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Australian GP - Friday press conference - Pt.1

16 March 2012


Team representatives: Luis Perez-Sala (HRT), Paul Hembery (Pirelli), Eric Boullier (Lotus), Ross Brawn (Mercedes), Adam Parr (Williams).


Press conference.


Q:
Luis, it must have been an extraordinary experience coming here, you had so much work to do. Just give us some indication of what it's been like?

Luis Perez-Sala:
For us it has been almost a success just to be here in Melbourne because it has been very tough. We missed the crash test at the beginning of February and then almost until the end of February we were working to try and pass the crash test. Then, once we have done that, we went to a filming day at Barcelona, this helped us a bit, and here we have been working last night, the whole night, to have ready at least the second car. And in P1 we were running only with one car, several laps, three or four laps, and then in P2 we could afford to run at least the installation lap with Pedro's [de la Rosa] car.

Q:
How worried are you about qualifying, do you think you can get both cars in [to the race]?

Luis Perez-Sala:
It will be difficult for us. I'm not thinking now about the speed of the cars, now we are trying to fit all of things to make do as best as possible to make P3 tomorrow, doing several laps and then we will see on the qualifying. For us Melbourne is like a place where we are going to take certain information from the cars and go forwards for the next races.

Q:
Your championship really starts in Malaysia.

Luis Perez-Sala:
We hope! I will see. For us the most important thing is to be here as we are and then to try to learn as much as possible. Of course the team is a bit tired as well, they have been working hard for the last month and I would like them to relax a bit and take information and we will see if it's Shanghai or Malaysia-Shanghai, whenever we start to do our real pace and then trying to improve and to get better and better through the season.

Q:
Good luck.

Luis Perez-Sala:
We need it!

Q:
Paul, obviously this is the start of your second season. How different is it this year to one year ago?

Paul Hembery:
I would probably have made similar comments to Luis last year at this time, having to get ready in a short space of time. Obviously experience is great, you understand, even from the small things like logistics, which help a lot in this world because it's a complex world from a logistical side and there's a lot of things that go on in the sport that I guess are invisible to the outside world. So, yeah, it's a much better position to be in.

Q:
The teams are saying that the tyres don't seem to be degrading as much, is that the case? What's been the reaction to the new tyres?

Paul Hembery:
I think it's early days to see that. They're certainly degrading – whether it's enough or not I don't know – if the comments are too positive Bernie calls me up and gives me an earful! I think the general balance of the car, judging from the comments of the drivers and the teams is that they're happy with the balance. Part of that is a few of the small changes that we've made. Also I think the teams have had more time to design the cars around the tyres this season. So, I think it's a combination of the two things.

Q:
Looking at the amount of running they've had today, very little dry running – where would you say the teams are in preparation for this race?

Paul Hembery:
I think you have to ask them that. When they did do a run in the dry I guess they're all using different fuel loads and they've all got different programmes in mind, what they're trying to achieve in the sessions. But I think the general comment that everyone's seen so far in testing is that the cars seem to be much closer together in terms of performance this year than last year – and hopefully that's going to mean we're going to have a great season.

Q:
Adam, first of all, to what extent are we seeing a new Williams team? A number of things have changed, tell us about the team as it stands now.

Adam Parr:
We have made a lot of changes but hopefully nothing of any importance because Williams, part of the secret is trying to keep what we have as a team – but we've made a number of changes, we've got a new technical leadership who've been able to deliver this car but we have another 500 people who haven't changed. I'm really pleased we've been able to completely redesign the car top to bottom, change engines, and without missing a trick. We did a lot of mileage in testing, so that's all gone very nicely. On the board side Claire [Williams] is stepping up to join our board as director of marketing and communications in early April and we're very excited about that. I think she's going to be a fantastic asset for this team – and the great thing is no-one can poach her!

Q:
Another point is that you've got two relatively inexperienced drivers, whereas you had Rubens [Barrichello] with a massive amount of experience. How has that gone and how, in turn, has Alex Wurz been able to contribute?

Adam Parr:
I think it's very early to say, isn't it? But what I do feel is both Bruno and Pastor are… they're not in their first seasons in Formula One, they are very competitive and I think they can have a lot of fun between the two of them and with the team. Alex is playing the role of a wise head and mentoring them as necessary, and so far, so good.

