Wednesday, 30 June 2010
Not so in Formula One where every year rule changes seem to make a mockery of what has happened before and all the research and development that has gone into them. Of course Formula One is all about technology, possibly even more that it is about the men who are using it. Since the early days of the sport when the drivers did not have even seat belts to keep them safe, nowadays it could be argued, an by some frequently is, that today’s drivers are little more than passengers safely cocooned in highly computerised and essentially remotely controlled cars.
Note that we do not hold with those sentiments. In reality these drivers are brave and highly athletic sportsmen operating at their in the very pinnacle of their sport.
Next year there will be significant rule changes which include a ban of the F Duct, Movable wings that can be used to boost overtaking potential, and the re-introduction of the kinetic energy recovery system (KERS).
The rules that will undoubtedly cause the most confusion are those that relate to the movable wing. It can only be moved after two laps have been completed and it can only be enabled if the driver is at most one second behind the car in front. It must be deactivated if the driver brakes and it can only be activated at specific pre-defined parts of the track.
Another change that will have an impact on the new teams with their slower cars is the reintroduction of what was known as the 107% rule. This states that only cars that qualify within 107% of the pole sitters time may enter the race.
Find top betting tips to play with Bwin, with the betting comparison site One Booker. Here you can compare the statistics, results and featured events.
Monday, 17 August 2009
Button goes into the European Grand Prix with 70 points, 19 ahead of closest rival and renault driver Mark Webber.
Elsewhere Lewis Hamilton has revealed he is still buzzing following his win in Hunary 4 weeks ago:
"It's great to be getting back to business after the four-week break. I'm still buzzing from the win in Hungary and I'm hopeful of being able to carry that pace into the Valencia weekend - particularly with our new upgrades to the car. It's a very demanding circuit, the kind of place that punishes any mistakes hard. It's quite tight and relatively slow, so it should suit our package. It's also very difficult to overtake, as we discovered last year - but, with our KERS, Mercedes-Benz has proved that anything can happen and I'm once again hoping that it will provide the difference in the race."
Monday, 13 July 2009
In qualifying there was all sorts of chaos because of the rain and it was the most interesting in recent memory. Sutil was excellent qualifying 7th and it was a shame he had a coming together with Raikkonen in the race – basically scuppering his chances of a good points finish. I have to say that I think the incident was just a racing incident and that if Sutil was a bit more experienced he would have probably not had the accident. A shame especially since Raikkonen retired anyway later on in the race.
Brawn also did well in qualifying with Ross Brawn calling the shots brilliantly to get Barrichello out on slicks at the right time. Their 2nd and 3rd on the grid was down to strategy and they just didn’t have the pace in the race to realise a good result.
On the warm up lap Alonso had an eventful spin but regained his grid slot in time. He came good at the end of the race and must be quite happy with 7th considering the ability of the Renault at the moment. Kovalainen did well to sneak 8th. He did not have all the updates that Hamilton did but was able to put in a solid performance. Hamilton on the other had using his KERS off the line had an amazing start but got a puncture from tagging Webber’s front wing. When watching replays it seemed that Hamilton moved under braking and that Webber didn’t have time to react. I don’t think it was Webber’s fault just a racing incident.
However the incident with Barrichello and Webber was something else. Webber squeezed Barrichello as we have seen many times before at a start. But instead of Barrichello reacting or moving he just stayed on his line and let him ram him. What was Barrichello thinking? The two of them could of cart wheeled into the air and had huge accidents. This is racing - expect to get squeezed like that! Has he never seen nearly everybody squeeze each other at the beginning of a race like that? Webber was being aggressive but not wrongly so. Barrichello was asleep. Then for Webber to be penalised for it is ridiculous. I’m just glad that Webber went and drove the wheels of his Red Bull and still won. He did not deserve that penalty at all.
Ferrari’s Massa was happy with third and quite rightly so. If Raikkonen hadn’t of had engine trouble then he would of finished behind Massa and Ferrari would have had a respectable 3rd and 4th. I think they are slowly getting better and realise they can nick a few podiums between now and the seasons end. Yet again Ferrari’s KERS was the only thing which enabled them to get ahead at the start and also the only thing which enabled them to stay in front. Most noticeably Massa in front of Barrichello.
It was obvious the 2 stop was the way to go and Barrichello was spitting out his dummy over the teams decisions and stuck fuel pump. But could of it been any other way? They were eating up their tyres and 3 stops was the only chance they had really. Barrichello was unfortunate but when it counted Button was good enough to jump him putting in a blinding lap that he had over Barrichello. TS Barrichello – grow up. I think the truth about him being so annoyed lies with the fact Barrichello knows his chance for the championship or maybe even any wins is gone. He is no doubt going at the end of the year, especially if he makes comments like that about his team. He needs to grow up and be professional.
Rosberg did an excellent job to come 4th and he too had trouble with his fuel pump and fuel levels like Barrichello. But he kept his head down and drove well. Williams must be happy with him and I think with the way things are going in the partnership they are likely to stay together for another season.
Jenson was interviewed afterwards and was suitably worried. He knows the championship could be lost. Brawn have updates for Hungary and he must hope they improve the car. As the problem is that McLaren and Ferrari are now getting in front of them and stealing points off the Brawn team while the Red Bulls are winning. If Button consistently finishes 5th or around there and the Red Bulls are winning then his championship advantage will be gone in three or four races and we have eight races left. I think it’s going to be close. I hope Webber really ups his game and takes it to Vettel.
It seems to be genuinely game on for the championship.
Q: Mark, take you back to November. You are lying on the road in Australia with a broken leg and maybe thinking your career is now over. Here you are today a grand prix winner. Tell us your emotions.
Mark Webber: It is an incredible day for me. I wanted to win so badly after Silverstone. I thought I had a good chance there. But after yesterday’s pole position I knew I was in a good position to try and win the race today. The only thing in the end that I thought was going to beat me or test me even more was the rain but even that held off. To get the victory today was a little bit testing. Obviously I lost Rubens (Barrichello) completely off the start. I thought he had gone to the left and I went to the right and I banged into him. That is not normally my style, so I got a drive through for that and had to recover. My engineer kept me calm and I pushed as hard as I could when I needed to. It is a great day for me, like you say. It was a difficult winter. Sebastian showed in winter testing what the car could do, that kept my motivation very high when I was hurting a lot with all my rehab. I have had great people around me to recover from the injuries that I had. The team had been incredibly patient with me as well and I want to thank Dietrich (Mateschitz) and Red Bull for what they did for me over the winter as well. Everyone in Australia that has supported me on the way through and of course there are a few people who doubted me too as well, so hello to them as well. It is just an incredible day for all the people who have helped me get to where I am.
Q: Sebastian, you had to work very hard today. Your thoughts on that and also on Mark’s first grand prix victory.
Sebastian Vettel: First of all congratulations to him, today he was unbeatable. He was quicker than all of us, so he totally deserved to win. I am very happy with the result. In the end it was a good recovery. It was quite a bad start and then all the KERS cars around me. I got passed by both McLarens and then even Felipe, so it was quite difficult. You start fourth and then go into the first corner maybe eighth or something. And then basically I struggled a lot in the first stint. I was in traffic and you know altogether we are four or five cars. Obviously I could have gone quite a bit quicker but there was no way to pass Felipe. He always used his special button when I was quite close, therefore I was lucky to have the right strategy and in the end that brought us back to second position but Felipe didn’t stop pushing, so it was quite hard until the end of the race, so we had to fight but obviously another one-two finish for the team. I am very, very happy. Good points today. Obviously I would lie to you if I would say I am very, very pleased with second. Of course I wanted to win but yesterday Mark did a better job and that is why he totally deserved to win. He was quicker. It is a good fight among us, so I am very happy and looking forward to the next races. I think our car is competitive, so looking forward.
Q: Felipe, special button or not, it was a fighting drive for you today with lots of wheel to wheel action to bring you your first podium of the season.
Felipe Massa: To be honest, I missed to be here, to be in top three but it was a fantastic race. I did a fantastic start, passed many cars. I was struggling a lot with the soft tyres at the beginning like most of the people but fortunately I could manage to stay in front of Sebastian and managed to put out a good pace after a while. When we put on a second set of tyres I think that was very important for the race, to have a good pace at that stage. I am very happy. I am very happy that everyone in the team did a great job on the strategy, on the pit stops, so I think having a good result like this, a podium will definitely motivate the people to keep working, to keep pushing hard and preparing a good car for the end of the championship and especially another great car for next year.
Q: Mark, you mentioned the incident at the start with Rubens. A lot of people have described it as very aggressive. It was a very aggressive drive generally but some wheel banging from you on the run down to turn one. Take us through it.
