Canadian GP - Friday press conference - Pt.2
11 June 2011
Team personnel: Eric Boullier (Lotus-Renault), Pat Fry (Ferrari), Andrew Green (Force India), Paddy Lowe (McLaren) and Sam Michael (Williams).
Questions from the floor.
Q: (Thomas Richter – TV Nova).
We basically have all the engine manufacturers represented here and the discussion regarding the new engine generation post-2012 is becoming a little confusing for us, so please can you independently from each other, clarify your respective positions regarding the future engines in Formula One and what are your preparations?
It's maybe starting to be confusing for us as well! In the case of Renault, Renault clearly wants to go and push for a new engine format and new engine architecture and is clearly in favour of the four-cylinder. I think there are some concerns from some other engine manufacturers who would maybe like to see a different architecture, or push a bit further or postpone directly the arrival of the new engine, so this is basically why there are discussions.
For me, from the technical side, I think it is a very interesting technical challenge, a huge project. At some point some clarity will be good, when we need to start working on it, really, but as for the political situation behind it, I don't think I really want to comment.
Q: (Matt Youson – Matt Youson and Associates).
As a follow-up to that question: you've decided to steer clear of shaped undersides for 2013 onwards. Is there a plan in place for an alternative or will we see slower cars when the smaller engines eventually arrive?
Shaped undersides, for the bodywork regulations. I don't know if you've followed that but the aerodynamic package that's been agreed for 2013 is an evolution of what we have today rather than what was called ground effect concept. So the ground effect concept, which the FIA had worked on, has been held for the moment. I think they did some interesting work and that's not necessarily dispensed with forever but the concept that's been agreed for 2013 is an evolution from where we are but in a way which generates some changes which cause the cars to be more efficient, which is all part of the package, which together with the power unit, which is the engine and the hybrid system, will generate total fuel savings of perhaps thirty percent. The teams made a case to the FIA that this evolutionary approach would achieve the same objectives in a more robust manner with more certainty, because it was based on the current position, so evolving from that, gave more certainty to reach the target, and frankly, at less cost for everyone, because it was a small set of changes.
Q: (Peter Windsor - Clarcksport).
Fan response and perhaps controversy; there was a lot of discussion after the restart at Monaco, particularly about new tyres going on the cars and repairs being made and effectively free changes being made to the cars. I would be interested in everybody's view about that, what took place there and whether you think that's going to happen for ever more or whether it's up for review, whether or not perhaps tyre changes should be allowed, or indeed, modifications to rear wings or whatever?
I suppose the tyre situation… in that sort of situation you don't know if anyone's run over some debris or damaged a tyre in any way, I suppose you could say like Lewis today, for example. So I think to change tyres is actually sensible and it's a safety issue, really, so I think it's essential that people can. As for how badly damaged your car is, I think that's going to be debated, isn't it? It's been that way for as long as I can remember, which is quite a long time! Again, it does stop you having to take risks. Would you send your car to the pit lane to fix it or do you think that whatever is slightly damaged might last for the five laps left or whatever? Safety-wise, it is best to allow both to happen, I would think.
Peter, I think I can see what you're saying from the fans' point of view, because that part of the race is effectively destroyed, if you like. Very difficult to race. There were three or four different things happening towards the end of that race and they were all knocked on the head. It's not something that happens very often, which is probably why it probably needs a debate and it's probably going to be a long time before it happens again. I agree with the safety factor of being able to change tyres because of punctures, but there were three or four different strategies going on there, with some cars that had taken a hit on their race time such as Hamilton, Maldonado and Ferrari and others that hadn't, such as Kobayashi and Vettel, so clearly those guys were playing the long game, and they were all very exposed at the end of the race and that helped them out, straight away. It can go both ways, with teams, it's more really what does it do to the show? I'm not sure, it might be a long time before you see it again. In terms of car damage, obviously you take a free repair, because you're allowed to work on your car as soon as the race starts, you can do whatever you want to your car: you can stop and change the set-up if you want to, so it's pretty hard to have a rule that says that just because you're on the grid you can't repair it. And once again, you could pull in the safety arguments, so sometimes you lose from it, sometimes you gain, but maybe it's something that needs a chat about again, but it would be very difficult to get a rule that covers all those situations.
