Press conference

Q:
A question to you all. Can you give us some idea as to how things went today for you. James, could you start?

James Key:
It was okay today. For us it was a normal programme of running tyres, set-up work and so on. We had some test items in the morning. FP1 was a bit slippy to be honest
so there is not too much you can read into the first session but we got some useful data. It was a normal programme and it seems to be alright. It was a bit like Malaysia for us as we have got a bit of work to do overnight with the balance of the car, in sector one particularly, but otherwise it all went okay..

Q:
Geoff, a bit of drama at the end there.

Geoff Willis:
Yes, little bit of a mixed day. The morning was pretty good. Again with poor track conditions and the amount the track improved we were concentrating more on car aero work. We had some aero test pieces and just understanding the car as we play catch-up not having done any pre-season testing. The morning went well. In the afternoon it went well with Narain (Karthikeyan's) car but we had some problems which lost us most of the session with Tonio (Liuzzi) so not so successful. Having said that I think we are a lot happier with the car today and we still have got some more work to do tomorrow.

Q:
Tonio mentioned it was perhaps an hydraulics problem at the end of the morning that stopped him. Was that what kept him out of the session in the afternoon?

Geoff Willis:
Yes and no. It was a hydraulics installation problem. We damaged a high pressure supply. In the afternoon it was a little difficult to get to the bottom of the problem. We had what we think is a software controls problem, corrupted files into the car, but eventually got it sorted and got it out so no more mechanical problems this afternoon.

Q:
Naoki, poor old Nick Heidfeld. He seemed to have a bit of a dramatic day?

Naoki Takunaga:
Yeah, but overall I have to say it is a productive day. It is quite unfortunate Heidfeld having to go off twice, one in each of the sessions, but the damage is limited. We lost the two noses which is quite unfortunate but overall it is a productive day. The balance is different in the morning and the afternoon so it is a mixture of everything but I think we have got good data.

Q:
It was mentioned you had quite a lot of understeer in this morning's session. Did that continue in the afternoon or did you manage to iron that out?

Naoki Takunaga:
No the balance is quite different in the afternoon from the morning. We suffered a lack of grip basically, all day, and at the end of P2 the biggest problem was lack of traction so it is a bit of a mixture really.

Q:
Aldo, maybe you weren't here all day, I don't know?

Aldo Costa:
It was not a very clean practice session both this morning and this afternoon, mainly with Fernando (Alonso). Felipe (Massa) did his programme with no big issues. With Fernando we experienced two hydraulic leakages on the same detail, zero kilometre component, so there must be some let's say quality or finger problem so we have to see and solve for tomorrow. About the performance, we did with Fernando quite a lot of test this morning in terms of aero tests I mean. Quite a lot of constant speed so not a lot of real running to test new pieces and test different configurations so quite interesting to us. We concentrated with Felipe on tyres, to try to understand better the tyres in this not very hot environment.

Q:
Paddy?

Paddy Lowe:
We had a busy day, trying to do more things than there is time to do. A mixture of testing new items on the car, mainly in P1, and doing all the homework with different fuel levels, different tyres, generally to our normal programme for that. I think generally happy. A few issues to iron out. A lot of decisions to take, a lot of data to analyse
overnight and and then we will decide what we do tomorrow.

Q:
Again a question to you all. You have now run the tyres in hot and cool conditions. Cool in Melbourne, hot in Malaysia. What have you learnt and what are your conclusions. James, would you start.

James Key:
To be honest, it has been a learning process and I still think it is to a certain extent because in winter testing we had pretty cool conditions on relatively green tracks, to begin with at lest. We were finding a certain level of degradation and a certain characteristic of the tyre and so on. Going to Melbourne was a complete surprise for everyone I think as the track temperature was a little bit higher and the surface was certainly a bit kinder to the tyres. Pirelli had always informed us that they felt the tyres would be better as a race tyre in warmer conditions and that is exactly what we found and I am sure it is the same for some others. In Melbourne it was certainly different and bit of a pleasant surprise for us in the race with Sergio (Perez) particularly. With the hotter conditions in Kuala Lumpur we expected to have a more oversteering car and more rear limited car which proved to be the case but more than we expected by the time we got there and got running so the balance shift for us was quite big between Melbourne and Kuala Lumpur. Now coming here it is somewhere in the middle so if you take Melbourne and Kuala Lumpur as the extremes then
you have got some sort of range with which to work with, but it is a bit too early to say so. I think we are still learning. Predictions are kind of in the right direction but the extremes of those predictions on what is going to happen to the balance of the car is still quite tricky to predict at the moment.