MW: I knew my start wasn’t absolutely fantastic and I just moved across a little bit and as soon as I hit him I said ‘there he is.’ It was a bit of a surprise. I think I clipped the back of Lewis (Hamilton) if that was Lewis. I am not sure which McLaren it was. I lost a little bit of the front wing endplate I think but with these KERS cars and the way the mirrors are set up on these cars now, all the aerodynamic stuff, everyone is in similar situation. It was a difficult first run to the first corner but we got away okay.
Q: Sebastian, you had a fair bit of wheel banging today not least with Felipe as you were mentioning. You could clearly see how much it meant for both of you to keep the place.
SV: Yeah, it was quite tough to get past him. I didn’t succeed and he was defending well with his button, especially downhill. I thought now I am in the tow but couldn’t get close and then unfortunately at the end of the straight I was at the limit, so couldn’t make the big difference in the braking then but he was on the inside, so it was tight and he did a good job. Sometimes it was very close. I was thinking if he wants to get my front wing off the car. I had to be very cautious as obviously it is very difficult with these wide front wings. You have to be extremely careful.
Q: What do you think, Felipe? Hard but fair?
FM: We are racing. Anyway we have the KERS, so it is a help to keep the position or maybe try to overtake. But you want to exchange the KERS for a bit of downforce. I change very quickly.
Q: Mark, you had a big pace advantage over the Brawns today. We have got a whole second half of the championship opening up in front of you. Do you think you can win both championships?
MW: Well, they are both still up for grabs, there is no question about it. The work that has gone on at Milton Keynes underneath Adrian Newey and all the guys there. They have produced a special car, no doubt about it. Brawn are leading the constructors because they deserve to be, they have got a lot of points but we are not giving up. Sebastian and I are on the top of our game and pushing as best as we can to be as consistent as possible at all venues. Renault are giving us fantastic engines. The team are gelling incredibly well. The big problem at our factory at the moment is building a trophy cabinet, so it is a very good problem for us to have. It is hard work they we are putting in but it is paying off. It is very good for us. We love fighting against teams like Ferrari and McLaren as this is what Formula One is all about. For Red Bull to take the fight to these big guys is a real credit to us. They will be back for sure but it is a special time for our team.
Q: Mark, what is it like? Will you have a few more of those, do you think?
MW: I hope so. I hope they are like muscles, obviously. When you get one you get a few more. I have done a few grands prix now. I think this is the first year I have really had a chance to win grands prix. I have had a few second places but today pulled the win off. But what is really important to me is that it wasn’t handed to me. I had to work for it. I started on pole and it would have been a lot more comfortable obviously without the little penalty but apart from that it was still reasonably straight forward. There was still a lot of traffic and some other people like Sebastian were going to be quick but that’s the way it goes sometimes and I have been in that situation, so it was nice to be able to have a very straightforward and easy first victory. I want to thank all the team for the effort they have put into me and the patience they have shown with me over the winter to get back to full fitness and just the job they have done to produce this fantastic car.
Q: How tough was it coming back from that cycling accident? Were you up to full race fitness right at the start of the season?
MW: Well, I think I was kidding myself a little bit. I thought I was ready to go for winter testing but I wasn’t. It is absolutely clear that the leg was a long way from healed and it was still broken. It was just the metal holding it in place, so it has come a long way since then. Time has been a little bit on my side. I was lucky that Melbourne was put back a little bit in the calendar and a few things have gone my way, so along with having fantastic people around me, like Roger (Cleary), my physio. We spent a lot of time together getting back and even things like walking in the swimming pool and things like that in the first part of January was very tough for me. But there is always someone worse off and I always stayed positive and I knew that looking at the times Sebastian was doing in testing the car was going to be quick. That gave me incredible motivation to be ready.
Q: Do you see the irony of the margin you had over Sebastian today in comparison to three weeks ago?
MW: Yeah, I did. I did think that in the race. I thought now I know how Sebastian felt and it is a nice way to be able to control a grand prix. The first stint I got held up a lot by Rubens at Silverstone and that makes it difficult. But all of us know that. All of us know that it is very difficult to overtake. These cars, you know, the braking is so late and they are so even, in so many areas on the track it is difficult to stay close. Maybe in Malaysia, in Bahrain there are a few tracks where you have a chance but when you have slightly quicker corners it is very difficult and then you throw the KERS in as well. It is a challenge for us to jump people even when they are in trouble. You need free air, good quali, and that is when you can get the job done.
Q: Do you think the penalty was merited? And did you think it was all gone when you had to serve it?
MW: I thought it was a little bit harsh but maybe they wanted to spice things up a little bit. It is not really my style. I think I did definitely lose Rubens 100 per cent for a while. I moved across and then what made it worse was that I shitted myself and came back across again and I thought ‘My God, there he is.’ That’s what made it look maybe a little bit worse than it was. I had a fair idea what it was for but also I thought that when I touched one of the McLarens in turn one I lost a little bit of the front wing, so I couldn’t believe it was for that. But you know of course I was shattered when I was told I have got a drive-through. I thought ‘My God, I am absolutely cruising here behind Rubens. I know he is short. I know everything is under control.’ And a drive-through is very harsh for anyone in any grand prix, so I had to recover. Also I thought I was pretty close to getting done for speeding in the pit lane as well as I was quite frustrated. In the end it turned out okay but it could have been a different story as you say.
Q: And you were easing up at the end. Was that because you knew you had the time?
MW: Yeah, it was just staying away from the kerbs. Sebastian had a problem on Friday with the car in turn one with some issues we had there, so there were a few things I had to be aware of and make sure I kept the car in the middle of the track and brought it home. There was no reason to finish 20 seconds in front instead of 10. As Jack Brabham used to say ‘win at the slowest possible speed,’ so I was thinking of Jack today.
Q: It is interesting you mention two issues caused at turn one. Was that caused by that bump?
MW: Well, there is an elevation change for sure. But it is not just there. You have got the chicane, you have got quite a few areas where we run the kerbs on the exits and if you narrow the track a lot like I was in the last stint then for sure you drop the lap time. It is circuit specific here.
Q: Sebastian, you seemed to be involved in battles throughout.
SV: But I didn’t succeed, so… It was difficult. At the start, I thought the start was alright because none of the guys in front of me had KERS and all of a sudden the cars just kept flying past me: both McLarens and then I saw Felipe approaching me. I tried to block him but obviously he was already side-by-side, so I opened up. Approaching turn one I was feeling that I was starting from midfield and not P4. Then it was quite difficult, I lost quite some positions. Then, basically, it was the old story: you are in the pack and you try to race. I had Felipe in front of me, I was quite a bit quicker than all the pack but couldn’t get past. He used his KERS system very well to defend. All the time when I was close I could feel him pressing the button and opening up the gap which gave him enough cushion for the rest of the straight, so it was impossible for me to start a manoeuvre. I think the whole pack, led by Heikki (Kovalainen) and then Jenson (Button), who managed to get past Felipe in the beginning, Felipe and me, we were all losing a lot of time, every single lap to the two guys in front, to Rubens and Mark. I was already feeling a bit bad. Obviously I knew I had a very good strategy but still the first stint wasn’t easy because the tyres were not in the best shape at the end. I even had to defend from Kimi (Räikkönen) a couple of times. But then in the second stint we went onto the hard tyres and everything was fine – struggling with warm-up, I think, like everyone was during the whole weekend, but able to recover and come back to second position, still with Felipe behind me, so I had to keep pushing until the end. But of course it’s nice taking a lot of points. I would have loved to win this race for sure. It’s my home Grand Prix but especially because there were so many people around the track supporting me. But I’m not the oldest person on the grid, so I might have a couple of years left and some more attempts. I’m definitely looking forward to the next races and we will see what we can do. The car is working well, the team is working fantastically both here at the track and back in England. We keep pushing, so we will see.
Q: Felipe, you were obviously overtaken by Jenson early on. What happened?
FM: Well, he passed me! I had my KERS but he had good speed on the straight, plus he was light. At that stage of the race the tyres were still in good shape, so he managed to pass me.
Q: Then you were pushed by both Sebastian and Rubens as well.
FM: Yeah, during the first stint I was in the pack behind Heikki, Jenson, myself and Sebastian followed by Kimi. Sebastian was very close, he tried to attack me sometimes. Fortunately this time I could manage to stay in front and then I think everybody was struggling massively in the first stint with soft tyres, massive rear degradation. During the first 15 laps, Sebastian was very, very close to myself but then after a while, I felt that he started to struggle as well with the rear tyres, so things were a little bit quiet, so it was easier to control the situation. After a while he stopped before me, he managed to change the tyres and his pace was much better than mine because I was struggling with the tyres. I even asked the team what the situation was because maybe it would have been better to anticipate. If we did, maybe it would have been possible to stay in front of Sebastian but we didn’t anticipate the pit stop and then I think we lost the position to him because of that.
