TEAM REPRESENTATIVES Ė Christian HORNER (Red
Bull Racing), Guenther STEINER (Haas), Franz TOST (AlphaTauri).
Q: Could we start with a quick resume from each of you about how FP1? Franz,
can we start with you?
Franz TOST: We had quite a good session, I must say. We came here with some
new parts, they worked well and Iím quite optimistic for the rest of the
Christian HORNER: Yeah, we had a busy session with both cars, obviously
trying to understand some of the issues from Budapest, so a productive
session, a busy session, trying quite a few things, with different
programmes on both cars, so I would say a sensible start to the weekend.
Guenther STEINER: Yeah, we had a sensible start as well, but Iím not as
optimistic as these two gentlemen. I mean, we know we will be struggling
here because of all the high-speed parts. But we had a good session, we
didnít have any issues and we just tried to figure out how the tyres work
and to learn something, which again is very difficult because today is
abnormally hot. It wonít be like this on Sunday, but we had a good session
and we just try to improve what weíve got.
Q: Christian, if can go back to you, can you just tell us a little bit about
Simon Rennieís return to the pit wall?
CH: Well, Simon has obviously been with the team for a long time and he was
race engineer to both Mark Webber and Daniel Ricciardo through his entirety
at Red Bull Racing. Simon left the pit wall, through his own choice, at the
end of 2018 to take on a factory-based role and thatís what heís been
working at for the last couple of years. But with the issues that we
currently have with the car and an inexperienced driver like Alex we felt
that it was unfair on the race engineer who was working Alex, who was
relatively inexperienced, to have that pressure. So weíve brought Simon back
into the front line for the rest of the season. Mike remains under contract
to us. And hopefully that experience, that knowledge while we aggressively
develop this car will only help Alex, because you have to understand that
every time he gets in the car itís that little bit different and I think an
experienced hand like Simon is definitely a positive for him.
Q: Franz, we saw a lot of reliability issues on Pierreís car in Hungary.
What reassurances have you had from Honda that the situation is going to be
FT: It was a sensor issue and Honda sorted it out, but because of this
sensor issue we had a problem with the gearbox and a bearing failed and
therefore Pierre had to stop on Sunday with a gearbox failure but Iím quite
sure that everything has been sorted out and that the cars will be reliable.
Q: Guenther, you said a couple of weeks ago that your mission this year was
to keep Gene Haas happy. Just how happy was he after your result in Hungary
two weeks ago?
GS: It was an up and down. We did something different to everybody else and
we got away with a point, which under normal circumstances we couldnít, so
he was happy about it. But you know these highs are short, because we are
here now again and we have to do it again. You are evaluated every weekend
when you go racing, so letís see how we can keep him happy. Thatís more
important than how happy he was last weekend.
Q: (Dieter Rencken Ė Racing Lines/racefans.net) A question to Guenther. I
donít know if you saw the press reports but John Elkann gave an interview in
the Italian media during the week where he said that Ferrari basically
wouldnít be in a winning a position until 2022 at the earliest. Given that
you source most of your parts from there, how did you feel about that
comment knowing that effectively youíd probably be in the same situation in
terms of your performance, even if not winning?
GS: Iím aware of the situation we are in and I see what they are doing and
they are in, so I was not very surprised by the statement from Mr Elkann. So
it was no surprise. For sure, itís never nice to be told it will be
difficult but again if you admit that it will be difficult you work hard to
make it better going forward. But I wasnít really surprised that he said
that because for sure they did their analysis of the first three races and
came to that conclusion and he just said it how it is.
Q: (Erik van Haren Ė De Telegraaf, via email) Christian, are you afraid that
somebody like Max Verstappen will lose his patience if it takes even longer
before he can fight for the world title?
CH: Well, look, we know that Mercedes are the target; theyíre doing a very,
very competitive job and they have got a very complete car and package at
the moment. They are setting the benchmark very high and we have to take on
that challenge. And everybody in the team is extremely motivated to do that
and everybody within Honda is very motivated to do that and obviously Max in
particular as well. It isnít going to be easy, Formula 1 isnít easy. But I
believe in the people we have, in the capacity and capability we have and I
think that we will eventually be able to mount a challenge and really take
the fight to them. Theyíve turned up with a very good car this year and we
have a big regulation change certainly for 2022 but I think that before that
there is plenty of opportunity.
