Whitmarsh: F1 is pure form of motor racing

Martin Whitmarsh

Mar.26 (YF1) Vodafone McLaren Mercedes CEO Martin Whitmarsh was part of the Friday FIA press conference at Albert Park, in Melbourne. He answered questions pertaining to the opening round in Bahrain, current issues dominating F1 headlines and look ahead to the Australian Grand Prix on Sunday. Here are highlights.

Lewis Hamilton finished third in Bahrain for McLaren

Was the result in Bahrain pretty much what you expected or were there some surprises?
Martin Whitmarsh: We didn’t think we were going to be that slow. That was a surprise.

But you still finished in the top three.
Whitmarsh: Yes, we still finished. I think you would have expected the four teams represented here certainly to be at the top and they appear to be. Ferrari and Red Bull look very quick. Other than that I don’t think there were any great surprises.

But in the correct order?

Whitmarsh: Well, not from my viewpoint, but it was good for Ferrari. They have obviously done a good job and Red Bull were very quick in qualifying, startlingly quick. I think we underperformed fairly severely in qualifying. We were a little bit more respectable in the race.

Coming here to a very different type of circuit, how does your performance here compare to Bahrain? For example, Martin, I think you learned quite a lot from Bahrain which will be of use here.
Whitmarsh: Well, I hope so but I think we have got to be cautious. I think we have had a reasonable day today. But it is only Friday and as Christian said we are all looking to do a little bit of long running on heavy fuel and vary the fuel loads. That makes it pretty impossible to know exactly where you are. You have just got to follow your own programme but I think we had a reasonable day, but unfortunately it doesn’t count for anything, so we will see how we get on tomorrow.

Jenson Button in action in Bahrain

I think you suffered a little bit on the bumps in Bahrain?
Whitmarsh: We did. I think we didn’t have the right downforce for that circuit and we also really didn’t react sufficiently to the bumps in the new section of that circuit. We could have done a better job. I don’t think necessarily been as quick as Red Bull in qualifying but I think we could have been a little bit closer.

There was a story about the emphasis being very much on qualifying. Is that more than ever?
Whitmarsh: I think in the last few years in Formula One you have to qualify near the front. It is very difficult to overtake and maybe typically there are less stops. We are obviously on the same fuel load throughout the race, so we will probably have a bit more emphasis. You have got to qualify well. I think all the teams here and all the teams out there want to be as close to the front of the race as you can be.

"The Show" gets underway in Bahrain

As president of FOTA: I know that you have discussed with the other teams about the lack of show in the first Grand Prix. What has been the result of these discussions, is there something that you can do in the short term?
MW: I think most of us would say that we were disappointed by the spectacle that was created in the race in Bahrain, but I think we’ve got to be careful that we don’t jump into decisions on the basis of one race. You look at any season, you will have races which can be entertaining, you will have other races that are considerable less entertaining. I think there has been a very open discussion amongst the teams, we’re aware that we’ve got to watch this very closely. We’ve agreed to meet again in Malaysia, after we’ve had two races and I’m sure we’ll talk openly about what the options are, whether we need to do anything and if so what we need to do.

Whitmarsh: "F1 needs to remain pure"

What options remain to improve the quality of the show?
Whitmarsh: There is always that fundamental question about the purity of Formula One versus the spectacle. I think that Formula One was grown and developed as being the pinnacle of motor sport, the most technically advanced, the best drivers, best teams. If you get a bunch of hooligans on track, you’re probably going to have an easier, more spectacular set of events which would occur. That’s not what Formula One has been. I think it would be wrong if the teams weren’t carefully reviewing at every opportunity ways in which we can perhaps improve the show, but I think most of us want to make sure that we don’t, in pursuing the spectacle, we don’t detract from what Formula One is, which is a pure form of motor racing.

  • http://www.last.fm/group/Formula+1 Bec

    So why has he suggested adding ‘success’ ballast to the cars for qualifying?

    I think it’s time Martin Whitmarsh quit as head of FOTA, he’s ineffectual and contradictory, as in 2002 he was opposed to it, now he favours it.