I think you need to see things right: it was BBC taking the decision if I'm informed correctly and I think it was a great job from Bernie, from Sky, from everybody else to step in and now we will see what the development will bring, but of course the initiative from the BBC. It was not the commercial rights holder selling non-free-to-air and I think that it is very important to keep that in mind. I can understand the BBC's position but the basic plan was a different one. It's a good combination still. I think pay TV…this channel in England is completely different, for example, to Germany. I heard that they have ten million or whatever subscribers so basically you can have a lot of viewers. But I'm not qualified to judge that in detail, but I think it is important to realise how it all started.
(Dieter Rencken – The Citizen)
Riad, if I understand it correctly, if you finish in the top ten again this year as you did last year, you move up a column which obviously brings certain financial benefits under Concorde. But by the same token, you have more to lose if you change your team's name, unless you get permission from everybody. How are you going to tackle that juggling act if you do change your team's name?
I guess there is a process that we all have to go through but as I highlighted, it is a process that we will undertake if and when the decision is made but it's something that hasn't happened yet so I can't comment.
(Dieter Rencken – The Citizen)
Are you confident that you will get that permission?
I've got no motion of doing anything right now in terms of changing the name or anything like that so I can't comment.
(Dieter Rencken – The Citizen)
Gerard, on the one side we are hearing about massive investments as we heard about early on; on the other side we're hearing stories of doom and gloom about bank loans and bankruptcies and all sorts of things: selling the team, Group Lotus wanting to buy the team. Could you clarify these issues please?
It's been one of the surprises for me in Formula One. The fact that any time we have a new driver, any time we announce something, any time I take a trip to Brazil or Russia or whatever, suppose I'm looking for money for the team. The fact is that we're involved in a lot of businesses. This one, as a matter of fact, is one that we hope is going to be break-even at some point in time. It's not but it's not one that needs to make money for us. We make money somewhere else. I used to answer this giving examples and so on. To be honest, I don't care any more because if it was reality we wouldn't be there for a long time. I think the team that we took over had about 480 people. We saved those jobs and added about forty jobs to those. Facts speak for themselves. As I said, I used to get quite angry every time I would pick up something like that. Now it's almost like crying wolf and nobody cares. The fact is that the facts are there: we are investing, we're adding sponsors. Our drivers, whenever they get called pay drivers, I actually feel bad for them, not for us because at the end of the day, there is no driver that I think or I hope could bring enough money to actually carry this kind of team forward. I find it disrespectful to those guys. I used to find it disrespectful to us, to be honest with you. Now I don't any more so now what we do is we get on with the things that we have to do. We make the investments that we have to make and at the end of the day we will see – in terms of results – what will be in the future and hopefully we will be wherever our investments carry us, which is to be one of the top three teams.
(Mat Coch – pitpass.com)
Sorry, carrying on from my previous question, at the moment there is about 97 percent of people in the UK that watch Formula One on free-to-air TV. Some numbers that we've gathered in the last couple of weeks show that only about seven percent of those viewers are going to be interesting buying a subscription. Does that not hurt your sponsors and their interests in the team and their expectations of their payback?
Probably just coming back onto that is that you've been very focused on the UK. It's a global market. Obviously we want to make sure our fans in the UK are serviced as well as possible, but at the end of the day, it was the BBC that made a decision. Bernie put together a super compromise. There will still be the ability to watch it on BBC and watch every race, but then you've got the added value… I'm not so sure your numbers are going to be right when it comes down to the real agenda. I think you will find that a lot of people will switch over.
I'm not a specialist in that market but you need to apply the right facts. Where does the figure of seven percent come from? If I'm informed correctly, you can watch each and every Grand Prix free-to-air, this is still the case, and so maybe it's an addition, if it's played in the correct way. We have to wait and see but there was no alternative.
But basically you're not worried about your sponsorship?
(Chris Lyons – Associated Press)
Sam, I know your interest is much more on the sporting side than on the financial side of things, but on a broad principle, Williams
going forward in the years to come – not just next year but in the years to come – are they in a situation where they will be able to make decisions on drivers based purely upon what they bring to team in terms of ability or is Williams
in that situation now where it's got to look more towards sponsorship and the financial aspects rather than just pure talent?
If you take the first part of your question about Williams
financially, they are obviously entering a lot of different areas of their business such as WHP with the hybrid power system – that's standing out to be a very… an industry that's going to open up a lot over the next few years. They already have contracts with major motor manufacturers, so that's one area that's quite strong. They're obviously investing pretty heavily in Qatar. There's the new Jaguar programme as well. There's lots of different areas that Williams
is diversifying into to ensure… which a lot of other teams have done as well. McLaren
is a good example, earlier than Williams, and that will continue to be more and more profitable as years go on. That will help Williams
put themselves into a good position. Other teams have done it, there's nothing to say that Williams
can't either so I can't see that that will be an issue for them in the future.