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United States GP - Friday press conference - Pt.1

17 November 2012


Q:
A question, first of all, to all of you: your overall impressions of the circuit and the challenge. What have you found? What do you think of it?

Cyril Abiteboul:
First of all, it's great to back in the US. It's a great market, a great market for the sport, for motorsport. A great market also for the automotive business. Looking at the track, well, it looks challenging. It looks great in terms of the layout. It looks like, also, it's quite icy, both in the air but also on the track – quite slippery. So it will be interesting. Obviously, it was not easy to do a lot of work today, as we need for the track to stabilise, so that we are able to see the impact of our settings and our change to the set-up and distinguish that from the evolution of the track. Not so tricky but really interesting, truly, from inside and hopefully from outside also.

Q:
Norbert, I'll ask you about the market in general, the importance of F1 here later, but just the circuit for the moment and how Mercedes have found it?

Norbert Haug:
Well, I think the circuit is fantastic and congratulations to the organisers, to Bernie. To get this event on the calendar is fantastic. The US is so important for Formula One. A race here belongs to a world championship, a true world championship. We have been here before and after a five-year break we are back again. The circuit is very, very demanding, very challenging. The track is developing currently, getting better and better, more rubber on the asphalt. But I think it has huge, huge potential. I think it will be televised worldwide of course, like usual, and make a big impact. So, this is a race with enormous potential and kind of a milestone in Formula One's history I would say.

Q:
Eric?

Eric Boullier:
Well, I'll just follow my colleagues. Congratulations to the organiser, the promoter, who put this amazing track in place and constructed it. Thanks for Bernie for bringing us here. Obviously, as everybody says, America is important for everybody. I think it's quite an impressive track with a different, you know, layout. I think we could see today, obviously, the track evolution was huge. The drivers found it challenging, so that's promising for the race.

Q:
Martin, the challenges of the circuit in particular? And what is it about Turn 19. Has anyone explained to maybe the front row here what it is about Turn 19 that everyone seems to be going off there?

Martin Whitmarsh:
It's an enormously challenging circuit. I think we can all be a little bit repetitive in these responses but again, I think we have to congratulate everyone, Bernie and the organisers, for putting together not only a great circuit with great facilities and also it's great to see how many people were here on a Friday. So we've got to make sure that as Formula One as a whole, we put on a show this weekend; that we reach out over the coming year and we build this into a fantastic event. Clearly, the foundations are here to be able to provide that. I think it's for us now to work as hard as we can to create the interest here. As far as the track is concerned, there are a lot of different corners on this circuit. I think [Hermann] Tilke has brought an assembly of corners from the other circuits he has built and tried everything here. The topography is great and there's something about hills and dips and blind corners that make it very challenging for drivers but also make it look great and spectacular to drive on. But I think today, as has been said, the circuit seemed very shiny. I think it's exacerbated by a reasonably conservative tyre choice here. So, I think we're going to have to work hard, certainly we know we've got to work hard on low fuel; we found it a little bit easier on high fuel, which suggests we weren't working the tyres well enough on low fuel. Some of the corners have got some unusual camber, which just makes it an interesting challenge. I think it's slippery, some interesting cambers on the circuit and some interesting compromises you've got to try and find between the vast variety of corners we have.

Q:
Christian, do you think it suits the Red Bulls?

Christian Horner:
Yeah, it's been a good day mainly for us today. Again, it's incredible to see what's been done in the last 18 months. We came here 18 months ago when it really was just a construction site and we ran a car with David Coulthard on just dirt and rubble that existed here. And to see what's happened and how the track's been built and the undulations and the corners, the way it's been incorporated – just hats off to the Circuit of the Americas and to Bernie for convincing them to take up this race and so on. It's a great challenge and a great spectacle and hopefully we can put on a good show for the American fans and public and it will be a race to remember.

Q:
Stefano, good for Ferrari?

Stefano Domenicali:
First of all, just to start in a different way: happy birthday to Christian, he's getting older but with good results. No, I would say that everything has been said. For us, I don't know. We are there. Today, it's difficult to judge the performance because you never know the first day as we said with such a new track. But for me, the most important thing with regard to your question Bob, is that I'm sure it will be a great show for the Americans, because we need that in order to make sure that this is the first day of a long term days when we speak every day about Formula One. For me the most important thing from let's say now, from this weekend onward, is really to make sure that our American friends speak about Formula One every day. In order to build up what is Formula One is all about. I think that being here in this condition, helped by what Martin was saying about the tyres, makes very spectacular situation for everyone to… and I'm sure that will be the case on Sunday.

