Technical directors: Jacky Eeckelaert (Honda), Sam Michael (Williams), Willy Rampf (BMW Sauber), Pat Symonds (Renault)

Questions from the floor:

Q: (James Allen - ITV)
Willy, I'm a bit confused with what you were trying to do with the strategy at Monaco because I thought you'd be quite aggressive and you did the opposite and opened the door for Renault and let them through. What were you trying to do?

Willy Rampf:
I think that the strategy that we used in Monaco was quite a risky one because it was based on the fact that the safety car might come in. It came in four times in the five years before and we said 'this is a chance to win the race if it comes in, in quite a wide range of laps." It didn't pay out and we lost a position to Fisichella at the end. It was quite a risky strategy not a conservative one and afterwards it is easy to say 'ah the safety car' but there was no safety car in Monaco.

Q: (Dan Knutson - National Speed Sport News)
You have all seen the outlines of the rule proposals for 2011, what do you think of them? Is Formula One heading in the right direction with these rules?

WR:
I think here the better person to ask is Mario Theissen because the engine and gearbox are developed in Munich and we are just investigating the possibilities, what can be done and in what timeframe.

Pat Symonds:
I think they are very interesting changes. They surprise me somewhat. It wasn't that long ago that we decided engines would not be a performance differentiator, we decided on homologated engines and limited development. And now it's been suggested that perhaps the only performance differentiator will be drive-train and chassis aerodynamics, vehicle dynamics is effectively put down a peg. I find it a little bit strange that some of the things we are doing imminently will be changing again in 2011. We are working on kinetic energy recovery systems for 2009 that are very different for those that would be required in the suggestions for 2011, and can I make it clear they are just suggestions. Similarly we are adopting a standard ECU next year which has been a lot of work to get ready. [There are] various restrictions associated with that and then again suggestions that in 2011 we open up the electronics to further development. So some surprising things, and I think my first question is 'do we need it? Is this what we want?' I think Max is a very powerful leader and he has some very good ideas and there are many times when you need that powerful leadership because as teams we will tend to bicker and get nowhere. So I'm certainly not criticising the power of his leadership, but I do wonder if we need to really say: 'Well Formula One is broken, let's re-invent it from stage one." I'm not sure we really need to. I think that there are many things we can do to improve Formula One. I think we can improve the spectacle, I think we can be more ecologically aware. But I don't think that we need to tear everything up and start at zero again. I think there are many things that can be adopted, many things that are of interest but above all I guess the thing I find hardest is that they are going to cost us a lot of money and the one thing I'd probably take issue with the FIA on is the idea that new rules should be relevant to road cars. That was not actually a mandate that I believe was ever agreed. It was agreed that new rules should be helpful to society at large. Or useful to society at large. I think that's a slightly different thing because the lead-on from that is that if the new rules produce technologies that are road relevant then our parent companies will come in and pay for them. Well that is absolutely not the case with Renault. Renault do not see Formula One as a technical exercise to make a better Clio, Megane or Laguna. It's a very different thing and certainly they are not going to put more money into Formula One than they do now and the so called road relevant research, the financing for that will not come from the Renault group.

Sam Michael:
I think that a lot of the things Pat said are pretty valid. One of the things that I think was in there that I thought was quite understated was the savings made from going to the engine homologation and the engine life these days, the savings have been significant. Maybe it's different costs for different companies but if you look at the number of engines that you use, and everyone did fight against it, but if you only go back to 2002 we used six engines every race weekend and now we are using two every two race weekends. So the changes have been massive and I think that was one of the reasons for doing it. The second thing is that there are transfers of some things. Something that BMW mentioned was transfer of CFD technology to road cars and that is valid. It's not the fact that you go and develop a rear wing that you then go and put on your road car it's that you develop the understanding of aerodynamics and CFD that helps you better develop road cars. But at the same time, it's not an unusual process for the FIA to publish a first position and then go through a series of discussions at TWG and team principle level to try and hone down what we really want to do.

