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Italian GP - Friday press conference - Pt.1

8 September 2012


Q:
Franz, a new technical director. One has departed and a new one has arrived. First of all, can you explain what happened with Giorgio?

Franz Tost:
First of all I want to thank Giorgio Ascanelli. He did a very good job over the last six years, when he was with us because we must not forget that he had to build up infrastructure at Toro Rosso. When he started there were around 20 engineers and today there are around five times the number. He did a really great job. We were quite successful. As you know in 2008 we won the first grand prix with Sebastian Vettel, therefore thank you very much for this. Now times have changed, we are looking forward to a new challenge and therefore James Key is on board with us.

Q:
So, what can you hope for from James in the short term with this year's car and in the longer term with next year's car, which presumably has already been started?

Franz Tost:
First of all, this year's car, we've arrived into September where we can't expect so many changes. I think we will come up with some upgrades for the rest of the season, but there were planned and in project already before James joined us. But he is now very much involved in the design of the new car, which already started around two months. But nevertheless he will have hopefully a lot of influence over next year's car.

Q:
Presumably you're very encouraged to see what's happening with Sauber, which was James' last car?

Franz Tost:
Sauber is doing very well. The car is very fast and hopefully he will do a similar good job, as he did at Sauber.

Q:
And the same engine of course?

Franz Tost:
Exactly.

Q:
Pat, first of all, tell us about Alonso's problems today?

Pat Fry:
Well, this morning, obviously, he had an issue, which stopped us running a little bit early. This afternoon has been a bit of a messy afternoon for us. We had a problem with a brake system and finally a gearbox problem stopped us running right at the end. Fortunately, we managed to do all the long-run work with Felipe. We didn't get the entire programme done with Fernando, but we answered the questions we needed to ask.

Q:
Was that quite a high mileage engine? And what about the gearbox, do you get a penalty for that?

Pat Fry:
Gearboxes are free on Friday obviously and the engine was obviously a Friday engine at high mileage.

Q:
In terms of the performance this year, you've turned round a car that was not particularly competitive at the beginning of the season, particularly around Barcelona and the Mugello test. What did you do then and what can you do now? Was it modifications or was it set-up changes.

Pat Fry:
Mainly modifications to the aero package. I think we made a reasonable step forward in Barcelona and we made another reasonable step forward in Canada. I mean, every race we bring new parts but I think those are the two steps that I suppose stand out when you look at the performance of all the teams. But I think we've still got a long way to go to be happy with our performance level.

Q:
And the aero package here: how is that working?

Pat Fry:
Yeah, everything seems to be behaving sensibly. It's a little bit of an extreme circuit here and I'm sure there will be different downforce level choices with people and it should make for an entertaining race anyway.

Q:
Eric, we've seen Romain Grosjean here. Presumably you've had quite a chat with him. What has he said and what have you said to him since last weekend?

Eric Boullier:
Nothing much to add to what had been said in the media here. Just to his clear understanding that is was a severe penalty he got and talking about the reason why and how we can change things to make his weekend a little bit easier to handle for him. Basically this kind of discussion.

Q:
Last weekend, Kimi at one point was complaining about lack of power on the radio…

Eric Boullier:
He was asking 'can I have more'. During the race we have different strategies. We knew that Sebastian was too far in front of us to catch up and so we went into a fuel saving mode and obviously that's changing a little bit the mapping and the performance of the engine. He was just hoping to be back to the normal fuel system.

Q:
Jerome d'Ambrosio steps in having done a few laps earlier on this year at Mugello, but only that. In retrospect would you perhaps give a reserve driver more laps, or maybe even a Friday for example?

Eric Boullier:
The plan was to give him a couple of Fridays and more over the whole season. But because of the performance we had to reconsider a little bit the strategy and ambition of the team maybe for this year. It's always when something happens that you say 'I should have done this differently'. Obviously I am happy with what he did bring. We gave him also a couple of runs with an old car, a three years old car in different demos and that helped him as well to keep a little bit some feeling with an F1. But yeah, if he would have a more mileage he would have fit a little bit better even if he did a good job today.

