Questions from the floor

Q: (Chinese media)
Mr Haug, using the same engine, Brawn GP is much faster than McLaren. Do you think that is totally due to the new diffuser or how much has the diffuser played its role in such a situation?

Norbert Haug:
It is the whole package. It would be too easy to say 'put a perfect diffuser on a car and then you are there.' It's not that easy, it's the whole package, but I think we all have to realise is that this car was built over a very long period of time. Other people were still fighting for the current World Championship. This is not an excuse but it should be an explanation and the sooner you could concentrate on this year's car, the more you could invest in it aerodynamically and so on. These guys did a good job. I think they had really good equipment, good people and it's the whole package at the end of the day.

Q: (Chinese media)
To all of you, still on the issue of the diffuser, the situation could be different at Barcelona or other races in Europe. However, there is no in-season testing this year, so do you think there will still be dramatic differences?

Mario Theissen:
Well, my view is that there will still be an advantage. As you mentioned, there is no in-season testing. You can do something on the computer, you can do something in the wind tunnel but your aero package especially should be tested on the track before you race it. So this is definitely a handicap. On the other hand, the teams who have the two stage diffuser are not sitting there leaning back, they are developing like us, so I don't expect us to be up to the mark at one stroke in Barcelona.

Christian Horner:
I agree with Mario. It's a big challenge to develop a car without any testing, so it really stretches the team and obviously if you take a component to the track, you've got to take four of them because you've got to supply both cars and also have spares as well. I've never seen as much hand luggage as I did when I came through the airport into Shanghai yesterday. I think McLaren had about 18 boxes; we weren't far behind and I think that will be a trend for the rest...

NH:
Red Bull 19.

CH:
...I think that will be a trend for the rest of the year. We've got components arriving today to run tomorrow and it's going to be a real challenge to develop the cars through the season without testing but simulation tools, whether they be wind tunnels or cfd seem to be getting closer and closer in correlation to the track which means that you can hit the circuit with a large percentage of items that you can bolt on and know that you are going to get some performance out of.

NH:
It's right that Fridays are even more important, this is the only way you can run. OK, you can do some straightline testing but this is just a basic back-to-back test, how your aerodynamic work is correlating, but the reality is that Fridays are getting more important and you will see more and more running on Fridays, I would say, because as Christian pointed out, you will bring your new parts to the race track and then test them or do a back-to-back.

CH:
Did you get your cases?

NH:
Well, I count yours and you count ours and then we see.

Q: (Jerrome Bourret - l'Equipe)
Mr Haug, may we have your opinion on what happened to your team over the last few weeks? From Dave Ryan's and Ron Dennis's departures to the invitation to the World Council?

NH:
Well, I ask for your understanding: this is an open issue. We will have the World Motor Sport Council on April 29 and I will not comment before then. I think lots of things have been said, have been written. I think Lewis and the team have been very open to admit that something was not correct and now we will see what the outcome will be.

Q: (Dan Knutson - National Speed Sport News)
Christian, obviously Adrian Newey and his design team looked at the double diffuser; did they consider it so illegal that they didn't even bother to talk to the FIA? Did they talk to the FIA and ask 'is this a loophole we can exploit?'

CH:
It's no coincidence that seven teams didn't go down the double diffuser route. Obviously a lot of work was done in the Overtaking Working Group and within the regulations there is obviously a spirit or essence of what the regulations are set to achieve. Certainly the precedent of holes in the floor, from our perspective, was deemed to be illegal, so that's why we chose the route that we did to protest the cars together with our colleagues at the first opportunity which wasn't after the cars had run, it was before they had run in Australia, to really get clarity. Obviously the stewards and the FIA made their position known there and then the option to us was obviously to appeal that. We feel that we had a fair appeal hearing, where the facts were presented from either side and I think the bottom line is that there was a lot of ambiguity within the regulations and you can call it a clever interpretation, if you like, that the three teams have taken. I think it was certainly against the spirit of what was set out within the Overtaking Working Group. However, the court found that these diffusers are permitted. As I say, we felt we had a fair hearing, we presented our case which was listened to carefully but now we're in a situation where, as they are permitted, we had no choice but to develop our own solution which is obviously time and money and a big development channel that becomes open, because the underbody of the car is obviously the most powerful aerodynamic device on the car and so lap times will continue to tumble significantly as the solutions are developed.