Q:
How much are you asking him to do? Giving him a free rein to talk to the drivers?

Adam Parr:
Yes, he has an absolutely free rein and he attends the debriefs etc, and how he does it is up to him. He should know better than anyone what he has to do.

Q:
Ross, first of all it couldn't be a better start to the season could it – than to be top on the first day?

Ross Brawn:
Well, it's certainly better than being at the back! The only reason I qualify it is that we have no idea what people are running on fuel. We've had little windows of running on the dry. Our cars were doing different things to try to understand and get some information for tomorrow because we've got one hour of timed practice before we have to go into qualifying and, as Paul commented, we don't really know these tyres very well yet, because testing in the winter in Barcelona with a heavily rubbered track is not giving us all the information we need to know how to use the tyres, what strategy to choose and so on and so forth. So we're trying to get snapshots in these weather conditions of what's going on. It's been a reasonably encouraging start but we're not getting carried away because different people were doing different things today.

Q:
In terms of preparation you missed out the first test with the new car, you obviously hit the ground running with it for the two Barcelona tests – how different has it been starting this season to last season?

Ross Brawn:
We're much better prepared than we were last year. Last year we were not in good shape at this stage of the season. We'd tried to leave it as late as possible to run the final aerodynamic package and that hadn't gone that well, and we had some cooling issues, some other functionality issues of the car and that takes a lot of resource out of the organisation fixing those things. So, we made a big effort to strengthen the team, do things more effectively, and to arrive at the beginning of this season in a much better state of preparation. I must commend the people who've been involved with that. As Adam was saying, we're keen to strengthen the team without losing the strengths that we already have. So, Bob Bell has been a great asset to the team, Bob's been involved in this car from the beginning. He's done a great job of the organisation, keeping everyone to schedule, getting the right decisions made, so we're not where we want to be yet in many ways but we're a lot better than we were 12 months ago. And if we can keep that rate of progress going, then I'm extremely optimistic for the future. We're in a place now where the car functions well, it cools well, it does all the basic things properly. And all of our resource can be focussed on trying to find performance for the next part of the season.

Q:
Everybody's talking about your supposed front-wing stalling system, is there anything you can tell us?

Ross Brawn:
Well, I can tell you it's great for Formula One, because for me the magic of Formula One is not just the drivers, it's the technology, the engineering, the innovation, the stories that fill the web pages and the media. It's something that I think is a great thing for Formula One. When I hear these people talking about how we need to have standard cars and just let the drivers… they miss the whole point of Formula One, which is the magic of everything that happens in Formula One. You know, we've got drivers out there, world champions, who are perhaps not in the best car at the moment and that's a story. That's a great aspect of Formula One. We have world champions in much better cars and the teams without the better cars have got to fix that and improve. So it's great people are talking about different things. Today it's us, tomorrow it will be somebody else. That's why Formula One is so fascinating, why it's so appealing to our fans and enthusiasts.

Q:
Eric, sorry to keep you waiting first of all. How much of a setback was losing the first Barcelona test?

Eric Boullier:
Obviously we missed some track time, some development time of the systems and some track time for the drivers as well, as obviously they were not racing last year in Formula One. But I have to say that number one, we have a reliable car and we were able to do a lot of mileage in Jerez and at the second Barcelona test.

Q:
Kimi had some problems with comfort in the car in Barcelona. Is he still having those problems now or was it something different today?

Eric Boullier:
It's very similar, let's say. But also it's a new chassis and you have to adjust a little bit his position in the car.

Q:
Are you curing that?

Eric Boullier:
Of course, definitely.

Q:
And Romain today? How quickly did he learn the circuit and do you feel confident in him now?

Eric Boullier:
Yes, I think he showed in the second session that he was now ready to drive and he knew the track. This morning you could see that the conditions were a bit tricky and this is why we waited for the best conditions for him to go out and learn the track, as we think… the forecast is for it to be dry on Sunday.

Q:
Are they working well together, those two? One would say they might be slightly different personalities?

Eric Boullier:
Yes, I have to say it's matching quite well. I mean they are team-mates, they are professional drivers and they work well. We have no issues with this.


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