Press conference

Q:
First of all a question to you all: In the last four grands prix we have seen drivers who perhaps we wouldn't expect to see on the podium and perhaps one or two drivers who we would expect to see on the podium not on the podium. What do you think are the reasons for that?

Mike Gascoyne:
Obviously in the last couple of races there have been quite a lot of incidents with pace cars. I think with the pace car regulations as they are now you can obviously luck in. It has always been the case under the safety car you can luck in and that happened to Piquet in the last race. People can get lucky, but having said that, he had good pace afterwards and drove a great race and made the most of it. But I think we do need to revise the safety car regulations as we have them. They are pretty confused and I don't think they achieve what they set out to, so I do think we need to look at it. But it is good for F1 when things like that happen.

Q:
Pascal, perhaps Jarno Trulli's might be considered to be one of those incidents?

Pascal Vasselon:
I think it is quite different because as Mike says one obvious reason to change the pecking order is the safety car and it has happened two times in the last few races - Canada and Hockenheim. In our case, at Magny-Cours, I would say we are always fighting close to the podium and this time we were on the high of our performance and our close competitors were probably on a low and we got this podium on merit. But I cannot see only luck here. It is just a combination of a high on our side and a low for our immediate competitors.

Aldo Costa:
I tend to agree with my colleague. We had very unusual circumstances, very difficult races, with weather, different events in terms of weather, different track temperatures' conditions, accidents and as Mike mentioned, the safety car. The safety car is a real gamble at this moment, so it can change very much the result of the race.

Q:
Do you agree that the regulations should be looked at?

AC:
Yeah, with the FIA we are looking at it in order to have a better system. I think it can be improved.

Willy Rampf:
I think overall the cars are closer together. At the last race at Hockenheim it was definitely the safety car which changed the order. And Silverstone was the heavy rain. Basically who stayed on the track at a reasonable pace was able to score good points or a good position. It also looks like some cars are very strong in qualifying, not too strong in the race or vice-versa, so not such a good qualifying position but then very good pace in the race. I think this is also mixing up the grid and also basically the finishing result.

Q:
Are you having to modify your strategy to take that into account?

WR:
Yes, definitely. Depending on where we see us after Friday and Saturday morning we judge where we could end up in qualifying because normally we have a fairly good race pace.

Q:
Mike, what are your feelings about expanding the team for next year? Do you need expansion, further investment and more resources?

MG:
Obviously, we are the smallest team in F1, a team in the last couple of years in its Jordan guise suffered from no real investment. Then under Midland and Spyker it didn't go anywhere, there weren't proper budgets and the team could not really develop. But over the last six months as Force India we have put in place proper budgets. They are still very small budgets compared to all our competitors but that has allowed us to expand, improve and bring some new people on board and we will continue with that for next year. And obviously looking forward to next year you have got all the rule changes. We have inherited a performance deficit really from Spyker and Midland and although we are catching that up, F1, I think, is perhaps its most competitive it's ever been, certainly in the 20 years I have been in it. Although we have improved hugely compared to our competitors and we are regularly within a couple of seconds of the quickest car that still means we are the team rooted at the back. That is very good for F1 but that makes our life pretty difficult. But obviously for next year it is a level playing field. We do have good resources, especially in key areas like aerodynamic, where we can match the opposition, and we see it as a real opportunity for us.

Q:
So you feel it is going to level things out rather than allow the bigger teams to pull ahead again?

MG:
Well, I mean there are two schools of thought. In F1 over the last three years we have had rule stability and it has become very close. There is an argument that everyone starts from a level playing field, so it is an opportunity but it could mean also some people will get it more right than others. Therefore it could move the field apart. We just have to make sure that we are one of the ones that get it right.

Q:
Pascal, a quick update on what happened in Timo Glock's accident two weeks ago? Was it a worry?

PV:
Yes, it took us some time to find out what happened, simply because just after the race we were not finding anything exceptional with that car immediately at the moment of the failure. We were just finding a load case which was not explaining at all the failure. It took us a long time to find the life of this part and what went wrong. We found the cause was in the Silverstone race where this rear right suspension corner has seen some outstanding loads.

Q:
Have you modified your procedures to make sure that such a thing will not happen again?

PV:
Yes, we have obviously a screening procedure to handle parts which may have been damaged by an incident. Actually we had detected a problem with the push rod. But in a race we run a reduced number of sensors and we had not been able to re-estimate the loading of the suspension parts. Clearly we have not been good enough for checking and screening these parts and we have improved our internal procedure now.