Q: Is this the return of Ferrari?
FM: A podium is always important. Third place is a good result for us but we cannot say it’s really our return. I think we are improving the car step-by-step a little bit, so I think that’s good motivation for the people. So we know if we work we can manage to have a good car, a competitive car, so I push my team very hard because as soon as possible I want a car that gives us a chance to fight for victory and for the championship. It’s what Ferrari is able to do and we have done for so many years. But nothing is coming for free, so we need to work and push very hard to steer things in the right direction, so that we can have a car that will bring us into this place (indicates the first place position), not on the left (in third position), in the middle. I think that’s our aim and that’s what we’re working for.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Frederic Ferret – L’Equipe) On the podium we saw you watching the flag. How important is it for you to win as an Australian?
MW: Very, very important for me to win because not many Australian drivers have reached Formula One and there are even fewer that are successful. So for me to win a grand prix and have the career that I’ve had – a long career – but for sure I wanted better results but this year has been very, very special and now we are able to say that we’ve won a grand prix, fair and square, which is nice. It’s a real message to the Australian people. I’ve always tried to represent my country as best as I can. We’re a very proud sporting nation, we have done well on two wheels, on motorbikes with Mick (Doohan) and with Casey (Stoner) but the motorbikes aren’t motor sport in general at world level, where we haven’t been amazing. It’s a great day for me and Australia and that’s why it was a special one.
Q: (Dan Knutson – National Speed Sport News) Mark, how long and tense were those final laps, thinking that maybe it might rain, something might go wrong with the car or the track or anything?
MW: On lap 40, when I knew everything was pretty much in the bag, then it got a bit darker, I could feel it got a little bit colder in the car and I thought ‘hmm, we’re going to be tested once more again.’ But from lap 52 or 53 onwards I knew it probably wasn’t going to rain again and actually I was pretty relaxed. I was enjoying driving the car, it’s always nice when you have a buffer but for sure I wanted the chequered flag to come, and yes, I was thinking about the car a lot. There was a little bit of debris in the first sector, so I was making sure not to pick up any punctures and also some stones in turn nine, so lots of things like that which you start to really keep an eye on which normally you don’t care when you’re twelfth but when you’re leading it’s a different ball game.
Q: (Ian Parkes – The Press Association) To Mark and Sebastian: do you guys realise that in taking points off one another as you are doing these past two races that you may be playing into Jenson’s hands a little bit? You’re not making the big leaps forward that perhaps one of you might perhaps expect to if there was just one driver going for the title?
MW: It’s a good problem for us to have at Red Bull. We probably never envisaged the season that we’re having. We knew the car was going to be good but it’s in some cases quite rare that two drivers are performing quite closely and getting very similar points. It could have been different for Sebastian today. It’s very difficult to call how the races are going to be. Strategy is always playing a little bit of a role here and there, so if you put all your eggs in one basket I think it might help but you can do that for two or three races and then that guy might have two DNFs and the guy that you took points off before is in a slightly worse position, so we’re taking the fight as hard as we can to Brawn. Either of us can have DNFs from mechanical problems or anything, so at the end of the day we’ve got a lot of points to go and that will be a decision for the team later on. We’re getting on well, we drive the car on the limit, we love getting the most out of it, our team is brilliantly strong inside and we love fighting at the front. It’s a team championship, a team sport at the moment. Maybe in the end, the last three or four or five races it will turn to one of us if we have a chance to fight Jenson but… The last two races have been interesting for them. Let’s see how we go in the hot races and maybe it’s a bit more difficult for us.
Q: (Alan Baldwin – Reuters) Mark, at the end when you crossed the line, we haven’t heard you shout like that for ever, I don’t think. Was that years of pent-up emotion coming out and was there ever a time in your mind when maybe you thought you were more of a Chris Amon than a Jack Brabham?
MW: I thought that but you know I think during my time at Williams it was very tough for the motivation, that’s the hardest part of it. No one likes turning up and getting your arse kicked every weekend. That would test anyone’s patience and that’s why I suppose you’ve got to take your hat off to someone like Jenson and maybe myself a little bit, where you’re still trying to stay involved and keep your motivation high to focus on other goals to keep your drive high and now it’s obviously different. We can turn up at race weekends and get very, very good results. I’ve certainly had testing times in my career with unreliable cars and being in a position to get results hasn’t happened for whatever reason. It’s happening at the moment and as you say there was a lot of emotion. What happened today is not going to change my life massively but it’s a very, very important thing. I will sleep well tonight, everything’s fine but I’m not a different person because I’ve won one race. I’m just very, very happy that I’ve won it fair and square, that I’ve beaten everyone else today, so that’s the most important thing to me.
Q: (Flavio Vanetti – Corriere della Sera) Felipe, you told us that we couldn’t consider Ferrari back completely yet. So can we consider this podium as a victory in some way?
FM: First of all, I would like to take this chance to congratulate Mark because I know how he’s feeling. It must be a great feeling. I cannot say this is like a victory. I think this is like good work. Victory is victory. We finished on the podium, we finished in third position starting from eighth, so it’s definitely a great result but victory is always first place. I think this huge motivation, it’s a huge result for us to keep pushing, to keep working and just show the people that we can do it.
Q: (Bob McKenzie – The Daily Express) Mark, it’s a pretty good day for Australia. You will be happy to know that England are six wickets down against Australia. It’s like it’s going to be over by teatime. Have you had any contact with Ricky (Ponting, Australia’s cricket captain) this weekend at all?
MW: No, not this weekend. Obviously, we spoke before I came away here and you know the baggy green, it’s a very famous thing in Australia. They are fighting again in a very special series and that’s their war. They’re enjoying it, they love beating the Poms in that special series, so I’m very, very happy that they’re doing well. They batted phenomenally and I’m going to a dinner tomorrow night with Ricky Ponting and I’m looking forward to seeing some of the Australian players and hopefully we can have a double victory. Hopefully they can get a few more wickets and knock Monty (Panesar) and a few of the tail-enders over quickly and they can go one-nil up in the series which would be very good.
Q: (Alessia Cruciani – La Gazzetta dello Sport) Felipe, yesterday you said ‘I have to be honest, a podium is impossible.’
FM: Well, to be honest, I didn’t expect that.
Q: (Alessia Cruciani – La Gazzetta dello Sport ) What’s the reason for this good result, and how was the behaviour of the car?
FM: The reason was that I was wrong, so a podium was possible. We are here but always when you see these guys very quick in qualifying, the whole weekend these guys were very, very strong and Brawn as well, they were pretty good. I started eighth with a lot of fuel, maybe some degradation of the tyres, so I thought a podium would not be realistic. We fought so hard during the whole race, the start was also very important to manage to get the podium at the end, so it was possible.
The car was good, the pace was reasonable. When I was on soft tyres at the beginning I was not as quick as Sebastian and Rubens and Mark but that was with a lot of fuel in the car. The second stint was pretty good. I was following Sebastian, even catching him. Sometimes at the end of the stint he started pulling away slightly but in the last stint the car was good on the hard tyres as well, so the car was pretty reasonable.
Q: (Michael Schmidt – Auto Motor und Sport) Felipe, again as at Silverstone, your performance in the race was much better than in qualifying. Is qualifying the discipline you’ve got to work on?
FM: Yeah, maybe. Maybe qualifying is something that we still need to improve a bit. Also the strategy. Starting with a lot of fuel at some tracks is maybe something that pays quite a lot. At Silverstone my pace was very good but the strategy helps a lot, to pass all the cars in front. Here, as well, we had a race where many people were struggling on the tyres at the beginning, so we passed some cars at the beginning and we were heavy on fuel, so the strategy pays a lot. It’s difficult to say that we are much better in the race than in qualifying. I think in the race, together with the strategy, we manage to do a good job.
Q: (Juha Päätalo – Financial Times Germany) Sebastian, you were expecting a lot from this Grand Prix and your public was expecting a lot. You look a little disappointed. I don’t know if you are but can you just describe your feelings? Do you think it was not such a successful weekend for you and how do you cope with the fact that your team-mate is now a title contender with you as well?
