Team personnel: Mike Gascoyne (Toyota), Sam Michael (Williams-BMW), Pat Symonds (Renault) and Geoffrey Willis (BAR-Honda).

Press conference.

Q:
Mike, you have a new or revised car coming out, what are you expecting from it, how many places is it going to gain you?

Mike Gascoyne:
We're expecting it to go quicker otherwise we wouldn't have made it. We've been doing a lot of work. We thing it's a good step forward. We've finalised the configuration. It's been very tight to produce it on time because it's new monocoques which needed re-homologation, plus a total new aero package, so a lot of hard work. And hopefully it will be a reasonable step forward. I think the important thing is that from where we are you are not going to move all the way to the front in one step. But this is the start of the process. We have put a lot of things right at the factory, done a lot of hard work that you don't see on the racetrack. We've been doing all that. It's taken a long time and now we are starting to see the results of all that work but it's just the first step of what will be a long process but one that we're trying to do as quickly as we can.

Q:
It's got more downforce, I believe, that's the main point of it.

MS:
It is lighter, it's got more downforce. There are a lot of things that aren't in the package that have all come together at one time. We've also hopefully got a step on the engine, so overall it should be a good step forward but we have to wait and see. Everyone is making progress and so it's impossible to say exactly where it will put you. But we're confident it's a good step forward.

Q:
Geoff, I believe you had a new aero package on cars today. Tell us about it?

Geoff Willis:
We have a number of developments which we tested last week at Jerez and we will be testing again next week at the Jerez test. It's quite difficult at this time of the year because we are just about to come to the big testing ban, so we are trying to get as many pieces on the car right at the moment. But we need to be really careful. It's often the case that if you rush new components onto a car that aren't properly tested then you tend to go backwards rather than make an improvement. So we will be a bit cautious. Today, it's not been a particularly good day for us and I think we may well just keep a bit more logical and save the parts for the test at Jerez when we've got proper time to evaluate them.

Q:
What about Jenson Button today, what do you feel about his performance?

GW:
Generally we were reasonably happy with the car but we're not as happy as we were at the test here a short while ago. We've got some more work to do, I think.

Q:
Pat, tell us about Jarno Trulli at Magny-Cours; are you think about installing an alarm clock in his car?

Pat Symonds:
Yeah, probably a Mickey Mouse one! It was one of those things. You know, everyone does make mistakes in life and I guess I do have a little bit of sympathy for drivers in that their mistakes are extremely public. Having said that, we are not very tolerant of mistakes. It was a very basic mistake that he made, a mistake that drivers make early in their career and learn from them. But in fairness to Jarno, he fully admits he made the mistake, he admits that he was not cautious, he wasn't really thinking the thing through and half the battle with stopping yourself making mistakes is to admit you made them so there's a positive note there.

Q:
Pat, you've made fantastic starts in the team. Are you surprised others haven't caught up and are doing similar starts?

PS:
I think that when we had automatic launch control I was surprised that people didn't catch up. We were quite late introducing ours; in fact it was at the British Grand Prix that year that we first used our launch control because we spent a long while developing it. I was pleasantly surprised that we maintained our advantage until the end of the year, but I was absolutely amazed that we had that advantage through the following year. The start systems now are nowhere near as sophisticated as they used to be. There are elements of control that we can do and we can still do. I think that we have learned an awful lot from the automatic systems as to what we needed to do for the so-called manual systems and I think that has helped us.

Q:
Sam, recent aerodynamic update and changes to the car, have they improved performances as you had hoped? Did you expect further?

Sam Michael:
We made quite a big change to the side pod and the floor and it was really just a change of direction in comparison to what we had before. The initial step wasn't... it was still more downforce but it wasn't a step that we ever believed would put us up to Ferrari straightaway. But now we've added two or three more parts to that this weekend and we've got quite an aggressive development programme over the next three or four races to bring parts to that package.

Q:
Marc Gene obviously replacing Ralf Schumacher, what has Marc got to do to keep the seat as long Ralf is out of it?

SM:
Well, the main thing is to drive as fast as he can and score as many points as he can and try and do the best job. He's quite a stable guy in the car. Even in the middle of a session if the team is struggling or looking for a set-up direction, Marc's quite a good driver from that point of view and it's probably come from the many thousands of kilometres of testing that he's done. In terms of him keeping the drive, that's something that we will evaluate race by race. To be honest we did that to start with because we did not actually know how long Ralf would be out of the car. It was only the day before the Magny-Cours Grand Prix that we realised that he would be out for longer than what we thought so from that point, we always said we would decide race by race.