Q:
In terms of performance, what do you feel you need to make the jump to catch up with the teams ahead?

PV:
We have made, obviously at Magny-Cours, a performance step. We missed the one at Barcelona which some competitors did but we got a performance step in Magny-Cours. Since then, in fact both at Hockenheim and here, we are running updates' packages, so we are still pushing and we need roughly half-a-second to fight at the front and three-or-four-tenths to fight regularly for the podium.

Q:
Aldo, did you have any indication today that you have solved the problems that you had in the last couple of races in terms or competition?

AC:
I will speak about a specific problem as the races were different, so I will speak about a problem. I think it is a combination. I think the last race for us was very difficult for finding the good grip from the tyres but we were not the only team. Most of the drivers were having, during the race mainly, a lot of problems to find grip. The tyres were very, very hard, probably too hard for that kind of circuit, especially the hard tyre. There was no wear at all, the tyre just was not working for that kind of circuit. This was valid for us and it was valid as well for most of the teams. Silverstone was another story. We had wet conditions and again we analysed what went wrong, say on one of the two cars and we think we understood, but in parallel of course we have to monitor the performance of our main competitors, so we need to work on the general aspect of the performance of the car and to try to find improvement and try to catch up if in the last few races they made a bigger jump compared to us. That is simple. There are still eight races to go, so we need to work and work to find the performance.

Q:
How easy is it for both of you to maintain that pace of development and keep the impetus going for this season and at the same time looking at 2009 as well as I assume you have started your programmes for next year?

AC:
Started is a simple word. We are very, very well into the project of next year's car. We started a long time ago. It is a very difficult situation but not for us specifically but also for all our main competitors. It is a very, very difficult situation. We have to push hard for this year's championship, we have to push hard for next year's car. We have got only one team. We don't have two teams, so we need a very, very careful management of the resources, of the priority and we need to find the optimum balance between these two activities as we don't want to invest everything this year and then have a lack of performance next year. We want to be strong this year and strong next year, so that's very tricky.

Q:
The same question to you, Willy.

WR:
For us, it is also very difficult. Currently we are in second position in the World Championship and we don't want to give it up, so we have to put extra effort into the development. But next year's car takes a certain amount of development and we are evaluating it week by week how much resources we shift from one project to the other one. But the pace project for next year's car we have to keep it going.

Q:
What about your own personal goal? Has that has changed recently?

WR:
No, it has not changed. I still have the position of Technical Director until the end of this season. Then I will make a break and I will have a different function next year. It is technical co-ordinator and my responsibilities go over to a colleague within our team and he will also then basically give more responsibility to the various departments.

Q:
And you are obviously happy with that?

WR:
I am very happy with this. I have been Technical Director for more than eight years. I think I am the longest period and I am looking forward to having a beak.

Q:
A final question to you all. There have been various reports about the KERS systems. What are your feelings about KERS at this stage?

MG:
We have looked at the type of systems that are available. Yes, we are working with our engine supplier as that makes a lot of sense. We are also looking at systems in our own right. I think from an engineering point it is an interesting challenge but also from a racing point of view. It can provide some variation in the way you use the system and I think the message it sends out on energy recovery and for F1 is a very good and clear message. You are bound when you are developing new technology to have some engineering problems and some people have had them but I am sure we will get on top of them. To make the system work from the start of next year is going to be very challenging. But people will make it work and we will get on top of the technology and we will develop better and lighter battery solutions, mechanical solutions because that is the pace of development in F1. So it is just an engineering challenge and we will get on top of it.

PV:
We are developing our KERS system full throttle. At the moment we are concentrating on dyno activity because we want to go on the track when we are certain we will bring a performance advantage with this system and we make it totally safe. The schedule will be very tight. It is still possible, but clearly very tight to get something from the system at the start of the season.

AC:
Yeah, we are working at the bench with the system. From an engineering point of view, I think it is a nice thing to have. It is a nice challenge. Timing wise it is not that easy, so everybody, every team is very concentrated on trying to have the maximum performance from the system but also the maximum reliability and safety. As engineers we are happy to develop it and we are making good progress. Tight, I have to admit but that is normal. Very big rule change requires a lot of thinking, so the new car design will not only be the KERS but also the aero side and the tyres require a lot of work. But it is interesting.

WR:
I think overall it is a very interesting project for engineers to develop such a system because it is really unique and it is not something on the market that you can buy. I think with the development we do, it will also push some development on some components which maybe in a few years we may see on a road car. To package it in a car is also very challenging. We have this component on next year's car where we have already a lot of changes with the aero regulations and the tyres.

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