Team principals: Ron Dennis (McLaren-Mercedes), Nick Fry (Honda), Mario Theissen (BMW Sauber) and Jean Todt (Ferrari).

Press conference.

Q:
Do you think this year's rule changes have worked? And what do you think of the future plans as being considered for 2011?

Nick Fry:
I think this year's rules have had some benefits in closing up the field. From our own point of view, it has not been beneficial yet, but I think for the quality of the grid and the racing it has been a good thing. One thing I would say is the absolute importance of aerodynamics in the framework of the current rules with the engines similar to each other and the tyres the same, it does throw a lot of emphasis on one particular area and the question really is the relevance of that area. We are all working like crazy on very clever aerodynamics, a lot of time and money is going into that, but the question is does it have any real relevance to the outside world. I'll save my answer on that one for the second part of your question.

Q:
But in general about this year's rules, it is good?

NF:
Yes, it is favourable.

Q:
Mario?

Mario Theissen:
Well, on the one-make tyre, I have the same view. It has closed up the field. We used to have four to five seconds between the first and the last on the grid and it has shrunk to two and half and that is good. The other important change is the Friday schedule. I think it doesn't really fit the original purpose, which was to turn Friday into a test day. What we have now is an extended practice day. The original idea of doing extensive testing, taking young drivers, has not materialised and I think it would be worth discussing again for next year.

Jean Todt:
Friday, I mean it is true to say it has made things easier for testing the car, the set up, to know the tyres and definitely for the reliability of the engine because normally we started the engine rules with one engine for 400 kilometres and now we are ending with one engine with about 1000 kilometres, so it makes it different. Definitely to have one engine for two races, it is a way to reduce costs and goes in the right direction not to reduce costs, but to stabilise costs. Over the last years it has been a huge inflation about costs and like that it does make Formula One much cheaper, but it stops the escalation of the costs. Tyres? As usual, in all new regulations there are some positive and some negative points. It is true that less testing is required and leaving it more to racing because everybody uses the same specification of tyres. But competition is a high technology competition and you lose part of it by having only a single tyre company. And about testing, the teams have agreed at 30,000 kilometres a year, which is acceptable, but I think we must not make a wrong judgement about that, because it seems from outside that it reduces costs, but in order to remain as competitive as possible you have to invest in simulation facilities. There is no limitation on simulation facilities - it is a high cost and you cannot test young drivers and you just focus on the development of the car and it is very expensive so on that I would be more cautious to make final conclusions.

Ron Dennis:
First, I endorse much of what Jean said. Dealing with the engines first, we have had significant cost saving and stabilisation and we commonly use the Friday engine for two sessions, sometimes three, so we are not bringing fresh engines always to a Friday. I think two races out of a fresh engine is a positive thing because it creates a more reliable field, which I think is better for Formula One. The tyre situation has had a dramatic impact on testing because you can now concentrate primarily on the car and as a car manufacturer we prefer to be spending time on developing the car and the drivers to tyres. The one thing I disagree with Mario on is Friday not being used in the manner it was designed for. The priority was to put cars on the circuit because Friday was an event where we sat the majority of the time conserving engines and the second was to bring young drivers on. I think it is a question of asking what that means. To be able to put a driver, who has his first year in Formula One, in Formula One, then you need that Friday. And (for) many of the drivers that are currently competing, or several, it is their first year. I don't think it was ever designed to evaluate drivers for that season or to evaluate them for the next season. You do that at testing. You don't do it on Friday. I think Friday is to put you in a position in which you are comfortable if you choose to take a young driver as opposed to a mature experienced driver. It certainly helps that decision. It certainly helped our decision, ultimately my decision, about giving Lewis the opportunity to race and so I think it has achieved a full Friday as today was interesting for everybody and when it comes to the debate about whether we should be complaint to the regulations, whether it is a test day or a race day, I am relaxed in each direction and I am happy to support whatever the majority wants. It makes no difference to us at all. We treat it like a test day, so I think most of the things are positive and there is the odd negative and so long as we are moving in the right direction it is fine.

Q:
The second question I was asking was - are we moving in the right direction with the paper that you received recently about the 'green' direction for the future?

