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Friday press conference - Belgian GP - Pt.1

Team principals: John Booth (Virgin), Ross Brawn (Mercedes), Mike Gascoyne (Lotus) and Martin Whitmarsh (McLaren).
Press conference.

A question to you all. This time of the year some people tend to wind down on the development of the current car, perhaps work more on the 2011 car. Some people less so as they are still in the championship. Can I just hear what your team's concentration is on for the rest of the season?

Mike Gascoyne:
For us it is very clear that we are fully focused on next year's car and have been for several months now. I think while it is still important for us to try and maintain 10th place in the championship I think the most important thing as one of the new teams is that we make that step and close the gap to the established teams and we are able to race them properly. I think just being on the grid for us was a huge achievement but you are only a new team once and we are not a new team next year, we are a Formula One team and we have to make sure that we are performing as one, so we very much switched our focus onto next year's car. It is quite an auspicious day for us. Today was the day a year ago that we actually first walked around our factory and there were three of us. Now there are 220 of us. We hope that we can do a better job for next year, so that is clearly where our focus is.

John Booth:
For us it is a little bit different. We still have a few steps forward to come this year that we didn't have on the car because of reliability problems at the beginning of the year. The focus has changed the second half, so there is still a little bit more to come this year but working full speed on the new car.

Martin Whitmarsh:
We are still working hard on this year's car. There is still a good championship ahead and we are pushing hard. Inevitably you have got to have your mind on next year as well but we are certainly pushing hard on this year's car as well.

Is it just in a 'mind' car or have you already started? Have you got another team working?

There is a team working on next year's car as well.

So they have already started quite some time ago?

Yes, in reality you have R&D programmes which hopefully are going to come to fruition and the resources gradually build. There is a lot of effort to bring performance improvements here and to continue bringing them for the rest of the year.


Ross Brawn:
I think our priorities are clearly with next season. We have not had as good a year as we want. We don't realistically have any chance of competing for the championship this year, so we are pretty strongly focused on next season to make sure we can get into a more competitive position for next year. We have got a little bit of development on this year's car. We have got a few things we want to put right for the remaining races but in terms of development very little and the major work is for next season.

Mike, looking at the performance so far have you been happy with that? Has it come above or below expectation?

I think it is pretty much where we expected it to be. As I said earlier we didn't have an entry this time a year ago and we didn't know we were actually going to be in the sport, so we missed several months of development. If we had had that I think we would have done a much better job. But our aim coming into this year was always to try and be the best of the new teams, try to close the gap to the established teams and do a thorough, professional job. We had some big updates which moved us forward but in reality we were never going to challenge for ninth place or any of the established teams, so I think we have pretty much delivered exactly what we wanted to do. We would prefer to be a bit closer but time just hasn't allowed that for us. I think we would have been much happier being more reliable. That has been a disappointment to us. Some of that has been out of our control through outside suppliers and we have got to make sure we put that right for next year. But I think we have pretty much delivered what we expected to deliver and on budget as well as my boss keeps reminding me to be.

Particularly in Germany recently you seemed to have major gearbox problems. Has that been the major problem so far this year?

Gearbox and hydraulics have been a particularly weak area. We haven't had the resources to put all the fixes in place and I think we have been let down by some suppliers who have not done as good a job as they should have done. But you cannot make excuses. You have got to put things right. I think we are now very much on top of it. We want to have solid two car finishes for the rest of the year as I think if we do that we have got the performance and the drivers to secure 10th place. But it is something that has been a disappointment for us as a team.

John, similar question to you. The performance so far – has it been above or below expectations?


Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
John Booth, Team Principal, Virgin Racing
Barcelona, Spain, Mike Gascoyne (GBR), Team Lotus project manager - Formula 1 Testing, Barcelona
Friday, Press conference, Ross Brawn (GBR), Team Principal, Mercedes GP
Martin Whitmarsh, Team Principal, McLaren Mercedes

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