15 July 2011
Q&A: Adam Parr, Williams
Williams F1 chairman Adam Parr discusses hot-blown diffusers, drivers, potential sponsors, the team's forthcoming renewal of its partnership with Renault...and Twitter
Adam, where do you stand on the hot-blown diffuser saga?
It's a hugely complicated issue. Even if we know what it does to us, we don't know what it does to everyone else. When people started to develop this hot-blowing technique, we sat down with Cosworth and asked if we could do it. They said yes and listed how many engines we'd need to develop it and how much it would cost. Then Patrick [Head] said, 'hang on a minute, is this even legal?'
We discovered that there are three different rules under which it is probably illegal, two of which come under article 3.15. One is to do with parts that influence the aerodynamic performance of the car being rigidly secured to the chassis and the other is a new rule for this year, which says any system that relies upon driver movement to influence aerodynamic performance is illegal.
We asked for a clarification from Charlie [Whiting, FIA Race Director] and very rapidly we got the answer 'No, this is absolutely not legal'. That has been his consistent view throughout all of this. Using the throttle in braking to gain aerodynamic performance is not legal; it's using a thing that is moving rather fast and not rigidly secured to anything to help aerodynamic performance. That's where we started and we were happy because it meant we didn't have to spend a fortune developing a system.
How much money has been spent developing hot-blown diffusers?
I don't know how much other manufacturers have spent, but it will be significant sums. Our intent wasn't malicious and it wasn't really in an effort to optimise our position; we just wanted to find out whether something was legal before committing a lot of money to the programme.
Is rule instability good for the sport?
The intensity of the competition in F1 is what makes F1 so compelling. That's the way it is. The engineers don't forget what they've already learnt and, as a result, everything gets more and more complex, more integrated and more expensive every year. Everything affects everything else. Charlie compared it to the banning of Active Ride in '93, and that's not a bad example. It was a very complex system and it took a long time to develop it, then it was banned.
How is the team doing financially?
As a team and as a company we can do better, everyone can see that. How have we done financially? When I started at the end of 2006, we'd just lost our partnership with BMW and what was close to a title partnership with HP, and we'd gone from free engines to being a customer, which, in those days was a lot of money. We took the decision to build-up debt to about £35m, which was a lot of money for us. Since then we have paid off 90 per cent of that debt, we have recorded a profit in 2008, '09 and '10, we've brought the company to the stock market and we've got 500 people working for us. We're supporting 3,000 British businesses and a lot outside Britain as well.
Can you elaborate a bit on your Renault deal?
The Holy Grail for us is a deep partnership with Renault, who will supply us with great technology. It's a great marketing platform for them and it's a great bonus for our partners to be associated with a car company.
The three teams that Renault are currently supplying are all associated with other car companies, whether it's Infiniti, Lotus or Lotus/Caterham. You could look at our deal and say we're the odd one out. There's huge potential in the partnership.
Will the relationship with Renault include 2014 and beyond?
As I've already said, we're not promoting another car brand in F1 and I think that may give Renault an opportunity. Due to our history with Renault, we're almost synonymous with each other in F1.
Are sponsors falling into place for 2012?
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