Team personnel: Ross Brawn (Ferrari), Sam Michael (Williams), Pat Symonds (Renault), Pascal Vasselon (Toyota)

Q:
A question to you all: can you talk us through the mass damper situation as you understand it from your point of view?

Pascal Vasselon:
Yes, Formula One control presents a very specific issue, because we are running very hard suspension on top of very soft tyres and it's very tricky to control the body movements. From our point of view, we have been working on this, of course, but we went in the direction of classical suspension elements, which are not mass dampers, so at the moment it's not an issue.

Sam Michael:
I would say that we've experimented with that type of damper and we definitely found gains with it on the track. We're obviously not running it at the moment, like most people. It will obviously be up to the FIA on the 22 of August to decide what's what and to decide on the future direction for it. There's no doubt that you gain through less load oscillation on the tyres, particularly in the end of straight condition; that's the place where you find the main advantage, but it's all out there at the moment. We'll wait and see.

Ross Brawn:
We've had a system fitted on occasions this year, not every race. Some tracks it seems to suit more than others and obviously we don't have the system fitted now.

Q:
And the appeal by the FIA against their own stewards' decision?

RB:
I can understand how the situation's evolved but I think it's a little difficult, because we tend to use the FIA technical department as the reference and obviously if they make a dramatic mistake, then that needs correcting but we've had lots of occasions when we perhaps haven't agreed with their assessment of the situation. We've lobbied them and still not succeeded and we've abided by their decisions, which is the simplest way for everybody to work. Having said that, I can understand the frustrations that Renault have probably felt. But if we do get to the situation where we regularly challenge technical directors through the stewards, it's going to get very messy, so I hope we don't degenerate into that situation.

Pat Symonds:
The devices have been in use at Renault since the last quarter of 2005 and we have raced with them at every race up to Germany. I think the events of Germany are pretty well documented, there's no point in discussing those. The stewards did challenge what we did and that now therefore has to go to the Court of Appeal as the FIA have appealed against the stewards. It's actually nothing to do with Renault, it's between the FIA and the stewards. As that's a process that's on-going, I don't think it's correct for me to comment on the technicalities of it, although we have our defence, if you like, of our position. We have every faith in the International Court of Appeal. We believe it is an unbiased final judgement and we shall wait and see what the outcome is.

Q:
Pascal, you became technical director just a few months ago, a fairly major job for you. How are you getting on with it, has it been a steep learning curve?

PV:
I'm trying hard, I'm obviously working hard, but for a definitive answer you had better ask my boss. Of course I have a lot of new things to learn about, but when you are not technical director in my case but general manager chassis, first of all you have to understand where there is a problem in the car and the dominant performance factors, and in this area I had some experience before coming to Toyota.

Q:
The cars have been going much better since North America but little things have been going wrong; how easy or difficult has it been to get on top of those problems?

PV:
In view of performance, it's obviously getting better and better but we still have too many reliability issues. We are working hard on that and it probably doesn't indicate that we took more risk in all areas, packaging, cooling, but we are working on it and we fix problems one after the other.

Q:
Sam, new driver pairing announced, in particular Alexander Wurz. Tell us about him as a test driver, as a third driver and interesting to elevate him as a race driver, given that he's only done one race in the last three or four years.

SM:
I think, ever since Alex came to Williams, he's made a massive contribution to our programme on Fridays, obviously, with his selection of tyres and working on set-up. Both Nico and Mark had confidence in him almost immediately and the decisions that he took, which was really good because if he tests different things on Friday they just carry it straightaway, knowing through all the tests that they've done that it's valid for making the car go faster. I think the other thing is that he's someone who's got a lot of experience, he's a very intelligent guy, really does understand cars from an engineering perspective as well, and he brought a lot to the team in terms of moving us forward on suspension set-up, electronics, engine driveability, there were lots of genuine things. There's a difference between talking a good show and actually doing it and Alex very much delivered to the team throughout the winter and helped us improve a lot of areas. In the racing that he has done, he's obviously always performed and we're happy to have him on board. He's a fantastic character outside of the car as well. He's got a very good sense of humour and character and he's also a big contributor so I'm quite happy to have him in the team.

Q:
Now Mark has raced very well over the last few races but something always seems to go wrong for him. What have been the main problems, have you been getting on top of them?

