Questions from the floor

Q: (Michael Schmidt - Auto, Motor und Sport)
Ross, did the package meet your expectations? Did it meet what the wind tunnel predicted? And, secondly, Michael was significantly faster today than Nico Rosberg. Was it due to different programmes or was it a fair comparison?

Ross Brawn:
No, there were different programmes. Nico tried some different changes to Michael, so I think tonight we will put all the packages together and see how we run the cars tomorrow which is obviously how any sensible team runs. Particularly with no testing. You have got a lot of things you are doing on a Friday to try and gather the information, so at the end of today we will put everything together. But the package was doing pretty much as we expected. Normally you come to Barcelona after a winter test with a driver saying the car is nowhere near as good as it was in the winter. At least our drivers are saying the car is much better than it was here in the winter but it is relative, it is not comparative on the day, so I think we are reasonably happy with it but all the teams have moved forward and it is a moving target. If you do nothing in Formula One you go backwards very, very rapidly, and as Nick Wirth was relating to when you are trying to fight your reliability problems you cannot also progress on performance. If you stand still you go backwards two-tenths, three-tenths a race, so you are fighting hard just to keep up with what is going on and I think we have kept up but we have still got to find more.

Q: (Frederic Ferret - L'Equipe)
Ross, can you explain to us why you have changed the engine cover and you have two holes to cool the engine instead of one?

Ross Brawn:
It's the airbox, the intake for the induction system for the engine. Normally there's just one hole. We've got two because we've got a central structure for the roll hoop. It was done to improve the potential of the rear wing, so the system we have on some circuits where you need the maximum potential of the rear wing then we think it's a better system. That was the reason.

Q: (Alberto Antonini - Autosprint)
It's really to all of you gentlemen. Just in case F1 decides to race the 18-inch rim rule for next year, do you feel that you are prepared to take on the challenge and if so, what would be the main issue?

Ross Brawn:
As chairman of the technical regulations working group we've had a lot of discussion about that, and I think we would like to see a phasing of the 18 inch or a larger wheel. I think we understand that the tyre companies are very keen on a larger wheel because it brings a better efficiency of tyre. We're welcoming that, but it's just a question of phasing it in, and I think that if there was an 18 inch rim, it's very late at the moment and I think it would give a lot of the teams severe challenges and severe problems to get ready in time, because it's not just having a bigger wheel, an 18 inch tyre behaves differently and you would need to develop the suspension systems and the other things you would need for it. I think all the people involved in considering tyre supply for the future understand that and want to phase in a larger diameter wheel and it's unlikely that we will have a larger diameter wheel next year. That's still in discussion but I think that's the likelihood.

Aldo Costa:
If you have 18 inch wheels and you are allowed to use all the space inside the rim for your brake system, for your cooling, for your aerodynamic development of the corner, as Ross mentioned, it would be a very, very big programme. Starting in May or June is very, very late, also for all the companies that make brake components because they have to study new calipers, new discs and for the team with completely new suspensions it would be a big programme. Everyone in the FOTA group would like to have a more phased-in programme. Even if we had to start with the 18 inch rims, at least the inside of the rim in terms of mechanical parts and braking system should be kept similar to this year and then evolve over the next few years.

Q: (Mike Doodson)
I watched the Chinese Grand Prix on TV and I wonder if you guys were as startled as I was to see an innocent young driver come charging down to the braking area of a tight corner, put on the brakes, and both front wheels fell off like chocolate biscuits. This presumably has safety implications for the future and reflects on the lack of testing that you're allowed to do. Do you think therefore that new rules should be introduced that either freeze the specification of the car, so that this sort of thing can't happen in public again, or perhaps there should be some form of allowance for testing of new parts before they're brought to a race?

Sam Michael:
I don't think there should be a spec freeze, Mike. Obviously Giorgio (Ascanelli, Scuderia Toro Rosso's technical director) is the right person to comment on the details but what he did do was inform the group that it was a process failure that they had had and wasn't related to design and it wasn't something that would generally affect anyone else or his cars after that. He's obviously a member of FOTA and we discuss things like that. Things can always go wrong, but I don't think it's a reason for having a knee jerk reaction and freezing specs, because if it's a process failure it can happen on a set of uprights or suspension that we make for the next race. It's not necessarily because of a design change.

Ross Brawn:
I think the other thing is that testing in itself wouldn't solve the problem because that incident could have occurred at a test and would have had similar consequences. As Sam said, Giorgio's the best one to respond to that question. I don't think there's a need to make any changes to the way we approach things to avoid that happening.

Q:
Mr Brawn, it's about 22 years that F1 has had air scoops on top of the helmets. Are you using your new intakes to blow air flow onto the rear diffuser as well or is only for the engine and to make a clearer flow to the rear wing?

Ross Brawn:
This reply is very short: it's actually as described, it's just for the rear wing, it's just to give a cleaner flow to the rear wing. That's all it is, there's no connection to the diffuser.

Q:
The new F-duct of Ferrari has changed the rear diffuser; are you using another duct to blow some air to the rear diffuser, and how is it working for the drivers to use their left arm to block or increase the airflow to the new F-duct?

