Team principals: Stefano Domenicali (Ferrari), Norbert Haug (Mercedes), Sam Michael (Williams), Mario Theissen (BMW Sauber)

Questions from the floor

Q: (Joris Fioriti - AFP)
Mario, can you confirm right now that Ferrari will be the engine supplier next year?

Mario Theissen:
We have been talking to Ferrari and we have got a very positive response from Ferrari but apparently the first thing that we need is a place on the grid.

Q: (Joris Fioriti - AFP)
If you have a place then you will have a Ferrari engine?

MT:
That would be our favourite option.

Q: (Joris Fioriti - AFP)
Question to all: Brawn GP were the fastest in the first session and then Red Bull were fastest in the second. Does it mean that it is going to be a Red Bull-Brawn GP fight like at the beginning of the season?

MT:
No idea, let's see tomorrow.

Stefano Domenicali:
We will see on Sunday. In my view we need to be pragmatic. I think that not only Red Bull and Brawn have done a step. I think McLaren have done a step. We must not forget that Force India did a big step in the last races. Williams has done a step. As Mario said everyone has done a step, so I think this race we need to be very careful but for sure it will be a tough race between the first teams.

Norbert Haug:
Well, we are certainly working on it that it is not a Brawn and Red Bull race here. We try to interfere but I am not sure if we can do it. I am quite convinced that not everybody in the top five was using the same amount of fuel, so things may change tomorrow. But of course they are strong and as Stefano pointed out other people have made steps as well and if you get your act together there may even be some surprises. I think there are probably five teams in a position, depending on the strategy, to fight for pole position which is very possible for Formula One.

Q: (Joris Fioriti - AFP)
Which are the five teams?

NH:
I think it needs to be kept open until tomorrow but I think your opinion is not much different to mine. Whether it is four or six I don't know, but it is a handful at least.

Q: (Peter Haab - Motorsport Aktuell)
Can you give us some information on Felipe Massa's progress?

SD:
With pleasure. Felipe is recovering quite well. He has started a training programme in terms of fitness and again starting his preparation. The next step will be to start a programme on the simulator and then the programme will be to do some kart running. And as soon as these things are fine, then we will decide when to put him back in a proper racing car.

Q: (Dan Knutson - National Speed Sport News)
A question to all four of you: given that FOTA is all about unity and co-operation, given that some elements in this paddock would like nothing better than to divide and conquer, what do you guys think about Williams going against the grain and running KERS next year?

Sam Michael:
One thing to be clear on: Williams have always said that we supported KERS, the concept of it, the ability to help Formula One with sustainability and the environment. We haven't stopped the development of KERS and we never did do that, just like the other teams didn't. I think at the moment we are discussing with FOTA the potential for an agreement not to run KERS next year. We are in the middle of that, in terms of days, so it would be wrong for us to come out and say that we are going to race KERS next year. In fact we never said that. In any statements, if you read carefully what we said was... at no point did we say we were going to race KERS, we just said we would continue developing it. I think if you ask most of the people who have KERS, they're doing the same thing. So it's quite different to say that we're going against the grain of FOTA. We are in FOTA, we've only had one meeting in FOTA since we rejoined, so that is in the middle of process at the moment. I think it's wrong to say that Williams are going against the grain of FOTA, especially at this time when we are talking to FOTA about exactly this point.

Q: (Tetsuo Tsugawa - Tetsu Enterprise)
How much difference do you think there is between the Cosworth engine and the homologation engine? I believe they have still homologated their engine each year, but do you think they have some advantage?

NH:
It's difficult to say. Mario is the specialist.

MT:
I have to say that I don't know and probably none of us knows what they are doing with their original engine. Apparently, the engine was originally designed to (rev to) 20,000rpm plus. Now it's 18,000. Apparently they have to retune the engine. I have no information where they are performance-wise and reliability-wise or durability-wise. So I just can't answer the question now. We just have to see what happens when they are on the grid next year.

Q: (Andrea Cremonesi - La Gazzetta dello Sport)
Mario, will you remain with Sauber next year or do you stay with BMW Motorsport?

MT:
That is completely open and I will not deal with this question before the end of the season. We have put in a lot of effort to secure the future of the team and it would have been counter-productive if I had mixed it up with my own future. I'm not concerned about that and I can decide on that later on.

Q: (Mark Fogarty - Auto Action)
To all of you: as we saw at the Frankfurt Motor Show, the automotive industry is diving headlong into new and different forms of technology for power plants for cars and it seems inevitable that the direction we're going is away from supplementing the internal combustion engine. Why shouldn't Formula One in fact be a proving ground for this new engine technology? Wouldn't it be a place to develop things very quickly?