MW: I don’t think it’s just from this race onwards. As someone said before, we are very close if you look at the points. Of course I would be lying to you if I said that second is very, very good. Of course I wanted to win but I think today after starting fourth and losing a lot of positions on the first lap, I think second was all we could do. I was basically in the group led by Heikki which I described earlier, then together with Felipe, Jenson and me, there was no way through and I lost a lot of time which allowed Rubens and Mark to disappear in front and after that I think it was more or less decided already. If there’s anything or anyone to blame it’s maybe myself in yesterday’s qualifying. In the last run I was thinking I had two laps, it turned out to be only one but in the end on the lap I had I possibly had the car to put on pole but I didn’t get the lap as perfect as usual and lost two tenths which made a big difference. The threat was there from the start, with the KERS cars behind and I was the first one to be in the shit. What are you supposed to do? I turned into the first corner, I’m P7 or P8 and I started fourth. It’s a strange feeling and after that, having quite a lot of fuel on board and the strategy brought us back to where we finished.
Sunday, 12 July 2009
2. VETTEL Red Bull +9.2s
3. MASSA Ferrari +15.9s
4. ROSBERG Williams +21.0s
5. BUTTON Brawn +23.6s
6. BARRICHELLO Brawn +24.4s
7. ALONSO Renault +24.8s
8. KOVALAINEN McLaren +58.6s
9. GLOCK Toyota +61.4s
10. HEIDFELD BMW +61.9s
11. FISICHELLA Force India +62.3s
12. NAKAJIMA Williams +62.8s
13. PIQUET Renault +68.3s
14. KUBICA BMW +69.5s
15. SUTIL Force India +71.9s
16. BUEMI Toro Rosso +90.2s
17. TRULLI Toyota +90.9s
18. HAMILTON McLaren +1 lap
R. RAIKKONEN Ferrari +25 laps
R. BOURDAIS Toro Rosso +41 laps
Fastest lap: ALONSO 1m33.365s
2 Sebastian Vettel +0.250secs (lap 19)
3 Lewis Hamilton +0.614 (lap 18)
4 Rubens Barrichello +0.617 (lap 14)
5 Jenson Button +0.838 (lap 13)
6 Adrian Sutil +1.474 (lap 28)
7 Heikki Kovalainen +1.524 (lap 21)
8 Felipe Massa +1.906 (lap 25)
9 Kimi Raikkonen +2.025 (lap 26)
10 Nelson Piquet +2.048 (lap 26)
Saturday, 11 July 2009
Q: Mark, there is only one question to ask you. A crazy, crazy session but tell us what it means finally to have your first pole position.
Mark Webber: It is a very special day for me to get pole. I have been close a few times in the past and also been on pole fuel corrected a few times but that doesn’t count. Today we are here. The team have done a great job. We have been quick all weekend. We got really tested, all the teams and drivers, in that session. It was very, very chaotic but to have still delivered the lap time when it actually counted was important to me, so to do the best time was fantastic.
Q: What made the difference today for you?
MW: I think that obviously the car is working very well here but I was talking to my engineer and I was saying we were doing two time, one time, inters, wets. It was just so hard. The track conditions looked reasonably dry but the slicks just wouldn’t take it at all. We learnt a little bit in Q2 with Rubens on that little window he had. He did a very good lap. I was out on the inters at that stage and it was just very chaotic to try and read what we needed for that last 10 minutes, so the key was three clean sectors for me in the end. That is what got me pole.
Q: Rubens, you are second on the grid but you look completely exhilarated. You loved that session, didn’t you?
Rubens Barrichello: I did, I did. It was very, very nice and it is nice when you have the right tyres at the right moment. We all went on slicks but all came back as we saw (Felipe) Massa just going out into turn 12 and I think everybody just came back into the pits for the intermediates. I was on my timed lap when I decided that is not the right tyre, let’s gamble a little bit more and I came in. I had no reply on the radio. It was really chaotic on the radio. There was a big confusion but then they were ready for me. I put the right tyres on and I was safe with the third place. It was a really nice session.
Q: Jenson, you had to abort a few laps that session. Tell us how hard it was for you?
Jenson Button: Yeah, it is great for everyone who is in the top ten. That Q2 session was madness. It was good fun and we are struggling with tyre warm up anyway but when you chuck a little bit of water in there as well it is quite difficult. It is great to see Rubens and myself up here in the top three. Mark got his first pole position, so congratulations to him. Tomorrow is going to be an interesting one. The weather is looking similar to today, so it is going to be wet dry, wet dry. It is a little bit of luck but also looking at what other people are doing and trying to make the best out of the situation, so I am looking forward to it very much.
Q: Mark, it is a fantastic performance but how do you keep your head in a situation like that and making sure you are making the right decisions at the right time?
MW: Well, obviously you call on your experience. Obviously you have got a great team of people around you as well. They are on the pit wall and making the right calls for you. They have obviously got a lot of experience at looking at what the other cars are going through. These are the best drivers in the world, so we know when people are making mistakes that it is obviously for a reason, the wrong tyre, so we have got to stick with the decisions we make and believe in them and then just go out and try and do the best you can as you know everyone is in a little bit of trouble in those conditions, so you just do the best job you can.
Q: First pole today. First win tomorrow?
MW: I hope so. I hope so. I am in a fantastic position to do it. These guys are in a strong position and there is no question that they will push us. But we are looking forward to the fight. I certainly am and I am up for trying to win my first race tomorrow if I can.
Q: Mark, great stuff in what is Red Bull Racings 80th grand prix. But you have been competitive all weekend. What has made the difference?
MW: Well, as you say we have been quick in every session but we were tested to the limit in that session. It was a very difficult session knowing what the track was going to do in terms of how greasy it was and what tyres to use. We were having trouble a little bit in the warm up anyway in the dry, let alone having some moisture on there, so it was a very difficult session but one that our team executed well which is why we got pole.
Q: Are you looking forward to it being wet tomorrow as perhaps that might get you out of having to run the harder tyre?
MW: I think a nice boring grand prix for me would be fantastic. I am looking forward to a dry day but if it is wet we are ready for all conditions. We know we can compete and fight in all those conditions that will be thrown at us. It becomes a lot more difficult, there is no question about it. We are tested as drivers and we saw that in Shanghai and some other races. This track is giving maybe a little less grip than maybe Shanghai was just because of the temperatures, so if it is raining we have got to deal with it. The same for everyone.
Q: You have never been closer to the victory perhaps. Has there been a little bit of frustration creeping in over the last year or so?
MW: Well, this is a fantastic season for us as a whole team. I had a slightly different winter this year coming back from a few of my other little problems that I had. The extra motivation is to come back to a car that is fast. It is not very enjoyable flogging around in 10th, 12th or 13th position all the time. That test anyone’s motivation as JB knows. It is a great situation for me to be in. I can fight for podiums most of the time now and obviously to win at this level you need everything going for you. I haven’t yet done that. I am going very, very close. I have had a few seconds this year and now I have got a pole. I think the day will come hopefully and you never know, hopefully it will be tomorrow.
Q: You might push your cricketers off the front page as well.
MW: The rain has saved the English I think there but if I can take the cricketers off the front page I am sure Ricky (Ponting) will be happy anyway.
Q: Rubens, this is your 280th grand prix. In your 280 qualifying sessions have you ever known a crazier one than this? How does that rate?
RB: I tell you I had some crazy ones in the past but it is always the more recent ones that count. We were just saying that it felt for a moment that I was not breathing for the whole session. We got out of the car now and all of a sudden we are just breathing again. You just wanted to make the right call but you needed some help as well. I called the team to see what they thought and they never came back to me in Q2. I think there was a problem on the radio but they could hear me as when I got to the pits the tyres were ready. It was a really good call at the time. My first lap in Q3 was actually fastest and I was hoping for the better. But I have got to be happy as we were outpaced by the Red Bulls the whole weekend. In fact, Lewis (Hamilton) was actually faster than us as well, it looked like it, so second for me is really good.
Q: This is your best qualifying here as well and you have won here before from lower on the grid, so what are your feelings about tomorrow?
RB: I hope that tomorrow is the experience that counts. You cannot say much. Tomorrow the prediction, they are saying, that the forecast is a bit worse than today. We didn’t predict that it was going to rain this morning but then things became a little bit worse as qualifying came. If it is a tricky race like it was a tricky qualifying you just have to be there at the end and make no mistakes and try to win the race. Myself and Mark we are trying to get as many points as possible to discount some of the points that our team-mates have on us and it is all to play.
Q: Again, Jenson it is your best qualifying here. What are your thoughts and how was it managed for you from the pit lane?
