11 September 2009
Friday press conference – Italian GP - Pt.1
Team principals: Ross Brawn (Brawn GP), Aldo Costa (Ferrari), Vijay Mallya (Force India) and Franz Tost (Toro Rosso).
The regulations this year seem to have been very difficult to interpret. How much do you understand about the regulations and looking forward to next year as well? Ross?
If we knew the answer to that we would not be up and down as we are. I think what happens, particularly with a new set of regulations, is that you focus on one area of performance and that is the best average over the season. You pick a downforce level, you pick a drag level and you develop the car around that target. Sometimes when you move away to circuits like Spa or here where you move into a completely different wing regime, then different factors can become prominent. I think that is what's happening. I think also the tyres, we are still not all understanding the tyres yet. I think that is adding to the challenge. These slick tyres we still don't fully understand and why we get them to work at some tracks and not the other is something certainly we have to fix and we are working on solutions for next year but it may take a year or two before we fully understand how the slick tyres are working. But I do know that some of my colleagues, who have been quick at some races and slow at the others, are just as puzzled by the conundrum, so the one that unlocks it the earliest will be the one who has the advantages.
Aldo, your feelings about that?
On top of what Ross said everybody started with a brand new rule from the aerodynamic point of view. The development pace during the season is quite strong for everybody, so the results are also changing because you see cars that in a specific race use an upgraded package and that can make a big difference compared to other cars. This evolution of packages between the cars are making the results a bit more floating than usual.
Vijay, your feelings about this? It has affected you very much in the last couple of races?
When we started the season I was told by my technical team that they were not clear about the diffuser. What I understand is that we designed the car with the possibility of having a diffuser should the rule get clarified, so we were able to introduce very quickly an interim diffuser in Bahrain and then develop upon it. We always planned to have a significant aero upgrade for Valencia which we introduced and then following on from there for Spa and for Monza and that seems to be working well for us. The car is quick and competitive but if we had started off with more clarity at the beginning of the year, maybe we would have done things differently, maybe not. But going forward into 2010 I hope that there will be clarity up front, so that everybody knows what they are doing and there won't be many surprises.
I think there are two main reasons. The first is the KERS system because teams that decided to run the KERS system had another philosophy how to design the car than teams not running the KERS system and this was a great influence for the aerodynamics. The second reason for me is the diffuser as this changed the design philosophy, especially the rear of the car. Then during the season some teams decided to stop running KERS which means you have to change the design of the car and all the teams decided to run with a double diffuser which means you also have to design completely the rear part of the car. As we cannot do any tests anymore we are coming to the race tracks and it is really difficult to set up the car in the correct way. Apart from this all the teams are very close together. If you make a small mistake setting up the car or if the driver makes a small mistake you can be three, four or five positions behind because in the past in qualifying there are five or six cars between one-tenth-of-a-second. I think this performance has never been as strong in Formula One as now.
Ross, you have two winning drivers. Also a slight lack of performance over the last few races. How confident are you of improving that now?
We did not have a good race in Spa but we won the one before that. They are both free to race. We feel that is what will take the team forward in a stronger way than having any team orders. They are both free to race and both free to try and win the championship. I think Jenson (Button) has had two races where it hasn't worked for him. I think the last race he obviously had the incident and Valencia wasn't great, but the previous races really the car was not working as well as we wanted, so I don't think you can really lay those races at Jenson's door. He has had a couple of average races and I think over the season if a guy has a couple of average races as well as all the good ones, he has had a fantastic season. I am pretty optimistic that he is going to have a strong run to the end of the season. The car seems okay here. I think you are quite right in saying that the time gap is quite narrow and I think there are other teams that have perhaps focussed on the race and others who focus more on making sure that they get through qualifying as strong as possible. I think until we get into qualifying we won't really know the situation. We are reasonably happy with our car this weekend. It seems to be working okay and I see every reason why we should have a decent race here.
It was interesting in Spa, particularly in qualifying, that Jenson seemed to be unhappy with the softer tyre whereas Rubens (Barrichello) seemed to be happy on the softer tyre?
A little bit, yes. I don't think Jenson found the balance as nice on that tyre. But when the tyres are so close – as these tyres are only one step apart – I think you often find that one driver will prefer one to the other. Today I would struggle to tell you which tyre we are going to race because the tyres seem pretty similar, so it may well be that one driver will prefer one tyre to another. But that is not unusual for one driver to prefer another tyre and probably on reflection we should have stuck with the prime tyre with Jenson throughout qualifying but we didn't and he wasn't comfortable.
Aldo, how did Giancarlo (Fisichella) get on today?
Force India F1
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