Full transcript from the FIA hosted team managers press conference on day one of the Mexican Grand Prix weekend, Round 18 of the 2017 Formula 1 World Championship, at Circuit Hermanos Rodriguez.
Press Conference Part 1 featuring: Christian Horner (Red Bull Racing) and Franz Tost (Toro Rosso)
Franz, let’s start by talking about drivers. It’s been a case of revolving doors at Toro Rosso in recent weeks. You’ve paired Brendon Hartley with Pierre Gasly this weekend. First question: Why them?
Franz Tost: Because both are Red Bull drivers, both are high-skilled drivers, fast driver and we want to test them for the rest of the season, because there is a high possibility that this will be the driver line-up for 2018.
So where does all this leave Daniil Kvyat?
FT: He is not anymore with Red Bull and therefore he is free to decide whatever he wants to do.
With immediate effect he is no longer part of the Red Bull family?
FT: No, he’s not anymore with Red Bull and Toro Rosso.
Now, from a Constructors’ Championship point of view, you said at the start of the year that you wanted to finish sixth. You’re currently there but Renault are closing fast and the recent musical chairs means that one of your prize assets, Carlos Sainz, is now with Renault. How do you think the championship situation is going to play out? Are you worried about the threat from Renault?
FT: Of course we are worried, yeah. You know, the background story for this is that Toro Rosso has a valid contract with Renault. We decided to change to Honda for 2018 and to terminate the contract we of course had to give something to Renault. The compensation was Carlos Sainz and therefore he is now driving for Renault. We are well aware, because of his speed, it’s a big threat for us because he scored most of the points for Toro Rosso. On the one hand side, we lost him scoring points for us, on the other hand side, he is now with Renault. He is very fast, as we saw in Austin, and it will not become easy, but if we don’t have any technical problems I am still convinced we can stay ahead of Renault and Haas.
Thank you and good luck with that. Christian, turning to you, let’s cast our minds back to the Austin race last weekend. Max has apologized on social media for the language that he used after that grand prix. It did get pretty heated. What’s your take on what happened at the end?
Christian Horner: Well, I think there are two things here: there’s one, what happened on circuit, and then there’s what happened off circuit. What happened on circuit was frustrating, was difficult to understand, and particularly for the viewers following the sport and perhaps watching the race in the US for the first time. We had this situation with track limits, which had been abused, not just in Austin, but at other circuits as well, throughout the weekend. And then, unfortunately, Max got penalised for effectively abusing track limits. And it was obviously frustrating and where Max’s frustration obviously came from was that people had been running off track all weekend. He managed to make a move on Kimi, got up the inside and then committed to running off track at that point. Obviously to have then, on the final lap of the grand prix, to have made that pass, believe that you are on the podium, a fantastic recovery driver from 16th, the crowd loving it, you’re in the green room and Matteo pulls him out for the second time and says “sorry, son, you’ve just got a penalty and Kimi’s on the podium”. And unfortunately without the right of reply, without the ability to question, or even a hearing, to present his side of the story, of course, in the heat of the moment, you know these guys, they’re emotional, they’re passionate, they’re fired up, he had a microphone put in front of him fairly shortly after taking his helmet off and being removed from that green room, and of course emotions are running high, and he said a few things that were inappropriate, that he subsequently apologized for. But one can understand the frustration there must have been – having believed that you had achieved something only to find out in that scenario that it wasn’t to be.
So what is the solution with regard to track limits?