Q:
Geoff?

Geoff Willis:
Certainly we are learning a lot and our experiments are somewhat complicated by the fact that we are changing the car hugely from session to session as we explore the
operating envelope of the car and understand the car better so some of the car balance changes that we see since Melbourne practice to here are somewhat compensated by what we have been doing with the car. Certainly we are aware that we have to start from zero again with our understanding of what the tyres are going to do and particularly how they evolve during the weekend. It is interesting to see what strategies end up on the race day given what we think we know about them on Friday and Saturday. We are learning a lot and we all as a business will get to understand them more consistently in another two or three races.

Q:
Naoki?

Naoki Takunaga:
I certainly agree with James and Geoff. We are in a very, very steep learning curve at the moment and we found different surprises in different circuits and in different conditions. It is quite difficult to predict precisely how the tyre will behave at this circuit which is again different to any other previous races or tests so we have to see. It is quite difficult to predict.

Q:
Is it the difference in the tarmac itself and the aggressiveness of the tarmac or is it not the temperature?

Naoki Takunaga:
Yeah, is someone knows the precise answer I would like to hear that. As I said we are still, together with Pirelli, in a learning curve.

Aldo Costa:
There are several parameters more than that. Track asphalt condition as you said, asphalt type but also track temperature, also car set-up, and driving style, so there are a lot of parameters to play with and quite a lot to learn. You see that in the first two races, even in the same team, there was quite a lot of difference between driver to driver so quite a lot to learn overall.

Q:
Paddy?

Paddy Lowe:
Well I think it is really exciting as we have got a formula now where it seems to be panning out that the tyre wear is very, very critical. I think what is particularly interesting, great, really big challenge for us on the pit-wall side is you have got to manage the tyres across qualifying and the race. If you were doing four stops you have used five out of six tyres, completely consumed in the race, and how you use those tyres in qualifying has a big consequence on your race result which we saw to Lewis (Hamilton's) cost in Malaysia. Crucial phases of the race where he lost out were a consequence of tyre consumption that he had done in qualifying so great spectacle I think and a job for us to manage it well.

Q:
It was interesting that your two drivers were faster than Sebastian Vettel at different times. Is that the consequence of that or was it Sebastian being slightly slower?

Paddy Lowe:
I think most of the pace differences you see through the race are as a result of the state of the tyre at that instant. Every lap you run the tyre is going off and sometimes at higher rates than others and different with different drivers. If you have done three laps on a tyre in qualifying, when you hit the track with it in a race you are already set back that amount. If another guy has come out on a new tyre then he is ahead of you so I think there are phases in a race where you are quicker or slower than the people you are racing but it can come back to you depending on your tyre choices. That means the race result isn't really known until the very end as we have been seeing.

Q:
Today I think you were testing a new floor and exhaust. How did that go? Has any decision been made whether you are going to run that during the race itself?

Paddy Lowe:
Yeah, as I was saying earlier we have got a lot of numbers to look at and we will be boring into those during the night and deciding what to fit. We have learnt some things and I am sure some of the things that we have tried today will have worked.

Q:
So we won't know until later?

Paddy Lowe:
Yeah and there is no big black or white answer. We have quite a few different pieces to try.

Q:
Aldo, three of you went back to Maranello. What was the purpose of that and what was the conclusion you drew from going back to Maranello?

Aldo Costa:
The purpose is normal, go back home and spend a few days at home between one race or another. It was not an emergency going back to Maranello. It was already
programmmed. Of course we have to catch up. We are quite behind as we have seen in the first two races so at home people are really motivated to progress and we were discussing as usual development programmes and which bits we can bring to the races, how many parts we can anticipate at what race and all this usual stuff. But being with a good awareness where we are at this moment in terms of performance so people are really, really pushing to catch up and really motivated to come back to the performance we would like to have.

Q:
The president has predicted an amazing reaction. Would you agree?