Jacky Eeckelaert:
Firstly we support most of the drafted regulations. I think it will push the manufacturers to build more fuel-efficient engines because probably the fuel flow will be needed. So if you want to go faster with a given amount of fuel in a given amount of time then you need to make a very fuel-efficient engine and this will probably find some spin-offs in the road cars sooner or later. On the other hand of course Honda supports the environmental position of the FIA. Especially in the case of the hybrid technology which also will be the case in 2012.

Q: (Rubens Yanes - Sinflash)
It is a kind of weird question for an article I'm writing. Are there any constraints technically or physically for women to become an F1 driver?

PS:
I think the simple answer is no. Really I don't think there is anything more to add to that. We have seen in many other Formulas some women drivers who are really quite competitive. I don't see any reason.

Q: (James Allen)
The performance of the different types of tyre that have been brought along this weekend, obviously the soft and the super-soft. Looking at the practice today, what have we learned? Is the soft tyre the better race tyre and the super-soft quicker on a single lap as we saw in Monaco or is there a variability in that picture?

PS:
I think you'd have to wait until Sunday.

JE:
What we can say is that these are the same tyres as in Monaco, the soft and the super-soft and it depends on the track conditions. This morning the track was extremely green, I think everybody had problems with turning even with the prime tyre which is soft, not to speak about the super-soft. The track evolution changes the way you can use a tyre. So if it is not raining, or not too much, we will have another track evolution I think on Saturday morning and from there on we will see and we will have to take a decision.

PS:
I think you are possibly right it will be that way. Today was clouded a lot because of the very excessive graining. Here in Canada we often get real graining and it really destroys the performance of the car. One hopes it gets better over the weekend but I think we are expecting some rain tonight and it may well not do this week. Then the super-soft tyre would be quite a job to manage in the race.

WR:
I think it is a very interesting parameter for this strategy because you have to use the super-soft and then you have to decide which of them has the least damage.

PS: (to WR) I think you should do one stop Willy. And stop very late [laughter].

Q: (Ren? Hoffmann - S?ddeutsche Zeitung)
To all four gentlemen. We today saw one of your competitors, namely Toyota, having some problems with the front suspension. Could you just talk in general about how easy or hard it is to fix these kinds of problems and whether you see a chance that we might not see a Toyota on the race track tomorrow and on Sunday?

WR:
I don't think we have all the information. I mean we just saw it coming in with one wheel detached from the suspension. If it is really a major failure of the suspension then I think it is very, very difficult. I think there are few possibilities on the track to modify it. You might be able to reinforce it but I think this is all you can do on the track.

PS:
It's quite difficult to know without having all the information. We don't know what bits failed on their car. As Willy said when it comes to things like wings and suspensions it can get very difficult. Most other things you can put in place for repair but as I said we don't really know what failed.

JE:
I think that if the suspension breaks within a window of load switches then it is really something that has to be considered very seriously because as Willy says you cannot redesign or reinforce the suspension on the track. It is very difficult because you have to validate the parts. But of course we don't know what happened. Maybe he hit the wall the lap before or a few corners before and this put a big load on, for which the suspension is not designed? Then it fails the next time you go over the kerb. It is possible but we do not know that.

Q: (Ren? Hoffmann)
Is the suspension load extremely high on this type of circuit?

PS:
No, it's nothing abnormal.

WR:
The highest risk is really touching the wall and then you don't know how the load affects the suspension. I think this is the highest risk here.

Q: (Fabritsio Lazakis - Four Wheels Magazine)
A question to Jacky. You said you have identified the problems that you faced at the start of the season. Could you tell us some more details?

JE:
Well it is difficult for me to give too much detail for obvious reasons but for sure we have quite a competitive car at the end of 2006. The second half of the season and I think at the end of the season, the two fastest cars on Michelin tyres were the Renault and the Honda. We were clearly in front of the McLaren the last few races of the season. Then five weeks later after the last Grand Prix when we went testing with them with the new Bridgestone tyre, we had lost quite a lot of performance by switching tyres. This was difficult to anticipate as the tyre became available for all the teams on the same day at the end of October. The interaction of the tyre with the car is a very complex thing, not just mechanically but also aerodynamically. But I think the details from that, now that we understand it, are within our scope.

 

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