Q: (Luke Smith Ė Autosport) Ė Weíve had the first confirmation of a positive
COVID-19 test for a driver, with Sergio Pťrez. I just wanted to know how you
are managing your drivers in terms of their travel and where they go between
races ands things like that. We know that Checo maintained himself within
all the guidelines but did take a trip to Mexico. What are you doing with
your drivers to make sure they are minimising the risk and that they donít
pick up this virus
FT: We always tell to the drivers, but not only the drivers, to all the team
members: stay disciplined, which means keep the mask on, wash your hands,
clean your hands. Stay with people whom you know and also there keep a
distance, donít go to parties and try to keep the virus away, because we
have seen now how dangerous the situation in reality is and looking back to
March nothing big has changed, because medicine is not able to come up with
a vaccine and therefore we will see. I hope that in the close future they
will come up with some medicaments or whatever so that we are not anymore in
so dangerous a position to catch this virus and when we have to stay at home
CH: I think itís a stark reminder thatÖ you know, sometimes in Formula 1 we
are a bit isolated and we all live in our bubbles anyway, and I think that
when it happens to somebody like Pťrez, a driver, is affected like that,
itís a stark reminder that these procedures are here for a reason and the
procedures we take as a team, the procedures we take as a collective in
Formula 1, we do everything we can to ensure that as little unnecessary
contact is made either at the race event, away from the race event, within
the factory. Itís very, very difficult and itís a stark reminder that this
thing hasnít gone away yet. Itís still out there and we are going to be
travelling to countries where obviously there are second waves and peaks
that are still bubbling away. And thatís where as a group, as Formula 1, we
do need to keep that discipline with the procedures that are in place. I
think that the whole thing was handled well and executed well by the FIA and
by the team.
GS: Yeah, I would agree with that one. The FIA, FOM and the team handled it
well. We just tell our people to keep to the guidelines and not to do
anything different, but we know it can happen, as we found out. It can get
everybody. But then if you have a good reaction to it we can limit from
spreading anymore. But we just have to be responsible, each of us, because
we cannot follow each person, what heís doing outside the race track, but
hopefully we can be all responsible and sooner or later this virus is going
away when our team is instructed to behave by the guidelines.
Q: (Sandor Meszaros Ė Autosport es Formula Magazine, via email) Christian,
you have spoken already about Alexís race engineer but how happy are you
with Alexís performance and in what areas does he need to improve?
CH: I think there has been criticism if Alex, which in some ways has been
unwarranted and unfair. If you look back to the first race in Austria,
through strategy he was in a position to arguably win that race and was
taken out by Lewis Hamilton and he finished fourth in the next race and
fifth in the next race. We know the car we have provided our drivers with
this year isnít optimised and it has had some difficult characteristics and
for a driver that doesnít have experience, heís only just had over a yearís
worth of Formula 1 experience, thatís a tough call. But the way he has
handled the situation, the way he has handled the pressure has been
impressive. And I think he just needs time and weíre doing our best to
support him as much as we can and things like the experience of the race
engineer heís now working with will only compound that.
Q: (Scott Mitchell Ė The Race) Christian, just on the development of this
yearís car. Youíve got updates here and Max and Alex have said itís a work
in progress to try to improve it. Can you explain where you are in that
phase? It isnít that long after Hungary, so presumably what youíve brought
to Silverstone isnít a reaction to Hungary exactly. Is it part of an ongoing
process and how long do you think it will take to get everything under
CH: No, it is a reaction to Hungary, so I think that all the data that has
come off the car, the factory has been working incredibly long hours, so
components that are on the car this weekend are a direct reaction to what we
saw in the data and from the feedback we had in Hungary. And I think some of
the philosophy at the front of the car changed over the winter and itís
given some anomalies that we need to understand and the team collectively
has worked incredibly well to start to understand those issues and hopefully
the part we have brought here this weekend will start to address some of
those issues. Certainly the first session was a positive start and we have
to build on that through the rest of the weekend.