CH: I think it’s important to find a solution. I had a very constructive discussion with Charlie Whiting earlier in the weekend, because I think it needs to be simple for the fans, the spectators and the commentators to be able to follow and saying you can go off the track here but you can’t there because that’s an advantage here or it’s not such a big advantage there, in any other sport it wouldn’t happen – if it’s rugby or tennis or any sport you can think of, out us out and in is in. Now, motor racing is more complicated than that, obviously, and I think one of the key things and a deterrent to stop drivers using and abusing these track limits is in the circuits themselves. If there was a kerb there, if there was a gravel trap there, if there was a surface that wasn’t conducive to being on, be it astroturf or whatever it is, I think if there was a deterrent to the drivers being there… they don’t go wide in Singapore, they don’t go wide in Monaco, because there is a penalty, obviously a severe one because there are walls there. But I think perhaps the circuits where we share with MotoGP, we can’t facilitate both disciplines with the regulations that we have and I think at those venues, like in Austin, you will either say “everything is available; use whatever you like,” or if you don’t want the drivers going outside track limits, put a kerb there or a rumble strip or a gravel trap that prevents the drivers or physically slows them, from using those areas of the circuit. That would then remove this ambiguity of “is that a penalty, is it not a penalty?” We saw many moves in Austin, and one that sticks in my mind was when Daniel was racing Valtteri Bottas – he went off at Turn 1, came back on the circuit and had the line for Turn 2. Is that an advantage, is it not? It just takes away that ambiguity. If there had been a gravel trap there he would not have gone there. If we can address that it will remove the emotion and the confusion that exists regarding track limits and circuit boundaries.
Franz, do you have anything to add on track limits?
FT: No I’m 100% in agreement with Christian on what he says. As long as the track offers the possibility to overtake, the driver overtakes, that’s in the nature of the racing driver. The manouevre of Max was fantastic. We must not forget the spectators, they want to see a show. Once more there was the room, there was the space to do it. In future they have to take for this that the drivers are not invited to use this area for overtaking. To say “yeah, you were with four wheels over the white line”, this is always something difficult, because maybe with the rear tyre is not so much over the white line and no, they must do something on the race tracks to prevent this, otherwise we should change the regulation and say overtake wherever you like, if you get an advantage, do it.
This is for Franz. Franz, you’ve seen a lot of young drivers over and you’ve had a few potential world champions through your hands. Can you tell us anything about the behaviour, from a technical point of view, of Brendon Hartley, which perhaps wouldn’t have seen from outside?
FT: You must have seen it from outside, because he won the 24 Hours of Le Mans and he won the LMP1 world championship – that means the results are there. No, Brendon is a very high-skilled driver. He is very committed, passionate for motor sport, and I am really happy that he is back and I can tell you that if we give him a competitive car he will be there and he will also fight in Formula One for success. And I hope that especially next year that we will bring together a competitive package that he can also fight for victories and good positions.
Red Bull has spent, probably, hundreds of millions on driver development over the years and yet from the outside it seems to be a chaotic process. You’ve just renewed with Max Verstappen while Daniel Ricciardo is said to be on the market, yet you’re saying you want to sign him. Max, though, is going to be build the team around himself. At Toro Rosso, Daniil Kvyat was in, then he was out, then he’s back in again. Then Brendon Hartley, who was got rid of a couple of years ago, is suddenly back in, and from the outside it juts looks chaotic. Is there a science to this hundred million dollar programme or not?
