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Friday press conference - United States GP - Pt.2

Martin, you said earlier that it's a shame that the race this weekend coincides with the NASCAR Sprint Cup finale. On the provisional calendar for next year, it also conflicts with the NASCAR Sprint Cup finale and I was wondering if any of you had plans to object or get the calendar modified so that we actually could break America properly?

Martin Whitmarsh:
Again, I don't know about the others, but we're not involved in setting the calendar. I think it appears to be a bit unfortunate but we're probably (involved in) a different
market and I guess it's difficult when you're arranging calendars to always get them... there's always another sporting event in most nations that you try to dodge around. I don't know how significant it is. As I say, this is a new market for us but it's obviously something that occurs. NASCAR draws a huge huge audience, both in attendance and in television so we've given ourselves a bit of a challenge there, I think. I wasn't aware of the clash next year.

Q: (Kate Walker - Girl Racer)
Speed are giving the NASCAR finale 30 hours of TV coverage this weekend. I think F1 is getting something like two and a half, so it is a bit of a problem for the dedicated motor sport fan.

Christian Horner:
I think the major problem is that whatever weekend you stick a Formula One race on there's going to be a NACAR race. Looking at their calendar, they seem to race every single weekend. Some of us think that 20 races is a lot. I think that those guys are doing a fair bit more.

Stefano Domenicali:
To be honest I have to say that I didn't know about that. I think that, for sure, in terms of quantity, there's not even a fight because it is impossible to fight in that respect. As I said at the beginning, we take this momentum to speak about Formula One because I don't think it's only a matter of having on one hand the main final and on the other hand one race in America but also it's a matter of growing the attention of Formula One and then maybe in the future, the hope is that if you have on the same day the two different events, we have it the other way around, meaning that we have done a great job in terms of promotion. That should really be our target at the moment.

Q: (Maurice Hamilton - Honorary) Formula One has arguably never been more competitive from the front of the grid to the back so driver talent is therefore the most important thing that you're looking for. We know that drivers with financial backing still play a part, certainly in the second half of the grid, the back half of the grid. I wonder if the front three can just give me their view on that and say if that's still an inevitable part of Formula One, despite the need to cut costs and perhaps Cyril could explain how important a driver with financial backing is to one of the smaller teams?

Christian Horner:
Well, I think that since Formula One started in 1950, there has always been a mixture of drivers that have paid for seats and drivers that have been paid as professionals. The demands and costs of Grand Prix racing have always required that and it's no different today where there's drivers that have perhaps were associated with sponsors but have still had to demonstrate their talent, demonstrate their ability to warrant a place. In a perfect scenario, you'd have the top 24 drivers on the grid that were the most talented 24 drivers in the world in a Formula One event. The reality is that isn't the case and I think that while Formula One is a commercial business and there are commercial pressures, I think you will always have that balance, but I think that what's good to see is that there have been schemes that have been set up to support young drivers who have found their way onto the grid that perhaps were associated with sponsorship but have also had to earn that position.

Stefano Domenicali:
I agree what Christian said but one point to add: the less chances that we give to drivers to test on the track, the more it's likely that we have drivers than can present themselves to a team with whatever you call it, with money to bring with them, and this is why we are so keen to have some more testing, also for them to make sure that they are able to show to everyone how good they are on the track, on top of how good they are in bringing money to the team.

Martin Whitmarsh:
I think there are some good pay drivers out there at the moment but to my mind, there are probably too many teams that have to rely upon pay drivers and I think that's a little bit sad for the sport and I think it's an indication that we've got too much financial pressure in the sport at the moment. I think you'll always have a few but I think too great a proportion of the grid, in my opinion, has to rely upon that and that just tells us that we've got to work harder to bring costs down in the sport, because it does distort... unfortunately the three teams at the front here certainly have to pay their drivers but I think we need to really improve the financial health of the sport, such that there's a smaller proportion of pay drivers, in my personal opinion.

Cyril Abiteboul:




Related Pictures

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