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Japanese GP - Friday press conference - Pt.2

7 October 2011

Team representatives: Giorgio Ascanelli (Toro Rosso), Pat Fry (Ferrari), James Key (Sauber), Paddy Lowe (McLaren), Adrian Newey (Red Bull) and Naoki Tokunaga (Renault).



Questions from the floor


Q: (Sarah Holt – BBC Sport).
Adrian, we've seen that you've built cars for lots of former champions who have been crowned here in Japan, from Senna to Prost to Hakkinen. How would you rate Vettel amongst those former champions?

Adrian Newey:
Unfortunately I wasn't involved with Ayrton when he was crowned champion here, so I can't comment on that one. It's a bit along the lines of the question earlier. I think Sebastian is obviously supremely talented but I kind of feel it's unfair to start comparing one driver I've worked with against another.

Q: (Sarah Holt – BBC Sport).
Do you think he might have the potential to go on and be a multiple World Champion even beyond this season?

AN:
I think undoubtedly yes, there's no doubt Sebastian can do it. It's up to us to try and deliver the car that allows him to do it.

Q: (Will Buxton – Speed TV).
Not a technical question but one for everybody. We move on to Korea next, which was a new track last year, and then on to India, which is a new track for this year. How important do you see the constant expansion of the Formula One calendar, and for you, and your teams, how much are looking forward to India? How much can we learn from India? How much can they learn from Formula One?

AN:
I think it's great to be going to new places. India is obviously a country we've never been to before so in that sense it's very good, we enjoy going to new circuits. The only caveat I would put on that is that it's important that we don't forget our long-standing traditional circuits. Coming to Suzuka or Monza, Spa, all the great classic circuits that we have and still do go to – I think it would be an awful shame if they dropped of the calendar because, at the end of the day, it's those that are there year-in, year-out and if Formula One lost them, it might be difficult to ever get them back again.

Paddy Lowe:
It is a World Championship, so I think bringing the race to more parts of the world… India is a very major population centre in the world, so I think it's great to be going there. We need to go to more places. Going to the States next year is also a really great step.

Q: (Dieter Rencken – The Citizen).
It looks as though fighter pilot-like canopies are going to be inevitable in Formula One. What are the technical challenges and do you feel that a closed cockpit runs counter to the spirit of Formula One?

AN:
I don't think they are inevitable, actually.

PL:
I don't think it's inevitable. It's something that's being studied. A lot of discussion has occurred at council meetings in the FIA as to whether such a thing is right for the sport. An essential feature of Formula One is that it's open-wheeled and open-cockpit. I think the decision, if ever it was taken, to close the cockpit would be very, very fundamental and I think those councillors have already expressed reservations about that, so I think there would have to be a very, very compelling case made that that was an essential feature for safety. Some work is being done to research into it and so far I don't think that a compelling case is emerging, even though there is a risk… I think the biggest risk still present in Formula One, to a driver, is in that area, as we saw with Felipe the other year, but it's not necessarily proven that a canopy is the right solution to that.

Q: (Ralf Bach – Sport Bild).
Mercedes, next year, has five former technical directors employed, a new Formula One record; how can you survive against them with all this human brain-power?

PL:
I hadn't realised it was five. Yeah, that is a lot. Yeah, all is lost. I think we should just all go home! No, they're all good guys. We know them all. I think it's a strong team. We look forward to competing against them.

AN:
Similarly, I'm going to worry about what we do in Milton Keynes, not what's happening in Brackley, to be perfectly honest.

Pat Fry:
Same. I'm not really thinking about it, to be honest. I've got my own issues and things to sort out. It's a strong team, as Paddy says. Time will tell, won't it?

Naoki Tokunaga:
Each team has its own approach and I think we have a different approach. To tell the truth, I am concentrating on our team, the structure and strategy, how to distribute our resources. We have a different approach.

Giorgio Ascanelli:
Or all six of us could go to Mercedes as well and make it 11! Mercedes could manage enough, they pay well, I'm sure we could agree on something!

