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German GP – Friday press conference – Pt.1

20 July 2012


PRESS CONFERENCE

Q:
Mark, if I can start with you. First of all, we've seen a certain number of developments over the last couple of races. How promising were those? Are we going to see further upgrades in the coming races as well?

Mark Smith:
We took an upgrade to Silverstone. We were hoping for some dry running, which obviously was forecast very early on not to happen. That hampered us quite a lot actually. We genuinely believed we'd have the opportunity to have some dry running in Hockenheim and we've had very little so far. So really, we're struggling to develop the car around the updates that we have, predominantly because of the lack of dry running. We know from the running we did at Silverstone we have performance on the car but we probably extracted about 40% of it at most.

Q:
You have a team move coming up: how disruptive is that going to be? Obviously it's planned to be as least disruptive as possible but it is mid-season.

Mark Smith:
It is mid-season, but it is during the two-week shut down, so it's never going to be ideal but I think it will be fairly painless. One of the biggest challenges is probably the IT infrastructure. Work is already underway with respect to that. Things like CFD clusters represent the biggest challenge in that respect. The rest of it? If you think about the race team, they can live out of an F1 facility and operate anywhere in the world fairly self-sufficiently. So for the race team, post-Hungary, they'll go back to Leafield and the rest of us will move after the shutdown on August 20th. The majority of us.

Q:
John, you had updates at Silverstone as well, despite a difficult development period leading up to that. Did they show the promise you were hoping for and will they lift Timo back into the peloton as it were?

John Booth:
As Mark said, it was pretty difficult at Silverstone and again here to verify where we think we are. The upgrades were substantial and significant in that it was our first upgrade derived from the wind tunnel programme and our partnership with MAT. Some of it looks very promising so we take heart from that and we also have a few more bits here to give Timo that extra boost.

Q:
It's been 13 days since Maria's terrible accident and everyone in the press room is very appreciative of the statements you've put out, particularly the last one, but in terms of questions still unanswered, there are still one or two. So where does that leave us, the press?

John Booth:
We had two priorities immediately after the accident, first being Maria's welfare of course, that was foremost in our minds. The second was to start to investigate the cause and clear the car of any part of that of course, with Silverstone coming up. We established that but then revisited our findings straight after Silverstone and now we're 100% confident that the car was not to blame in the slightest. As for the wider investigation, that is ongoing and will be a very long process, as in England it has to be, it's taken very seriously there, as you know. It will be some time before we know the final outcome. It would inappropriate for me to comment any further on that.

Q:
Question for the front row regarding German Grands Prix. We have representatives of Germany, Switzerland and Austria - how important is this German Grand Prix to you?

Franz Tost:
For me the German Grand Prix is a classic grand prix. In Europe from the history we have four grands prix which are very important. That's Silverstone, one grand prix in Germany at the Nürburgring or the Hockenheimring, it's Monza and Spa... and of course also Monaco. The German Grand Prix has a high level of importance and also, if you think how many German drivers in the meantime in Formula One and also Germany is a very healthy country from the economical side and therefore it's very, very important that this grand prix takes place here in this country.

Q:
Norbert, obviously very important for Mercedes…

Norbert Haug:
Yeah, absolutely. It's very special for us. We have more that one home grand prix: we have the British Grand Prix; we have another home grand prix in Abu Dhabi where our shareholder Aabar is at home but this, just 100km from the main facilities of Mercedes, from Stuttgart… I personally have great memories from when I was a young boy already I was here, looking mainly at motorbike races, so Hockenheim is just home turf – and it's of course it's good having a good performance here – we try. I remember winning 2008 with McLaren-Mercedes, Lewis Hamilton, which is a great memory. And yeah, there's a lot of spectators, a lot of guests, the Mercedes grandstand, a great programme there, a very busy weekend for all of us. It didn't start in a typically Hockenheim way: normally it's hot; today it was more the Silverstone way, which we experienced a fortnight ago. So, it seems to be the same tomorrow: rain again, and probably sun on race day – so parallel to what we experienced two weeks ago. But still, a very important race of course.

Q:
Peter, is this as close to a home race as you get?

Peter Sauber:
Yes, I think it's a home race – similar to Monza, both grands prix are very close to the factory in Hinwil. But I have a special relationship with Hockenheim. I drove many, many races here. I started I think in 1967 with my first race here, with a Volkswagen Beetle.

Q:
Question then to all of you again, on a similar subject: how important is the Nürburgring? It's got problems of it's own at the moment, can they be solved? How important is it that they are solved and it remains one of the homes of the German Grand Prix.

Franz Tost:
The Nürburgring as well has a very, very interesting and important history. Everybody in the world knows the Nürburgring who's involved in motor racing. I just hope that all the politicians find a solution to get the money together that the Nürburgring will survive. Because in the meantime a fantastic infrastructure has been built up around the Nürburgring with all the hotels and, apart from this, there are many workshops where parts for racing cars have been produced. It would be a shame if people would lose their jobs from this. There are many, many races over there: the 24 Hours for example, and a lot of other races, and especially Formula One. I just hope that in future we will also have a race there because the Nürburgring is history for motorsport in general and especially for Formula One.

Q:
And a huge heritage again for Mercedes, Norbert?

Norbert Haug:
Yes, absolutely. There is a great heritage and I hope and think it will continue. We definitely have a DTM race at the Nürburgring after the summer break, the 19th of August, so that is confirmed. And I think there are good chances for a grand prix in the future – but it's probably too early to talk about that and to speculate. I think they built great facilities and probably the plan was a good one but it didn't turn out in the right way. I think what is very important to know is that the Nürburgring is booked in a fantastic way – so the industry has lots of bookings there, not only Nordschleife but also grand prix circuit where the Grand Prix takes place. I think this is a positive development for the Nürburgring: I just think they got in financial problems but hopefully they are solvable.

Q:
Peter, I'm sure Saubers have raced there. Did the Beetle make it that far?

Peter Sauber:
Not just the Beetle. '86 we won the first sportscar race, together with Mercedes. I think with Pescarolo and Thackwell on the car. I think it's important for this very traditional race track that the responsible people find a solution to save the situation.


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