Belgian GP - Friday press conference - Pt.2
23 August 2013
Team representatives: Andrew Green (Force India), Nick Chester (Lotus), Jean-Michel Jalinier (Renault Sport), Tom McCullough (Sauber), Pat Symonds (Williams) and James Key (Toro Rosso).
Questions from the floor
Q: (Oana Popoiu – F1 Zone).
Pat, as we are already halfway through the season, how will the team benefit from your work at this stage?
Well, I think with a lot of what I'm trying to do with Williams is still a bit of a process rather than the detail and that process can have an effect, reasonably quickly. Now, we are engaged in a battle this year as well, and there are still updates to come to the car: there's a new front wing, there's new bodywork, there's quite a few major upgrades but of course they are things that are already well in the pipeline and not things that I will be influencing. So really my job is to try and look at the process of determining how we get the performance out of the car and I hope that that will have some influence this year but of course it's not a five minute job and I think we will see a lot more in 2014.
Q: (Kate Walker – GP Week).
Andy Green, I wanted to go back to what James said earlier about balancing the development of the 2013 car versus 2014. Obviously you don't want to sacrifice next year's performance. Do you have a plan… I mean if McLaren pull ahead in the Constructors' championship is that the point at which you switch more of your focus over? How much of your workforce is currently on 2014 versus 2013, because you're the team in the middle with the hardest decision to make, it seems?
It is a difficult balance. I would say the point at which they have more points – they are further ahead than us there are points to score – then that's obviously over. Like I said, we'll keep pushing as hard as we can with what we've got, but we have to keep an eye on next year, there's no two ways about it. It's too big a challenge not for us to have one eye over there. McLaren are a huge, huge team, a championship-winning team and I don't expect they thought they'd be racing with us at the start of the season, and I'm pretty sure they probably didn't set themselves the target of fifth in the championship when they started the year. So we'll do what we can. We know it's going to be difficult, we'll take each race as it comes. There will be no step.
Who will make that decision? Will it be the major shareholders or the technical people?
It is a joint decision.
Q: (Mike Doodson – Auto Action).
I guess my question is for Jean-Michel. Part of the success of the current V8 Formula One has been that the engine performance has been equalized between manufacturers. I'm wondering whether the FIA has informed you of when it intends to start imposing that same process, introducing controls to equalize the performance of the V6s and when that process does start, I wonder if you, as a highly competitive group, will try to resist it?
There will be a process for convergence after – I don't know – the first two or three years, definitely there will be a process of convergence. Regarding the V8, one of our strengths is to work with the team to make the quickest car. We have never claimed to have the most powerful engine, we claim to work with the team to make the quickest car and that's the kind of methodology we are developing for the 2014 car with our partners.
Q: (Mike Doodson – Auto Action).
And the FIA controls?
I think there will be some kind of convergence because we cannot sustain - in terms of cost - free competition with open technology, open choices and open engineering. We need to have some limitation in order to reduce and control the development costs per season, so we need it.
Q: (Edd Straw – Autosport).
Nick, the long wheelbase car, what's the reasoning behind introducing that and how will you be doing it? Do you need to make some monocoque changes or can you do it a slightly easier way?
Well, we've wanted to do it because we've seen there's a performance gain associated with it. The way we're going to do it is with a front suspension change.
But there's homologation to be done?
Yeah, that's already been done.
Q: (Panos Diamantis - Car and Driver).
Mr Symonds, you said that 2014 will see the biggest technical change you've ever seen in Formula One, and obviously Williams provides this energy recovery systems to other means of transport in London. Do you think that this will be a turning point in the history of Formula One to launch more ecological technologies?
Yes, I do. It really is a bit of a double-edged sword, the 2014 power train regulations. On one hand, I'm very, very pleased that the FIA have had the foresight to really look at engine efficiency or powertrain efficiency and use F1 to push those technologies. I guess the downside for us is that it's been a long process to introduce it and of course, from the time of starting to talk about it until introducing it we've been through a major worldwide recession which has made it difficult for all the Formula One teams to embark on such a big project. But we've managed to do it and I think what we need to do now is make sure that we capitalise on it. Formula One, I think, is guilty of far too often hiding its light under a bushel and a lot of the very great things we do as engineers in Formula One we like to keep to ourselves and I think it's time for that to change. I think it's time for the world to know what we are doing with Formula One powertrains in 2014 is really quite advanced. It really is something new, it really is the way of the future and therefore I think we can stop before it happens those who may wish to criticize Formula One and motor sport in general for carbon emissions, for use of fossil fuels. Fossil fuels are here to stay, let's use them efficiently and I think Formula One is doing that, and I think we should be very proud of what we're doing and we should tell the world what we're doing.
Q: (Marc Priestley – F1 Times).
Question for Nick and Tom: firstly, Tom, both you guys have used this passive DRS-type system on the car today. Tom, do you expect to use it any more this weekend. Nick, you've already clarified that you won't, but is it something that you will continue working on? Do the 2014 rules mean that it's a viable concept to continue developing?
So, today we performed a lot of tests on some new parts and the system actually performed better than we were expecting. It's still not at the stage where we think we're going to race it, even though we are pretty tempted at the moment, so there's plenty of engineers looking at a lot of data. We'll make that decision later on tonight. With regards to next year, any system that you can use to help reduce drag will always help you, so yes, it is part of the consideration for next year's car.
And the same for Lotus; obviously anything that drops drag is a useful thing to have, so it's an interesting direction to pursue.
Just for clarity, the reason not to continue with it for the weekend, is that because the downside of it, not switching properly, outweighs the possible gains of having it?
Partly, and also because we didn't have a full dry session, we couldn't get the normal feedback we would like on it and all the measurements we would like, so it just left us a little nervous after P1 that we didn't want to go into the rest of the weekend with something that may give us a problem, particularly when the car's already competitive and we didn't want to risk having a problem in P3 or qualifying with it.
Q: (Edd Straw – Autosport).
Pat, you talked about the need for getting more out of the potential of Williams with better technical leadership. Do you, based on your preliminary examinations of the team, think that you need further recruitment in senior technical positions to work just under you to achieve that?
Well, the first thing to remember is that I've been there four days, so it's very much first impressions, but those first impressions are that it's a team with fabulous facilities, it's a great factory, there's most of the equipment that we need there and a lot of very good people. And of course, while I may have been there only four days, a lot of those people I have known for many years and worked with many of them, so there is a lot of quality and I think I would re-iterate what I said earlier, that I think that what we need to do at Williams is that we need to look at process and that's really where my focus will be.
Q: (Edd Straw – Autosport).
Nick, the wheelbase change, any concerns that will have a detrimental effect on the good tyre management you've seen from your car? Obviously it will slightly change the way you're loading up the tyres.
Yeah, we don't expect so. If anything, it should make the car a little bit more stable, a little bit easier to drive, it could even give us a small tyre management advantage so we think it's the right thing to do and we're looking forward to bringing it to Monza.