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Friday press conference - Bahrain GP - Pt.2

It caught my attention the other week that Red Bull were talking about possibly breaking the two second mark in pit stops. I just wanted to get your thoughts how pit stops had changed in the last year or two and if they're becoming a much more significant part of the whole race, especially with the tyre issues?

Stefano Domenicali:
I think that it's been many, many years that pit stops are part of the performance of the team, performance of the team is a performance of the position on the track, it's part of the performance with the strategy and so on. So it is quite natural that you try to develop systems to try to minimise the reaction time of the guys, to be as quick as possible, and I would say this is part of the attraction of Formula One and I think that we are reaching the limit, where to have a pit stop shorter than what we are almost doing is virtually impossible. The driver has to arrive and has to at least engage the gears and the clutch to start again, so it's a physical thing that he has to do. So it's one of the things where Formula One teaches everywhere that there are all sorts of room for improvements everywhere and this is a challenge. I also remember when we had the pit stops with refuelling, it was another stop where there was another part to it and unfortunately I remember very well in 2008 you can make mistakes which can cause problems to the team, but as I said, this is part of the nature of Formula One. I think it's really nice to see that.

Eric Boullier:
Pit stops are part of racing. In most of racing today you have pit stops. It is clearly important to get this association with the pit crew, having this competition involved into the result as a global performance.

Martin, I suppose with the regulations getting ever tighter, pit stops are one area where you can gain tenths of a second.

Martin Whitmarsh:
You can. They've got quicker and quicker. We used to think four second was stunning. I think at the moment, as far as I know, I think we still have the quickest one at 2.32 seconds. I think it's possible to get below two seconds. I think it's dangerous to put too much focus on that. I think now they are sufficiently short that in fact the odd tenth difference between the stops isn't material. What is material is the pressure we put people under to get to about a two second stop. Every now and then it goes wrong, and so the ones that are material are the ones that go wrong because of the pressure we put on people to try and do it in two seconds, and those are the ones that are often the game-changer, not 2.3s versus 2.4s versus 2.6s. I think we've learned that to our cost, we've certainly put a lot of pressure to try and get down there and consistently be the quickest. In recent weeks I've said to the guys I'm happy for it to be a bit slower providing they're absolutely foolproof and I think that's probably the right thing to do.

At Sauber, how do you prepare your crew for a pit stop and try to gain extra tenths?

Monisha Kaltenborn:
Well, we've had some good examples like McLaren managing to get under three seconds. We're not quite there I would say. Over the years, you see how quick pit stops have been getting so now this margin for us is trying to be at or under three seconds. I think what's also happened is - which the guys with the pressure are fully aware of - is that even if you get things just a little bit... just a few (tenths), not even a second or so wrong, you have so much more to do than gain positions because the whole field has got together, so I think that's where also a lot of pressure has come from. Even the slightest mistake can lead to quite a lot of position losses in the race.

Q: (Dieter Rencken – The Citizen).
Last week, I asked the team principals present in China how they felt about the fact that the FIA will apparently no longer get involved in regulating the cost control process. How do the four team principals here feel about that?

Martin Whitmarsh:
I think Formula One teams are fairly tenacious so I don't think we give up on it. I think we all know that cost control is important in Formula One. There are maybe four teams that have financial stability and certainly we don't feel threatened at the moment as a team, but we're very aware that there are currently eleven teams, we need eleven or ten teams minimum and I think it's very easy to under-estimate the challenges that those teams are facing. It's something that when the emergency happens and teams start to fail, it's too late to react and I think that will go like dominos. Therefore, it we want to be responsible members and citizens of Formula One, then we've got to do what we can to control costs, we've got to do all we can to ensure that a minimum ten but at the moment that eleven teams have got sustainable business models. I think that's a right and sensible thing to do. We've put a lot of effort in. We've had some success. We're pretty good in Formula One at talking about our failures because we've had those as well, but we've had some success. There's some sensible measures out there. We need to do more. We've reached the point where it's natural for a governing body to get involved. We've seen that in other sports. I understand that the FIA needs encouragement from the teams and I'm going to continue to do what I can to encourage the teams to try and work together. We're not natural workers together on these sorts of issues. We work better in crisis situations but I think it would be foolish to wait for the next big crisis in Formula One to try and work together. I think the right thing is to work hard at it now. I'll certainly keep pushing but we will see where we go.

Monisha Kaltenborn:
For us it's absolutely clear that you have to control costs in the near future. You can do that in different ways. You can look at the measures that we have now, like an RRA. You can look at stable regulations, probably a mix of everything which would lead you there and you definitely need to do that to have a healthy sport. Ideally, like Martin said you would want your Federation involved in it and we won't give up on that, and try to maybe talk to the FIA to find ways how we can get the involved.

Eric Boullier:
I think we need to take into consideration how to control costs. It's a very serious matter now in Formula One. The RRA was one way to do it which I believe was the right way to do it but it looks as if there were different opinions. There are, as Monisha said, several ways to do it, we need to do it properly, having more stable regulations and stricter technical regulations to avoid any loopholes to spend more money. I think this may be the only way to control costs, to have them policed correctly. This is the support I will give.

Stefano Domenicali:
I agree that we should control costs, the matter is how to control them, to be honest, because we tried in a way, we made a great step forward, because I can talk about us, which for sure is one of the top teams which spends that amount of money because other teams honestly will not reach that level. For sure, we need to work together in finding the way to control it. I'm very open whether it has to be the FIA or the teams working together because there are always pros and cons but we should do something together, that's for sure.

Q: (Mike Casey – Associated Press).

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
15.03.2013- Paul Hembery, Pirelli Motorspor Director
19.04.2013- Press conference, Monisha Kaltenborn (AUT), CEO and Team Principal, Sauber F1 Team
19.04.2013- Press conference, Martin Whitmarsh (GBR), Chief Executive Officer Mclaren
26.10.2012- Press conference, Monisha Kaltenborn (AUT), CEO and Team Principal, Sauber F1 Team and Eric Boullier (FRA), Team Manager, Lotus F1 Team
26.10.2012- Press conference, Stefano Domenicali (ITA), Team Principal
05.10.2012- Free Practice 2, Martin Whitmarsh (GBR), Chief Executive Officer Mclaren

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