Q: (Jonas Fehling Ė motorsport-magazin.com) Guenther, Kevin praised the
VF20ís much better baseline compared to last yearís car and now you just
have to develop it. So what news is there about Haas brining updates to the
car in the near future?
GS: As we stand now we are not planning any upgrades or any big upgrades in
the near future because we were shut down quite a long time and we donít
have the resources like the big teams to react and they would come late
anyway, so we use this year more to stabilise ourselves again after the
pandemic and try to make sure next year we are in a better position.
Q: Sorry to labour the point, is there anything in the design phase at the
GS: No, nothing in the design phase at the moment.
Q: (Dieter Rencken Ė Racing Lines/racefans.net) When I did an interview with
Guenther during the pre-race period he mentioned that one of the
shortcomings he felt that he felt Formula 1 had was that it hadnít put any
contingency planning in place. So, to all three, although we have managed to
get through this season reasonably OK-ish, thanks to the work that Liberty
and the FIA have done, what sort of contingency planning have you put in
place for next year because you donít know how long this will continue for?
CH: Itís a new situation for all of us and as you rightly say Dieter this is
unlikely to stop on December 31. I think that itís inevitable that until a
vaccine is found corona is going to be with us for a while to come and of
course itís about how you manage and control that and with the disciplines
that have been put in place weíve managed to get a season up and running and
a championship in play. Of course there is going to have to be flexibility
and I think that the way that all of the teams have reacted to the moving
challenges of this virus, I mean we still donít know the extent of our
calendar for this year, we donít know where we are going to be racing in
October, November and even early December, so the teams are having to be
flexible, theyíre having to think on their feet and work collectively with
the governing body and the commercial rights holder and I think that will
continue for some time to come.
FT: I think the teams, FIA and FOM are working very closely together to sort
out this difficult situation. Itís not only for motor sport, itís generally
for sport. Itís in football the same, or in skiing. Letís wait until the ski
season starts, yeah? We all have to be flexible and maybe take advantage
maybe of countries where there is less COVID-19 people being infected and
just go there. Fortunately, F1 is a global sport, and that means then we can
choose where to go and I am convinced that we will also next year have a
GS: Yeah, the big unknown is where is this coronavirus is going and if
anybody knew that for sure he would be a rich man. But as Christian said,
until a vaccine is found and distributed we live in this fluid situation and
we just need to make a step-by-step just how the situation evolves. I think
we now realise that this will not be over at the end of the year, and we
need to start to think about next year. I think FIA and FOM are doing a good
job in trying to find out, but I donít know where it exactly goes, to answer
Dieterís question, we just need to stay always prepared for any situation
that comes up, like we did this year. Five months ago a lot of people
thought we would have no championship and we will end up with hopefully 15
races. I think we will find solutions. Normally Formula 1 is pretty good to
find solutions to problems and I think we will find something here as well.
Q: (Julienne Cerasoli Ė UOL Esporte) Question to all three of you. Are there
any measures that could be taken to minimise the mechanicsí working hours
during a race weekend or anything that could ease the stress on the team,
especially for these triple-headers?
Guenther? I think there are measures in place. We have got the first: at
night we cannot work, you know? So, the triple-headers, the people didnít
work a long time yet, they are tired and everything but I think they get
nine hours of rest every night if they go to bed and donít do anything else.
I think we try to manage it Ė and also FOM is trying to avoid triple-headers
for the rest of the season except which are already in place, so I think we
have to deal with it. Itís a very abnormal situation at the moment. So, I
think theyíre dealing pretty well with it.
CH: Yeah, Iíd agree with what Guenther says. I think the life of a mechanic
today, compared to what it was ten, 15 years ago, is very different, with
parc fermť in particular. They do have a set amount of time they have to be
away from the circuit, so that makes a triple-header far more bearable:
theyíre not smashing-in all-nighters every night, three or four nights in a
row, which is as it was in the good old days. So I think that, whilst there
is pressure, there is stress obviously involved in it, but itís manageable.