Q: (Peter Windsor - Clarcksport).
On that basis, given that level of confusion, is there an argument – again, it's a collective question – for not re-starting the race and going back to where we were at 75 per cent? That is the race result, because a lot of fans are saying that as well.
Yeah, I mean that might possibly be a solution.
The trouble with both of those solutions is that they deny the race result that everybody was looking forward to. As Sam said, it's a very old rule and very rarely deployed, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't discuss refining it for next time. I think that there probably are ways round the problems that these guys have given. For instance, you could change a tyre if you could show that it was damaged, for instance, or something like that. I think really that the more you could make a restart preserve the state of the race before it was stopped, that's got to be better for the race that the spectators are looking for.
Q: (Sean Gordon – The Globe and Mail).
I'm wondering what today taught you about the tyres and how they're dealing with the track here, and what, if anything, the prospect of wet conditions in either qualifying or the race or both will do to change your approach going into tomorrow?
I suppose we found the new medium very consistent, it was a very good tyre. We were surprised at the track conditions and the grip level at the beginning of FP1. Moving on to the prime and the option, there was obviously a clear difference. I haven't had a look at all the data yet to see exactly the changes between the two tyres but that they seem reasonably well suited to the track. We've always got one eye on the weather. Our set-up will evolve overnight as we get more up-to-date information. It's going to be an interesting weekend, I think, if all the forecasts pan out.
I agree with Andrew that we need to see how the forecast firms up over the next 24 hours or less. Certainly if it's wet on Sunday that will be pretty interesting. We haven't yet had a wet race with the Pirelli tyres, so that will be a new experience for everybody, whether they're taking part or watching, so we will have to see. In terms of what we learned on the dry tyres today, for us it was disrupted somewhat by the double red flags which really meant we didn't get a time on the option tyre and then particularly Lewis punctured his option during that process so he actually had no running on the option, effectively.
I think the tyres improved significantly for us from P1 to P2 – we saw quite a large drop in wear rates, so I think by the time we get to Sunday, if it stays dry the tyres will be fine. The weather looks like it's going to be a fifty or sixty per cent chance of rain; that was ninety percent a couple of days ago, so it is coming down, but I think it looks pretty likely, and the temperature's dropping as well, with today being the hottest day. So all those things are going to make Sunday's race pretty interesting, I think.
I don't have much to say, they just said everything and they are the technical experts. It's true that the forecast will obviously be watched carefully for what's going on.
I think it will be an interesting Sunday if it's wet. There hasn't been a wet race, as Paddy said and we're all going to be learning: where are the crossover points between each of the tyres? If it's a monsoon or very, very wet conditions at the start, can you actually get from the full wet… do you have to use the intermediate before you put the super soft on? It will be interesting, we will be learning as we go along. Today, the track evolved quite a lot. It was very dusty to start with but I think the grip improved with the track. With the supersoft, very, very few people actually got a decent lap on the supersoft, so it's a little hard to say where the difference between the two tyres is. I think most people were had over twice by the two red lights, so yeah, people were running their tyres with six out- and in-laps or something. I'm not sure of the exact pace difference between the tyres. In terms of degradation and that, it didn't seem that bad today. If it's dry, I'm sure the track will be improving, so again, it should be a relatively easy race.
Q: (Edd Straw – Autosport).
Pat, Stefano Domenicali has said that one of the areas that Ferrari has been weak is in terms of innovation and new ideas technically. He has said that this is one of the areas that the recent changes are aiming to address. Do you agree that that's been a weakness of Ferrari? If so, why is that and what's being done to address the situation?
It's interesting, as I mentioned earlier, seeing how two main Formula One teams work. Ferrari is quite different, particularly in the aerodynamic side of things. In April we changed the way we were organising that department, to try and give people more time to think. We put Nicolas Tombazis more in control, more hands on in managing that group of engineers, which I think has paid off. There are a lot of clever people at Ferrari. We've just got to try and join them all up, so they are all working together in the same direction.