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Malaysian Grand Prix: Friday press conference – Pt.1

Friday FIA press conference from Malaysia with Federico Gastaldi (Lotus), Paul Hembery (Pirelli), Graeme Lowdon (Marussia), Cyril Abiteboul (Caterham), Monisha Kaltenborn (Sauber) and Franz Tost (Toro Rosso).
Team Representatives: Federico Gastaldi (Lotus), Paul Hembery (Pirelli), Graeme Lowdon (Marussia), Cyril Abiteboul (Caterham), Monisha Kaltenborn (Sauber) and Franz Tost (Toro Rosso) .


Press conference

Q:
Cyril, can I begin with you? You did a lot of mileage in the pre-season testing but it's not been so good when it's come to the actual action, in Australia and again today. Can you give us an idea of what the problem is?

Cyril Abiteboul:
Yes. To be honest we are the first one to be a bit surprised buy the situation. It's true that were quite happy with the situation after the test but I think it demonstrates that it's still a little bit random. It's a bit random for everyone, for all parts of the car, whether it be chassis, gearbox, engine. I think we are just demonstrating that given the number of new things that there are on this car, given the regulations, they do not really send a warning before they hit you and unfortunately they are hitting us more during the season than they were hitting us before. So I mean let's see. We are trying to stay calm, to take things as they come. Obviously we are not in the best position to prepare the weekend. But despite that we managed to have a good recovery last race in Melbourne so hopefully that happens again, even though I don't want to try my luck too much.

Q:
Specifically there were some problems with Kamui with the power unit in Australia, Was that the problem again today for him? No running at all for him.

Cyril Abiteboul:
Yeah, it was a mix. It started with some issue related to the power unit and it actually continued with some issues that are more related to the clutch and gearbox. I don't want to comment too much. It's all the systems, all the complex systems that are on the car, in addition to the difficult serviceability of the modern cars that makes our life extremely difficult – not just us, pretty much everyone on the grid.

Q:
Thank you for that. Coming to Federico Gastaldi from Lotus, the new Deputy Team Principal – congratulations. It's not been an easy couple of races for you either, particularly today once again troubled running. What's the situation?

Federico Gastaldi:
Well we've been having problems with the mapping in P1 and then Pastor's turbo blow out and we had to change the engine. We are working very, very hard with Renault trying to find out solutions for the weekend and to move forward for the next race as well.

Q:
You're the Deputy Team Principal. Can you tell us what your role actually means in terms of what you do back at Enstone and how you relate with all the rest of these people here and the FIA and FOM? What's your role?

Federico Gastaldi:
Actually we have a new CEO and we have… the Team Principal is Gerard Lopez the chairman of the company. For the time being I will be looking to the relationship between the team and FIA, FOM and again all the partners and sponsors, during the races that Gerard is not here.

Q:
Paul, coming to you? There was some talk on the radio in the second free practice session about some tyre degradation for one or two teams. What is the objective of what Pirelli is looking to achieve this year with the tyres and how they affect the racing?

Paul Hembery:
It hasn't really changed, the input that we've had from the teams and the promoter in that we're aiming to have races of two stops, maybe three in some cases and to create that you're going to create a thermal degradation otherwise you won't have the stops we're searching for. But it was important this year that we did some work on trying to move towards less marbles on the circuit although we did a bit track cleaning today so it was quite messy, the first session. And also that the tyres life has increased. From the data we have seen so far, we appear to be in that right directions. Of course it's all very new for the teams. It's new for us as well, understanding what the real impact on the tyres and the car combination will be and it's only now that we're starting to see the teams working more on what to do with the tyres and what will eventually be part of their race strategy.

Q:
Of course you've got the first of the new two-day, in-season tests coming up in a couple of weeks' time. Can you tell us what's planned and what the focus will be?

Paul Hembery:
We're looking to nest season essentially and trying to evolve the product going forward in the future. We have a moving target – the cars this year it's suggested will develop at twice the rate of a normal season, maybe that's up to four seconds. So we have to take that into account when we're looking at what we're doing going forward. So we're trying to always develop things to have available if and when they are required. We'll see how we get on but clearly there are still some issues with the teams' running, so I think to do testing after a race will be a big challenge for all involved but we have to be also realistic in our aims.

Q:
Coming to Monisha. In what sort of mood does Sauber enter the 2014 season?

