QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR

Q: (Luke Smith - NBC Sports)
Franz, I want to talk about Jean-Eric Vergne because he obviously missed out on the Red Bull seat. Where does his future lie within the Red Bull set-up? Is he purely a stop-gap before you feel that either Antonio Felix da Costa or Carlos Sainz Jnr are ready for a seat at Toro Rosso?

Franz Tost:
I don't see this. He will race for us next year. Jean-Eric Vergne is a high skilled driver. He has shown a couple of very good races and if the team provides him with a good competitive car, he is always - and at every race track - able to show a very good performance. I see a good future for him.

Q: (Mark Bryans - PA)
Claire, I just wanted to ask, in terms of driver line-ups, is it more important now more than ever to get that nailed down sooner rather than later because of all the regulations coming in and the changes that are happening throughout the sport next year? Will it be better to have those people in place going forward sooner than you would normally?

Claire Williams:
Yeah, I think clearly you want your driver line-up confirmed as soon as possible, so that they can start working with your engineers in order to support the development programme that you have in place, but most drivers have contracts that run up until certainly the last race of the season, and if not, the end of December so they can't necessarily come in and help you when you want them to anyway. But yeah, inevitably, you want them to come in as soon as possible and just to get the whole announcement made as well and out there in the public domain and everyone can move on and everyone knows everyone else's future.

Q: (Dieter Rencken - RacingLines)
We've got five team principals and a very interesting split because you've got the two in the front who are members of the Formula One strategy group and then we've got Franz who's... although Toro Rosso isn't the associate team is, and then at the back we've got two who aren't. I'd like to ask all five team principals' opinion which side of the fence you're on, how you justify or don't the strategy group and particularly the two at the back, because what we have is a situation where a majority is actually dominated by a minority, a privileged minority and that, where I come from - South Africa - used to be called apartheid?

Q:
Let's start with one of the non-members, Graeme.

Graeme Lowdon:
Thanks James. I think it's disappointing not to be included, that's one thing for sure. If we're looking at sports' governance then sport is fundamentally built upon the ethics of fair play and everything that goes with it. And so, when you're looking at a body that is making really the strategic direction then it would certainly be nice to have some inclusion. You would look for some form of democracy, some transparency and some accountability. From our point of view, we're not too sure how it's all meant to work or is going to work because we're not part of it, so it's really quite difficult to even say whether this new body is going to be able to make the correct strategic decisions, but inherently, you have to think, when you're outside of a group, you have to think 'how can that group be making a decision that could be beneficial for everyone involved, including us?' So it's quite an enormous leap of faith, I think, that the teams who are excluded from it are being asked to make, that the structure will work. Obviously only time will tell and the group has an incredibly onerous role to play, because it has the future of the sport that so many of us depend upon and our employees and the wider supplier base. So it has a very very important task and you would intuitively think that in particular an element of democracy would be good but I guess time will tell.

Claire Williams:
I think that from the outset we would like to say that Williams as a team, we're pleased that we are on it. Clearly it's important that we are and the reason being is that we're an historic team in the sport, we've been racing for 36 years. But Graeme talking about the democratic process around it, I don't necessarily want to comment on that but I think from our perspective, certainly, we will be going in there, clearly representing Williams but also, I hope, representing the other teams and the greater good of our sport as well.

Cyril Abiteboul:
First, I think an F1 strategy group is a good thing. I believe it's something that was missing generally in the landscape of Formula One; that's - to a degree - running the risk of upsetting some people. Maybe it's a bit too technocratic. Having said that, I think we need to preserve the working group that will properly execute and follow up any decision that is made by the F1 strategy group. So I think generally that to have a group that is also thinking of the marketing side of things, the commercial side of things, ensuring the final consequences of the decisions that are made by technical sporting people, is the right thing to do. And maybe we will not come up with some situations in which we are... for instance, the engine which is quite expensive - so that, in itself, is a good thing looking ahead. Having said that, I think that regarding inclusion, I would totally share Graeme's view and more than anything, I just simply don't understand why all teams are not represented. I think we would not want a situation whereby one team can block a process and we need to make sure that we are progressive and that's one of the things in any democracy but that, in itself, does not justify the fact that half of the grid is not represented.