JB: Reasonably well. I had Rubens’s information and he went to slick tyres in Q2 when we went to wets and I just thought it was too wet out there at that point in time. But Rubens made them work and he got the right window and you saw everybody else piling in to the pits sticking on slick tyres and then it started raining again, so it was pretty tricky. It was a session I did not want, Q2. I think it is great getting through to Q3 and I think being in the top three, whoever is in the top three, should be happy with what they have done. We are in a good position for tomorrow. It is going to be a tough race. So much can happen with the weather here. Twelve degrees in mid July, this is worse than England. Who says English weather is bad. It is not making it easy but I think we have done a good job this weekend. We found it tough on Friday but we improved the car. But it is still going to be a tough race for us.
Q: Is there less of a problem with tyre temperatures here than there was at Silverstone?
JB: Yeah, there’s less of an issue. We’ve got the super soft tyre here and you don’t have all that high speed (track), which for us doesn’t put that much heat in the tyre. You’ve got braking here which is good for us, we’re good under braking and it’s putting heat into the tyres. It’s not too bad, it’s such a difficult weekend because it’s all to do with if you can get the tyres to work or not. On my timed laps I’m weaving on the straight to try to get heat into the tyres. It’s a strange situation to be in but it’s where we are and we’ve got to make the best of it and I think we have done that today, so I’m happy with the result.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Frederic Ferret - L’Equipe) Mark, do you think that this track suits the Red Bull better than the Brawn?
MW: Well, Brawn are traditionally sometimes not as competitive on Friday as they are on Saturdays and Sundays, so we have to see if – it’s unlikely, but you never know – if we have a full dry race tomorrow, that’s when I can really answer your question. Jenson was reasonably competitive at Silverstone in the last stint. Rubens had a very good qualifying there. It’s very sensitive how these cars are. Clearly we had an advantage in Silverstone, we were stronger as a team and as a package round there and we got the result that of course we deserved. Here, we still look very, very competitive, there’s no question about it. Maybe not as big a gap as we had in Silverstone but our car is behaving very well here. I’ve always been quick in most sessions on all fuel loads, so there’s no reason to suggest that we’re not quick here.
JB: Yeah, trust me, your qualifying lap was quick.
Q: (Dan Knutson - National Speed Sport News) Mark, with so much at stake and with such tricky conditions, were there a lot of nerves and tension or were you able to just banish that and just get on with job?
MW: I just got on with the job, Dan, really. I think it was a very tense session for everyone but it always is. It doesn’t matter where you are in qualifying, Q3, it always comes down to that last lap. You’re never going to be on pole with your first run in Q3. We know that getting into Q3 is generally a formality for us guys at the moment because we have a nice car. Today was a little bit more difficult but once we got into that session, then it was about controlling your emotions and just using your experience to back yourself and know what the car can do. Trust the car, trust the tyres and go out there and hit the lap. You still weren’t sure if some of the kerbs were a little bit greasy. You had to test them a little bit here and there. It’s incredibly easy to look stupid in these conditions. Us guys are pushing on the limit and it’s a very difficult session for us to push absolutely, at 100 percent. The stakes are high but it’s the same for everyone and that’s the result we got today.
Q: (Livio Oricchio - O Estado de Sao Paulo) The hard tyres can be the key to the race tomorrow. How is your car with the hard tyres?
JB: With the hard tyres? It’s not just us, I think everyone’s struggling to get heat into the hard tyres. The biggest problem for us is… it’s fine when you’re in clear air, you can work the tyres hard and get a lap time out of them. The problem is when you’re in traffic, it’s very difficult, you lose a lot of downforce and I just can’t keep the heat in the tyres. I’ve never driven in this situation before, where you just can’t get heat into the tyres in traffic. Even weaving on the straight doesn’t help. It’s a difficult situation. Hopefully we’ll have a clear track tomorrow during the race. That’s going to be difficult to achieve, I think, but we’ll give it a good go.
MW: The hard tyre? As Jenson said, it’s definitely not the right tyre for these track temperatures but that’s the tyre we have. I think Bridgestone has generally done a pretty good job of bringing the tyres in a controlled fashion to the championship this year. Clearly, if the sun comes out here and you have a different type of ambient the tyre could be working quite well. If it’s 30 or 32 degrees track temperature it’s a difficult ball game. But no one envisaged… let’s be honest, who the hell thought it was going to be eleven or twelve degrees? So it’s a new ballgame and those tyres aren’t really doing much for any of the teams at the moment. So we’re going to start on that tyre tomorrow and give it a go!
RB: Well done! Well done! I agree with Mark. I don’t think it’s down to Bridgestone. No one ever expected it to be twelve degrees here and 18 or 16 degrees on the track. But it’s the first time for me too that in the middle of a qualifying lap I’m actually weaving. That’s very much the first time, you know, going from side-to-side on a qualifying lap. You just need the heat in the tyre.
JB: The thing is that the consistency on the tyre is good if you get it into the working range. The problem with the softer tyre is that you can damage that tyre. It’s a difficult position for all of us to be in and it’s who can make the best of it tomorrow. I think it’s looking good.
Q: (Anthony Rowlinson - Red Bulletin) Rubens, you’ve driven almost 300 Grands Prix and you’ve got a smile on your face today like it’s your first season in Formula One. What’s your secret?
RB: Man, I enjoy it more than I used to. I think in life you learn that a few bad vibes don’t count any more, you just count good energy, good flow. I’m driving better than ever, I’ve always thought that. I’m sure Jenson had a fantastic beginning of the season and was driving brilliantly but I’m up to the task. I think the challenge is great and I just like that. I had two weeks at home, it was great to have the kids around. I had my wife there but I couldn’t wait for the time that I came back here. It was just that. So I have another two or three years for myself.
Q: (Simon Arron - Motorsport News) Mark, can you just talk us through your first inter lap during Q2? On your first flying lap you were a second and a half quicker than your team-mate and three and a half seconds quicker than everybody else. How did you get the instant feel?
MW: Well, I knew it was a crucial lap because you never know if the conditions could get a lot worse, so I was just trying to put some sort of banker in without going totally bananas. Of course you have to push but I had a good feeling for the car and the tyres straight away and when you have that confidence you can obviously do reasonable lap times. I didn’t have a clue obviously, what I could… I was catching Kimi (Räikkönen) and I think there was a BMW very easily which is always nice to see that when you’re in a similar condition on the same tyre, so you drive accordingly. I think I did a 38 or whatever it was and that was competitive for the time but I knew it wasn’t really over because I said to the guys that ‘there’s still three or four minutes to go. Don’t panic yet but we need to get ready to put the slicks on if we need to go again,’ which we did and I nearly crashed several times. I couldn’t believe I was fourth. I felt like I was 18th on those slicks. I thought ‘my God, we’re not through. There’s no way we’ve got through because everyone else is on the slicks’ and it just felt so horrible driving round. I had so many moments. At turn seven I was up with the spectators, in the last corner I was nearly in my hotel room, so I was all over the place and I didn’t think I was through but the guys said I was fourth. I couldn’t believe it.
Q: (Michael Schmidt - Auto Motor und Sport) Jenson, you just described the downsides of the two tyre choices, so which one is the better one for the race or which has less downsides?
JB: That’s something we need to talk about this evening. It’s going to be a tough call but a very crucial call for tomorrow and we’ve got to keep checking the weather, the temperatures tomorrow and there’s a big chance of rain as well. There are so many possibilities for tomorrow that it’s going to be a very difficult call but so far we’ve been pretty good at calling the right tyres. The good thing today for us was that even in the wet conditions we could get the slick tyre working. That’s a little bit unexpected. So our pace was good with the slick tyre in the damp conditions and our pace was good on whatever tyre we put on, so that’s positive for tomorrow for sure. These guys had a big advantage in Shanghai in the wet but I don’t think that’s going to be quite the case here if it’s wet.
1. WEBBER Red Bull
2. BARRICHELLO Brawn
3. BUTTON Brawn
4. VETTEL Red Bull
6. KOVALAINEN McLaren
7. SUTIL Force
9. RAIKKONEN Ferrari
10. PIQUET Renault
11. HEIDFELD BMW
12. ALONSO Renault
13. NAKAJIMA Williams
15. ROSBERG Williams
16. KUBICA BMW
17. BUEMI Toro Rosso
18. FISICHELLA Force
20. BOURDAIS Toro Rosso
Q: A question to you all. Obviously the pace of development is very important in Formula One at the moment. Can you give us an indication of the pace of development and the new parts that you have brought to this particular race?
