QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR

Q: (Paul Weaver - The Guardian)
Martin, you described as fantasy reports that Lewis might be joining Mercedes. Do you still describe that as fantasy or did you seriously under-estimate the situation?

Martin Whitmarsh:
I don't remember that but...

Related Articles

Q: (Paul Weaver - The Guardian)
I do.

Martin Whitmarsh:
...good! I think if you told me that he had signed the deal as you said that was fantasy so in answer to the same question I would give the same response to that.

Q: (Simon Cass - Daily Mail)
Martin, do you accept that Lewis has had an offer from Mercedes?

Martin Whitmarsh:
I suspect that Tony here has made him an offer as well, he's a very good racing driver.

Tony Fernandes:
I haven't!

Martin Whitmarsh:
He's not ambitious enough, you see.

Q: (Benjamin Hunt - The Sun)
Martin, you risk losing a driver, potentially; have you started even thinking about a replacement yet?

Martin Whitmarsh:
No, as I said earlier, I think we're very focused on trying to do a good job here.

Q: (Dieter Rencken - The Citizen)
To Bob and to Tony: there's a possibility that the regulations from next year onwards will be decided by the six top teams as opposed to the Formula One Commission. How do you people, as team principals of teams that don't fall within those six, feel about that possibility?

Bob Fearnley:
I think that we would like the stability to stay where it is, with all teams being represented at the F1 Commission, Dieter, so I don't think there's any doubt about where we would like to be. Tony will have to speak for himself, but I think it's a much better balance when the teams are fully represented.

Tony Fernandes:
I share the same view obviously. The one thing is though... the key is that all of us have to find a way of standardising regulations and having less changes and less irregularities but I think there is a danger that the six teams are hyper-competitive and sometimes things go on and on and on, so I do think that there could be an imbalance here but the key to me is not whether there are six teams or twelve teams or two teams, the key is to have simple regulations that won't have a tremendous amount of debate and we just will go racing.

Q: (Byron Young - Daily Mirror)
Martin, why has it taken so long to solve Lewis's situation? Even by Formula One standards it seems to have taken an age.

Martin Whitmarsh:
I think it seems a long time because of the speculation that people have made, but when you sit down and seriously put your mind to entering into a new contract it doesn't take too long. I think it's a question of priorities and other things we've been doing.

Q: (Simon Cass - Daily Mail)
Martin, are you actually trying to pay him less money for his new contract?

Martin Whitmarsh:
I'm sure he will want more money and I'm sure we will want to pay less - that's how business normally works.

Q: (Matt Coch - pitpass.com)
Tony, you've moved into the new Leafield facility, an immense complex. It's much bigger than what Caterham as a Formula One team is. What's the long term plan with the spare capacity there?

Tony Fernandes:
I think over the next few months details will evolve as to what we're planning. It's not a hidden secret that I got into Formula One to manufacture cars and Lotus was my initial objective which went spectacularly wrong in many ways, shape or forms but the ambition and the vision is still the same and Leafield will play a part in that vision. The brand may have changed but the vision and the idea of what we're trying to put together still exists. I think we are putting all the infrastructure in place to have a reasonable Formula One team. We have a reasonable car now, we just have to optimise it as much as possible. I think we've got some good people together, we're in a facility in a location which attracts other people into it, plus with our other two divisions it will all come together. I think in the next few months you will see some clarity as to what we're trying to achieve.

Q: (Dieter Rencken - The Citizen)
Jean-Francois, certain people continue talking about retaining the current V8s for an additional year or two after 2014. In addition to that, you'd said that you people wanted to possibly supply six teams with your 2014 technology. Where do you stand on these two points please?

Jean-Francois Caubet:
I think the V6 will be on the track for all the teams in two years. I think Mercedes, Ferrari and us are all changing our dynos from V8s to V6s so now it's impossible to make a change. For the teams, the strategy is to keep four teams and I don't know if it's possible to do more. I think that if you want to have good reliability, good performance you need to keep four teams, but if there will be a need for more, we don't want to close the door.

Q: (Ian Parkes - PA)
Martin, I can understand why you would want to laugh through some of the questions facing Lewis and put on a bit of a brave face but is part of you seriously appreciating the fact that there could be life without Lewis from 2013 onwards?

Martin Whitmarsh:
As I said earlier, it's not a question of putting on a brave face, it's a question of focusing on doing our job, and we're concentrating on this year's championship. I think speculation on next year is something that we don't need to entertain or respond to so we're focusing on the here and now.

Q: (Bryon Young - Daily Mirror)
So does that mean there won't be an announcement until after the end of the season, because you've got to focus on all the races haven't you?

Martin Whitmarsh:
We might wait until then, you never know.