Aldo Costa:
We are here to do this job and we will try to do it for sure.

Q:
Naoki, Renault have got off to a flying start but the the big test really is the pace of development. Do you think you can match the pace of development of McLaren and Ferrari.

Naoki Takunaga:
Well obviously it is a big, big challenge to fight against these strong teams but I think in the past few years we have proved that we have very good in-season development pace so I don't see any reason why we cannot do this again this year.

Q:
You have been on the podium two races so far. Can you maintain that?

Naoki Takunaga:
Yes, I hope so. I think one of the big differences this year is that the roll-out performance of the car is higher than the past few years. I think it is important to keep up
the pace during the season and to make the point constantly so I hope we can keep up this pace.

Q:
Geoff, the car is still incredibly new. Are you surprised at the pace that seems to be in it?

Geoff Willis:
I think I am certainly very pleased with the pace. It has had a very short gestation period. We started the design only in min-December and it is 75-80 per cent a new car and we clearly have had to take a number of short cuts in terms of its aerodynamic performance. We have got a very limited CFD programme so one of the things we have
been doing over the three race events is exploring the aero map. We don't have the sort of level or aero map we would expect to have to optimise the set-up of the car so we are playing a lot with ride-heights and spring-rates, all sorts of things, to try and reverse engineer what we have got with the car. At the same time we have got quite a new group of people in the garage so there is a lot of learning to be done there. Usual sort of mistakes and quick improvements. It is very impressive, in fact, over the last three race weekends how quickly it has all come together We did have quite an experienced group of individuals designing the car but they hadn't worked together and they were certainly working in a distributed network and we have got a new group of people in the garage. Again I am very pleased that almost on a session by session basis we make the car faster, we make decisions better. We still make mistakes, but I hope we learn from them. It is difficult to say whether it is better or worse than I thought. Starting from the restrictions we had I think we have done an extremely good job but we are all very determined to do a much, much better job. Looking back, there is a lot behind us and looking forward there is a lot in front of us and we just need to keep pushing every session, every race and bringing bits as fast as we
possibly can. And building the team, growing as we go.

Q:
How worried are you still about the 107 percent rule?

Geoff Willis:
Looking at today's times, not so worried. I certainly wouldn't want to get complacent about it but I think, judging what we can, with track improvement, fuel loads, tyre selection and run length, I think we are probably a little bit better than we were in Sepang.

Q:
James, you've obviously had a fantastic couple of races. Very interesting to see how you've managed the tyres. You seem to have been concentrating on getting one less pit stop than everybody else. Is that something that was originally designed in the car, or was it something that happened in Australia and you've been concentrating on since?

James Key:
I think it's a bit of both. Obviously everyone had to design their cars without really understanding the tyres. Although Pirelli did a good job of giving up front information to
everyone, it was always very provisional, you had to treat it a little bit cautiously because they were still developing the way the tyres were going to be and we didn't really know until winter testing what we would get. So from our side, we wanted to try and leave our options open with the way we set the car up, as much as possible. It was a more complicated car compared to last year with the number of options of mechanical set-up and so on. And it has allowed us, to a certain extent, to adapt to using the tyres in what we feel is an efficient way. It has its downsides. In Melbourne, for example, we had to use three laps to qualify but then we were able to do one stop. I think with the Melbourne situation, as I said, the tyres behaved in a very different way to perhaps what we expected. I think both drivers also did a very good job of saving the tyres through that event. We didn't plan a one stop but it became apparent on about lap 45, I think. So from that point forward, we felt that we can genuinely look at less stops because the drivers and the car seem to be able to hang onto the tyres. We had a slight hint that we were fairly kind to the tyres in winter testing but as I say, it was such a different situation in the winter compared to what we're seeing now that we couldn't read too much into that.

Q:
And now it seems that everybody else is looking to do exactly what you've been doing with one less stop.

James Key:
Possibly, yeah. I think, to be honest, the two stop in Malaysia was kind of on the edge of how far we could push that. Again, that was down to some good tyre management by the drivers really, but it paid dividends as well. I think a three stop and a two stop are roughly the same time, but the two stop had less risk and at the end of the race we were twenty seconds ahead of a guy who was doing three stops who we were racing with, so it worked out for us.

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