QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR

Q: (Joe Saward - GP Plus)
Gentlemen, team principals; Bob Bell, recently technical director of Renault, is on the market. Anybody want him?

Adam Parr:
He's certainly a very capable guy. I hope he will get a job very soon.

Norbert Haug:
Certainly, first of all I'm not the team principal, so maybe I cannot talk about that. It's Ross's job but he has enough today, and it really is. I think this is not a good opportunity today to talk about these issues. As Adam said, Bob did a good job and I've no idea what will happen.

AP:
Is he paying you for this, Joe?

Franz Tost:
He's a high-rated engineer but we have Giorgio Ascanelli in this position and we are very happy with him.

Robert Fernley:
Yes, I think Bob's done an incredible job for Renault and all we can do is wish him well. I don't think there's anything Force India will be able to do but he deserves a place in Formula One.

Q: (Joe Saward - GP Plus)
Can I come back to you, Robert, on the subject of the technical goings-on in your team? It seems that one driver always goes well and the other driver doesn't. Is that because one driver's slower than the other or is there a problem with the cars and is Tonio Liuzzi just unlucky?

RF:
There is an element of those factors, Joe. Tonio has had a problem with the mechanical and aero packages in the car throughout the season, and we work hard to try and correct them for him. There are times when it all clicks together and other times he's still struggling a little bit with it, but it is fundamentally something we have to keep working with on him.

Q: (Joe Saward - GP Plus)
Lotus have signed a deal with Renault and they're getting to buy Red Bull transmissions. That makes them a fairly competitive force for next year - perhaps. Why didn't Williams get a Renault engine and go down that route, Adam?

AP:
Because we have the view that the Cosworth engine is very decent; we don't want someone else's gearbox we make our own and we're very proud of the technology that we put into it. To change engines, I think, would have been a massive disruption again, and any possible benefit that it could have brought would have been more than outweighed by the disruption and waste of time in changing everything again. So we're very happy. We've got a nice steady programme going into next year for once and we're really enjoying that.

Q: (Joe Saward - GP Plus)
Despite not having any drivers who are going to necessarily...

AP:
You don't need any drivers, do you?

Q: (Bob McKenzie - The Daily Express)
Could I ask everyone what they think about racing at a circuit that has not yet been signed off and is still drying off and there is apparently not much of an infra-structure, that being Korea, and particularly from Bridgestone's point of view about racing on a track that is still curing?

FT:
As far as I know, Charlie Whiting will go there next week, will have a look, will have an inspection and then they will make a decision and so far as I know we will go there and we will race there. Maybe there's a little bit of an advantage (to that for us), we will see. Just let's go and see what's going on, because I haven't yet seen the track, therefore it's difficult to estimate the conditions but I'm convinced that the FIA and FOM will find the correct decision.

Hiroshi Yasukawa:
Always when a new race track is coming, this time Hermann Tilke, the producer, they give us some idea of the surface. I think we've already made the tyres, so we have to try. Our tyres are equal for everybody. At this stage, wait and see.

RF:
I think, like Franz, we're very comfortable as a team to put our faith in the FIA. They're not going to sign off on something that they're uncomfortable with. If there are a few things missing, we're all in it together and it's the same for everybody. We're quite comfortable.

NH:
Well, absolutely the same. We supported the decision to go there. I'm sure the right decision will be taken by the FIA and I want to underline that if we had stayed where we used to be, years and years ago, Formula One wouldn't be what Formula One is right now. Of course, everybody would have wished that this track is ready a little bit earlier but I'm sure there are good reasons for the delay. But if you look back, there was a lot of criticism sometimes of new tracks which are really good right now. I think Formula One developed in a very good way and of course Bernie (Ecclestone) was very much pushing in that direction, not the easiest way to go motor racing for the teams but if you are not growing, it's just wrong and I think it's the right approach, really.

AP:
I totally agree with what Norbert said.

Q:
Norbert and Hiroshi, what's been the interest from Korea from your commercial points of view, selling cars and tyres there?

NH:
Yeah, it's a fast growing market. If you look back to China years ago, there was basically nothing, or not a lot. This August, we sold 2500 S-classes in one month in China, which was a record there, so the fast-growing markets are important for us. Of course, it's important that you go there for a couple of years - you cannot expect the big breakthrough in the first year, but as I pointed out, this is the right direction. I think it's very, very positive if the automobile industry is growing, is selling cars and this is what is happening right now with our company. We never produced more cars than in September, so this is a record in the history of Mercedes Benz which is quite amazing if you look back at the last year, how the situation was. So Formula One contributes, and I'm sure that when we get the right results on the race track, then Formula One will contribute even more.