CH: Yeah, absolutely. Red Bull has been tremendously successful in investing in young talent. All of the names that you have mentioned have had their opportunities that wouldn’t have otherwise been there has Red Bull not invested in youth, backed youth, supported them through Toro Rosso into Red Bull Racing. Now, what we have, breaking that down, because they are all drivers on Red Bull Racing contracts – Max Verstappen, there was the ability to extend that agreement to 2020 and there’s not a team in the pit land that wouldn’t have taken that up. It removes speculation that’s only been growing and movements around him that are quite frankly unhelpful and distracting. That closed the book on that one. We’ve had a long relationship with Daniel Ricciardo and he’s currently within a five-year agreement that runs until the end of 2018. The absolute intention is to see him continue with the team until 2020. That’s without any doubt and a priority we have. Franz has quite clearly explained the situation regarding Carlos Sainz, who has been loaned and remains a Red Bull driver on loan to Renault. And then of course opportunities have presented themselves with Toro Rosso to look at new talent. Dany Kvyat has obviously had a large investment from Red Bull over the years. He had the opportunity to step into Red Bull Racing and compete in the 2015 season and the start of the 2016 season with the team. Formula One is a tough business and unfortunately Dany didn’t do enough, in our opinion, to warrant retaining that seat. But we still believed in him and he was given a second opportunity, which is very unusual in Formula One, to retake the seat with Toro Rosso. And then from there we obviously have other juniors that we have invested in that are knocking on the door of Formula One. The current GP2 champion, Pierre Gasly, merited and deserved an opportunity to step into Formula One. And I think, as Franz will no doubt cover, and as he has done in his previous answer, there is very much an eye on the future and the future for next year and beyond that. And I think the two drivers that Franz has for next year represent two exciting prospects for Red Bull Racing potentially further down the line.
Franz, do you have anything to add?
FT: For me, it’s not chaotic. For me, it shows the possibility, thanks to Red Bull, that Red Bull Racing and Toro Rosso can change drivers and can change hopefully also the performance topic and this is a privilege, yeah, because no other team in Formula One can do this. As I mentioned before, the situation with Carlos came because of the engine change. You can’t have everything in life. Of course we were not happy about this, but we think that at the end it will pay off, because I expect that Toro Rosso next year will be in a fantastic situation with Honda, and you must not forget that we have now two drivers at Toro Rosso, they are realty fast, they are high-skilled, they are committed, they are passionate and I am more than happy to work together with them.
A question for both of you really. Franz you said that next year’s line-up is not certain yet, but the way you are both talking it looks like Brendon is going to be there next year along with Pierre. You say you hope to give him a competitive car. Christian you said that you hope that next year’s driver that Franz has got. How could they lose this, basically, what do they have to do not to be chosen as driver next year?
FT: As usual in Formula One, to build up a real good relationship with the right-hand pedal, to be fast. That’s it, just bring the results, you stay in Formula One. Totally easy.
CH: I absolutely agree with Franz. What is fantastic about the Brendon story is, that is a guy who started off life on the junior programme. He got dropped early on in his career from the junior programme. There was no remorse, there was no “poor me” or “haven’t I been badly treated”. At the time he thanked Red Bull for the opportunity and endeavoured to stay in touch. At that point he had nothing else to race. He went back to racing Minis, historic Formula One cars, anything he could get his hands on he raced. He showed a passion and a commitment to keep doing what he believed in himself as a race car driver. He renewed his association with Red Bull when he became a sports car driver with Porsche, and became a world champion, and again is competing for that world championship again this year. And I think it’s testimony to him, his determination and tenacity, and skill and talent that he has got himself back into a position where he has been selected to be in the Toro Rosso car for the races that he is doing.
Question for Franz: changing to Honda engines next year, are you not just a little bit worried seeing what McLaren are going through currently. If anything they seem to be regressing and more problems towards the end of the season. What’s the magic bullet you’re hoping that’s going to happen over the holiday period that’s not going to leave you as McLaren mkII?
FT: They have another year, or another winter time where they will for sure have the possibility to sort out the problems, which they have currently, and we, from Toro Rosso, are working as the only team together with them, and I think this will become a big advantage for us, and all the meetings we had so far are quite promising. I’m more than convinced this power unit will help Toro Rosso next year to become a very strong and competitive team. More problems we can’t have because we anyway changing every weekend the power unit.
To both, 31st of October, 7th of November, two critical dates coming up. Although you have the same boss – if I could call Dietrich Mateschitz that – you have totally different operations, so individually what are your wish lists out of the 31st and the 7th? What would you like to see for your teams please?
