto to my colleagues – except maybe some wise women as well, on the panel, as well as wise men.

Q: (Joe van Burik – Racingnews365.nl) Cyril, obviously you want to keep your momentum going for the rest of this season, moving into 2020. What does this mean for your driver situation in the future and to follow up on that, is there any chance you want to have another look at having Esteban Ocon in the team?

CA: The answer to the first question is in the second part of the question. Frankly, the situation is clear. We have a two-year contract with Daniel. Nico’s contract, the initial term is coming to an end at the end of this year but there is some mechanism of options as has been commented on press which I’m not going to disclose in the details that can kick in, so it’s maybe that we continue our journey with Nico. Frankly, Nico has delivered for the team, clearly, and if you look at where we were when, frankly, Fred actually was leading that process for us… Nico joined us and where we are today, it’s crazy and the change to the team, to the buzz, and clearly the drivers are no stranger to that, it’s not just engineers. So I think we need to give credit to that but also we need to look at the options, like everyone is doing, like I’m sure Nico is doing. So, it’s a long answer to tell you that things are open for him and for us but there is also an option in place so that we can possibly continue our journey together. We will see, we’ll see probably after the summer break will be the right time to sit down, discuss it on the basis of fact and desire also.

Q: (Ben Edwards – Channel 4) Claire, can you update us on Patrick Head’s involvement in terms of how involved he is back at the factory and what kind of areas he’s really been looking into?

CW: Yeah, it hasn’t really changed from when he first started. As everybody knows, we asked him to come on board after Paddy’s leave of absence. He is literally a consultant for the team. He comes in one or two days a week. If he can’t do that, he dials in and he joins the technical management team in their meetings and is literally just acting as a guide, as a sounding board and really helping everybody out. So it’s really nice to have him back around the place.

Q: (Dieter Rencken – Racing Lines, Racefans.net) The pending financial regulations are obviously going to have an impact on your operations including manpower levels etc, possibly not for all teams but certainly some of the teams. How concerned are you about the impact on your employees and their families etc, particularly in view of some comments made at the last Grand Prix in the same conference?

ZB: Well, very concerned. I know one team principal said he didn’t care about his families or something of that nature; that’s certainly not the case at McLaren. It’s a family business, so putting in the wellbeing of our people is first and foremost important. I think if we go to more races we’re going to have to understand how we do that, because I think a 21 race schedule is pretty taxing on everyone at the circuit and back at the factory, because they’re working equally as hard and as many hours. Getting the right number of races, commercially, is important. I’m not sure what that magic number is and I think we’re going to have to evaluate when these technical and sporting rules come out, along  with how many races we’re doing, how do you re-address that, with your workforce, to make sure that you take into consideration their wellbeing.

LM: I think you’re right Dieter, certainly on our point of view the concern about the people and their family and also the employment law in Italy was central to our discussions around the budget cap and then trying to find a figure that we could agree on precisely for that to first protect the people and then protect the structure. So this is also why it took so long to find an agreement around the headline number. Before knowing the next step, I’m trying to understand how much the product will actually cost, the cars based on the technical regulations we will eventually agree on and how much work first you need to go racing and for how many races is what will need to be assessed next. But the priority will always go to the people, that’s for sure.

CA: We fully appreciate the sensitivity of the situation for a large team, a large organisation, but as far as we are concerned we are far below the budget cap figure, given the exclusion.  As I mentioned previously, we actually built our team in accordance with figures that were previously floated of 150. It’s now 175, so you see the sort of margin and gap that we have, which means that we have a few options in order to stay put and accept the gap to the top teams or decide if we can finance it to… and if it makes sense also to finance it, it’s also a question of value…. to increase our headcount so that we can be a match against the top teams. That sort of decision we need to make now, that we have some certainty about that figure.

FV: Yeah, there are some aspects into the decision. The first one is the cost cap and honestly it won’t affect the majority of the teams and the second point of discussion is the number of races. On this one, it’s a critical situation for the team members because to do 21 races it’s not easy but to do more it will be more and more difficult and we have to investigate different solutions, perhaps to reduce the time on track or to rotate the guys in the team but it won’t be easy for everybody but for sure the team members will remain the first priority of my approach.

CW: Same as Fred; we won’t be impacted by the cost cap from an employee perspective, fortunately. Clearly we sympathise with the bigger teams and those members of the workforce that are clearly going to be worried about the situation. We’re recruiting at Williams. There will still be jobs. I think other teams are looking at those people who may be released from their existing teams, but then talking about the calendar – from our perspective we’re incredibly worried about having or the prospect of having 25, 24 races on the calendar,  the cost implications of that but most importantly the implications on the people who work for us and asking them to travel as much as that. That’s a huge undertaking. It already is; doing 21 race is a considerable amount of time that we’re all spending away from home. It puts pressure on the factory as well, the people that are working there. Bringing new parts to 21 races is hard work, bringing new parts to 25 is going to bring even more pressure on our businesses, so that for me is a huge concern at the moment, how we tackle that and make sure we get the balance right.