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Belgian GP - Friday press conference - Pt.1.

Press conference

A question for all of you. How far advanced are you with the 2009 regulations and do you think they will provide better racing?

John Howett:
We think we are doing a good job but until we get to Melbourne and see the relative performance I guess we don't know. That's our sincere position. Racing, I think it should make it perhaps easier to overtake but still there is a degree of scepticism and we have to evaluate it but I don't know. We believe in the work of the overtaking working group but until it is actually proven there is still a question mark.

Ross Brawn:
Pretty much what John said. We are happy with the way things are progressing but until we hit the track we don't know where the reference points are. But we have put everything we can into next year's car and I don't think there is much else we could have done. In terms of racing I do think the overtaking working group did a good job, it is really a question of whether the cars we end up with are the ones they envisaged we'd end up with. If they don't, then maybe we will have to look at some tuning of the regulations in the future.

Martin Whitmarsh:
We are never happy where we are of course. I think probably, like Stefano alongside, we are working still a little bit on this year's car. We'd like to be further advanced with next year's car but that doesn't mean we are in a bad shape. I think as Ross and John have said until you are out there with the others you can't really know. You have got new benchmarks that are going to be set. Ordinarily you know how much progress you have made against your existing car. At the moment none of us know that. The fear is where the cars are so radically different that you miss something. I imagine that when the cars are launched there will be greater variety than there normally is and then there will be, I suspect, very quick action on the part of some teams to make their cars conform to those they perceive to be quicker. But in regards to the overtaking working group I think it was a very positive initiative. I think a number of the teams working very openly together was the first appliance of science in the generation of regulations and it remains to be seen how successful that has been but we should applaud the process. At the moment it is the best shot we have had at it and it was the first time that we have really seriously approached the subject.

Stefano Domenicali:
The only thing I can add on that is really that we need to see from the overtaking point of view group, that was the principal of having better racing, how our engineers are working. Normally the experience is that the development of the car during the year is very, very fast, so we will see. For sure what was done was done in the right direction. We need to see how good our engineers will be able to catch the performance of the car within this new framework. As Martin said, we are still very focussed on this year as the championship is very open and we are trying to dedicate the relevant job that is needed as the project is completely new. If you miss the first race with a good car, then it will be tough to have another one in the short term. That will be the focus for the second half of the season.

Another question to you all. I understand there is still a search for cost-cutting measures amongst the teams. Where would you like to see cost cutting taking place?

I think honestly the daily job is cost cutting. It is part of what we do. I have to say that although a lot of the changes that have been introduced have been done sincerely with the effect of reducing costs, the effect normally drives costs upwards. One of the first things we need to establish is a fairly stable regulation with sensible evolution. The biggest issue we face at the moment is really securing the future, and a sustainable future, for the smaller teams. We have to compromise from a pure engineering point of view to find how we can form a competitive platform on the cars which enables these smaller teams to survive. I think that is one of the purposes of FOTA, to meet and discuss how to respond to Max Mosley's proposal with that sole objective.

RB: I think all the teams work in an efficient way. I don't think the teams waste money but some of the activities we pursue are very expensive. We have to see if there are areas of the car where we are pursuing competitive advantage which is particularly expensive. At the moment aerodynamics are still the cheapest form of performance but we have to pursue all the other areas because we are all doing it. If you take transmissions, for example, at the moment we have all got quick shift transmissions. They are all fairly expensive pieces of kit and they are not really a strong performance differentiator, so there are areas where we could either standardise or commonise the technology and remove them from the equation. I think teams are looking seriously at those sorts of initiatives. As John mentioned we are all concerned about the survival of the independent teams. If we lose the two or three independent teams involved in Formula One, we are going to look quite sad. I think we have to, for the good of the sport and for the good of Formula One and for us to be involved in Formula One and it has to be a healthy formula, then we need to see if we can introduce initiatives which help the independent teams.

I think as Ross and John said, we can commoditise areas of the car where there is not a significant performance differentiation. I think that would be a sensible thing to do. We have got to be mindful of the small teams. I think what we have to make sure is that we put in place a disciplined process. I think too often in Formula One we tackle theses issues of cost saving in a very shoot from the hip style and often we get it wrong. I think because of that we are learning now that you have got to spend some time and patience on getting the process right and making sure all the teams understand what the collective goal is and what the process is by which we are likely to achieve it. I think that is something FOTA will be putting a lot of effort into, making sure that we can perhaps have a more cohesive group of teams that we probably have ever had before.


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