CH: I’d like to see a cheap, standard V12 engine at a 1000hp sounding fantastic – but I doubt we’re going to get that. But I think that… I think that what’s potentially going to be presented sounds sensible. I don’t have any hard details. It seems like it’s the first significant move by Liberty about laying their stall out for the future. And of course that power unit is a crucial part of what Formula One will be for the next ten years, from 2021 onwards. So having seen the agenda for the meeting it looks like they have a plan and it’ll be very interesting on the 31st to understand what those plans are. As far as the meeting on the 7th, is a Formula One strategy meeting where no-doubt there will be quite a lot of discussion about various topics – as there usually is.
FT: It must be an affordable engine, then I hope that the output of the engines are on a similar level, the performance of all the engines, because currently there is a still a too-big difference. Now fortunately Ferrari could catch up to Mercedes, but nevertheless Mercedes is still instead far ahead. I just hope the new regulation will help us, that the engines are not so expensive for the private teams, and be that the performance is on a similar level – because we need to have interesting races, we need to see overtaking manoeuvres and the current power unit is far too complicated from the technical side and it went to a direction where it is more or less a championship of the engineers and we must come back, that these power units give non-manufacturer teams the possibility to fight also for victories.
A question for Mr Horner. Bernie Ecclestone said in an interview with my newspaper that there is a close relationship between Mercedes and Ferrari and maybe, in his opinion, in the last two years, Mercedes has helped Ferrari from a technology point of view – to be sure that you didn’t get a competitive engine. You, I mean Red Bull. Does this make sense for you, or not?
CH: Well, it’s usual Bernie thinking, I would say, in the way that he’s pieced that together. It’s very clear that there’s a very tight relationship between Ferrari and Mercedes, the way they operate in meetings, one won’t lift the hand up without the other one being in agreement these days. So there is that dynamic. It’s not the first time that’s happened in Formula One, it won’t be the last time. As far as whether or not one has helped the other, that’s not our business. I’ve got no idea. I’d be surprised but yeah… what you see with Mercedes and Ferrari today, they’re very aligned in all of their thinking.
Since it’s Friday, there’s been suggestions that Friday practice in future might be dropped. Just wondering your thoughts on that. Ross has mentioned it just as a suggestion thrown up in the air. Is that possible? How soon? What do you think about it?
CH: I think obviously they’re trying to free-up space for more races. I think what you’ve got to be careful of is a good book only has so many chapters in it. If there’s too many chapters it loses its path. I think we need to be careful not to add too many races to Formula One. I think it would be a long way to come to Mexico for two days. Or Australia for two days. I think the Friday gives the promoter the opportunity to bring more fans, more people into the sport. I thing perhaps what we do on Fridays could be a bit different. We could liven it up, we could make it more interactive. Maybe we only need one session on a Friday afternoon – but I would be concerned about going to just a two-day weekend because that would feel fairly short, perhaps too short and will inadvertently put more pressure back on simulations, that you’re turning up prepared to hit the road running, and I’m not sure that’s going to be a great balancer between the teams.
Franz, your thoughts?
FT: I agree with Christian: the Friday running is important for the organisers to sell additional tickets and it’s also important for the teams, because we don’t have any more time in between for tests. We can only do simulations, and therefore the Friday sessions, especially for smaller teams like Toro Rosso are important, that we can do our runs, that we can do some different setups, and we can be in the best possible way prepared for qualifying and for the race.
Question for both of you. On the 7th, with all likelihood, you’ll be discussing what’s come out of the new engine regulations and looking at the next three years to develop the new engine. There’s been a lot of speculation about bringing in the new engine perhaps a year earlier in 2020. Can I have both of your thoughts on that? Is that something you’d push for, is it something you’d like to see – getting rid of the current engine a year earlier, bearing in mind, even if you agree now, it’s still three years before we see it?
FT: I don’t see an agreement because then all the teams must be aligned. The teams which are in front, which in this case Mercedes, Ferrari, I don’t think they will agree to this – because to develop this new engine, takes some time. Therefore, I don’t see the big possibility – but nevertheless we will have this meeting, this will be discussed there and then it will be voted and we will see the result.
