Team principals: Christian Horner (Red Bull), John Howett (Toyota), Adam Parr (Williams) and Simon Roberts (Force India).
Questions from the floor.
Q: (Mike Doodson)
My question is about aerodynamics because last year you guys sent your engineering wizards to lots of long meetings to resolve the problem of overtaking. I think the FIA had some input into that. The result, though, has been that these cars look as though they've been made out of Lego and there has been absolutely no improvement at all in the overtaking. I'm interested in knowing just how important overtaking is to the show as far as you're concerned, and what is the next step?
I'm not an aerodynamicist, so my answer won't be particularly qualified but I will give you my observation. Obviously a lot of work was done through the Overtaking Working Group. It's not rocket science to see that the lap times at several circuits this year are quicker than last year. Unfortunately, the double diffuser has played a part in that, I think, with the wake that the cars are now developing and the drivers do find it very difficult to follow each other closely. But I think the amount of development that has gone into these cars with the aero package that is there is just as critical as it has been in previous years. I think you also have to look at some of the circuit layouts. There are some circuits where you see more overtaking than others. I think you will see more this weekend at a circuit like this than you will at Singapore, for example. Unless you go back to really taking pretty much all the downforce off the car and going back to 600hp almost Formula Fords you're not going to see a big difference in the overtaking at the current circuits that we race at. Is it important for Formula One? Well, I've been watching Formula One since the 1980s and I don't think there's ever been a huge amount of overtaking. Obviously the show is important, it's important that drivers are able to race closely with each other and I think we actually have had some very exciting racing this year but it's obviously something that can be worked on in the future and hopefully improved.
I honestly don't think I've got much to add to Christian's point. I've been watching Formula One for a long time and there are those great overtaking moves but I'm not sure that in the last twenty years at least that there has been a huge amount. I think certainly FOTA now wants to look at how it can contribute generally to improving Formula One value to all the stakeholders and clearly overtaking is an issue that will need to be discussed and raised, but immediately, now, we have a formula that we've moved to, it hasn't really achieved the objectives but we have had some fairly good races, the performance between the cars looks very, very close. If you look in qualifying this year there have been some circuits where it's enormously close: nine cars in less than one second or more, so it's something to be studied for the future but no need for panic.
Yeah, I think I support everything the guys have just said. There is overtaking, certainly for our drivers in the early laps of some of the races, sometimes a little bit too exciting for us watching on the pit wall but I think it's circuit dependent as well. As Christian said, I think here we're expecting overtaking, I think probably the same at Monza but on the street circuits it's very, very difficult.
I think hopefully next year with the lack of refuelling and perhaps the impact that has on the tyres etc. there could be a bit more fun, but I think fundamentally, if you have ten or twelve very competent teams and double that number of very competent drivers and you line them up in order of speed it's improbable they are going to overtake. And of course the closer they are in performance to each other, the less likely anyone is to pass anyone else. I was slightly surprised when Frank (Williams) said on Monday this week 'we've got to do something about this' and he said 'let's just split the race into two – have a morning race and an afternoon one on a Sunday and if that doesn't work, let's have a reverse grid in the second one.' I think, personally, Valencia was quite exciting if you were in a team in the garage but quite frankly, if we carry on putting on races like that I think we will only have ourselves to blame if nobody carries on watching.
Q: (Ian Parkes – The Press Association).
Christian, the Brawns are down in 17th and 18th today; does that give you cause for optimism or is there a little bit sandbagging going on from them? Is there more to come, do you think?
It's a lot of sandbagging if they are sandbagging. As I said earlier, I think that everybody goes about their own business on a Friday. They've obviously been looking at different wing sweeps and so on as I think all teams have been up and down the pit lane. You can't read too much into today, they tend to obviously run quite a bit of fuel and so it will be interesting to see where the performance is tomorrow and on Sunday. We're quite happy with the preparation that we've had today and there are a few other cars in the mix as well this weekend. Lewis (Hamilton), if you look through the session, looks quick again, Heikki (Kovalainen) looks quick, Kimi (Räikkönen) looks quick, so it's going to be an interesting weekend.
Q: (Alan Baldwin – Reuters).
If I could ask Christian about his team's engine supply and how soon you're going to make your mind up and where you're tending towards?
Well, it will definitely be a V8! We're obviously in a position where, as an independent team, we have a choice of engine. We've been very, very happy with the supply that we've had from Renault for the last three years. Any decision that will be made, will be made not on the outcome of a single weekend but based on what we believe offers us the best opportunity of performance and relationship for the future. We haven't made any firm decisions yet but we're obviously nearing a time when we need to make a commitment for next year.
Is there a deadline?
Well, Ross (Brawn) only chose his engine in January, so it shows it can be done pretty late. We obviously don't want to wait that long but I would think that within the next couple of weeks we'll hone in on a decision.