Well, it's one of those cases where you're damned if you do, damned if you don't. You're clearly not going to get everyone to agree, and with a tyre, certainly if you design it around a certain application you can make a certain vehicle go quicker - and that's clearly why we're wanting to make changes now. Some people want more changes, some people don't want any changes for example. The Friday is useful where you're coming to a point of wanting to actually introduce a change - but you can't go testing with 11 teams on a Friday with various specifications because it simply doesn't work that way. I think a good step forward would be winter testing actually in hot conditions. You know, if we were able to get to Abu Dhabi or Bahrain before we get to Australia, at least you'd have an advanced indication. You've also got to remember, if we do find surprises, and I'm quite sure next season there could be - assuming we have a contract which we don't have at the moment - but assuming we're going forward, you could get to a situation with the new powertrain, which from the indications of the teams will have a lot of torque, and will increase wheelspin, tyre wear, overheating, you could end up in a situation with a surprise again. So there needs to be a balance. Teams have clearly got restrictions on resources. The test teams were got rid of for good reasons from their point of view - but some sort of mid-range solution would be useful to us, even if it means staying on after a few events during the season, then that would be extremely valuable from our point of view.
(Dieter Rencken - The Citizen).
Alain, as Renault
Sport brand ambassador, how do you feel about the fact that the public perception is that in fact Infiniti won the championship last year as the engine supplier because if one looks at the team principal's shirt, there are five Infiniti badges and two Renault
badges, yet Renault
seems to be paying it all. How do you feel about that?
I know it's very difficult... it's always difficult to answer this kind of question for me. The perception you can have here is obviously the right one, could be the right one. The involvement of Renault
in Formula One, is very clear over the last few years. As you can see, the market in Europe is not very good and they're already aiming for having a new image, new visibility in new markets: Russia, Brazil, India and a little bit less in China, those are the big markets for Renault. Obviously everybody would like to maybe have a different situation for Renault
inside F1, for example, again, a new team, a Renault
team, but the strategy of the president and of Renault
is very clear. They want to stay the way they are at the moment and I must say that in this country they were talking about how it's working very well and they're increasing the image of the brand and they're selling more and more cars and they want to continue like this. As I said, the perception you can have here maybe is a bit different to what they achieve instead of having a proper team, more aggravation. Again, talking about strategy, if you see what Renault
has done in the last 37 years, they went from the French national team to being a partner with Williams
and Benetton and then another team and then now they are supporting a team with whom we have won the World Champion for the last three years. So they could change, they could maybe change in the future, but at the moment we need to keep to this strategy decided by the president.
(Dan Knutson - Auto Action/National Speedsport News).
A question for Alain: there's a lot of talk these days that the drivers cannot drive 100 percent flat out for the whole race Let's take a year when you had a good car, say 1985. How much of the race could you drive 100 percent flat out? When you weren't driving 100 percent, what percent were you at and what parts of the car did you have to conserve, to make sure they lasted the race?
I think it's difficult to compare, obviously, because today the cars are so advanced; normally the driver can push 100 percent in normal conditions. The tyres this year are very soft which makes it a little bit different. In our time, if you want to compare, we had to take care of the brakes and gearbox and fuel consumption and obviously also tyres because sometimes we had to be careful of the tyres, but the regulations were also very different and at one stage we had three types of rubber and we could make changes and I very often ran hard tyres on the left and soft tyres on the front. I even raced in Las Vegas in '81 with qualifying tyres on the front, but that means we cannot compare, but that also proves that you need to adapt yourself, as a driver, as an engineer, to the regulations and obviously we're experiencing complaints this year... in fact it's not that different compared to last year, except that you maybe don't want to see some rubber on the track and having accidents. But apart from that, you just have to adapt to the situation, drivers or engineers. It's typically F1.
(Alan Baldwin - Reuters).
Christian, I may have misconstrued your comment earlier but do you seriously believe that Lotus have somehow benefitted from the fact that Pirelli are using a 2010 Renault
for testing, and maybe Paul could answer whether privileged information has somehow been given to one team?
No, I don't think privileged information or anything in any way has been done underhand. At the end of the day, Pirelli needed a car to test, they originally came to Red Bull. At that time, it was almost unanimously agreed that Red Bull
shouldn't provide a car and then it was a matter of finding who could provide a car. Lotus was an obvious choice. Running had to be done by Pirelli with drivers that weren't current race drivers. You can understand that that work has had to be done. I wasn't trying to point out that there was any specific advantage from that, I was trying to point out that you're always going to struggle to achieve compromise and agreement.
Given the changes between 2010 and now, Paul, how different is your test car to what we would see on the track?
They're probably, in terms of performance, closer to the 2011 cars with the blown diffusers. They're going, certainly, a little bit harder than we anticipated this season. We're probably lapping our 2010 car three to four seconds slower, for example. That gives you an indication that we're not stressing the tyres during our testing as much as the cars are today. But there's not a perfect solution to that. We're not going to get unanimous agreement from everybody. Next year, the cars are so different that there's really nothing available today, even including today's cars, that would allow us to simulate the effect of the new powertrain. I think if we just take a sensible approach, in terms as I've already mentioned, of the winter testing and the potential to make adjustments during the season, but bear in mind you need agreement, you need eleven teams to agree to adjustments so if we've something that's affecting eleven teams, then that's really often easy to do. If you're making something that might affect some teams and not all teams or perceived benefit to others then you can imagine that's difficult. So that's a very strange balancing act that we're trying to do. We agree, we set out this year for two to three pit stops over the season, we probably will average that still, we will get some races like Barcelona which was won this time with four stops. It was won two years ago by Red Bull
with four stops so it's not exceptional but I guess as commentators it's harder to follow, it keeps you awake, you don't have your afternoon snooze any more, and that's one of the difficulties. It will be easier here for you.
(Jerome Pugmire - Associated Press).
Alain Prost, it's not been since Olivier Panis in 1996 for a French driver. What advice would you give Romain Grosjean, for example or the other French drivers... the frustration about that long spell, what advice would you give to them?
I don't think you can give advice to the drivers to be honest. They know what they do, I'm out of F1 as a driver for the last 20 years exactly and why should I give advice to... we all see what is happening, we see that Romain, for example, has a very good car, he should be able to win a race very soon as I said. But no advice from myself. If they want to have advice they can ask a question and I'm happy to answer but not giving advice like this, no. Mental is a very strong thing for sure, but also we give them a lot of pressure very often, but this is a cycle. As soon as one is going to be winning, it could snowball and I hope it works like this.
(Bob McKenzie - Daily Express).