James Key:
It's always difficult to comment on what other teams are doing, because you never really know how they are structured and how they work. As Paddy said, it's a pretty strong line-up of people, all with good experience. Personally, I've only really worked for relatively small teams and I guess the one thing I could say from a small team's perspective is that efficiency is certainly better when you're small and I guess with more people, particularly good experienced people, maybe that takes a bit more managing, to make sure it all fits in together – but it's not really for me to say.

Q: (Paolo Ianieri – La Gazzetta dello Sport).
Adrian, Ferrari is promising a very aggressive new car for next season. McLaren's drivers, also, were complaining somehow, because the car this year was not as powerful and as competitive and they have put a lot of pressure [on their team]. What is the Red Bull going to be next year? Will it be an evolution of what we have now? Do you think that the advantage that you have is enough or are you going to explore new roads and surprise everybody again?

AN:
I think that fundamentally there's no point in doing something new if it's not better, so our approach is certainly not complacency, so we're not thinking: 'we don't have to do anything, we'll still be quick enough next year.' That would be enormous folly. We're working away trying to deal with the regulation changes. I think, as mentioned, the restriction on the exhaust exit position is actually a very big change; it goes through the car. Other than that, the regulation changes are significant but not huge. So, in that sense, the car will be an evolution, it will bear a family resemblance to the RB5, RB6, RB7 lineage. It's just a matter of pushing on, as always. As Pat mentioned earlier, the fact is that you don't know how much performance your competitors are going to find over the winter, so it's get your heads down and get on with it, and you find out where you are come the first race.

Q: (Joris Fioriti – Agence France Presse).
To Paddy and Adrian, what do Jenson Button and Sebastian Vettel have that their team-mates don't have, whether it's positive or negative? What extra thing do they bring to the team?

AN:
One's English, one's German, I guess. I don't know, how you can answer that? I can't answer for Paddy, obviously, but I think for Sebastian, this year, he's obviously driving with great confidence on the back of his championship from last year. I think importantly, the change to Pirelli tyres has taken Mark longer than Sebastian to understand; how best to use those tyres. In truth, you can have this perception that the difference is big; it doesn't take much of a swing for things to change, so while Sebastian has clearly had a much stronger run than Mark this year, quite often the difference in the race has been quite small but the results have been different enough that the points standing is where it is.

PL:
Between our two drivers, they are very different personalities, they have different styles in the car, but they are both great champions and both driving very well and at similar pace. I think that's great for us; they both give good feedback but complimentary, so it works well.

Q: (Joris Fioriti – Agence France Presse).
If one is deeper in his analysis of the car, there must be differences in some ways.

PL:
I think it's a bit like you see in races. Lewis has a very aggressive style, he can go straight out there and find the limit immediately. Jenson will work up to that point more subtly to that point but I think that what's great is that you come to qualifying and both guys will go out and deliver the lap. It's just a slightly different way that they do their homework.

Q: (Gary Meenaghan – The National).
Adrian, in two years of racing in Abu Dhabi, Sebastian is the only person to have won there. What is it about the Yas Marina circuit that suits Red Bull and Sebastian?

AN:
Crikey, I don't know is the honest answer to that. We have had a good run there for the last two years but I'm not sure there's any particular feature of the circuit that makes it well-suited to Sebastian and the car. Can't answer that I'm afraid.

Q: (Dieter Rencken – The Citizen).
Paddy, following on your DRS comments earlier on, would you like to see DRS use being totally free throughout the weekend, including the race?

PL:
I think not, no. The whole point of it was to improve the overtaking in the race. I don't think we want to make overtaking trivial. It's a fine balance, I think it's one that's set at the moment by the FIA in their selection of the zone length and the number of zones, and I think that works well. They need to keep tuning it but if you just made it completely free in the race, I really think that you would make it far too easy and that would go the other extreme in terms of detracting from the spectacle.


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