And theyíre all racers at the end of the day. They all, given the choice of
having no championship or doing three, even four, races in a row, every
single one of them would vote to be at the racetrack and be racing.
Christian, just before we move on to Franz, how tough was the Hungarian
Grand Prix weekend for your guys Ė because you broke the curfew on Friday
night, and then you had everything going on, on the grid. Was there a sense
of complete exhaustion after the race?
CH: I think they were exhausted but also elated. We gave them a hell of a
hard weekend. Friday night we took our first joker with breaking the curfew.
They worked through the night to change the spec of the car. Saturday was
obviously underwhelming for us. We were disappointed with the qualifying,
and then going to the grid on Sunday, Max unfortunately crashed his car.
Thankfully the damage he did, while significant, wasnít enough to prevent
him from starting the race. The guys had 20 minutes to change track-rods and
push-rods that would usually take Ė I donít know Ė an hour and a half,
something along those lines, and they managed to do it. It was a phenomenal
effort, together with everything else that was going on. So, Max then repaid
that in the best possible way, or delivering a great race and great result
and podium finish. So, coming out of the weekend, there was a sense that all
that hard work, it pays off in the end, like they clearly demonstrated. We
were incredibly proud of the job that they did in Hungary.
Franz, your thoughts on the triple headers, and easing the stress in the
FT: I think first of all we have to be happy, and thankful that we have
races, that we are on the race track, because a couple of months ago this
was not the case. I donít see that the mechanics are being overloaded with
the normal work. OK, if there is something special, that the car breaks
down, this is another situation Ė but race mechanics, and especially
mechanics in Formula 1, have to be used to this and to sort out this. And
the triple-headers, if the races stay on one place for two race weekends,
like now: Silverstone; Silverstone and then weíll see. Hopefully weíll go to
Barcelona. I donít see a big problem because this is just one time when you
change to another place. I donít see anybody who is tired. At AlphaTauri
Q: (Julien Billotte Ė AutoHebdo) Question to Christian please. Looking back
to last year, do you think having an inexperienced race engineer might have
hurt Pierre Gaslyís development and progress at Red Bull Racing?
CH: Pierre was a bit more experienced that Alex is. We had a car that was
far more settled than where we currently are. So I donít think it would have
had any material change on Pierreís performance last year.
Q: (Jon McEvoy Ė Daily Mail) To everyone: Lewis starts as favourite to the
race to a degree that weíve probably never seen before over the years. Who
can stop Lewis, can anyone who isnít driving a Merc stop Lewis and to
everyone, whatís Silverstone like to you without fans?
CH: Of course heís the favourite. Heís driving at an extremely high level.
Their car looks very complete, both chassis and engine-wise, theyíve made a
good step over the winter. So heís won this race Ė I canít recall how many
times but a significant amount of times Ė so of course he goes into this
race weekend as the favourite. Weíll do everything we can to give him a hard
time and his team a hard time but this type of circuit, high speed and of
course, some of the corners are now just extended straights because theyíre
just flat, like Copse is flat, turn one is flat, so it has been a Mercedes
stronghold over the past few years but hopefully we can make a bit of
progress and put them under a bit of pressure, hopefully on Sunday
afternoon. As far as what itís like coming into the circuit without the
fans, it is really weird. British Grand Prix, since I was a kid, was always
a massive thing, it was almost like a festival and turning up at the circuit
today, with nobody here, is quite peculiar and it doesnít feel like a
British Grand Prix in that respect, but as soon as the cars start running,
you become engaged in what youíre doing, you see the cars on track, that
becomes secondary with your primary focus obviously being on those cars, so
that side of things is not different to when the fans are here. Itís justÖ
the atmosphere obviously isnít here, that sense of a festival that the
British Grand Prix is isnít here and weíre having to talk to you in your
toilet rather than in person!
Q: Christian, do you expect Max, in particular, to be closer on Sunday
afternoon than he was at any of the opening three races?
