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Chinese GP - Friday press conference - Pt.1.


Press conference

Q:
First of all, to the two team principals.... Can I ask for your reaction to the announcement that the FIA are seeking tenders from a third party supplier for engines and transmissions in 2010, 2011 and 2012. What are your feelings about that?

Dr Vijay Mallya:
Well, you know the global economic environment is certainly a cause of major concern. In my 25 years as chairman of the UB Group, I've never seen such a position, where there is lack of confidence, where economic growth is being questioned, where there is a liquidity crisis, share prices have fallen off the cliff and trading conditions are certainly very, very difficult. In this context any initiative to reduce the costs of Formula One is most welcome. We have the FIA, the regulator, which writes the rules. We have the Formula One Teams' Association that has recently formed, which I believe is also appreciative of the need to immediately reduce costs, so I think the FOTA and the FIA can talk to find out a solution - but a solution is a must.

Gerhard Berger:
Well, I couldn't agree more with Vijay. I mean I, as an independent team, am very happy to see things moving and that, slowly, everybody starts to realise that we are getting into a very, very difficult situation As we all know how much long lead time decisions like this can have, it is very important to react quickly. As I understood, it is not yet fixed in which way costs are going to be reduced in drivetrains. Obviously, the FIA put some proposals onto the table in putting out the tender but, hopefully, also next week, at the FOTA meeting, FOTA can make some reasonable and good possibilities. I am sure, in the end, we are going to choose the best, cheapest and most reasonable conclusion to fulfil all the needs of the manufacturers' and to fulfil also the needs of the situation. But I am very happy that things are moving and it looks like they are moving quickly.

Q:
Have you got your own personal suggestions?

GB:
Well, as we put together FOTA of course everybody puts his ideas into it and then we are going to work out a proposal. Yes, I have some ideas but I think it is too early to discuss it here. I think I would like to see first with FOTA next week what are the different proposals or what are the different needs of other teams because I think it is very important to find solutions that fulfil everybody's expectations, not just for one team.

Q:
Dr Mallya, any particular areas where you are keen to see costs cut?

VM:
Well, you know there are several areas where costs can be cut. There has been a proposal mooted by FOM suggesting that the Concorde Agreement be modified to allow those teams that have been in Formula One for more than 10 years to exchange parts or to also go down the customer car route. The more you share, the less are the costs. There is no rocket science in that. It is logic. I think that is one of the things that we would certainly support but commonality of equipment and parts is once again something that reduces costs. I would imagine that that is the logic behind the FIA's decision to call for a tender for supply of the drive train. Of course I don't want to talk about the other costs associated with Formula One. However, I have to say that in the current economic environment there are many sponsors, there are many commercial organisations, who could regard Formula One as an unnecessary luxury. It is all very well for manufacturers to be in Formula One and justify it as part of their research and development initiatives or as a marketing initiative. But for independent teams like Gerhard's and mine, we have to justify every penny of expenditure and make sure that we are not merely competitive but that we are commercially viable.

Q:
I believe you are one of the best barometers when it comes to the world economic situation. How bad is it in India for example and are you disappointed that you have not been able to get more partners from India.

VM:
India fortunately is somewhat insulated from the global meltdown, but there has also been a meltdown in India. That is probably why I spent the last week making an alliance between Kingfisher Airlines and its biggest competitor Jet Airways. This is the need of the hour. I mean these two companies have been fierce rivals for the past several years and found it commercially compelling to come together now for mutual benefit. Having said that I think that there are several potential sponsors of Formula One in India, particularly as we look towards our grand prix in 2011 as Mr Ecclestone has announced. But Force India has only been around for one season, so I think it takes a little bit more time to get people to the table, to sign contracts and to execute sponsorships. One season is simply not enough.

Q:
Gerhard, your feelings about the future of the team as a whole?

GB:
Well, our situation hasn't changed at all. No, it has changed as our performance in the last half year really helped us a lot to position ourselves in a good way. Also my partner Red Bull is still committed very much behind the team. If the regulations change in a way that the system we are using at the moment, and share costs and get synergies for both teams, I think the situation could change for us and could help us, so I think that is the good side. The bad side is that in general the financial situation is very difficult. Sponsors are not coming into Formula One at the moment, not at all. The numbers you are asking are much too high. That is another issue that has to be addressed very well in the discussions in the next few months as if you talk, some people think about reducing 10 percent, as an example, drive train costs. I mean it is a long way off. I think it is the other way around. I think you have to come down in a dramatic, huge way. It is a bit too early to say is it turning around in a good way for Toro Rosso or not? I think it is not yet ready to know this but generally we are fighting and we will try to do our best for the last two races and then we are going to see.

Q:
Adrian, do you feel you have been quite unlucky this year?

Adrian Sutil:
Well, yes I think so. For sure there were many races where I didn't have the biggest luck, very unlucky we can say. And just lots of incidents, especially in the races, problems with the car, mechanical problems we had quite a lot. But then when I was in a good position there was this bad luck. We could finish I think five or six races, so this is just not enough. I am really disappointed with this season and I think it is just time to finish this season and hopefully we will do a better one next one.

Q:
Overall, your performance? From your own point of view, how has that changed?

AS:


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