Pat Symonds: Well, as always the emphasis is on an aerodynamic development. The pace is high but it needs to be high for us as we try and catch the guys at the front. We have got a lot of new parts here. We have got a new front wing, a new engine cover. We have got modifications to the floor. The pace is relentless and it needs to be because when people like Red Bull put sort of 0.6 of a second on the car at Silverstone, it just makes it that much harder for us all to catch up.
Paddy Lowe: Actually we have pretty much the same package that Pat has just described although we have got a completely new floor and new front wing and top body. Yes, the same and it has been for some years now absolutely relentless. To give an example, the package we brought here, we accelerated that by more than a fortnight to get it here in time. I know of a guy that worked a machine 36 hours non-stop, without sleep, early this week on our floor. But that is the spirit of Formula One and the great competition that we have.
Sam Michael: Actually, listening to what the other guys have been saying it sounds like we are all doing the same thing. We have got a new engine cover, front wing and diffuser modifications as well. I think it is relentless but it is good for Formula One. The racing has been unbelievably close in terms of lap times, probably a lot more so than what I expected it to be with such a big rule change because all the cars are still in an early stage of development relative to the cars we finished with last year. We know how much pace we are putting on our car at every race. I would say on average you are having to put on 2 to 2.5 tenths every race just to stay where you are. That tells you everyone is developing very hard. I think that will continue all year. I don’t think it will be the same as last year as some teams gave up early to concentrate on their new cars. This year really I think everyone will be developing to the last grand prix as 95 per cent of it should carry over to next year’s car, so I think that development race is going to go all the way through.
Adrian Newey: Yeah, I feel a bit left out having put a fairly major update on the car for Silverstone. We have actually got very little here apart from a new, what we call, pod vane which is the vertical vane at the front of the side pod but other than that the car is the same as at Silverstone. On average the pace is very high as everyone has said. A big regulation change as we have had then there is a much steeper learning curve than there would be perhaps at the end of the old regulations where we had had a stable set of regulations for between five and 10 years depending when you look at the previous big change.
Q: Another question to all of you. The overtaking situation. People have talked about what more work needs to be done on overtaking from the Overtaking Working Group. What are your thoughts on that? What can be done? Can it be closed up?
PS: I think that the work that the Overtaking Working Group did was good. The evidence to support that is sparse, unfortunately. We have had some wet races and we have not had much in the way of cars that are out of position on the grid and things like that. But actually I was having a look at this very subject the week before last, well, straight after Silverstone. I think that, as I put things together, I could see that give or take a little bit we had achieved a fair bit of what we set out to do. I think that there is no doubt that the cars can follow a little bit closer. Statistically, if you analyse the races that are worth analysing this year there has been a little bit more overtaking. I think we probably didn’t go as far as we wished or wanted to. We were setting out to try and halve the time difference needed to produce a successful overtake and maybe we haven’t quite got that far. But equally I think – and I don’t know whether Paddy would agree with me – I think we set a very low target for the downforce knowing that once the teams got working on it 24/7 they would rapidly bring that downforce up but I have to say it went up a little bit further than I expected it to which is not condusive to overtaking amongst other things.
PL: Yeah, I agree with Pat. We always need the level of downforce. It was important as obviously that affects the weight more significantly than anything else and the fact that the downforce that has been achieved by the cars this year is significantly higher than anticipated means inevitably that some of the work we did has been eroded in effect. I think the other factor that is worth bearing in mind, which is quite fundamental, is that as Formula One has become, I would say, more thoroughly professional from end to end and better resourced from end to end on the grid the performances have closed up, so in actual fact the spread of lap time performance from end to end of the grid is about half what it was five years ago. Now if all the cars are that much closer it just means they will always find it more difficult to overtake, so it is quite a difficult problem to crack.
SM: I think the cars are definitely better than what we had last year. It is very difficult as Pat said to quantify that and put a number on it. I think some of the improvements have come through from tidying the cars up, so you don’t get as dirtier a wake behind the car if you look at the cleanliness of the side pods and everything now. It has definitely made a difference. When we went through all of the preparation for the court appeal on the diffuser a couple of months ago we looked a lot in CFD at different devices on the car that either made the weight better or worse and there were two or three things on there which made it significantly worse, not just because of the total level of downforce but because they were quite bad for the wake. I think it has been a step in the right direction but it is one of the things you have got to keep working on. You are not going to get to some magic solution in one step I don’t think unless you make something false and I don’t think anyone wants to do that. One of the things that have been discussed for next year is to remove wheel fairings and not have static or rotating wheel fairings and that, coincidentally, was one of things that, when we did CFD studies two or three months ago, showed quite an adverse effect on the following car. It won’t be a night and day. It is the sort of thing where you need to find three or four little things like that and that will add up to a difference, so I think it is going in the right direction but it just needs more.
AN: I think fundamentally the circuits are probably the biggest influence. Everybody keeps to conveniently forget about that as it is deemed to be easier to change the cars than change the circuits. That’s the first point. I think the second point is that people have this rose-tinted idea that overtaking used to be fantastic and now it isn’t. I think that is selective memory myself. You still occasionally get some great overtaking manoeuvres, just as we always used to. I don’t see the need to make it a lot easier to overtake really otherwise if overtaking becomes too easy the car that is quicker behind simply goes past and disappears again and you don’t even get the excitement of two cars battling each other for quite a number of laps. Personally I don’t think it is as much of a problem as people are making out.
Q: Pat, Nelson Piquet has said that there is going to be no late surge as there was last year from the team. However, technically speaking, are you going to be able to keep Fernando Alonso happy?
PS: To keep Fernando happy we have got to be winning races and that is difficult. I would not accept that there is not going to be a late surge. We are working extremely hard. There are a lot of new parts here as we said earlier. As Sam said it is very different to last year. Last year we did hang on and we did have a good end to the season. We took a few risks in doing that as a lot of what we were developing aerodynamically had no relevance to 2009. This year it is a much more normal year. We switch over to our 2010 car but every now and then we see a bit as we develop it we say that that actually is still applicable to 2009, so as that process occurs we will still be trying to push things onto the 2009 car. We are working as hard as we can. We don’t find it acceptable to be in the position that we are. The grid is extremely close this year, so it makes it both more difficult to move on but at the same time it means that small changes are worth doing. It is a bit of a double edged sword. I can assure Fernando, Nelson and every employee at Renault that we are pushing hard.
Q: Paddy, I don’t know how many times since the end of the session I have been asked is this the return of Lewis Hamilton and McLaren Mercedes? Perhaps from a technical point of view you can give some indication of this afternoon’s performance?
PL: Well, it is always great to find yourself at the top of the time sheets especially at the Mercedes home grand prix. I think we all realise that, as Pat said, the performances are very close and the noise that you get within the data Friday is often higher than the differences between the cars in terms of unknown weights etc. But absolutely delighted to be back there at the top of the sheet. I think the job now is to translate that into some points on Sunday. But definitely we have made a step with the car. Lewis is very happy with it. The pieces that we brought all work. We hope to see that that will translate to a real difference. Unfortunately, we didn’t have enough pieces for Heikki (Kovalainen) to have the same package, so that is why the difference is reflected between the two drivers.
Q: Will he get the same bits tomorrow?
PL: He will get some of them but not all of them unfortunately which is something we always try not to do but in exceptional circumstances which these are then we have had to do that.
Q: Sam, we were talking about the pace of development. Is it an expensive operation especially for an independent team such as yourselves?
SM: It is part of your normal budget, I wouldn’t say it was expensive. You just do what you can afford to do. We pretty much predicted that there would be an update every race. That is budgeted for and accounted for. It is part of doing F1.
Q: There aren’t financial constraints then?
SM: No, we make sure that we manage it, especially for things like updates and bodywork, that we are not restrained at all in that area because we make sure that is where we have got our most budget freedom as that is the first impact on car performance.
Q: Adrian, extraordinary performance from Mark (Webber) this morning. Mark has always out-qualified his team-mate but he has come up against Sebastian (Vettel). What is the state of Mark from a technical point of view and how buoyant is he and how obviously very determined?
AN: I think determined is the right word. Mark is a very determined person. He has been around for a while. He had a rough winter which didn’t help his preparations with his broken leg which I think, although he would never admit it publicly, probably compromised his pre-season preparation and I think it probably compromised him a little bit in the early races. But he is very determined. I think he was unlucky at Silverstone in Q3 as I think he had a real chance of putting it on pole there. He keeps trying and actually although the statistics are that Sebastian has out-qualified him every single time it is not actually quite as simple as that. He is a good guy.
Q: And this morning’s performance?
AN: It is the first session on the first day, so it is difficult to know how it will carry through. But Mark is very much on it every time he gets in the car and that was clearly demonstrated this morning.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Alberto Antonini – Autosprint) Concerning the meeting last Wednesday. With the exception of Sam, gentlemen, were you aware of the reasons why you were denied the right to vote?