Monisha Kaltenborn:
Well, in an optimistic mood because when you look at last season, were we ended, we could see that we did bring a certain change into our performance and it wasn't looking that bad. Of course we know that this year is very new, particularly with the rule changes, and we are confident that in many areas, particularly reliability, we are pretty much where we want to be. We are not happy with the overall performance, but we have identified the areas and step by step we are moving ahead and implementing the measures.

Q:
And how did today go for you?

Monisha Kaltenborn:
It was pretty alright. I think the engineers got through their programme. Again, we're not quite happy with the long run and we need to do a bit of work on that. We know that we can't do miracles and take a huge step compared to where we want to be and where we are but step by step I think we'll get there.

Q:
Graeme, coming to you, obviously a shake-up of the pecking order with the new technology, the new Formula One. Does this bring you closer that first points-scoring finish?

Graeme Lowdon:
I certainly hope so. From a general point of view, we wanted one of two things: either for the rules to stay generally the same so that we could play catch-up, or for there to be a radical and obviously there has been a radical change for all the right reasons within the sport and that's given us a chance. I think considering the resources we have at hand we did a good job over the winter. We didn't get the mileage that we wanted to get in pre-season testing so we're still playing catch-up quite a bit and still learning a lot about the car. Pretty much every time we run it now we're learning a lot in terms of reliability and performance.

Q:
Obviously you come from a business background. From a business perspective does this new face of Formula One make it easier to sell? Are you finding that?

Graeme Lowdon:
Well, it should do. That was kind of one of the points for all of the teams for all of the teams and the sport committing to it. There are an awful lot of positives about the new formula, although some of the innovations need to be sold, they need to be communicated well to the fans and when I say that I mean all the fans – the TV fans, the ones who turn up at a race, the ones who follow it through social media or new media or whatever. We can all improve how we communicate those things because there are a lot of plus points. There is some incredible engineering and some incredible technology going into these cars now and you see the cars move around a lot more. The drivers have got to work and think a lot harder. So hopefully that comes across to the fans. Ultimately, it's kind of irrelevant what I think about what the fans think, it's what they think that's the most important thing. It's important that we listen to them and see whether they understand and like the new formula.

Q:
Franz, two cars in the top 10 in Australia, both in qualifying and in the race, something you didn't manage to achieve during the 2013 season, so a great start to the season. What's the story of your start to 2014, what's the secret?

Franz Tost:
I think the team did a very good job in Melbourne as well as the drivers and we struggled a little bit in the preparation. But it was good that we were the first time of Renault being out on the track for a filming day and from then onwards we learned all the troubles and fortunately could solve them. Generally, the basis of the car is quiet good – from the reliability side as well as from the performance side; the mechanic is good, the aerodynamic is OK. I must say the last weeks before the Melbourne race, the teams – that means Toro Rosso as well as Renault – worked a lot. Hardly [ever] the lights went off in Faenza and at the end the result was shown in Melbourne with us finishing in the points.

Q:
I wonder from a human perspective, from a personal perspective your feelings on seeing Daniel Ricciardo being competitive from straight away in the Red Bull, having moved up from your team as a graduate to be alongside another one of your graduates Sebastian Vettel?

Franz Tost:
I expected this good performance from Daniel because he was very fast also with us. I expect that he will also have quite a successful future together with Red Bull Racing at the side of Sebastian.



Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
28.03.2014- Press conference, Graeme Lowdon (GBR) Marussia F1 Team Chief Executive Officer
28.03.2014- Press conference, Paul Hembery, Pirelli Motorspor Director
28.03.2014- Press conference, Monisha Kaltenborn (AUT), CEO and Team Principal, Sauber F1 Team
28.03.2014- Press conference, Franz Tost, Scuderia Toro Rosso, Team Principal
28.03.2014- The FIA Press Conference (From back row (L to R)): Federico Gastaldi (ARG) Lotus F1 Team Deputy Team Principal; Paul Hembery (GBR) Pirelli Motorsport Director; Graeme Lowdon (GBR) Marussia F1 Team Chief Executive Officer; Cyril Abiteboul (FRA) Caterham F1 Team Principal; Monisha Kaltenborn (AUT) Sauber Team Principal; Franz Tost (AUT) Scuderia Toro Rosso Team Principal.

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