Questions form the floor
(Sarah Holt - BBC Sport)
Martin, we had quite a quiet morning at McLaren. I think you only did a few laps but, this afternoon, were you able to put any of the new upgrades on the car or is it basically the same spec as China?
No we had some upgrades, a few. We took the decision this morning that we were not going to have enough time to do everything we wanted, so that was a shame. I think people know we seem to have an ambitious programme normally on a Friday morning. In P1 in particular we knew we could not do any meaningful work so that's slowed us a bit, but that's the same for everyone. You have got a limited amount of testing but we have got a few little bits and pieces, nothing particularly significant. I think here it is a very demanding circuit as we have seen. We were pretty shocking on occasions over the bump going into Turn 12 so I think we have got to do a little bit of work there. I think the drivers weren't, they certainly didn't look comfortable. I wouldn't want to be in their seat when they were going over that bump so I think we have got to do something there. It is a fairly savage bump on most cars but I think we were as bad as most over it. I think we have learnt a fair bit this afternoon. The forecast for the rest of the weekend is that there is a fair chance of rain, certainly on Sunday, and we don't have many intermediate or wet tyres available to the teams so we took a view that we weren't going to learn much, we couldn't do our development programme. You can easy have an accident and what happened to Sebastian, let's be honest, could have happened to any of us. As it happens we did an install lap and we were going to just do a launch in the end. That's all we intended. In the end we didn't quite manage to do that with Lewis anyway so it was a fairly quiet morning, as you say. This afternoon was pretty busy, but there is a limit to what you can do as you have to do some long runs on heavy fuel, on the tyres you think you might start the race with.
A lot of people are talking about the future of Formula One, the future marketing of Formula One. You all have a voice in that, what is it that you personally, in your team, want from Formula One in the future?
I think that it should be a collective programme. It's very nice to say what we want individually but we are a group of teams that put on a show, and I think it's the consensus of the teams and where they want to go as a whole, and I think FOTA will handle that under the guidance of Martin and Eric Boullier. There probably are [individual requirements] but I think they have to be brought together with the needs and the consensus of all the teams.
It's important, you know, that from 2013 onwards, the new drivetrain is coming, that the price for the new drivetrain is not too high for the private teams, that we find a consensus like it was with the FOTA teams before, which was quite an important job done by FOTA, that we got a good consensus, and that we are racing in countries who can afford Formula One, that we can save our structure and our income, and that we increase the show. I think that the last races – especially Shanghai – were quite an interesting race, an exciting race and that we can continue to go on in this direction.
I think that it's important for Formula One to develop, to look at issues like green issues but you've got to make sure that it's kept in perspective, that costs don't go up, that we do put on a good show and also that we've got a formula where the independent teams and smaller teams can be competitive, and I think we've gone that route with FOTA. We need to go further down that route, but any changes that we bring in have got to bear in mind that Formula One will put on a good show when it has lots of competitive teams and we've got to make sure that we keep that.
I think first of all we need to describe what we have, and if I look back to the last race, all of us have been in Formula One quite a while, but this certainly was one of the most thrilling races, full of leaders, with Mark Webber storming through the field from 18th position to third, almost catching his team-mate, who started on pole position. So, I think we need to realise what the sport is delivering, what is happening currently and this is very, very good compared to whatever Formula One was capable of presenting in terms of very good and very thrilling races. I think the concept very much influenced by the FOTA teams cooperating with the FIA, the new tyres – everything was really good and, you know, today we are in the position to ask for new powertrains, for not too much money. The manufacturers brought Formula One and the teams into a position where they pay a third of what was paid five or eight years ago. I think sometimes we need to reflect on these facts as well. There is a very, very good Formula One. There is, of course, one team at the moment commanding, leading; McLaren catching up; then a handful of teams behind, chasing, but look at teams like Force India. They are doing an excellent job; look at teams like Toro Rosso, they have had their highlights. Look at traditional teams like Williams; okay, they struggle sometimes but never, ever have there been seven really very good teams in Formula One. Look at us, it's difficult for us to fight for third position and then go from there further on. But again, we are here in Formula One. Others left and I think it is very good that the Silver Arrows are in Formula One. That needs stabilisation, it needs more work but we are here for a decent amount of money and that's good. I don't want to paint the world in blue colours but we should reflect, sometimes, on what we have, because a lot has been achieved already and together we can further improve it.
I think Formula One is a fantastic show, it's a fantastic sport. I think we are all fortunate to be involved in the sport. I think that in the last couple of years the way the sport has continued to evolve, I think the racing on track has been fantastic. The competition has been good and one senses that the buzz about the sport, the interest in the sport has grown, has continued to grow, and you can see that through the television audiences, and in many cases circuit attendance, that we've even seen in the early races. I don't think that we've got there by accident. I think that collectively, the commercial rights holder and the FIA have done a good job to get us to exactly where we are and the teams and the drivers are a key part of that. I think that for Formula One to continue to grow and move forwards is crucial. I think stability is also very important. At the end of the day, it's about the show that we put on. It's about entertaining the crowds, entertaining the fans and the spectators, and that it is man and machine at the limit and that's what Formula One should certainly continue to be. It's important to have a balance of independent teams and manufacturers and I think at the moment we've got that balance right. I think costs have dramatically come down so an independent team such as Red Bull has been able to run at the front and win. I think that's certainly healthy for the sport and I think we're well set for the future.
I think Christian's provided an excellent summary, so I don't know that I can improve on that. From a different angle, I think that for the last 20 years, perhaps we, collectively, have not managed the sport as well as we can. There's been in-fighting, there's a competitive spirit in Formula One that sometimes has been quite damaging. I think the first thing is that we've had a relatively brief era now but we've had an era of unprecedented cooperation between the teams and I think that's been fantastic and trying to get co-operation between the very large teams and the smaller teams has necessitated compromise on both sides, and I think that's been a fantastic effort and I think the teams have collectively worked much better together. We've had some great championships, we've had comparative lack of the paddock polemics, which I think we were all getting bored of, and I think we're focusing on some great racing, a great championship last year and hopefully we will have another one this year. We have to work together with the commercial rights holder, with the governing body and establish that partnership that we can really promote the sport. I think that we've now gone some way to look at improving the show. We now have to tell people about it. We have to promote and I think, again, that needs all of us to work together. I'm not pointing fingers at anyone. We're all part of it. All of us, the six of us here have all been part of Formula One for some time so we're part of the historic problem; we've got to be part of the future and how it can be better. I think there is, now, an environment of people realising that we've got to work together. We shouldn't be complacent, we've had some fantastic championships. As Christian said, there is an increasing buzz about the sport but we shouldn't be satisfied with where we are; we have to improve the show, we have to improve the promotion, we have to improve the co-operation, we have to make sure it's sustainable. There are still teams that are vulnerable so we've got to make sure that this is a sport that is affordable for all of the teams. We shouldn't lose any of the teams that we've got if we can possibly help it.
(Sarah Holt – BBC Sport)