Technical directors: Mario Almondo (Ferrari), Willy Rampf (BMW Sauber), Pat Symonds (Renault), Geoff Willis (Red Bull)

Questions from the floor:

Q: (Fabritsio Lazakis - Four Wheels Magazine)
Question for Pat, you mentioned there was a meeting to get rid of the fuel-burning laps in Turkey; have there been any developments?

Pat Symonds:
Yes, the Sporting Working Group met here in Monza on Wednesday and among the items on the agenda was a proposal that just slightly modified the qualifying procedure, but in so doing got rid of the fuel-burning laps. The way it did it was to have a more limited time in Q3 in the final part of qualifying and to still re-fuel before that so you still had to put in the fuel that would do your qualifying and your race, but because the qualifying was shorter and because you got no credit back on Sunday morning, you simply put in what you needed for qualifying and the race. That achieved a majority vote in favour of it and it will therefore go to the World Council for their October meeting for application next year.

Q:
Are we expecting two runs in that session?

PS:
I think - and I must admit haven't really sat down and thought exactly how well do it but there is absolutely no doubt at many circuits apart from Monaco that for sure we will do two runs, but may be others where it is just not worth it and you think that a lap of fuel is worth a tenth of a second and you have got to do your out-lap, your in-lap and your timed lap then your first run is two or up to three-tenths slower than the potential of your second one and sometimes it is not worth doing it, but it will vary from circuit to circuit..

Q: (St?phane Barb? - l'Equipe)
To all of you, as technical directors who are working very hard to get performance from the car how high would you rate in terms of cheating the fact that a team could have obtained technical information from another team?

Geoff Willis:
I suppose I have the advantage of having looked from the outside... [This is] a very difficult question to answer. When you are designing a car, particularly when you are looking at your competitors, it is certainly one of those things that you want to know - where is the other person's advantage - is the aerodynamics better, or is the car lighter or is the centre of gravity lower or is the engine more powerful. So, in some ways, knowing that information or some of it helps you to focus a bit more on where you develop the car and in the absence of that information all the teams are doing a lot of competitor comparison analysis to try to focus on exactly where their shortcomings are. We do that all the time. If you were to take the extreme condition of having detailed information about somebody else's car, in some cases it would be a huge advantage and in other cases it would just be enabling you to produce what that team had already produced and therefore you would always be playing catch-up, however good your manufacturing and design and operations loop is, it is going to take you four to six weeks to get those sort of components on a car and fundamentally what you want is an understanding of why you have come up with those engineering solutions and not what those solutions are... So, for me, if an engineer comes to me from another team, I am not interested in his specific technical knowledge about that car, because it should already be out of date. I am interested in how he arrives at that design and what made the car go fast. So, ignoring all issues about the morality and legality of it, I am not sure how much use in certain cases some information is. In other cases, it is a lot of use.

PS:
I agree very much with Geoff. What makes a car go fast is reasonably well known and reasonably easy to simulate and therefore the way in which we approach our development is weighted with respect to the lap time improvement one can get in different areas. In other words, we all know that good aerodynamics makes a Formula One car go very fast, so we put a lot of effort into that. We know at the moment, there is very little we can do with the engines, so that effort is scaled down. Even when it was free, we know that for each million Euros you spent on the engine, you produced less performance than a million Euros spent on aerodynamic development. We all understand where we should be spending our money and putting our effort in and in what proportion and we are trying to do that as much as we can in the budgets that we have and the personnel that we have. So, information from another team doesn't really help you in that respect and equally neither does detail. And that is where I agree with Geoff - what's important in a team are the people and the way people approach things and to have even a complete set of drawings of a car, if you don't understand the concept of how it works, then it is not terribly interesting.

Willy Rampf:
The performance of the car is an overall part of a complex system, so if you bring in one engineer from another team and maybe he has some ideas, but overall on the long term I don't think that you would make a big step forward as long as he is not working well in the team or integrated in the team. Sometimes I think it is over-estimated what input can be made to another team. It is like increasing a team when the whole team has to work well and all with a lot of trust together to make a quick car. So it is not one thing that makes a car go quicker but a huge amount of small details and all the philosophy that has developed in a team over years.

Mario Almondo:
If you get a lot of technical data of another car it is not a matter of single details that you would like or not of the other car, trying to imitate what the other team did, but it is a matter of knowing references... If I know the weight distribution of another car, the efficiency, how powerful is the engine and so on, then I know my references and know exactly where to put our resources. So I have a higher possibility of arriving at the same result if I am behind or even a better result if I am quicker and with less energy spent, less money and in a quicker time, so for sure it is an advantage to just know things and how the other works because it is a sort of technical gift in this respect.

Q: (Dan Knutson - National Speed Sport News)
Geoff, you have had time to work with Mark Webber now. What is your assessment of him?

GW:
It has been good to work with Mark and of course I worked with David before many years ago. From where we are, given our level of performance and our current performance problems, it is very useful to have somebody like Mark who can tell you what the car is doing and to tell you what he wants and needs to improve the car. Mark himself is a very straightforward person, enthusiastic and comes to the factory a lot and interacts well with the guys in the factory. A very positive first perception.

Q: (Panos Diamantis - Car and Driver)
A question for Mr Symonds and for Mr Almondo: We saw your teams have problems with wind tunnels this year. Do you think that aerodynamics has gone over the limit in Formula One? And, secondly, would you like a second wind tunnel?

PS:
I don't think that Formula One should be about limits in that respect. The problems we had with our car this year are largely aerodynamic and I don't think one should read much further than that. Would we like a second wind tunnel? I said earlier that it is reasonably easy to assess where to spend your money and what you will get back from it and aerodynamics is the way to make cars go faster, so I guess the answer is yes we would, but equally computational fluid dynamics is moving on at a pace where it is challenging wind tunnels and maybe in the future it will be the primary tool rather than secondary and therefore at Renault we have invested in that rather than a second wind tunnel.

MA:
A wind tunnel is like several other industrial plants all over the world - something that can be used 24 hours a day and seven days a week - so I don't think we have reached the limits and sometimes we have problems and these we just have to accept. The second matter I think is a balance of how much you want to spend and what is the benefit. From a general point of view, I have to say that it is more sensible to imagine a Formula One with a limit on spending money and this of course has to be helped from the general point of view, from the rules, because otherwise you have just the budget limited. So a support from the rules is beneficial in this respect because it gives you a picture that is more used in a better way - a plant that can be used by all the teams instead of having bigger and bigger plants that is bringing you costs but not investing in quality, just in quantity.

Q: (Takeharu Kusuda - Lapita Magazine)
Pat, what causes the difference in positions of your two drivers after the second practice? Is it anything to do with strategy?

PS:
For sure, there are different ways we go about things. It is always wrong to take a snap shot and say that is the way the world is and, certainly, Friday practices are not indicative of how a team is performing or going to perform. If one looks back over recent races, Heikki has come along very strongly indeed and he really is challenging Giancarlo. In testing here last week, he put in a very strong performance. Unfortunately today, in first practice, he locked up in turn one and damaged a set of tyres and that did put us a little on the back foot. We had to alter the programme around a little bit but when everything shakes up at the end of the weekend they will be as close as ever.

 

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