Team representatives: Toto Wolff (Mercedes), Eric Boullier (McLaren), Rob White (Renault Sport F1), Stefano Domenicali (Ferrari), Claire Williams (Williams), Christian Horner (Red Bull Racing)

Questions from the floor
Q: (Mark Fogarty - The Age)
Claire and gentlemen, the reaction to the sound of the engines has been underwhelming, to say the least. You people have heard these engines during testing, has it occurred to anyone that we've got a real problem on our hands, just how horrible they sound, and how the fans are going to react?

Claire Williams:
Personally I like the sound of the engines, but then I love Formula One and I love watching cars go round a racetrack. I think people will pretty quickly get used to what Formula One engines sound like. We've had so many changes over so many decades of motor racing and you very quickly forget what a previous engine sounds like and I think people just want to see a good race on Sunday and I think that as long as we can deliver that then I think that any issues that perhaps... or contentious conversations around that may fade away.

Toto Wolff:
Well, if you like sound of engines, let's go back to V10 and V12, let's not do any hybrid. This is modern technology, this is where road cars are going. Downsizing is the motto and I think we just need to accept that the formula has changed. These cars are going to go quicker than the old ones in a couple of races, we're going to get used to the sounds and I promise next year you will not notice and you will not notice any difference any more.

Stefano Domenicali:
I think that Claire and Toto summarised the situation very well.

Q: (Flavio Vanetti - Corriere della Serra)
Stefano, are you worried about the problems that Kimi seems to have had today or are you more satisfied by the performance of Fernando?

Stefano Domenicali:
I always have to see the negative side of the... or the empty side of the glass, so of course we need to make sure that all the things that are still not solved - not only on Kimi's side - have to be solved or addressed very quickly because the competition is very strong and the time that we have available is not a lot. So I think that for me the most important thing is to address and to solve the issue very quickly and whatever it is, the driver is not really the problem because I'm sure that both drivers will be able to manage the situation in the best way that they can, but there is still a lot of work to do.

Q: (Stuart Codling - F1 Racing)
Eric, you've added a new sponsor to your rear wing without much in the way of fanfare. Could you explain the significance of that and maybe shed some light on your quest for a title sponsor. Are you closer to announcing something? I think Ron said the other week that it would be in the next few events. Are we closer to firming something up there?

Eric Boullier:
We lately signed a new sponsor which is good news and we are happy to welcome Asos which is an on-line fashion retailer. I think it's in nine languages delivering to 234 countries - I know my figures. It's obviously very exciting for us. It's a huge company selling clothes and selling all stuff like fashion stuff.

Regarding the other part of the question, we will soon announce... we will hope to sign soon a title partner. We are not in a rush to announce it until everything is closed and done but it's going to be done in due time.

Q: (Dan Knutson - Auto Action)
Stefano, three questions about your power plant: what are the specific issues that need to be fixed? Within the rules of homologation, what can you now do to develop the engine and the third question is how do you rate your engine compared to your rivals?

Stefano Domenicali:
First of all, we need to wait and see because points are the things that count so the first thing we need to do is to work on the reliability of it, because that is still not clear if it's enough, it's never enough compared to the others. In terms of analysis, I think we need to be careful because when you address only the issue on the engine, I think that's wrong. We need to address if there is the need, of course, to address the things on the entire car, on the efficiency of the car in a global way, not only the engine, on the mechanical side there's also the balancing of electrical power versus the engine power itself versus the efficiency of the car as the car itself. I think the right answer is that we need to work all around the car, full stop, and we will see where we're going to be because I already see a lot of classifications done already but I think it is better for everyone not to anticipate too much. I know that words are easy to fly away but I think we need to be very cautious and careful. That's why I keep this position. I think that we have a good base and we need to develop on that and see when it counts to bring home the points that are the things that are more important for this championship.

Q: (Ted Kravitz - Sky Sports)
Christian, your cars with Daniel did more than a race distance today and Sebastian almost did a race distance across the two sessions. Is that the first time you've done a whole race distance in a day's running in the whole of pre-season testing and does that mean that you can do the whole of the race distance on Sunday with a vague confidence that the car will actually do all the laps, especially as we saw a heat bulge on Sebastian's car in the lower left hand part of the side pod during FP1?

Christian Horner:
Well, I think Sebastian today has covered a third of the mileage of his total winter and obviously Daniel has done pretty much a race distance today, so that's extremely encouraging for our guys and the guys back in Paris at Renault. So hopefully it bodes well for the weekend because the most important thing is to see the chequered flag on Sunday and that in itself is an enormous challenge. We've learned some valuable lessons today, an awful lot of information to look at and to be honest with you, it's the first real opportunity that the drivers have had to drive the car properly without it being interrupted at any different part of the lap or the circuit. Really, for both drivers it's been their first chance to really start to explore the car and for the engineers to start to look at set-up and so in many respects, this is where we would ideally like to have been at the first test but that wasn't the case. We've got some ground to make up.