Christian, would you like to see the new engine come in early?
CH: I’d love to see it come in next year. For me, these engines have done nothing but damage Formula One: they’ve done nothing to contribute to the sport; they’ve taken away the sound; the passion; they’ve added too much complexity; they’ve become far removed from road car technology; they’re effectively turning into diesel engines in some cases – and I can’t see anything that they’ve contributed that’s been positive, so the sooner it goes, the better. Unfortunately there’s a contract between the existing manufacturers and the FIA that guarantees the engine will be in place until 2020, and I can’t see there being sufficient motive amongst all the manufacturers to get rid of this technology and this power unit before 2021.
Christian and Franz, based on what you’ve just said, plus the previous question about Ferrari, Mercedes possibly being aligned. Given the fact that Mercedes and Ferrari are in Formula One predominantly for technological reasons, as a showcase etc., plus the fact that Ferrari does have a veto valid until the end of 2020, are you concerned that, if the regulations don’t suit them, that Ferrari, aided and abetted by Mercedes, could actually invoke it’s veto as they tried two years ago.
CH: That’s their business at the end of the day – but at the end of the day Formula One is a marketing business. It is a global platform which these brands are involved in to advertise their products and their brand. I think a technology showcase, that’s in some ways quite a spurious description because, as I say, the product that we’re racing has not a great deal of relevance to what’s in their road car product. So, Formula One is foremost and utmost a sport. There is obviously an element of technology to it but it’s at a crossroads where it decides what it’s going to be. Is it going to be all about technology, or is it going to be about fundamental racing, man and machine at the limit, putting on big events, spectacular events? Then, of course, each team will have the ability to decide whether it wants to be there post-2020 or not and you can’t predict or pre-empty what another team or manufacturer or group might be thinking.
FT: It’s in the hands of Liberty Media. They should come up with a proper regulation and then it’s the teams will decide whether to take part or not – but Liberty Media must take into consideration that Formula One is entertainment, is show and we must find a good middle way between entertainment, show and the technical voyage which Formula One went in the last years. Because currently we have a power unit championship. This can’t be for the future because if this is the future then Formula One is dead. One hundred per cent.
Press Conference Part 2 featuring: Maurizio Arrivabenne (Ferrari) and Cyril Abiteboul (Renault)
Cyril, if we could start with you and a look back to last weekend in Austin and specifically the performance of your new boy Carlos Sainz. Talk us through his weekend and just how impressive was he?
Cyril Abiteboul: Clearly it was a strong weekend. It was a strong weekend with very strong preparation from Carlos himself. Lots of motivation, hard work put by him but also by the rest of the team to make sure it was smooth integration and immediately up to speed. It was impressive but it’s just one weekend, and it’s just extracting the performance that we expect from the car, that we know the potential of the car has, which is to score points. So, let’s stay calm, let’s build from that, it was important, I believe, for Carlos to make a strong impression for his first weekend and to get, I guess, the morale of the team up because clearly we are not exactly where we would like to be in terms of championship position. We have both a short-term and a medium-term challenge so it was important for everyone but now we need to finish the season on the same atmosphere. So, more challenges to come starting this weekend.
Is there one thing about him that stood out?
CA: It’s his whole approach. He is at the same time extremely calm, professional, mature but at the same time he is capable of being a bit racy and not hesitating to take a couple of risks on occasions – but risks that are calculated, very well executed and controlled. It’s great, and a great atmosphere into the team – and with Nico also.
In the coming days we’re going to learn more about Formula One’s future path. What do you expect from the engine regulations at the meeting in Paris at the FIA’s headquarters?