SM:
I think that we've had a lot of reliability issues on Mark's car this year. He's delivered probably over thirty points that haven't resulted in points because of car failures and unfortunately, this year, we've probably had three or four very annoying small problems which are quite straightforward to fix, which should have come up in testing but didn't and it means that, instead of being fifth or so in the constructors', we're eighth. That's obviously pretty hard for Mark to take because he has delivered on at least three or four occasions where he would have been on the podium and had done the job properly but we obviously let him down. It's a matter of us continually looking at our own systems and making sure we improve those and get on top of them.

Q:
Ross, rumours of your sabbatical. What's your line?

RB:
I'm afraid it will be a very short discussion if we want to have a discussion on it. We've said that we'll make the plans of the team, specifically the team, known at the end of the season and that's when we will make it clear what our plans are for the future and we certainly won't make any comment before then and will concentrate on trying to win this championship.

Q:
But I know one of your tasks, almost since you first went to Ferrari, is building for the future. To what extent have you been building up the personnel to perhaps take over for when you go or anyone else leaving?

RB:
I think when you first go to a team and I've been there ten years now - I've been there ten years, this is the tenth year and it's a team... I love the team, Ferrari's a fantastic team, we've had a fantastic group of people - and when you first go to a team, your first job is just to sort out the dramas. When I went to Ferrari there was a lot of day-to-day things which needed to be put right. And when we got over those initial hurdles then we had to start thinking about building for the future because none of us are going to be there for ever. I think you've seen with Rory, who's been a great servant of Ferrari for the past few years, that we've successfully brought on his successor in Aldo Costa and this car that we're racing this year, the one that we had last year, is primarily Aldo's car, with Rory giving what support he can, so we've had a very good evolution there. And there's evolutions going on throughout the whole organisation. Formula One teams change shape and the shape of a team in the future may be different. We have our plans and people seem to be a little bit anxious about them, but I think they're pretty positive, what we'll be talking about at the end of the season.
Q:
Pat, it's a mark of the performance of the team over the past two years, if not longer, that the fact that you've been overtaken by Ferrari over the last few races...

PS:
We haven't actually been overtaken yet...

Q:
...but in terms of hierarchy, that Ferrari are now ahead. Is it that Ferrari have got better, or have Renault had problems?

PS:
Well, competitiveness is a relative thing and I think all we can discuss is the relative competitiveness of Renault and Ferrari at the moment. Over the last three races, Ferrari have certainly had the upper hand. Four races before that, Renault had the upper hand. It's swings and roundabouts. I'm sure that Ross probably felt quite despondent when we got four wins in a row. I feel quite despondent that he's beaten us three times in a row. But the season's not over. We're fighting hard, we had a dreadful race in Germany for lots of reasons, but I hope that we're a very honest team, honest with ourselves, and recognise our problems and act on them as quickly as we possibly can. The fight's not over. We had a good day today. The car looks good here. We've got plenty coming for it, we're working very, very hard on it, and we're going to take the fight to the end - and I think it will be a good fight.

Q:
Do you think Fernando feels the pressure?

PS:
No, I don't think so. Fernando's a remarkably calm character, extremely laid back. No, I don't think he does. I think that if he was ever going to feel the pressure and show the pressure, it would have been last year. We were racing a car that was considerably quicker than us last year and that was a very frustrating thing to do and while Ferrari have been quicker than us in the last couple of races, I don't feel it's the same situation that we had last year. Fernando remained calm through last year to come through at the end with the championship. I've seen no change in him this year. He's very, very calm, he's very calculating, he's thinking about his job and he's working as hard as the rest of us.

Q:
He said yesterday that he felt it would be down to tyres, that both chassis and engine manufacturers were neck and neck in terms of development, but actually it was in the hands of the tyres. Would you agree?

PS:
It's very difficult to separate out the different parts of the package, and it's only when you've got the five elements of the package together that you consistently win. Having said that, yeah, I'm sure there is some truth in it. There is no doubt that last weekend we suffered with tyre problems, but that doesn't mean that it's just a problem of Michelin or anything like that. One of the great skills of designing racing cars is getting the car and the tyre to work in harmony and if our performance wasn't good last week, it's not necessarily that the tyre wasn't good, it's getting the two working together. I've said all along this year that I think that the situation is going to go up and down, as different tyres suit different circuits and I still believe that to be the case. We have taken a bit of a hammering over the last few races but I really see no reason why it can't swing the other way again.