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Hungarian GP - Friday press conference - Pt.2

27 July 2012


QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR

Q: (Heinz Pruller - Honorary)
Toto, we know you were a great racing driver yourself. Is there any plan for you to drive the Formula One Williams for fun, off-season or somewhen?

Toto Wolff:
As you know, I was more ambitious than talented and there is no ambition to drive a Formula One car because it would just look ridiculous, I think.

Q: (Heinz Pruller - Honorary)
Because Walter Wolf, who once bought the Williams team, he tried himself and it was a kind of a disaster.

Q: (Heinz Pruller - Honorary)
Martin, we know you wanted to become an aeronautist once, a while ago. Now we have an Austrian guy, Felix Baumgartner who wants to break the (extreme sky diving) world record. Have you heard about him?

Martin Whitmarsh:
Yes. Firstly, it was a long time ago that I was involved in aeronautics. I think they've moved on since the bi-plane! I think any challenge that you set yourself in sports, in technology, I think are always exciting. I think anyone who is brave enough to try and do these things are often considered nutty by many but I think that that's the sort of thing that drives humans on, that feeling of endeavour and that passion to try and do something that's not been done before.

Q: (Dieter Rencken - The Citizen)
Luis, in the previous press conference in Hockenheim, Norbert Haug and John Booth admitted that their teams hadn't yet signed any form of Concorde or commercial agreement for 2013 onwards. Where does your team stand in that regard at the moment?

Luis Perez-Sala:
We have not already signed anything.

Q: (Dieter Rencken - The Citizen)
Remi, as you said earlier on, you supply four teams with engines, yet only one was called in by the stewards last Sunday. This sort of implies that the other three were left out of the gizmo, if I can call it that. What is your customer policy regarding these sort of devices or technical developments?

RĂ©mi Taffin:
I think we can make this simple. We've got our engine with this map in a certain way. We've got an area in which to play which we call the ballpark and each of our four teams is able to chose between these things so they are free to play with our engine as they wish, let's say, and that's the way they do and they did, so maybe that's why we got one team that has gone to that in Hockenheim and there could have been another one one race after.

Q: (Joe Saward - GP Special)
You're all movers and shakers to a certain extent in Formula One, but all of you have to answer to bosses. Can you explain how frustrating that is sometimes when you're there running racing teams and you have to answer to people who perhaps don't have as good a grasp as you do?

Martin Whitmarsh:
Well, certainly my chairman has a phenomenal grasp of this sport. He's been around in it for a while. I have to report to the board from time to time but I don't find it frustrating. I think it's good. If your owners don't have any interest, initially that's fun but it becomes a bit disheartening if they don't have a passion to speak their mind and express an opinion. We don't always agree with them but that's part of the fun.

Toto Wolff:
Are you sure you would like me to comment? My only boss is my wife! My partner is Frank (Williams) so I can live with that situation.

Luis Perez-Sala:
For me that's very easy: I ask and they don't give! No, we are close, we are quite close. We know that it's a long term commitment and we know that we need time and they understand that, even if we sometimes only take one place - like in Hockenheim, we overtook one car. For us it makes all the team happy. Sometimes it's very easy, it's even better than for some other teams to get third position or fourth position.

Q: (Christian Nimmervoll - Motorsport - Total.com)
Martin and Toto, in recent years it has become more and more difficult to predict driver performance on a long term basis because of tyres, because of regulation changes and so on, yet there is a trend that driver contracts are signed more and more long term. Isn't there a contradiction in that?

Martin Whitmarsh:
I think that if you don't sign long term contracts with drivers it becomes a big point of discussion and distraction for most of the season. I think the driver is still an important component fortunately in this sport and I think people like to have some stability there. I don't think there's a contradiction. I think that the drivers have to manage tyres, probably much more so than they have done for a long period of time. They've got to work in the team, they've got to work with the drivers, they've got to motivate those people around them. They make a big contribution. We don't always tell them that when we're negotiating with them but that happens to be the case.

Toto Wolff:
The driver is an essential part, I think, today, probably you can't really see the performance of the car because of the driver. If you look at junior formulae on equal formats there's big differences and the development we have seen in Formula One, with economics playing a larger role, we are probably having a similar situation, so it's all about developing your own drivers and trying to keep the ones who are good in your car, so it's as challenging as building a good car and getting a good engine to keep a good driver in the car, and build the best ones for the future.