Aldo Costa:
In our case, the modifications are on the bodywork, linked to the rear wing, so there is a direct link with the behaviour of the diffuser itself. It's a system that has been studied to improve the performance of the rear wing in some conditions. In terms of driver practice; drivers, as you know, are trained to use several systems in the car. They normally use the front flap adjuster, they normally use brake balance. Last year they used the KERS system, so they can also use the F-duct with no big issues.

Q: (Detlev Hacke - Der Spiegel)
Two questions to Nick: you're producing and developing your car in a much more software-based way without using a wind tunnel. What's your resume after four races and several months doing this? And secondly, could you describe a little bit the procedure from the beginning until the point where you really decide to produce a part?

Nick Wirth:
Well, the resume from the first few months is that we haven't used it enough, because we've been using most of our resources to try and get the car to cross the chequered flag. So again, we had much more ambitious plans early on for the specification of the car at this race, including wings and various other parts and we've had to focus our attention in other areas because of our limited resources. And so far, the parts that we have put on have pretty much matched predictions that we'd had from this technology, so, so far, so good on that side and we're a bit frustrated about not being able to put a lot more areas of performance on the car that we know that we can generate.

In terms of the process, we have a sort of digital development process which starts for a car or in terms of development, with a pretty conventional reasonably sophisticated mechanical packaging finite element, crash simulation-type of work which goes on in design and simultaneously that information is linked with our work in CFD which basically takes surface information. A conventional approach would be to take surfaces and ideas from aerodynamicists, convert them into either rapid prototype parts or scale models of the sort of parts that you see on the race cars, and then put on a very large scale wind tunnel model and test them in a wind tunnel. In our case, our system involves taking those shapes and instead of making model parts we actually essentially mesh them and create an extremely sophisticated computer simulation, consisting of hundreds of billions of cells in a CFD model and essentially flowing digital wind, if you like, over this model in a variety of different simulations in a variety of different conditions. All that information is brought together, mechanical information, aerodynamic information from what we call CFD, is brought together and tested on real time simulators. We have two of them and the simulators... we develop our own tyre models, so these are digital representations of the tyres which have thermal characteristics and other things that we've developed over the years, so essentially the cycle is synthetic mechanical design, synthetic aerodynamic design and testing them together on a real simulator and then taking those results, feeding them back in the loop and we go around this loop until we are happy with the development or a car and then we take it out with quite a sophisticated R&D process to reality and that can be a car or a development or an update. And frankly, our issues this year of reliability has fundamentally been a breakdown in the R&D process and it's fair to say that from my side, my responsibility in this process has been a failure to recognise the benefits of the partnership we had with Honda in our sports car programme in America and the work that they were doing in the background on proving our transmission reliability and hydraulic reliability. We don't have that type of relationship as a customer team with our engine supplier. It's quite interesting to step back and see the wood from the trees and see where it's gone wrong. We're working very hard to fix that area but the rest of it, that kind of describes our process.

Q: (Ian Parkes - The Press Association)
Ross, you've explained Michael's performance in Shanghai, but he did come in for a considerable amount of criticism following that race. Do you think that criticism has been unjustified?

Ross Brawn:
I think that if you criticise the lap times he did that was fair enough. I think you have to understand the reasons for that before you can criticise any further. That's really my only comment. I can understand why people would criticise because he wasn't going very quickly. There's lots of instances during a Formula One season where a driver isn't... or a car is not producing lap times and people don't jump to the conclusion that it's the driver. So I think we need to let the season pan out a bit more before people form opinions about Michael's performance.

Q: (Mike Doodson)
It's actually a comeback, Ross, because you rather lightly dismissed the suggestion that new parts be tested and said it didn't make any difference. Well, it was very fortunate that that race took place at a circuit that nobody actually bothers to go to. If that wheel had come off and ended up in a public area here or at a couple of other races we could think of, the consequences would have been very severe. Would that change your mind about the necessity of testing new parts before they get put on a car?

Ross Brawn:
I think every team in Formula One tests their parts at the factory. Certainly we have a facility which has huge investment and is staffed by ten to 15 people and every component that goes on the car is thoroughly tested in that department. I don't know the details of Giorgio's problem and he would have to explain it to you. You may argue about the consequences of an accident whether they happen in testing, whether they happen in racing, but if there's someone stood in the wrong place in testing and a wheel hits them, they're not going to care whether it's testing or racing, so I don't see how introducing testing solves that problem. The problem is fundamentally an engineering problem and I'm sure Giorgio understands it and is dealing with it in a very responsible way. I think he was deeply shocked by what happened and F1 as a group is looking at the details of that accident to see how we can improve things, because obviously we're not happy with what happened, but I just don't see that going testing solves that problem.

Q: (Andrea Cremonesi - La Gazzetta dello Sport)
I just wanted to know if I can have some updated information about the potential split of the Q1 qualifying in Monaco?

Ross Brawn:
I didn't know about that until I read about it.

Sam Michael:
It was on the sporting working group, but there hasn't been any decision. I think Charlie [Whiting] raised it.