Q:
Thank you very much. Again, to all of you: the importance of a race in America for your sponsors. Perhaps you can talk about that. Different priorities for different people obviously. What does it mean for Caterham and for your sponsors, GE for example?

Cyril Abiteboul:
For Caterham as an automotive company this is crucial. Obviously our current product range is not particularly adapted for the US but it's still important for the future. The US is important because, for instance, car sales, car registrations in the US has picked up at the same level almost from what they were before the crisis. In comparison to what's still happening in Europe, to the slowdown in some other markets like South America, North America and the US in particular is now back to a level where it was before. It is important for automotive companies, which are supporting mainly our show and Formula One in general. For Caterham more specifically, yeah, obviously we've got those links with GE, with Dell, with Intel. We've got a lot of people here. That's important because those companies are used to other sports properties, like Olympics, like basketball, like a lot of things. There are different approaches to sports between the US and Europe but I don't think it's for here to discuss and debate about the merits of the difference, but I think it will be interesting to see how we make a good impression and also make sure that we are sustainable like Stefano was saying just before.

Q:
Norbert?

Norbert Haug:
Well for us this is obviously very, very important. It is the biggest market of Mercedes-Benz passenger cars worldwide. We are very successful here and still growing year-by-year. We have a production plant in Tuscaloosa obviously, building 130,00 cars here: M-Classes, ML, GL, the R-Class, and C-Class will be built here later on in Tuscaloosa and Arizona, so it's a very, very important… you can say the most important market of course. And we will use that in the future, this event, and we will integrate it, our American colleagues will integrate it into their marketing strategies. That's absolutely perfect and again, thanks for the guys here for having invested in these great facilities and thanks to Bernie to bring America back, thanks to the teams, that we all wanted to go in that direction and I think this is really a very, very important step for Formula One.

Q:
Eric?

Eric Boullier:
First from a team point of view, on my shirt you can see I have American companies like Unilever and Microsoft and Avanade and obviously a lot of technical partners as well are coming from America so it's obviously very important for us to be here. I could see yesterday on my way coming here, I met a lot of fans in the airport and I was quite surprised to see all these American fans; they are very hungry to see Formula One, to be close to Formula One and I think all of the figures here are just talking for themselves because it's sold out since a long time. I think a lot of teams here have hospitality, corporate hospitality, full of people – so there is a great interest in Formula One and in this race particularly. I think it's good for Formula One to be back here, yes definitely. Any team here will justify that we need America in Formula One and Formula One needs to be here.

Q:
Martin?

Martin Whitmarsh:
I think in summary, the USA is just a huge consumer market and I think you've only got to walk up and down the paddock here, see the names and all the brands that fortunately invest in Formula One and allow us to go Formula One racing. Nearly all of those brands if you look at them, the USA must be in the top three of their markets around the world. So it's fundamentally important to the brands that invest and fund Formula One. This is really the country of the automobile and we've never come here and done a good enough job to create the interest. We've got a very different product from NASCAR. Obviously NASCAR reaches an exciting finale this weekend, which is an unfortunate coincidence, but I think we've got to work very hard to be as commercially smart as NASCAR and compete. I think we've got a different product, an exciting product and again, we've got to work very, very hard to make sure we sell it in America in a way that we haven't done in the past.

Q:
Christian?

Christian Horner:
It's crucial for Formula One. To be a true world championship you've got to have a race in America. And for the first time ever we've got a circuit that's specifically made to bring out the best and showcase Formula One cars. And I think the circuit that's been built here will do exactly that. Hopefully we can put a great show on for the fans. In some ways it's surprising for us to see how much interest there is in the US, how much knowledge about Formula One, how the town has come alive with Formula One coming into Texas. I think it's a crucial race for Red Bull. America is Red Bull's biggest market and certainly for our partners as well. Infiniti sell more cars here than anywhere else in the world and partners like AT&T… it's an important market for us, it's our biggest-ever race from a hospitality and guest point of view in our short history, so it's a great place to be coming back into the US and hopefully we can have a great race on Sunday.


Stefano Domenicali:
For us it's the same. It's the biggest market for Ferrari. It's a very important market for our group with the brand of Chrysler and Fiat Cinquecento so it's something that for sure… and as you can see we have a Ferrari Challenge series running during this weekend because we have a lot of clients, a lot of customers and as we all said, it really is imperative to stay here for a long time and to consider it as a starting point for something. We have the duty to, let's say, teach to the American approach on the sport something different, and we need to make sure that with everything, we are able to convince this market, also from the sporting point of view, that Formula One is the future. And that has to added to the American sport that are very important, for sure.


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