HY:
For us it's also the same. Korea is a very, very important market and nowadays their economy is growing sharply. This is very interesting for us, and also many products are now coming from South Korea to Japan, and also we can export. This is very interesting. Now many Korean cars are also exported which means that we have lots of opportunities to sell tyres. I can say it's a very important market for us.

Q: (Alan Baldwin - Reuters)
Norbert, I gather that there's a story from Bild saying that Mercedes have given Michael Schumacher an ultimatum to shape up or get out at the end of next season. Can you just give a comment on that, or a reaction?

NH:
Well, this is an interpretation of what was said, but of course there was no ultimatum. I think Michael again showed today his class, his full commitment. We are currently a little bit handicapped with our car but I have no complaints and no regrets that we're going to achieve our target. We need to work hard. As I said before in a similar conference, we are sticking together and Michael is, for me, as good as he ever was and probably even better. He's relaxed, concentrated. He doesn't need anybody to defend him, certainly not me but we are very happy with the job he's doing and we need to give Nico (Rosberg) and him a better car. I think it's absolutely obvious that Nico has so far extracted what was possible from the car. Only on a very few occasions was this not the case. I think he learned a lot with Williams and if you would name one of the top guys that are currently young and experienced in Formula One you would certainly mention Nico. So Nico is a very good benchmark for probably everybody in the field. You would never know that, because you're only driving one car for one team but it's not easy for anybody to compete against such a guy and Michael does that quite well, not always in qualifying but if you look throughout the season, if you take into consideration that he was not in Formula One for three years, we are heading in the right direction and there is certainly not an ultimatum.

Q: (Michael St?uble - SRG / DRS)
I would like to know your opinion about the new safety car rule that says the pit lane will be closed as soon as the safety car is deployed, as in Indycar.

AP:
I'm very embarrassed to say that I wasn't aware of this new rule.

Q: (Michael St?uble - SRG / DRS)
It's in discussion right now.

AP:
Oh, I see. Better tell somebody before the race starts. You know what? We seem to change the safety car rule about once a week, usually because a team, one or other team, has had a bad experience. The problem is whether you close the pit lane immediately or you close it at a certain point or you don't close it at all. Every time there is a safety car, somebody is going to win and someone's going to lose. So I'm afraid I kind of get slightly bored with the idea that we should keep changing the rule all the time.

FT:
I personally am against closing the pit lane because I remember back in Canada, I think, for me it's stupid if the red light is on and cars crash into each other in a Formula One race. We are not on the street where there are traffic lights. It should be open and then it's up to the teams whether they get an advantage or not.

NH:
Well, as Adam pointed out, there have been some changes in the past and I think that a couple of years ago the rule wasn't too bad. Maybe one should have a look at what we have had but you need to be mindful with changes. There are pluses and minuses whatever you do and of course if you want to have a surprise result, the safety car is deployed, the guy in twelfth position can still enter the pits and get a big benefit, or if it rains or whatever, then the whole field is in a different shape than before. If you look for a decision like everybody has got the same chance, then you probably can discuss closing the pit lane. There are pluses and minuses for both solutions.

RF:
Yes, I'm also against artificially controlling the races. I think it adds to the excitement, adds to the show. As Adam says, you win some, you lose some and I think it all benefits the Formula One programme.

Q: (Joe Saward - GP Plus)
Norbert, just to go back to the Michael question again: if you build a faster car next year, if Michael goes faster in that car, surely you will be criticised for helping him, or if he doesn't go faster, you're going to get the same questions about should he retire or not. It sounds to me you're in a kind of no-win situation.

NH:
Well, I'm happy to take the criticism when we are first and second. It will take a while but we're working on it and no worries, it will take a while but I think we're heading in the right direction and again, Michael needs nobody to defend him. I think sometimes one should reflect what this guy has achieved, how he handles the criticism, how good he is for Formula One and again, this is not defending, this is just explaining. I'm happy and I think the Formula One community should be very happy to have Michael.

AP:
I don't think one should dismiss immediately the idea of building a slower car next year to help!

NH:
Well, we can discuss that afterwards!