CH: Itís so hard to predict. I think weíve had a positive first session. I
think all things that we know from the first couple of races is that
Mercedes do have quite a significant advantage and weíre working as hard as
we can to reduce that but they only match their pace to the cars that are
behind. I still think they have quite a lot in hand which is what you see
when Bottas is chasing to catch Max over those last few laps. Itís only then
that you see their true pace whereas Lewis, for the last couple of races,
has definitely been pacing himself so as not to stress his car
FT: Of course Mercedes, Lewis Hamilton are the favourites. As you all know,
this package is very strong but nevertheless, the race is on Sunday and I
hope that Max can compete successfully against it because we need
interesting races, we need fights. It would be a nightmare if Hamilton is
just far aware in front of the rest of the field because this is not what
people want to see. People want to see fights, people want to see
overtaking. Regarding the fans, itís a shame that they are not here,
especially the fans here in Silverstone, the fans here in England, they are
so well educated in motor sport, they understand everything and itís always
nice to see them in the grandstands, if there are good manoeuvres, how they
accept this and itís beautiful weather as well, which is not always the case
here. Itís really a shame that they are not here but this is how it is.
GS: Iím sure Lewis doesnít have to fear us, you know, for the victory? For
sure, heís the favourite, maybe Nico can pull something off in the pink
Mercedes, you never know, but heís the favourite. The fans? We miss them
everywhere but driving in here, itís quite a long drive in and you drive in
the middle of the fans; as Christian said, itís a festival atmosphere
normally. Itís not just a motor race, there are people here who are just so
engaged in the sport that for sure you miss them. We miss them everywhere
but here maybe we feel it more because we are more in with the fans but
hopefully the virus is under control soon and we can have the fans back
because we donít just want them back here, we want them back everywhere in
the world where we are racing because thatís part of what we are doing and
as Christian said, once you are sitting up there and the cars are going you
forget about everything around you but again, in the evening, when you go
out, what have you done today, there is nobody here, nobody must be
interested. So itís a weird feeling but hopefully we will get back to a
TEAM REPRESENTATIVES Ė Mario ISOLA (Pirelli),
Otmar SZAFNAUER (Racing Point), Toyoharu TANABE (Honda).
Q: Otmar, first question: how is Checo Perez today? Have you spoken to him?
Otmar SZAFNAUER: I havenít spoken to him today but yesterday, heís
asymptomatic, he was surprised that he tested positive, he couldnít believe
it, he said Ďthereís no way, thereís no symptoms, I feel completely fine.í
He travelled privately so he thought he took ample precautions, didnít get
on a commercial flight in between races so he was surprised. Heís OK, weíre
going to check on him daily, send a doctor to him. Heís quarantining now, we
just have to make sure the virus gets out of his system and he comes back
Q: Weíre delighted to see Nico back, but how did it work out with him,
because heís not actually your reserve driver, so could you just give us a
chronology of events?
OS: Heís not our reserve driver so we thought aboutÖ well, when I started
thinking about this when Checoís first test was inconclusive and hoping that
the next test was negative but youíve got to hope for the best and plan for
the worst so we started that planning and we did it in parallel with
Hulkenberg and Esteban Gutierrez at the same time. We also have Stoffel
Vandoorne but he couldnít be here this weekend as heís got a Formula E
commitment so it was Esteban or Nico. We did it in parallel and our
engineering team, after we discussed it, thought Nico would be more
appropriate for our team because he knows us really well, he knows all the
engineers, he knows our systems, our processes, heís driven our simulator.
It would be easy for him to get in the simulator again and also he has
relevant experience from having driven in Formula 1 last year, and we just
needed somebody who could score points for us so we thought Nico would be
the best guy for us.
Q: Can you tell us what he said to you when you made the phone call?
OS: Yeah, he had just landed in Germany. I think he was flying to Germany to
do some kind of sports car test or something, I donít know what category of
racing, but he landed there and he said Ďyeah yeah, I just landed here, Iím
going to do a testí and I said Ďwell, maybe you should jump in a Formula 1
carí and he said Ďyeah, absolutely.í I think he spent an hour on the ground
in Cologne to grab his boots and a helmet and I think the helmet he grabbed
isnít to spec anyway and then he flew into Birmingham so he landed here, I
think 7 or 7.30 last night.
Q: Tell us about how that first session went?