Q:
The question to all of you is after the Technical Working Group meeting earlier this week, what was the outcome, where is it going next, what are the problems, what are the strengths and weaknesses of the proposals? What happens next?

MG:
I think it was a very productive meeting. Certainly the easiest thing for us to discuss is obviously the chassis regulations and the aerodynamic regulations. We came up with a couple of proposals to limit downforce, specifically around the diffuser area. I think they were the right direction and the right changes and certainly very significant changes. Quite a few teams had done quite a bit of work on it and achieved similar results. So I think we were fairly confident that we would achieve a significant reduction in lap times in aerodynamics and also lap time due to that. Also I think the regulations that we get from it will be tuneable, we can tune them each year. It give us an area of the car and some dimensions that will allow us to fine-tune in future years. So I think from that point of view, on the chassis side it was very productive. Tyres and engine are more difficult for us to look at but again, there were some proposals, not unanimously received, that increase engine life and also the engine manufacturers are working on a range of proposals they will put forward in a document for 2008, to see which ones can be pulled forward to 2005. And on the tyres, Bridgestone and Michelin are working together to look at ways of reducing performance, so overall, I think we're attacking it on all fronts, but certainly from the chassis side, I think there was good agreement and certainly the right direction.

GW:
The technical working group was asked to find a way of reducing the performance of the cars and the key thing for me was that we established that our target was to reduce the performance of the cars back to the lap times we had in 2002/2003 so essentially, about a three seconds a lap reduction in performance. And the Technical Working Group looking at specifically the chassis regulations and the aerodynamic regulations have come up with, unanimously, with a set of proposals that we believe will slow the cars down by 1.5s/1.75s per lap, maybe a little bit less if there is some improvement over the winter. The tyre proposals, even though not fully agreed yet, are clearly able to slow the cars down by 1.5s to 2s so I believe that we have done what is required and we can move on quite quickly. And what is most critical is that we get this agreement that we have met the requirements that have come from the World Council to the Technical Working Group and we can just get a set of regulations from which we can carry on designing the cars and that it is fixed in the next few weeks because none of the teams can afford this to be left undone any longer and I believe that we've done what's required.

PS:
Yeah, I think I would echo that. We are at a bit of a watershed in Formula One because we have a number of requirements. What we've been tackling right now is a safety requirement. We have all agreed... we have not actually agreed that the cars are too fast at the moment, what we have agreed is that if we don't do something they will become too fast. And we have been talking about this for a long while, probably 18 months or so, and it was very fundamental in our thinking that we needed to reduce engine power. We could no longer just work on the chassis, just work on the tyres. And we have got to a state now, prompted by the FIA, where they said actually it's going to take a little while to do the engines but we must do other things. Now I think we are going to come to a satisfactory conclusion on that. When is said we are at a watershed, the trouble is that we have other requirements as well. They shouldn't necessarily be conflicting requirements but there is a real drive now to reduce the cost of Formula One, and I suppose you can look at it the other way, to increase the income which may make the spectacle better. And what we need to be careful of is that we don't rush in one direction and ignore the other two. The three can co-exist quite happily but they need a lot of thinking through. We don't want knee-jerk reactions. We've done what I believe is a very professional job on the safety aspect and let's hope that we can do the same on the monetary aspect and the sporting aspect.

SM:
The same thing really. I think it was a very productive meeting and obviously the changes that have been proposed from an aerodynamic point of view are all sensible and should go at least to backing up the aerodynamic contribution. Likewise for the tyres and potentially the engine as well, but we'll have to wait until next Friday to see what the FIA put back to the TWG. Because basically the TWG meeting was an information gathering exercise which I think will formulate probably 95 per cent of whatever the FIA's proposal is and the process is they put that back to the TWG for approval. And the easiest thing is, as the other guys have said, is for us to accept that and get on with it straight away because it means that essentially from next Friday we can get on with designing our 2005 cars. Whenever you have something like this put on you quickly, you have to make bigger cuts than what you probably would like to but it's for the reasons that the FIA have said so all in all, I think we're fairly happy with it.

 

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