Q:
Christian, last weekend there seemed to an issue again about power. I'd like you clarify what it was all about – was it set-up or gearing or what the problem was last weekend for the Red Bull team?

Christian Horner:
The problem you're referring to was?

Q:
At the top of the hill.

Christian Horner:
Basically with the lack of running on Friday because it was obviously raining your gear ratio choice is made on Friday night and we elected to go quite aggressive with our top gear. With 20/20 hindsight we would not repeat that decision in a similar situation and we would go a bit longer. What was happening was once our drivers were getting in the DRS zone and opening their wing they were getting into the limiter and weren't able to capitalise on the DRS. Therefore, with Sebastian, the progress that he made was coming back up the hill through Blanchimont into the chicane. He did a great job passing quite a lot of cars around the outside and inside in that last chicane.

Q:
That must have been very satisfying to get the result you did get given the problem in the traditional overtaking area.

Christian Horner:
Yes, I think it was actually one of the best race I've seen Seb drive to be honest. His performance last week was very strong. It was great for the team to score points on a day when our main rivals weren't on track because of the incident on the first corner from which everybody, thankfully, emerged unscathed. It was a strong race, particularly by Sebastian. Our pace on Saturday we didn't quite understand in qualifying over a single lap because we looked quick in the morning and then that performance eluded us in the afternoon. Our race p[ace on the Sunday was actually very strong. We were flexible with our strategy, we managed to make a one-stop work well, particularly for Sebastian. Mark's strategy was a little bit more conventional but overall it was positive points for the team.

Q:
And you've got some good tracks coming up, some tracks where you've excelled in the past. What are your feelings about those?

Christian Horner:
I think the one thing we've seen in 2012 is that past form is irrelevant this year. It's impossible to predict what your form is going to be like from circuit to circuit. Obviously we arrive at each grand prix and we try to maximise the car and the package we have. This weekend is no different to that. Singapore is another challenge in itself, a bumpy, twisty street circuit compared to the long straights and flowing corners here at Monza. That's the big challenge of F1 is to try to be consistent across all 20 venues, of which we've got eight to go.

Q:
Monisha, last weekend you went from Heaven to Hell in a very short space of time. What sort of impact did it have on the team?

Monisha Kaltenborn:
Well, we are used to these kind of situations where you think it's looking good and it doesn't quite work out. Until the formation lap it was really looking good for the team. We had a fantastic race weekend until then. One of the best qualifying positions so far for the team, and it all looked really good. Then suddenly on the formation lap, we see how things are billowing out and it ends up really badly. So, what we did then is analyse what happened on Kamui's car and see where we can still improve. Because that's important for us. We see quite often that if qualifying works out well, we have good race pace and then we can really get a lot of points home. That's what's we did. We took a lot of positives home from that weekend, that the car is very competitive, and we need to make sure that we don't make mistakes during the race weekend.

Q:
Were you particularly looking at what happened on Kamui's car? Sergio obviously got involved in the incident…

Monisha Kaltenborn:
Sergio really couldn't do anything, he was just terribly affected by that incident. On Kamui's car we had to find out why there was that smoke and why the start was not that good.

Q:
Any conclusion to that?

Monisha Kaltenborn:
We know now what happened, we analysed that. And whatever the team can do, we'll definitely do.

Q:
In terms of your technical team, tell us how it's working these days. It's been like this since the start of the season, but you don't actually have a technical director, do you?

Monisha Kaltenborn:
No, we don't have a technical director, that was my choice. We have three main areas which we consider to be critical for the development of the car – which is the aero, the design and what we call the vehicle performance. Their heads are in this committee. They sit together and decide on a technical direction. If there are any other issues then we four, with me in there, sit in there and try to find the best solution. It seems to be working and it's a bit of a history at Sauber that we've always had very strong heads of department and the people under them. It's always been the backbone of the team and it works well.


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