PL: I think that the simple answer is no. I think the FOTA teams all felt that they had an unconditional entry to Formula One since on the press release from the World Motor Sport Council on the 24th of June the asterix had been removed from our names, so in actual fact we had prepared an awful lot for the meeting on Wednesday. The FOTA teams have been working for almost a year on changes to the technical and sporting regulations which would save costs and we have been working independent of the FIA on those measures in a group we call the TRWG which is a FOTA body. We reached a point where all those measures had been unanimously agreed by the FOTA teams and we had even taken them to a high level of details in terms of texts for the regulations next year and the meeting on Wednesday, which was confirmed once we felt our entries were confirmed, was the point at which we would bring all of these proposals to the table and vote them through for next year which in theory should have been a very easy process because we had all agreed them in advance. It was a bit of a shock to come to the meeting having got up at 4.30 in the morning or so and find that we didn’t have a vote because it really made it quite difficult to see how we would really make good use of that time, so we don’t fully understand the reason for that. That being the case we decided... firstly Ross (Brawn) sought to defer the meeting to a later date which would have really managed the matter in a softer way but that idea was rejected, so we were really obliged to just not take part in the meeting.
Q: Pat, Adrian, do you have anything further to add?
AN: I was wise enough not to come in the first place.
PS: Not really. As Paddy said, we had put an awful lot into these new rules over the past many months. We had a very long telephone conference I think on Tuesday of last week when we were trying to dot the i’s and cross the t’s. A great deal of work had gone into it and I think I was fully aware that we were a little bit in no-man’s land but I hoped that goodwill would prevail. We all understood that we had unconditional entries and while we are not naive enough to believe that press releases have any value in terms of regulation we understood that the process was well underway. We understood that a new Concorde Agreement was in preparation. I certainly hoped that we would perhaps pre-empt that and behave in a responsible manner but it wasn’t to be. I think we really had no option but to move away from the meeting. It has been said that we knew about this beforehand but I think that that is not exactly true. I had received a copy of a letter about 8 o’clock the previous evening which wasn’t explicit that we would not have a vote. It may have indicated that but it was a little bit late for us to make decisions.
Q: Any comment, Sam?
SM: I think from Williams’ point of view obviously it did seem like quite a bit step backwards on Wednesday for the eight FOTA teams not to take part in the meeting. I can understand their reasons why. I think you have got to separate into two different areas. The first one is the 2010 Sporting and Technical Regulations that were published that five teams, us being one of them, signed up for unconditionally. The first thing that had to happen was the five of us had to go through the differences between 2009 and 2010 and decide what we would be happy to change in exchange for another document that is being prepared called a cost regulation document. In exchange for that all of the references to cost regulated teams will be removed from the Sporting and Technical regulations. That is what was agreed with the eight FOTA teams in Paris in the letter Paddy referred to two weeks before. From our point of view technically and sporting wise it wasn’t going to be a big problem to do that, to go through that process. The problem was that that process hadn’t happened at that stage until the Wednesday, so that was the first opportunity for us to do that. In some ways that should have happened before. Once the FOTA teams left the meeting that is exactly what we did and we went through all of the differences and I think we pretty much agreed 100 per cent on almost everything. In fact, sorry I said I would split it into two. There is that section first. We did agree 100 per cent on that, on all the changes going back to what the regulations were before the 29th of April with the exception of the 620kg weight limit. The second part to it was all of these FOTA proposals which Pat and Paddy referred to. Now what we decided to do in order to keep the meeting productive was try and show that we are trying to come to a solution for Formula One. We knew that everything in the TWG agenda that had FOTA written on it was unanimously agreed by FOTA, so the only thing that then required that to go through was the unanimous agreement of the five other teams. We didn’t cover any of the other items on the agenda that were not FOTA. We didn’t discuss those, we left them off, because obviously the agenda probably had about 50 per cent of FOTA proposals and 50 per cent of things that were historic like a normal TWG agenda does. We decided there was no point in covering that stuff as the other eight teams needed to be there, so we would have to do it again. We went through all of the FOTA proposals and I would say there was quite a lot of agreement on almost all of it which was quite another thing which is what I thought would happen anyway because ultimately we are all racing teams, so most of the things we want to do are the same. I don’t want to go into the details of most of those proposals because that is Charlie’s (Whiting) job to communicate that to FOTA and it is not for here. But there was a high percentage of things that were agreed completely with exactly what FOTA worded. There was a low percentage of things that needed more discussion and there was an even lower percentage of things that we thought that is probably not the best cost saving overall. But what I hope happens now is that all of the things that we agreed on will get communicated to FOTA. The things that we think need further discussion – some of them were things that if there was someone from FOTA in there he may have been able to explain to the five non FOTA teams very quickly why certain things were the way they were. But we couldn’t go into that detail as we did not understand the background of some of them, so it wouldn’t mean that necessarily those things would not have been accepted with further discussion. It was just the fact that we stopped on them. So after that I thought it was quite a productive use of the afternoon, not for the eight guys that left obviously. But we did it in an attempt to get things on track. Charlie was obviously a driving force behind doing that and I think as far as I understand it, there are three things that need to be settled out of Paris: the Concorde Agreement, the cost regulation document and the regulations. I think the regulations are very close and I understand the Concorde Agreement is very close as is the cost regulation document, so from Williams’ point of view we want it to be solved and we are hopeful that barring any further hiccups it will just be a matter of days before things are tied up.
Q: (Marc Surer – Premiere) One question about the regulations: in Paris they said we go back to this year’s regulations but there was no refuelling for next year. What cars are you going to build now, with a big tank or will refuelling come back?
SM: It’s not quite clear because when it says 2009 regulations in Paris, they mean 2009 with changes that were agreed up until April 29.
Q: (Marc Surer – Premiere) But you know which cars you’re going to build?
SM: Yes. For next year it will be a no-refuelling car. There’s a lot of minor things in there that we had already agreed at TWG such as changes to front wing endplates, changes to the fuel specification. There were probably seven or eight things which are just general things that were already in there.
Q: (Anthony Rowlinson – Red Bulletin) Question for all of you: the FIA has positioned itself very strongly as the main driving force for cost cuts in Formula One as we go forward. Would you all accept that position?
PS: Well, I think that FOTA has delivered cost cuts. We’ve had some big cost-cutting exercises in terms of restrictions on aerodynamic testing, restrictions on circuit testing, extending the initiative, started by the FIA, on longer life engines. FOTA is very committed to making the business a more viable business, to both look at reduction of costs but also increase of income, and above all, putting on a good show. I think it’s wrong to say that the FIA is leading. I think it’s a co-operative process in which FOTA has played a very large, active and demonstrable part.
AN: I would completely agree with Pat. I think FOTA has delivered, through its association between the teams, huge cost savings. The ban on in-season testing has meant that we’ve been able to disband our test team and build less monocoques, less parts. That in itself has been a big cost-saving. As we all know, a lot of the costs of development of the car are driven by aerodynamics, be it principally wind tunnel testing but also CFD testing and the limits that the teams have come up with for wind tunnel and CFD has limited the bigger teams already and with further limitations coming in, limits all of us, so that will be a big cost cut. And not only does that mean cost cutting in terms of the number of aerodynamic model-makers and so forth that you employ but if you’re doing less research then the chances are that you will be pushing less parts on the car, so that you will have a manufacturing saving. And equally for new teams coming in it means that they can now go off and buy a single wind tunnel or indeed perhaps rent one of the ones that becomes available from one of the bigger teams that have more than one. I think that’s been a big cost saving. As a privateer team ourselves, where we have to buy our engines from a manufacturer, the engine costs have come down tremendously over the last two or three years to probably about a quarter of what they were about three years ago. So I think the FOTA teams can demonstrate that they’ve delivered a lot already in a very well thought-out and deliverable manner that has worked in a fair way. There’s no accusation amongst the teams that somebody is getting an unfair advantage as there might be with some of the other proposals.
SM: To be honest, I think a lot of the FOTA changes have come in recently because it didn’t exist twelve months ago. I think the FIA obviously started a lot of that process with long-life gearboxes, long-life engines. Four or five years ago we were using six engines a race weekend, so it went from twelve over two race weekends down to two, so the change to engines was triggered a long time ago. But I also think that what FOTA’s done, more so for us on the engine supply – the engine costs for Williams as a private team have come down massively – and that’s a direct initiative from FOTA. I think, to be honest, both FOTA and FIA are pushing for cost reduction.