Q:
Franz, you're in a unique position in that your sister team is very much represented.

Franz Tost:
Exactly, I have a good relationship with Christian Horner from Red Bull Racing and therefore we are a little bit involved, but nevertheless, the strategy group does not approve new rules because this comes from the Formula One Commission and in the Formula One Commission all the teams are involved and there's a working process; there I don't see any problem.Q:
Final word from Martin; is there a FOTA dynamic to this, in terms of the fact you're part of that, you represent their interests as well as your own?

Martin Whitmarsh:
I think that we're in an evolving process at the moment. The full governance of the sport hasn't been defined in the new Concorde. I agree with many... there's as much inclusion as you can have in the sport is a good thing and I think we've been consistent in that. I think McLaren endeavours to be a good citizen within the sport. But I also agree with some of the things that Cyril said, that Formula One... we haven't done enough contemplation of the strategy or the strategic development of our sport. I think we can do a better job together in that regard. Let's see what happens. I think it's going to evolve over the next few months and hopefully it will evolve to a shape and a form where everyone feels comfortable.

Q: (Christian Nimmervoll - Motor Sport total. Com)
At the beginning of the engine cycle, one manufacturer was allowed to make some changes. Obviously next year a new engine format is coming in - the turbo engine. I wonder if any process is in place, if any discussions are going on with regard to homologation and what happens when the engines are spread quite a lot at the beginning of the season? Is there any process in place to address that?

Cyril Abiteboul:
Yeah. I think the first thing is that no one really knows what's going to happen at the first race, so it's very difficult, because we are talking about a framework or some re-tuning that will be allowed according to something that we don't really know for the time being and there won't be a magic KPI (Key Performance Indicator) or performance indicator that would summarise the whole performance of the package. So I think there must be an element of good faith in this process, see where we are, making sure that we get something that is sensible, such that any manufacturer who is short of performance is capable of doing something, also someone who is really too strong is capable of doing something else. Honestly I think it's a bit terra incognita, I think we have to wait and see, unfortunately.

Martin Whitmarsh:
Well, in answer to the question, actually there is no process at the moment to do so. Clearly it isn't as straightforward as just understanding peak power which is the traditional metric. As Cyril pointed out there are lots of metrics that will affect the performance of the car, the efficiency of the cooling system, fuel efficiency etc etc. So it's a much more complex process but inevitably, if there's a big mis-match, then the sport would be wise to deal with it. We can't and shouldn't afford to lose automotive manufacturers from the sport. They are the biggest investors in our sport and it's important that we find a situation where the sport is perceived to be level, it's got a good competition and there's an active interest from as many automotive manufacturers as possible. But at the moment there's no process.

Q: (Gary Meenaghan - The National)
To Cyril and Graeme: could you please put a value on securing tenth place, not only in terms of finances - basic financial value - but also in terms of how it will affect the future development of the team going forwards?

Graeme Lowdon:
Sadly, we can't put a value on it because the terms of our commercial agreements are confidential and quite rightly so. But we're all here to race, everyone in the team is a racer so... I get on very well with Cyril but I want to beat him and that's the essence of our sport and that goes for every single person in the team. As you know, it takes a few hundred people to design and build a car and to race it and every single one of them is highly competitive and you can see when you go back to the factory there's a... the factory's a great barometer of what's happening competitively at the race track. Tenth sounds a lot better than eleventh, ninth sounds better than tenth and so it goes on.

Cyril Abiteboul:
Exactly the same. We believe that we deserve this tenth place and we are going to fight to obtain it, as I said at the beginning, but one thing I should make clear is that it does not jeopardise the team's future - maybe my future but not the team's future.

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