OS: Yeah, really well. I think we got about a five-minute late start. We got
the go from Eurofins I think quarter to 11, saying that his test came back
negative so then we had to quickly get him in the car but he quickly came up
to speed and his feedback was as it always has been so thereís more
improvement in the car. There are things he doesnít like, there are things
he does like so hopefully weíll make those improvements between now and FP2
and weíll see how we go, but I think he was P9 and pretty comfortable.
Q: Mario, very hot track temperatures today, what sort of wear and
degradation have you seen on the tyres during FP1?
Mario ISOLA: You know, FP2 is more representative than FP1 so we are
currently analysing tyres coming from the first practice but we want to wait
and see the level of wear and degradation from FP2. It is also true that
this weekend we decided to nominate the three hardest compounds of our range
so Iím confident that C1 and C2 are good enough for the race, while the C3
is probably a compound that you have to manage especially if you elect to
start the race on the C3 because you are obliged to use the C3 during
qualifying. So the weather forecast is good for the rest of the weekend but
a bit colder for Saturday and Sunday; that is another important information
that teams have to get tomorrow morning. Letís see what happens.
Q: Pirelli have opted to split the tyre strategies next weekend here at
Silverstone, but you didnít do that at the second race in Austria. Can you
explain why that was?
MI: In Austria we had no time to react to this request. We had the
discussion, together with the teams, FIA and FOM and for Silverstone it is
possible so we made a plan with C2, C3, C4 for the second weekend. We had
the first check on the F2 in Austria where we nominated different compounds;
it was good, we saw different strategies from the first weekend to the
second weekend so hopefully it works also in Formula One.
Q: Tanabe-san, quick summary of FP1 from Hondaís point of view please?
Toyoharu TANABE: So far, we had no problems with all four cars powered by
Honda PU and then we had some trouble in previous races so we confirmed to
work well and then the performance point of view, we are still working very
hard with the teams, how to improve our performance. So far, not too bad.
Q: (Christian Menath Ė motorsport-magazin.com) Otmar, weíve just heard that
Checo didnít share his plans to travel to Mexico with the team or didnít ask
for permission. Can you confirm that this is the case and if so, could this
have any contractual consequences for him?
OS: No, weíve got no clauses in the contract where heís got to ask
permission to go back to his family. I think his family was in Mexico and
itís not a surprise that he went back to Mexico, thatís what heís done
forever while heís been driving for us. We did, though, discuss how he was
flying there and back and it was always by private flight so never
commercially. Thereís no issue with that.
Q: (Andrew Benson Ė BBC Sport) Otmar, please can you explain why youíve only
confirmed Nico Hulkenberg for one race given that the coronavirus
restrictions mean Perez will be out for at least two?
OS: Yes, so if itís certain that heís out for two then Nico will drive in
both races but the reason for it is thereís a bit of uncertainty and weíre
still not sure if it is seven or ten days. He tested positive on Wednesday
and I believe Ė but Iím not 100 per cent sure Ė that on Wednesday the
restriction set by England was seven days of quarantine, not ten. So I guess
Iím still unsure. If itís ten days, then Nico will drive both days, if itís
seven days, then itís only one of the hurdles, the hurdle is that heís got
to have negative tests as well, so if the virus is still in his system and
he tests positive then Nico again will be driving in the second Silverstone
Q: (Andrew Benson Ė BBC Sport) Do you feel it was wise for Checo to fly to
one of the worst hotspots in the world when he has professional
responsibilities to the team, regardless of the understanding for his family
OS: Hindsightís a wonderful thing. There are many people that are in
hotspots all around the world. We have a big contingent of our factory live
in Northampton and you know Northampton was shut down as well. So our
philosophy is we take all the precautions necessary in light of where weíre
travelling and if we do take those precautions, Iím confident that we wonít
get the virus. We just need to now forensically look back and try to
ascertain how Checo became infected and make sure that we cover that off in
Q: (Alan Baldwin Ė Reuters) Otmar, Iím wondering if you can just give an
update on the other members of the team who have been isolated, whether
there have been any other positive tests and also how effectively the bubble
actually worked in this case?