Q: (Mike Doodson)
My question is about evening races. The drivers were not happy about racing and the difficult lighting conditions in Australia - I think I heard the word dangerous used - and then in Malaysia where the rain stopped the race early and deprived spectators around the world of an hour's racing. It's known that rain tends to fall at that time of day in Malaysia, so I wonder if you gentlemen are as enthusiastic about twilight races as Bernie appears to be?

MT:
We are not excited about twilight races. I think this issue has been more or less overlooked when we came to Melbourne and the drivers pointed out that this could be dangerous, so it's something which has to be respected and to be looked into when race times are decided in the future. Malaysia; it's true, the later you race the higher the risk not just of rain but any delay would mean it gets dark and then there is no chance of continuing the race, as we have seen two weeks ago. So it would be wise to pull it (the start time) forward again.

CH:
I think it's a shame in one respect, certainly from Australia's point of view, because the viewing figures were up massively, certainly across Europe because of the time of day that the race was held at. But I think you have to listen to the drivers when they're saying it's very difficult with the sun through the trees in their eyes at certain points on the circuit. So I think it's something that needs to be looked into, whether there's lighting needed or screens or whatever, but I think it needs to be carefully considered. I think Malaysia was difficult, again. If we had run the race at two o'clock, it was raining then. But the only option available to you at that point is that you're not controlled by daylight hours whereas I think we effectively just ran out of daylight in Malaysia. I think probably the time of year that we were in Malaysia - being that little bit later - probably more into their rainy season as well, was a contributing factor.

NH:
Well, I think it was a general issue, basically. As Christian said, if we had started at two o'clock - I think the GP2 race was at two o'clock and it didn't start for an hour or whatever but the chances that you would have hit rain earlier in the day, that still was very, very high. Not to start a race and delay it - the only positive is that you get more daylight for the remainder. But it's a difficult one really. We have had races which were not affected by rain, we have had races - the very first or second one was a great monsoon as well, this very often happens there. On the positive side, I know from England that the BBC and RTL in Germany had fifty per cent more viewers, certainly due to the fact that it was started at 11am, partly due to the fact, but there were more spectators and of course it would have been nice if the race could have been restarted. But I think it's important to know that if we had started earlier, as usual, we would have had troubles as well, a little bit the other way round, probably delayed at the beginning but I think that it was the case either way.

Q: (Joris Fioriti - AFP)
BMW was claiming at the beginning of the year that it was going to compete for the title. It's only the third race now but you seem to be pretty far from it. What are your comments?

MT:
Yeah, you're right, it's becoming extremely difficult now with the situation we have but we are pushing hard, we will see what we can do now, but indeed the current situation, with the diffuser cars, makes it much more difficult than expected.

Q: (Jerome Bourret - l'Equipe)
To Mr Horner and Mr Haug: yesterday Mr Theissen said that the diffuser controversy is a big test for FOTA; do you agree with him?

CH:
Yes, in summary it is. Obviously we've got a situation where lots has gone on over the last couple of weeks. The teams obviously were in dispute with each other but I think it's important that FOTA sits down in the near future and discusses the issues but for sure it's our biggest test in its infancy. But I think it's important that these issues are discussed behind closed doors and solutions are found.

NH:
Yeah, very much the same. I would probably not say test but for sure during the course of the season you will have controversial issues and I think we need to be careful to differentiate and to see what the positives are to be united and what the negatives are in such a discussion and find good solutions. I think there is only one solution at the end of the day.

 

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