Q: (Matt Coch - pitpass.com)
Martin, there's been this Tooned cartoon happening. Has there been a measurable difference; are you deliberately going after the younger demographic with that one? I know it's Ron's baby.

Martin Whitmarsh:
Again, I think McLaren has changed a little bit over the last few years and I'm sure some things are not so good and hopefully we do some other things... I think Formula One is, as Toto said... there are two great world sports: soccer and Formula One. We are investing in the future. We see that it's important to try and bring younger demographics, as you put it; I think also for McLaren to demonstrate that we're not taking ourselves so seriously. We're still very serious about motor racing, we still want to win and we do everything we can, but I think you also have to show a slightly lighter side. We've shown two episodes, as you may know, there's going to be an episode accompanying every Grand Prix this year and hopefully people enjoy it, it's a little bit of a light-hearted moment for three minutes before each Grand Prix and I think we've had a tremendously positive response to it. I think the followers, after only two episodes have exceeded our expectations. I think it's not just good for McLaren, it's good for the sport. I think it just lightens it up, makes it something that... We've got to buy more people into the sport. This sport is fundamentally a great great sport. The more you understand, the more you get involved in it, the greater it is. We've got to now try and sell that proposition to as broad an audience as we can and Tooned, the McLaren animation, is part of that process.

Q: (Dieter Rencken - The Citizen)
According to the sporting regulations, the closing date for entries to the 2013 championship was the 30th of June. Did your teams all enter? And what happened to those entries?

Martin Whitmarsh:
I believe all teams entered but the FIA has re-defined the entry time at the moment, so I presume all of the teams will re-enter within the new time frame.

Luis Perez-Sala:
The same.

Toto Wolff:
We entered.

Q: (Vanessa Ruiz - ESPN Radio)
Toto, as soon as your position was confirmed or you got your new title at Williams, speculation started about the driver line- up because of your work with Valtteri Bottas. How do you see his situation at the moment - also because we are approaching August, so do you understand that he's ready to occupy a seat at Williams or is it not yet time. And also, do you see a conflict of interest because of your new title and the fact that you work with him as a manager?

Toto Wolff:
Very interesting question. It's definitely a conflict of interest; this is why, at the beginning of the year - actually last year already - I have refrained from interfering in any kind of negotiations or discussions between the team and Valtteri's management group, so my role is a pure financial investor behind Valtteri. He's managed by Didier Coton who is doing the day-to-day job and we're having - to use banking language - Chinese walls. Emotionally, of course, I saw Valtteri for the first time in Formula Renault 2000 here at the Hungaroring in 2008 so he's a boy I have followed for quite a long time and he's a friend, as is Pastor, and as is Bruno. Luckily I'm a shareholder in the team and I have a five percent commission on Valtteri's contract so I think that shows how the balance would go if it was only about the economics. So the point is that it's very clear that the team is going to take decisions on the best package of driver and hopefully it's all going in a direction that we can have the quickest in the car.

Q: (Christian Nimmervoll - Motorsport - Total.com)
Following up on Dieter's question regarding the deadline, does that mean that the entries were rejected or what's been the formal answer from the FIA?

Martin Whitmarsh:
The FIA has asked us to re-submit our entries at a later date.

Q: (Joe Saward - Grand Prix Special)
Toto, in your new position, obviously there's more responsibility on a day-to-day basis. Does that mean we're going to see you moving to England and going into the office every day and taking over Adam (Parr's) chair?

Toto Wolff:
Yeah, that has been quite an issue actually, to discuss that. We have been negotiating on how many days per week I have to spend in England, but it's very easy. I like England a lot, staying in Oxford which keeps me young, it's a student city. I must be careful now about putting myself in shit! Obviously my wife is Scottish so she enjoys being there as well. The answer is yes, I'm going to spend more days at the factory and I enjoy it, it's what I want to do now.

Q: (Michael Schmidt - Auto, Motor und Sport)
Toto, as Remy Taffin was explaining, there are many mapping possibilities in the Renault shop which you could take. Why didn't you take the one which Red Bull has chosen in Germany, because it looks like it's a quite interesting one?

Toto Wolff:
First of all, flattening out torque curves is something that every team looks at, obviously, and the reason why we have not been taking up that solution is because we didn't make it work as Red Bull have. We have no coanda exhaust and this is why it's not as beneficial for us as maybe for others.



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