Q: (Dieter Rencken - Racing Lines)
To all of you including Rob because it could affect your side of the championship, since we last met in Brazil, we've introduced double points at the last race which is arguably the least scintillating race of the season. Given that the structure, the entrants and drivers licence fees are basically a tax on performance, how do you feel about these double points races, possibly for the last three races? Now there's talk about points for qualifying positions, what are your sentiments?

Rob White:
I guess my opinion is more as a relatively independent observer and as a fan of the sport, I think that as long as the points structure is understood in advance, it's an optimisation target like all of the rest and Formula One is a fantastic machine for getting the best out of a given set of constraints. I personally am not in favour of things that are hard to understand and therefore if it gets too complicated, I won't like it.

Toto Wolff:
Yuh. Is it good? I think when it was decided we didn't put too much emphasis on it, we didn't think it was a big drama. It's clear that you have to support the commercial rights holder and if the TV audience is dropping, I think we have an obligation to listen. We got the reaction afterwards, it was not what we expected. You have to honour that. Nothing has changed since then, the last race remains double points and let's see what we're going to do next year.

Claire Williams:
Exactly the same as what Toto was saying.

Q: (Andrea Cremonesi - La Gazzetta dello Sport)
Stefano, yesterday your president sent a letter to the fans; could you explain to us the meaning of the letter, particularly the part he wrote about the systems and all the problems that can be grey areas in the rules. Could you explain the spirit of the letter, please?

Stefano Domenicali:
I'm not the president, first of all. You know that very well. No, I think that our chairman wanted to send a letter to our supporters before the first weekend of another season, as he always does every year, and I think that he was highlighting the challenge that we have this year in terms of new regulations for us and it's a challenge also for the federation to align with these regulations because also on their side, it's a big task to make all the controls that are needed to make sure that everything is running properly, so I would say it's just for him a way to stay close to our tifosi, to our supporters because you know how much he cares about Formula One and that's the way you always are at the beginning of the season.

Q: (Heikki Kulta -Turun Sanomat)
Stefano, if it rains tomorrow, does it help your drivers to challenge the Mercedes boys for the top positions?

Stefano Domenicali:
Good question - the answer is I don't know. We will see.

Q: (Will Buxton - NBCSN)
For everybody, there's rumours doing the rounds that there's a move on to try and get a test in Malaysia next week, before the race. Is that something... by the looks of things, it's a surprise. I was wondering if that is something you had heard and if so it's something you would be in favour of.

Christian Horner:
Well, it's certainly a surprise. It's the first I've heard of it and if it is happening, we won't be there. I think it's fairly unlikely.

Eric Boullier:
I've never heard of it too.

Q: (Sylvia Arias - Parabrisas)
Monsieur Boullier, I would like to know your opinion about Federico Gastaldi. As team principal, I saw you today saying to him 'good luck'.

Eric Boullier:
Yes, I wished him good luck, obviously, but I have no opinion at all because it's not my matter any more.

Q: (Dieter Rencken - Racing Lines)
What sort of progress would all of you like to see made on the cost cap or budget caps or whatever?

Christian Horner:
What was the question again? You wanted the cost cap or what progress? Forget the word cost cap for the moment. Let's just focus on saving money. I think everybody around this group here wants to see all of the teams save money. The necessity to spend money in order to be competitive is what we want to reduce and I think however we achieve that as a group, it's something we all want to see happen. How to make it happen is obviously something much more complex. Then there's obviously discussions about caps and this and that. You've got to look at the root causes for why are costs the way they are and then in my opinion, address it that way.

Eric Boullier:
I think Ron has maybe said he's not favour of caps - again, it's words. Definitely he's obviously in favour of reducing costs. Obviously competition or trying to be competitive is obviously the nature of any sport, especially Formula One, so we just need to draw the line and make sure that technically we can't spend too much to be competitive and try to have some targets which could be reasonable and suiting everybody.

Toto Wolff:
Maybe Stefano wants to say something.

Stefano Domenicali:
I think that Christian and Eric have summarised the situation very clearly, so nothing to add. We are always saying the same thing.

Q: (Dieter Rencken - Racing Lines)
But there's no progress and that as the question: what progress would you like to see made?

Stefano Domenicali:
I think that progress is on the way because we are discussing what to do at the level of the strategy group. I'm sure that you're aware of the work that is around that. I think that at this moment it's better to stay quiet and tell you when the thing is done and say we are doing something without going into the details of it.

Q:
But it is the case that it's got to be in place by 2015, isn't it?

Stefano Domenicali:
Yeah.