OS: Yes, so there are two members of staff that travelled with Checo, his PA
and his physio. Theyíve both tested negative but theyíre isolating as well,
for either seven or ten days and then there are three members of the team
that did a simulator session with Checo so they didnít really come into
contact with him because in our simulator, the simulator is in one room and
the control centre where they are at is in a totally separate room so we had
the social distance required. We also wore masks as we always do and PPE as
well. As a precaution, they then stayed at home and isolated until they got
a negative test so we tested them, all three are negative as well. They
tested again this morning, theyíre at the factory now, working from the
factory, they havenít come into the paddock but my anticipation is that they
will be negative again for their second test and then thereafter weíll see
ifÖ weíll make a decision on whether they can come inÖ whether they should
come into the paddock. Theyíre negative and Iím a hundred per cent confident
they donít have the virus but you know, itís belt and braces so weíre
testing them twice.
Q: (Phil Horton Ė Motorsportweek.com) Mario, Formula 2 has started using the
18 inch wheels already in 2020. Has anything learned so far been a surprise
and has it in any way altered how you will be approaching the change when
Formula 1 introduces the new size in 2022?
MI: No surprises from the first races in Formula 2. Obviously itís useful to
collect data in a real race environment. That is something we cannot
replicate during our development test sessions, so the effect of having 22
cars running on track is an important part of our job and we have to collect
date from that but so far Iím happy with the result. We had some high
degradation due to graining in Budapest and that is something that we are
going to address. Obviously itís the first year with this product and it
means that we probably need to evaluate an improvement for 2021. All this is
important, also for F1. As you know, we run four sessions before the
lockdown and we are planning to restart our development at the beginning of
2021 so at the moment all that we are doing is design and indoor tests in
Milan, nothing on track but it could be useful to get feedback from F2, even
if the size is different, the stress and the energy that you put on a
Formula 2 tyre is completely different compared to a Formula 1 car. But itís
a good training.
Q: (Luke Smith Ė Autosport) Otmar, would you be able to give us an update on
how contract talks are going with drivers for next year? Itís been reported
that an option in Checoís contract expires today. Where are things currently
standing with your thoughts with Checo, Lance and Sebastian Vettel?
OS: Yeah, we donít like to disclose the details of our contracts but Iíll
take this opportunity to tell you that that option that you talk about
expiring today is not true, thatís not the case.
Q: (Phil Horton Ė Motorsportweek.com) Tanabe-san, Mercedes has demonstrated
strong speed this year. Have you been surprised by the extent of their
development since last year?
TT: I would say Iím surprised by their progress between last year to this
year. We have been learning (in) what areas we are behind and (in) what
areas they are ahead of us. And then itís not easy but we are trying to
catch them up accordingly, in terms of qualifying and also race distance. So
we are working very hard with our engineers in Japan and Milton Keynes to
catch them up.
Q: (Dieter Rencken Ė Racing Lines) Tanabe-san, I wonder if you could confirm
please that there was a meeting between yourselves and Red Bull this week
and also with AlphaTauri and what sort of matters were discussed and whether
everybody left those meetings totally comfortable with what was discussed?
TT: It was good timing to review the past three races so we had time to meet
with our team members. We discussed about performance, what we learned from
the three races and then we shared the information, what we learned and then
what the plan for the future, not only for Silverstone but also for the
entire season. So now we have a not fixed races but for how to use the PU
for this season or how to manage the performance during these races and then
later so we shared that kind of things with the teams.
Q: As a follow-up to that, how do you control power unit usage when you
donít know how many races there are this season?
TT: At the moment, we follow 2020 sporting regulations and then TD, which
was issued just before we started this season, it clarified two PU and then
ERS systems for this season. So, unfortunately, we have no idea when the
total number of the races is fixed so we are just preparing accordingly,
considering the current situation.
Q: (Scott Mitchell Ė The Race) Couple of questions to Otmar around exactly
how youíve picked your driver. You mentioned, obviously, the Mercedes
drivers that you have available. Would someone in the paddock already Ė so
George Russell for example, Mercedes protťgť, another Mercedes customer team
Ė is he off limits or did you consider someone like him? And the second part
is, does this change your position on whether the team needs a dedicated
reserve driver of its own, letís say a young protťgť who goes to every race
with you, for example?
