Technical directors: Luca Marmorini (Toyota), Sam Michael (Williams), Adrian Newey (Red Bull) and Pat Symonds (Renault).

Questions from the floor.

Q: (Tatsuya Otani - Car Graphic).
What is your situation with the KERS system for next year, and how big a performance advantage do you expect from that? How important is it?

Sam Michael:
I think everyone's at a very early stage in their programme. For the first couple of years, it's probably quite right that the FIA has seized the power and energy spec to the system, so it's going to be worth about two or three tenths. I think next year, especially in the first six months, there's going to be a massive disparity in aerodynamics because I would be surprised if everyone got it right straightaway. You will probably have a couple of teams that get it really right and they are the ones that are going to be winning but then you're going to have the average and then probably a couple of teams that get it really wrong, just because they haven't had time or they haven't balanced this year's resources. So because of that, I think the effect of that difference in aero is going to swamp KERS for the first part of the year, if not the whole year, to be honest. But I think that's quite sensible because it's such new technology, there are lots of safety issues and performance issues and reliability things to sort out with it, that I think it should, for the first couple of years, be something that will give you a benefit but it's not going to lose you a championship if you don't have it. I think the FIA's intention, which is quite right, is that in three or four years, you will need it to be performing but by then everybody will have got their basic systems running and it will just be a matter of developing them. The big step is right now and trying to get the systems up and running and I think everyone's at various levels of their programme at the moment.

Adrian Newey:
With the current KERS regulations everybody's come down on either using a battery storage system or a flywheel. I don't think it's any secret that we are on battery. I think of the flywheels, as far as I know, everyone's mechanically-driven rather than using an electrical motor as the transfer mechanism. I guess, as Sam says, the obvious thing is for the KERS capacity to be increased in future years and indeed the longevity of the systems to be increased as well. At the moment, there's no minimum usage and so you can - and it may indeed be that some teams will - use a new battery for every race which becomes extremely expensive and is also ecologically slightly questionable but that's taking a short term view. I'm sure that as the technology develops and refines there will be a requirement for multi-race usage. Those sorts of things, perhaps combined with the amount of energy that you are allowed to store, that could change the balance between the various technologies, be it battery, super capacitor or flywheel. Until we know how the rules evolve, it's difficult to comment on that.

Could you just give us an idea of how much these batteries are?

As a financial thing, they are extremely expensive, there's no doubt about it. For the small teams KERS is a big overhead. Flywheel is potentially cheaper because you haven't got the cost of the battery but you've got all the mechanical development. The batteries are very expensive.

Pat Symonds:
I think KERS is a very interesting technical exercise. The development of it has been fascinating, and it's a chance for us to move into new areas which I think all engineers enjoy. The majority of our engineers are mechanical engineers or they're aerodynamicists or they're electronics guys but here we are dealing with high power electrical systems and things like that, so a lot of new stuff to learn. A difficult project, time-consuming and like Luca, it's our intention not to run it in a car until January. It's very, very expensive to build interim cars to look at these sorts of projects and we prefer not to do that, particularly with the sophistication of dynamometers these days, so all our practice work is being done on dynamometers and then we will build it into our car for next year and see how it performs on the track when hopefully we have de-bugged it from both mechanical reliability and very specifically from a safety point of view before we take it to the circuit.

Q: (Dan Knutson - National Speed Sport News).
Adrian, from running at the front edge of that mid-pack, Red Bull Racing seems to have slipped back, or perhaps other teams have caught up. What's happened in recent races here?

Certainly we slipped in the races immediately following Silverstone which is Hockenheim, Hungary and Valencia. I'm not exactly sure why, to be honest. Some of that is the nature of the circuit. Our sister team, Toro Rosso, has not slipped during those races, and the cars are, apart from the engine, identical in just about every way. The set-ups are extremely similar, so it's difficult to understand why Red Bull Racing has slipped in those races and Toro Rosso didn't. I think Red Bull Racing was competitive at Spa. The result was disappointing. I think we were on for a good result but obviously the tangle between Mark and Kovalainen cost us. We will see here.

Q: (Tetsuo Tsugawa - Tetsuo Enterprises).
Can you, as engineers, tell us about Hamilton's Spa manoeuvre, without politics, without penalty?

I don't think engineers should have opinions about things like this. I had an opinion but it really wasn't about that at all, it wasn't about that specific manoeuvre. I was merely making a point that I hope that we allow racing to be exciting and nothing more than that. There was no implied criticism of Lewis or anything like that.

Luca Marmorini:
First of all, we respected the decision of the FIA, but being an engineer, to express an assessment, I would like to see the telemetry data to understand it a little bit. At the end, we have to accept what the stewards and the FIA decided.

Well, I am going to have to fess up and admit that I didn't see it because I didn't stay for the whole weekend at Spa, so I watched the race on television and once Heikki hit Mark I walked off in disgust and didn't watch the rest of it, so I can't comment.

I think it's just one of those difficult things but it's really down to the FIA and the stewards to decide what that is. They have their drivers' meetings with the team managers and that's where all those things get decided. It's always a difficult job that Charlie (Whiting, FIA race director) and the stewards have got to do but there's going to be a hearing now, so we will wait for the outcome and see what they say there.

Q: (Dan Knutson - National Speed Sport News).
Question for all of you: from what we hear, the future of customer cars is maybe not finalised or it's in a state of flux. Where do your teams personally stand on the future of customer cars?

I think that's a team principal's question really, so you can ask Frank that. I would rather not say but I think that was sorted out about six months ago, wasn't it?

I'm not aware of any changes to the decision that was made six months ago, so I can't really comment, I'm afraid.

Q: (James Allen - ITV).
Luca, you said a few minutes ago that despite the freeze on engines, the teams are running closer and closer to the limit with the engines. Could you explain what you mean by that? What can you actually do that takes things closer to the limit, is it fuel and lubricants? You can't change parts, can you?

We cannot change mechanical parts on the engine and any changes have to pass through quite a tricky procedure and all the other manufacturers have to be involved, so if someone wants to change a part of the combustion chamber, you can be sure that none of the other manufacturers will accept it unless there is evident proof that you have genuine reliability problems. But in the past, normally we had the chance to modify, to improve, develop components, so the limit of the engine and the way you use it were working together. Now, unfortunately, the engine is completely frozen and we have to check, for example, at what temperature the engine can survive without failing. These things mean that we have to improve a little bit the way we use the engine but unfortunately not being able to move the reliability of the engine itself.

Q: (Gaetan Vigneron - RTBF).
Pat, how many changes do you to have to make to Renault to keep Fernando for next year, and do you have the impression that you've done everything possible to keep him?

I think everyone at Renault would love Fernando to be part of our future, both next year and even further than that. We are all competitive people, we all want the best and I think that we regard Fernando as being the best, therefore we want him and he, I think, wants the best car, so we have to marry those two together, we have to provide him with the best car and let's see what would happen then.


Join the conversation - Add your comment

Please login or register to add your comment