SD:
I think we shouldn't forget that Formula One should be the pinnacle of motor sport, but in the actual context of the situation that we are facing, we need to make sure that the rules that are decided are well balanced, otherwise we run the risk of having expensive technology, not applicable for all the teams that want to run in Formula One. So for sure the future of the powertrain in 2013 has to be considered very carefully, because for sure, one important element to keep the constructors interested in the Formula One business is to make sure that what we are doing here has a relevance in the automotive industry. But once again, it's a matter of compromise, it's a matter of balance: the cost of bringing new technology within the framework of the regulations in Formula One versus the reality that we have to have a lot of teams on the grid and they have to be able to spend money on that.

NH:
I think there are really very good plans for the new engine formula, but it takes time, obviously, and that's why we currently have this engine freeze. But the next engine generation will certainly be very different. Having said that, we've got some experience with KERS and I think we are all very much pro-KERS but if you have a competition race and the KERS technique then that just costs a lot of money. The technical guys behind me, especially, would love to have that and I don't know one technical guy who would not love to go in that direction, but the question is what can you afford and where do you put your money? I think we have to accept that the next engine generation will be something absolutely new and special, but having said that, the specific consumption of the current engine is an absolute world record. I just think sometimes we need to accept that if you need to feed seven hundred and fifty horses you need to give them more than if you need to feed 75 horses and that's very simple but it's reality. And I think if we have a total look at Formula One, what's happening in terms of the environment, it's still a very positive issue, all in all, but it's a conflict: what money you can spend, and street cars sometimes require different technical developments to racing cars. KERS hybrid was probably an example but you cannot put it in the same way you are building it for Formula One into a street car. The principle is comparable and you certainly learn, you do learn and we learned and we couldn't have made it without our people from production development, so all in all, it was a very good example indeed, but an expensive one as well.

MT:
Yeah, I think I was one of the strongest campaigners for KERS and I still think it's been a fantastic opportunity for Formula One and it might well be one in the future, to take the technological lead and to do something to spend our excellent resources on, something that makes sense, that is sensible for the future. On the other hand, we have had a lot of discussions on the effort that you have to put behind it and I'm now in the very different situation of a team that has to survive without a manufacturer next year and you certainly then see the other side. I think we should put in as much innovation as possible, as affordable. We should go for what is possible in Formula One but without losing any competitors. That's the trade-off we have to make, so this is also why BMW has supported the FOTA decision not to run KERS next year.

SM:
Pretty similar to the other guys, in terms of the trade-off of F1 development. Obviously we're not an engine manufacturer but we do silly things with the engine manufacturers that we work with that trade off to road cars, but as Norbert said, there are very different objectives for road car development as opposed to Formula One. One example is to look at diesel technology, and that was all the rage five or six years ago and that swamped road cars but it's not necessarily the right thing for Formula One. There are lots of examples like that.

Q: (Ralf Bach - R&B)
When the engines were frozen two years ago, everybody thought it was maybe the right thing to do. When Renault was allowed last year to maybe make the engine a little bit better, I thought 'okay, maybe they were so far away from the competition that they should be allowed to do it'. But now I don't understand anything anymore. Do you think it's Formula One when Mercedes is forced to reduce the power of the engine, because they maybe have the best engine? Is this Formula One for people and spectators anymore?

SD:
First of all, no one has said that the Mercedes engine has to be re-tuned.

NH:
If you read the [FIA] press release, this is not the case. I think maybe you should go through it once more. It is written very conditionally but it doesn't speak about Mercedes at all. It's not a Mercedes issue. It is just a general issue.

SD:
We can discuss if freezing everything in Formula One is correct or not but this is a decision that once again went in the direction of trying to reduce the cost of Formula One. I think that, as an engine manufacturer, we have done a lot in order to reduce the cost for customers, in order to make sure that we were able to come and be on the grid in Formula One and I think this is due to FOTA and to the effort that the manufacturers made altogether. Then, if this is correct or not, I would say that's a question that is difficult to answer. The opposite answer can be that if that was not the case, if we were here with the things that we have on the grid, question mark; we don't know. But on the other subject, I cannot really answer because it's not the specific issue that was discussed in the FIA. There is an engine working group that will deal with the engine situation, that will be discussed and we will discuss it within the group as always and see what the situation is but nothing more than that.

MT:
Even as an engine guy I have supported the homologation because almost everything that we have achieved in the past two or three years in terms of cost reduction came from the engine side, through homologation and the extension of engine life, so that was certainly a very important and positive step. As you said before, we had the discussion a year ago about the Renault engine. It was dealt with within the engine working group and we came to a conclusion between the engine manufacturers that if there was a situation like this again, it should be dealt with in the same away again, and we would see what the outcome was.

Comments

Join the conversation - Add your comment

Please login or register to add your comment