PL: I think the others have mentioned all the key points. We’re all technical people and we love the product, the cars and the show that’s put on, and above all else, that’s what we always seek to preserve. I’m much more in favour of measures such as reducing the number of wind tunnels that you can use because that represents a real cost saving throughout the business, and yet, as long as you’ve got one wind tunnel, at the sharp end at the circuit, we will still see the sort of rapid development of the cars that makes a part of the spectacle. So that’s a good example. The others have been mentioned. We’ve taken out track testing. That’s actually put an onus on more testing on a Friday. We’ve all been busy today with that. In a way that’s improved the show at the race and yet the cost of the test is no longer borne by the teams. So a good number of measures have been promoted by FOTA and managed alone by them, have delivered real cost-saving without eroding the product.
Q: (Ian Parkes – The Press Association) In speaking with John Howett yesterday – and his views were endorsed by Christian Horner and Mario Theissen – he said that a breakaway series was still on the backburner. I was just wondering what you all thought he meant by that? Would any one of the three FOTA teams members like to answer that, and also Sam as well?
AN: I think he probably means exactly what he says, that none of us wants a breakaway series in many ways. I think everybody’s conscious of the fact that if you have two premier series then they could end up robbing viewership and splitting viewership and the whole show is weakened as a result of that and that certainly happened in the States when USAC (CART) split from IRL. So none of us want a breakaway series and that’s why FOTA, as an organisation, is working so hard to try and come to an agreement with the other parties: the FIA, FOM, CVC. But ultimately, if that agreement can’t be reached, then the breakaway series has to be the alternative.
PS: I have a slightly different view. To say it’s on the backburner doesn’t mean that it’s not still cooking. It doesn’t mean that it’s dead, it means that work is going on. Adrian mentioned what’s happened in America and of course there’s been a lot of talk about that. Earlier on, Adrian was talking about selective memory. I think that some of the parallels in America I would call selective history because yes, it’s true, when – it was actually CART and IRL that separated – it wasn’t good for the sport. But if you go back to the late seventies which was actually when CART split away from USAC who ran the ChampCars in those days, there are a lot more parallels to what happened then to the current situation. I think the CART/IRL split had a lot to do with personalities, egos etc. The formation of CART out of USAC was more to do with issues of governance, issues of finance. I think there are a lot more parallels to what we have in Formula One and in fact, the breakaway series was CART, it was extremely successful. Everyone apart from AJ Foyt piled out of the USAC series into the CART series and for many, many years it was extremely successful. Personally, I have no worries about a breakaway series, it can be done. If the necessity is there, I don’t think anyone in FOTA is scared of the prospect.
PL: I don’t think I can really add too much to that. It is a real option that’s still being looked at. If that’s how it has to be then we will get on and do it but obviously we hope that the right agreements can be reached.
SM: I think we’ve made our position pretty clear. Publically we hope that our resolutions are achieved and hopefully shortly, so there is only one series.
Q: (Alan Baldwin – Reuters) Adrian, I was wondering if you could just let us know how your role has changed or is going to change with the departure of Geoff Willis because clearly he’s not going to be replaced. Does that mean you’re taking on more responsibility?
AN: I think it’s simply that my role and my daily way of operating will stay exactly the same as it is. What does change perhaps, is that we have five very senior people in the next level down and I will be expecting them to take on more responsibility for their individual engineering departments and really run that in a way which means that we don’t actually need a single technical director.
Q: (Mario Bauer – Berliner Zeitung) I struggled to understand why the working group decided to go for less wake, trying to make overtaking more feasible in that way. If you remember, back in the late seventies and eighties, cars had huge side pods and punched a real hole in the air which allowed the car following behind to catch up quickly and to attempt to overtake. Is that something that has been considered? What was the reason to go for lower rear ends and a smaller wake?
PS: I’m not sure I fully understood it (the question). I think you’re saying that in the old days the cars had a more benign wake? Is that what you’re suggesting?
AN: I think it’s a slipstreaming argument, isn’t it? A slipstreaming argument is what you’re referring to, from Monza in 1970 or whatever. It was a very different technology at the time. Cars, at that time, almost all of them, were powered by a single engine, a DFV, giving out exactly the same horsepower. The circuits have changed for a start. We don’t have a Monza-type circuit, we don’t have a slipstreaming circuit as that used to be and that only happened at that particular circuit, if my history of motorsport is correct. So I think that yes, if we raced at ovals then perhaps that would be a way of going about things. Indeed, you’ve almost had the opposite problem. I think at some of the IRL-type races everybody is changing places all the time and I’m certainly of the opinion that if overtaking is too easy then it’s actually quite dull because it just becomes commonplace. I personally don’t find NASCAR races very interesting because the whole art seems to be in about fourth place with three laps to go. So it’s personal opinion but I certainly don’t consider that’s modern Formula One and I think it would be a very artificial set of rules that came up with that.
PS: I think there’s also common misconception that the overtaking working group was just about producing a car with a constrained wake. It was really very much about trying to design rules to make a car that would operate within a wake and I think that’s something that has been misunderstood quite a lot.
Q: (Mario Bauer – Berliner Zeitung) Is it a good statement just to walk out of a meeting and not listen to what changes were being proposed instead of saying ‘we’re not having this?’
PS: I don’t think it’s very fair to say that we didn’t know what was going on. There was an engineer actually by the name of Hoover who once said that ‘words without actions are the assassins of idealism.’ I don’t really think there’s a lot of point in talking about things unless you can take action.
PL: I didn’t fully understand the question but if it was to suggest that we didn’t…. we all knew what had to be discussed, I don’t think there was anything in the agenda that hadn’t been revealed to us. Most of it had been generated by us, so I don’t think we were walking away from a useful discussion. The point of the meeting was to endorse the proposals that were on the table and if you haven’t got a vote then you can’t do that. So I think it was the right and only thing to do in the circumstances.
Q: (Tony Dodgins – Autosport) Fifteen years or so ago when refuelling was introduced, the main concern was safety in the pits. Do you actually believe that going back to before that is the right way to go back because the show’s been quite good with strategy? And could somebody put a figure on what it’s actually going to save, not to have to carry the kit all over the world?
AN: The figure I’ve heard is about €400,000 per team, which is a significant figure, but if the show was reduced as a result of that, then it would be a figure which would be the wrong way of saving money. I must admit that whether it will work or not I think we will have to see. The very obvious difference is that at the moment, because tyre degradation very roughly balances weight reduction as the fuel is burnt, then the difference in lap time before and after a stop is usually in favour of being quicker before the stop as the weight effect is more a force than tyre degradation. That can vary on some circuits where it’s not the case but it’s generally the case whereas clearly now there will be a position where the car will always be quicker after the stop because they’ve fitted new tyres for the same fuel weight and that will change strategy. Whether that will provide a better or worse show I think is a little bit difficult to answer at the moment.
PL: I think it’s a difficult one to predict. I think everybody will have their personal view on whether they prefer refuelling or no refuelling and equally, as we go back to no refuelling, I don’t believe it will be the same as it was in 1993 because the cars are different. But certainly it’s a different way of going racing and I think it has got many advantages but we’ll have to see how it turns out.
PS: I think that strategy has been very exciting. I’ve certainly enjoyed working in that area but I think it’s had its day. As we’ve developed our techniques, as always, they’ve become quite similar. I think that the excitement of strategy has gone. I think it’s a difficult thing to get across to the casual public who are very important to us, rather than the true enthusiasts. We were talking about overtaking earlier and I think there’s a little bit too much reliance now on strategy to be used for overtaking. I think this was one of things that I saw at Silverstone where people, yes, they had similar performance, but they were thinking ‘oh well, I am a couple of laps longer than this guy, so I’ve just got to push for two laps and I’ll get in front of him at the pit stops.’ But without refuelling maybe we’ll see a bit more racing. I think we’ve got to keep an open mind. Let’s try it for a few years. The important thing is to put on a good show. The savings are considerable. Our figures show even more than Adrian’s and you’ve got to bear in mind that that refuelling equipment is getting quite old now and it’s going to need replacing soon and it’s very expensive to replace. So I’m very happy to give it a try and like with most things, I want to be open-minded about it.
SM: I have pretty similar views to the other guys. I agree with what Pat said about current strategy having its day. It’s very difficult to move out of position now because everybody knows what to do. It wasn’t like that ten years ago but now it’s simulated to the nth degree and people know from experience, really, what everyone else is going to do. So it will definitely change, I’m not sure it will change completely in terms of people waiting for their stop to overtake. It will just reverse, as Adrian said. You will be faster as you come out but that will create a different game. We will see what happens.