» BACK TO CRASH.NET

Crash.Net F1 News

Spanish Grand Prix 2013: Friday press conference - Pt.1

10 May 2013

Team representatives: Dave Greenwood (Marussia), Mike Coughlan (Williams), Mark Smith (Caterham), Andrew Green (Force India), Nikolas Tombazis (Ferrari) and Adrian Newey (Red Bull Racing).


Press conference


Q:
Mike Coughlan, if we can start with you. You won here last year but what conclusions are we to draw from your performances so far this season?

Mike Coughlan:
Well, we're disappointed. It's a fast-moving sport, everybody's progressing and we haven't made enough progress. We're making steps in the right direction. We're making steps in the right direction but there's a long way… there's at least a second to catch up.

Q:
And what did you learn from today?

Mike Coughlan:
We learned that the prototype tyres didn't work on our car and we found that… we had an aero test last week, some things we learned have worked on the circuit here, but we've still got a lot of work to do.

Q:
Thanks very much. If we can move to Nikolas Tombazis. Obviously, a lot of discussions at the moment about the re-introduction of testing in Formula One. The vote this week didn't necessarily go in favour of it, but do you feel that's the end of the story or do you think there is a chance that will be revisited?

Nikolas Tombazis:
To be honest I think it's something more for the team principals to be discussing with each other. I guess there will be more discussion about it but I don't think it will be at our level of engineer to be honest that we discuss it.

Q:
And today? Obviously very close between yourselves and Red Bull. What conclusions do you draw from the running we saw this afternoon?

Nikolas Tombazis:
I think it's very difficult to draw any conclusions properly from a Friday. I think we are in reasonable shape but it's impossible to know exactly what fuel levels each team is running. So, I think we're cautiously optimistic but I couldn't say more than that. In the morning obviously it was raining so it was not easy to test some of the components we were planning to test. So that's an ongoing process that will go on for the next race to try and establish whether the new bits are actually faster or not, so it's not possible to answer all the questions in one single session.

Q:
Obviously your old colleague James Allison is back on the market, do you fancy a reunion with him in Maranello?

Nikolas Tombazis:
I'm very good friends with James, I think he's a super bloke both technically and 'humanly'. I think that any team having him would be making a good buy. Whether he is coming to us or not is a story to ask the team principals.

Q:
Okay, thank you for that. Adrian, your thoughts on today? Obviously, you and Ferrari look very quick but as Nik was saying it's not always easy to draw conclusions from Friday. However, do you see it being a scrap between the two of you this weekend?

Adrian Newey:
Well, If Nik would be kind us enough to tell us what his fuel load was this afternoon we'd have a better idea, but he probably won't do that so, no, as Nik says then it's certainly tight with Ferrari. Lotus I'm sure will be good, we've seen they have very good tyre degradation, and Mercedes are the outsiders I guess, so it's the usual story of the last few races.

Q:
Obviously Red Bull was one of the teams calling for a change to the tyre specifications. Pirelli has made one change, to the hard tyre that we have here this weekend. That was the preferred tyre here in the race last season. Can you give us your take on the changes that have been made? Did it go far enough as far as you're concerned?

Adrian Newey:
The changes to the tyre relative to last year are two-fold, one has been construction and the other has been compound. As you say they've gone back to the compound that we used in some of the races last year but that still leaves a very significant construction change, so it's still a very different tyre to what we had last year.

Q:
Moving on to Dave Greenwood from Marussia. Obviously Marussia have taken a clear step forward this year in performance. Can you quantify it for us and tell us where the major gains have come from?

Dave Greenwood:
Well, it's difficult to put exact numbers on it but definitely we're a per cent or so closer to the front. We no longer worry about anything like 107 per cent, those days are long gone, so it's much more looking towards the midfield, where we want to go. Obviously, as anyone else would say, the main advantage has come in aerodynamics – better correlation in the wind tunnel – and perhaps slightly more creativity in that area. That's where really most of the lap time has come, coupled with improvements in the mechanical installation of course.

Q:
We spoke earlier about the possibility of in-season testing returning. As one of the teams with a smaller budget how would feel about that?

Dave Greenwood:
It's a tricky one isn't it? As an engineer you'd want to go testing but obviously there's a resource issue there to consider as well. I think as Nikolas said, it's probably one more for the team principals. But I think for us it would be as long as it was in a measured, controlled way and not an absolute free-for-all then maybe it would be something that would enable us to slightly catch up by having a little bit more testing.

Q:
Moving on to Andrew. Obviously, first of all, we have to start by asking about Paul Di Resta's left-rear tyre failure. What can you tell us about that from second practice this afternoon?

Andrew Green:
Well, completely unexpected, in the middle of a high-fuel run, it was on about lap six or seven. That's all we know at the moment. It's currently under investigation by Pirelli and I'm sure they'll release something as soon as they know but it's early days yet.

Q:
What's the protocol when something like this happens, in terms of how you as a team interact with them, in terms of moving forward from here?

Andrew Green:
We're completely with them. We'll give them everything they need to understand what happened with the tyres. It's one of the reasons why we stopped the car straight away – to not damage the tyre and give them as big an opportunity as possible to understand what happened.

Q:
Obviously it's been a competitive start to the season fro Force India; you're beating teams with larger budgets. How is that done?

Andrew Green:
We've got our own programme. We've been on a stepped improvement every year for the last three or four years. We do our own thing. We try to understand the car as much as we can and move forward in areas where we see the performance gains. We are massively resource limited in our team. We haven't got the big budgets, we've got to pick and choose where we develop the car and make sure we develop it in areas that give good rewards and we'll continue to do that. One of the key things for this year, which we identified last year was race performance on Sunday, tyres life. Understanding the tyres was a big part of this car and has given us a big opportunity to set the car up for all different conditions, all different tyre types. So that's helped us on the Sunday for sure. But it's everywhere; it's a little bit of everything. The wind tunnel guys are busy trying to add performance from their side, and on the tyre side we're trying to manage the tyres mechanically.

Q:
Moving on to Mark Smith from Caterham. We've seen in the past Caterham talking a lot about upgrade packages when they come along, but there seems to have been hardly any talk about this one at all. Can you tell us what you've done and why you've decided to keep quiet about it this time?

Mark Smith:
The strategy that we had, for a number of reasons, was to introduce a car for the first four races that was probably 30 per cent of what would ordinarily be the new season's car. So, yes, it's an upgrade but in actual fact it takes us to the point that ordinarily this would have been our roll-out car. And that has to do with understanding the way we model things and not committing to things. We felt that had we have done the car in the normal timescale we would have been taking parts to production and to the car that we weren't particularly ready with in terms of our understanding and modelling and so on. So it's more a case that this is the new car.

Q:
Can you tell us what the impact the return of Heikki Kovalainen in a development role has had on you in the past month or so?

Mark Smith:
It has been very useful. Obviously, Heikki worked with the team previously. We lost driver continuity. So that in itself, when Heikki ran in FP1 in Bahrain, was a positive. There were some minor set-up directions that we were considering and in fact Heikki endorse those independently, so that was useful. So in terms of having some continuity, having some connection to the previous car, which actually the car he drove in Bahrain was only a minor development of, has been useful.


» BACK TO CRASH.NET