Christian Horner:
We've done an incredible job of reducing the costs for this year with the introduction of a new power train that's probably 25 percent more so we're doing a great job so far!

Q: (Chris Lines - AP)
Rob, can you tell us a bit about the problems afflicting each of the teams; are they individual to the teams or is it a common problem and do you have a time line when you think this engine will be functioning at its principal level? Will it be KL, Bahrain, China, Europe?

Rob White:
If we take a step back and look at the kind of troubles that have befallen us and our teams, then the first thing to say I think is that we're behind where we should be in terms of time, in terms of our internal objectives, then independent of one's level of competitiveness, then it's completely unacceptable to be coming to a first race as relatively unprepared as we are and without having run through all of the scenarios that we needed to. In terms of where the trouble lies, then we remain confident that the building blocks that we've got in place are the right ones, that we know the level of thermal efficiency that we need for the turbocharged engine to be competitive in terms of power. We know that the regulatory constraints on the electrical machines from the battery and that mustn't be exceeded but in order to be competitive, you've got to be able to be up with those limits and we are up with those limits and where it's tough is delivering turbo to the backside of the drivers to the contact patch between the tyre and the tarmac, the sum of those parts and at the moment we're not yet able to deliver that in a decent fashion. And this comes right back to the heart of these regulations. In order to get the performance out of the cars, the cars are going to be quicker than the old cars in a minute with substantially less fuel, there's a lot more stuff and getting all that stuff to peacefully cohabit in the race car and to make it appear to the driver like it's a different thing to the thing it is is where the troubles are. I guess that's the stuff that is common to all users of our power unit and I don't really have anything much to say about the specific differences between one car and another. We're certainly working hand-in-hand with the teams that we work with in order to fix our problems and if we can participate in solving other ones then that's good too.

Q: (Will Buxton - NBCSN)
FOTA, perhaps in the run-up to this season the perhaps inevitable dissolution of the Formula One Teams Association. How disappointed were those of you that were members of it with the dissolution of FOTA; those of you that weren't, why didn't it work for you? And as we move forwards with this sport and the usual talk of the need to reduce costs, how important is the unity of the teams in progressing this sport?

Claire Williams:
Yes, obviously we were a member of FOTA and it was disappointing that it did dissolve but I think that from when it was originally established - it set out with a very clear mandate - and over the years that mandate has changed for a variety of reasons. I think the most important thing in this sport is that teams come together to work together to address the issues that we face and whatever those may be. We do need some form of structure around the teams so that we have a platform to have conversations so whether that's FOTA or whether that's something else, that's something that Williams would be keen to be a part of in the future but obviously we, as a team, are now part of the F1 strategy group which obviously we're please about.

Eric Boullier:
Obviously as McLaren and ex-deputy chairman, we were quite involved in FOTA. I think it's a bit disappointing to see FOTA disappearing but it was expected in the end. First FOTA was created in a different context with a lot of car manufacturers in the paddock and it has survived over the years. There were some defections and it just ended up where unfortunately it should have been. The most important thing is to keep some discussions and some firm places between the teams, as Claire said, to address our issues if we have to.

Toto Wolff:
I think the mandate of FOTA was to represent all teams and that mandate got diluted over the years. Teams stepped back and at the end it was a bit of a struggle for FOTA to keep alive and I think we were either all in or no FOTA.

Stefano Domenicali:
I think that clearly at the specific moment when FOTA was created it was really a situation that there was really the need to make sure that the teams were all together and if you recall, during that time, there were situations where the championship could have gone through a different part, we were very close to being in that situation but year by year the situation changed and therefore that was the reason why we quit FOTA two years ago, because we felt that that kind of situation was not really needed any more to be effective as an organisation. I think that for sure it is important for teams to agree and speak on a lot of subjects because we are all the actors in this show but we also need to recognise that there are different actors with different weights that also have be considered. All of us do care about this business, do care about this sport and I believe that this is fundament to also look ahead in the new way that we are organised, for example with the strategy group, to make sure that we take the right decisions for the future of Formula One.

Christian Horner:
I think that Stefano has summed it up perfectly. FOTA, when it was created, had some specific agendas. It was at a time of uncertainty over many issues regarding Formula One and then of course, the crisis came in 2008 and FOTA at that time achieved some good things in reducing costs and teams working harmoniously together within critical circumstances. Then the mandate as FOTA changed, and when it suddenly became involved in how you run your team and run your business and trying to police how a team is run, that's not the role of the teams and you're only ever going to end up in conflict when teams are trying to write regulations of how they should spend budgets etc etc. For that reason, we left at an identical time to Ferrari, because we just didn't believe in the direction that FOTA was going. Then it was no surprise to see - ultimately - that it petered out over the last few years.

 

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