NF:
I think it is important as you said at first to look at the philosophy, or strategy, behind the proposals and they are ones that we strongly endorse. If you stand back and look at what the proposals are trying to do - in the first instance they are trying to improve the efficiency of the power trains that we use through the addition of energy-efficient technologies and from our point of view that can only be a good thing. In our view, it is completely mandatory... i.e. there is unlikely to be a Formula One in the future without steps in that direction. So, that is one we give a big tick. The second one is the encouragement of what we call road relevant technologies. I don't think it is likely that car manufacturers and other parties are likely to invest so heavily as we all are unless there is a by-product from the technology and to try and route F1 in terms of its spending into areas where it would have been spent anyway if it is money that Honda was going to spend on its road car technology than by spending it in F1, it is not needless spending, it is money that would have been spent anyway and through the competition of F1 it is likely to happen much faster. So I think in our view these are two good reasons why it is exactly the right direction. I won't go into detail, but would say we would support 80 per cent of the detail of the proposal as well. What we are seeing here is some really game-changing leadership from the FIA and I think that is what is required and I think the whole thing is to be applauded.

MT:
Well, on the general direction, I can only agree with what Nick said. We support this and we are a technology driven company and we are in F1 to demonstrate our competence in this area, so it is from our perspective good to take the lead and use F1 as a tool to pioneer future technology for road cars and so the basis is correct. The proposal itself we see as a basis for discussion. It has been presented two or three weeks ago. The manufacturers have been invited to comment on this and to bring in their own ideas and there is a sequence of meetings scheduled for the coming months and I am quite confident that we will come up with something finally very interesting and useful. Obviously, it will take a lot of money to develop this power train and so in my view it is essential to know about the final regulations as soon as possible before the end of this year in order to be able to stretch development and do it with the resources available. That is our view on the power train side. At the same time it was announced that the impact of aerodynamics should be brought down because it is not road car relevant. If we talk about that, it is not just about the solutions we find but about the technology and the tools we develop for Formula One and also in aerodynamics Formula One has pioneered what we do on the road car side. If you look at the wind tunnels we have they are much more sophisticated than road car wind tunnels used to be and only now is this technology taking over for the future in road car development. And in CFD simulation, here as well F1 is at the forefront and we make developments that are used for road cars in the future.

JT:
From now to 2011, we move in three steps: 08 when we will be using a standard ECU which will be supplied by McLaren Electronics and we will have one gearbox for Grands Prix, that is the first step; the second step is 09 with restriction of the KERS, for the engine, and with the new aero package; and then, 2011, we got first the proposal of the discussions held among the manufactures and the FIA and we must bear in mind that it has been said now for a certain time that when we move into a new rules for Formula One we have to consider four principles which are the cost reduction, the improvement of the show, the safety and the link to road car technology. So we have a first draft and I think it is a good draft for discussion. Mainly it is addressing the power train situation, so the aerodynamic and the chassis are not well covered and we are now at the end of May 07 and I hope things can move forward and we can write regulations that suit Formula One and which will correspond to the four parameters we agreed on.

RD:
I agree with everything Jean said. His analysis is very accurate. To add, there are two categories of Grand Prix organisations, those that have equity control from a manufacturer and those teams whose core business is Formula One. I don't feel comfortable with regulations designed to favour manufacturers who at any time can stop because it is not their core business. History shows they do choose to stop at short notice for different reasons. So, to construct therefore Formula One for the manufacturers is fundamentally wrong. I see the need for an F1 that embraces many of the things that are part of the paper, I am not opposed to it at all, I am supportive of it, but inevitably change is always considered a good solution to un-competitiveness, so cynically I look at a variety of teams saying 'great' because they are uncompetitive and cannot make competitive cars with the current regulations and I hope that the thing that has driven virtually every decision of value that is taken over the last five years, which is cost, is kept firmly at the top of the list because this is going to cost a fortune and there isn't anybody that can argue against that. This will cost a fortune. We need to be mindful of the fact that this could see the demise of several teams who will not be able to pursue development programmes or receive the support of a manufacturer, so going from one minute a situation where we are effectively going to have four cars of the same make most of which will be produced by the core manufacturing companies to a situation where the manufacturers are heavily favoured against those core manufacturers, I don't think that is correct. But that is an opinion.

 

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