OS: So the answer to the first question is we ran George Russell before,
weíve tested him, heís a very talented young man but he is contracted to
Williams so we didnít consider George. We considered drivers who arenít
currently under contract with Formula 1 teams as well as the Mercedes
reserves as we share them. The probability of us needing both reserves or
them needing both reserves is close to zero, which is why we decided to
share, so Stoffel was not available, Esteban was but so was Nico and so our
choice was between Esteban and Nico. And as for having our own, maybe after
these two races or so perhaps Nico will want to become our reserve. Iíll
have to ask him.
Q: (Ben Hunt Ė The Sun) Otmar, just wanted to go back to a point that was
asked earlier: are you saying you didnít know that Sergio had gone to
Mexico? And the other thing is that do you think that the code of conduct
needs to be toughened up? Weíve had these cases where a few drivers have
gone back in between races and itís raised questions as to whether that
should have been allowed. Should there not be a stricter code in place and
maybe there is some punishment to deter them from doing so, just to keep
this bubble safe?
OS: The code as itís written now, in between the Austria races and in
Hungary, we shouldnít have left and gone outside which our drivers didnít
do, neither did our team personnel. For example, we had a rule that once we
were in Hungary nobody could leave the hotel, even if you had a Schengen
passport. Just we treated everybody the same including the drivers. But in
between Hungary Ė because we had that weekend off Ė I think everybody went
to wherever their families were. I think the Italian teams went back to
Italy, probably the Swiss team went back to Switzerland, probably Pirelli
went back to Italy and the drivers went to their home countries. In
hindsight Ė like I said, hindsightís a wonderful thing Ė perhaps we should
look at that, change the code and say throughout the season, you stay within
your bubble. I donít know but thatís something for the FIA to consider. I
read through the code a couple of times now and it is a living document, so
they say, at the very beginning, from time to time, as we learn, this will
change so perhaps that will change but I donít think Checo did anything
wrong going back to his family. He takes all the precautions. I think itís
no different to Ferrari going back to Italy, for example.
Q: (Dieter Rencken Ė Racing Lines) Otmar, the Checo situation has obviously
overshadowed the elephant in the room in your team, which is the protest.
Can you give us an update on that? Have you fulfilled all the requirements
from the FIA? I believe they want some parts and diagrams and drawings and
all sorts of things. Are you totally in the clear, have you been given any
progress updates so far?
OS: Yes, so the FIA askedÖ the FIA Technical Telegate asked a list of
questions, which we answered, and weíve also put in our answer to the
protests so both documents have been filed with the FIA. We have absolute
full disclosure, Iím a hundred per cent confident that we know the rules,
that is the job of our technical and sporting teams to know the rules, itís
their job to exploit the rules to the fullest, just like every other team
does which I think weíve done a good job. People shouldnít be surprised that
a team like ours with Ė I shouldnít say zero money Ė but the smallest budget
by far and Dieter, you should know what our budgets used to be. Weíre well
below a hundred million and we are essentially the fourth fastest team for
three years in a row so now, with a little bit of discretionary money that
we got from the consortium and the new owners, people shouldnít be surprised
that we can turn that discretionary money into performance. Thatís what
weíve been doing from day one, before I got there. Eddie Jordanís team
punched above its weight and that core of people is still there and the DNA
of the team is still there and I think it will continue independent of its
owner; we will always punch above our weight and if you give us a little bit
of weight, the punches are going to be higher.
Q: (Dieter Rencken Ė Racing Lines) Otmar, on that, you say that your
personnel, your management etc should know the regulations. Should this go
against you, what will the consequences be, because then obviously they
OS: Well, I hate to answer hypothetical questions. Itís not going to go
against us, itís pretty clear. We didnít contravene any of the rules. The
FIA came and looked and checked. Theyíre happy that we didnít but you know
the stewards didnít come and look and check and now that thereís a protest
against us, weíve got to take the data that we showed to the FIA already and
show that to the stewards.