Christian, we heard some criticism of the pit lane exit from your drivers, could you confirm that? What is the problem exactly?
For sure, if it's conditions like today, if the speed limit goes up to 100km/h I think it could be a tricky down there. Yeah, it's part of the track, at the end of the day it's the same for all teams and all drivers but I think they probably need to have a look at whether we – because the pit lane tapers as well – whether we remain with 100km/h or whether it would actually be better to look at a 60km/h speed limit.
Q: (Ya'acov Zalel – Hege)
In the past there was a strong link between technology of racing cars and road cars. In today's cars, there is very little influence or technology from Formula One into road cars. Do you think it's a problem, or the current situation is OK?
We've just been talking about the new engine regulations. I think that if you look into the automotive field at the moment - increasingly downsized engines, turbocharged engines, hybrid, kinetic energy recovery - those are all very relevant areas and that's one of the drivers behind the rule changes that we're now implementing. I think that it's important that there is some transfer, some linkage, some relevance to what we're doing. Formula One is increasingly about efficiency, fuel efficiency, use of resources and I think that – perhaps belatedly – we're putting quite a lot of effort there now. I think we ought to be hoping, in the coming years, that we will become more attractive to the automotive companies and more come in. I think the automotive industry has gone through an unprecedented recession, it's been tough. It's been tough in Formula One. We've survived. As Christian said, we've had some great races and we've been trying to improve our show, improve our governance, work together more effectively and I think that some of the rule changes that are being implemented now increase the relevance to the automotive sector.
There was a problem in that not too many road cars were revving at 18/19,000rpm, unfortunately, and that's why we've had to come down a little, but it's a balance because at the end of the day we're a show, we're a sport, we're a spectacle, we're a technical contest. There's a degree of purity that's necessary in Formula One that those of us who have been engineers in the sport have enjoyed and indulged ourselves in for many years but we've got to have that balance. We can have our fun but it's actually got to be seen as relevant fun.
I think Martin has explained the real situation. I think manufacturers do have a place but Formula One will carry on without them. Their value to us, of course, is the supply of engines; they supply the engines for what they can learn from the use of those engines under very high stress conditions. I think our particular formula works quite well and the chain of events that one party depends on the other but, whether manufacturers are dominant within the sport or not, teams like us will always fight them anyway so whatever is the status quo, we're happy to go along with it.
I think Formula One foremost and utmost needs to produce good races, needs to produce a good show. It needs to be a technological challenge and it's finding that balance that people turn on the TV or come to the races because they want to see man and machine at the limit, wheel-to-wheel racing which is something that we've really embraced for the last couple of years. As far as the technology is concerned, I think it is interesting, there are some relevant areas to the automotive sector. In our own case, we've obviously started a partnership with Nissan Infiniti, looking at certain hybrid technologies as the technical regulations become clearer for 2014. Obviously for Renault there is relevance to their road car sector but I think beyond that has to be the quality of the racing. I think Formula One, to a degree, is also a form of escapism, that people are coming here to hear loud cars, fast cars and, as I say, the drivers and machinery on the ragged edge, on the limit and that's what makes Formula One the spectacle that it's been over the last fifty years.
Q: (Andy Benson – BBC Sport)
Martin and Christian, the original ruling on the off-throttle blown diffusers was 10 per cent for everybody. Now Renault are being allowed 50 per cent throttle. Mercedes, I assume, aren't but they are being allowed some fuelling on the overrun so how can we be sure we're watching a level playing field, and is this the end of the matter this weekend?
I think, as you clearly say, first of all there was a technical directive which effectively turned it all off. That was obviously with reticence by the manufacturers and it has been very much a manufacture issue. Certain teams were then allowed to have fired overrun, to fuel their overrun, of which there are also, obviously, secondary benefits through the exhaust plumes and thrusts that that creates but that was permitted. Obviously Renault presented their position to the FIA, and let's not forget that this is an extraordinarily complex matter, to demonstrate that precedent is there that, for purposes of throttle blip and reliability, that cold air blowing open throttle was a necessary part of the operation of their engine, otherwise it would cause serious issues. It would be unfair to allow fire overrun and not allow the same parameters for another engine manufacturer. I think it's a very, very difficult job for the FIA to pick their way through this and I think all credit to them, they've looked to try and be as fair, balanced and equitable as they decreed that they would be through the technical directive, to come up with the solutions that they have. We're not totally happy with the solution that we have, that's for sure. I'm sure Martin isn't with his and I'm sure there are a lot of conspiracies in the paddock that these are the reasons why Red Bull is performing or McLaren is performing, or some cars aren't performing. That's just circumstantial at the end of the day. The fundamentals are that the engine manufacturers have been treated in a fair and equitable manner.
I'm sure people set out to do that. I think there have been about six technical directives on the subject so far and it's moved around and when the goalposts are moving partway through a practice session, then I think it makes it quite difficult. I think that with the benefit of hindsight, it would have been better to make changes at year end, which I think Christian would agree. I think that to do this and to do it in a fairly cloudy and ambiguous and changing way inevitably, in a competitive environment, every team feels that it's been hard done by. At the moment, I think potentially a lot of teams will end up making the argument to cold blow. Renault have been in that domain for some time, other teams haven't and don't have that experience but we're talking about a very substantial performance benefit here.