CA: First we expect to continue on the same type of constructive discussion that there has been so far with the FIA and with FOM. We expect to have the conclusion of a number of working groups that have been diving into some of the details of what’s been in consideration and publically reported, like removing all of MGU-H and simplification of the power unit. But we also expect to have a better understanding of FOM’s vision for the future. It will be interesting to find out and have the opportunity to discuss that in a collective manner with both existing OEMs and maybe OEMs or other manufacturers that could maybe be joining Formula One – because clearly we need a diversity of supplier to make sure we are in a sustainable model.
Maurizio, if we could start by going back to last weekend in Austin. Now you’ve had a very long career in marketing and I just wanted to start by asking you for your view on the pre-race show in Austin. What did you think of it? Do you like what Liberty were doing?
Maurizio Arrivabenne: It was quite OK. We were in the USA so a show like this is expected. I spoke with the drivers afterwards and Sebastian and Kimi said to me actually it was fine for them. They said maybe a bit long because they said that the first one who went to the grid needed to wait for twenty minutes for the last one and also the last one needed to wait twenty minutes to go there. I think fine tuning the timing and adjusting a bit also the driver parade, making sure that it’s not clashing with this show is fine. If the public likes it, why not?
And would you like to see more of that kind of thing going forward?
MA: It depends because if doing more are clashing with the commitment that we have with our sponsors or with the commitment that we have to do a race – because don’t forget we are here to do a show, we are here for racing, because the real show is the race itself – we have no problem, but it depends on what Liberty want to do in the future. We are always ready to discuss about something that’s intelligent and working to enhance Formula One.
Now of course this World Championship is not over until it’s over but it is getting harder and harder for Sebastian to win the Drivers’ championship but when you consider where Ferrari were last year, there are plenty of positives to take from this season. I wanted to just ask you about those: what are the positives for you from this season?
MA: The positives… we have a lot of positives in all honesty because I saw quite a young team working very very well on the car here and in Maranello; the guys are very united, they are exchanging information, they are very focussed, they are quite young so no one was expecting the performance that we have this year. Mattia, our technical director, is leading the technical properly. He knows, deeper and deeper, the Ferrari and I have to say and together we are exchanging our opinion, information. He’s got his engineering point of view, I’ve got a different point of view but we are always very well aligned. So representing also him here, together with the racing team, I have to say I saw many positives this year. Unfortunately we lost a key opportunity due to a small detail related to a technical issue that we have mainly from a supplier but sometimes it is in the detail, it’s a learning for us, it’s a learning from them so it’s another lesson learned and we are looking forward to the future, to do better and better and better but we are focused.
What do you believes has to happen back in Maranello for you to make the next step, the last step, in 2018?
MA: I said it’s a question sometimes of adjustment. It’s not a question of revolution, it’s a question of adjustment because this year we pay a heavy fee for detail and I said we need to be a bit more focused on the processes, we need to be more focused in other areas but the good positive is that this is a team that is not giving up and it’s learning from mistakes and it’s a team that is fully committed, not only for next year but even for the next three races because as I’ve said many many times, we like to fight until the last lap, the last race, the last lap and the last turn.
Cyril, at this press conference in Singapore, after all the engine changes had been announced for next year, Renault was not in a position to confirm if it could or might not be able to supply Red Bull in 2019. Has there been any change on that?
CA: No, no change since what we announced altogether with Red Bull and also ourselves with McLaren in Singapore, which means that there is a clear contractual situation for 2018 and anything beyond 2018 is speculation at this point and will be discussed with Red Bull in the course of 2018.
Maurizio, and Cyril if you’d like to please comment afterwards: earlier in the first part of the press conference, Christian Horner made a comment that he would like to see the back of the current engines tomorrow, if he could. He was asked the question in relation to the new engines only coming in in 2021 and would he like them coming in earlier. He basically said it was Ferrari and Mercedes who would block that move. Is that something you would like to comment on?
MA: In some way or the other, we are always blocking Red Bull or the other way round, in the mind of Christian. First of all, we do engines so we can talk about engines. It’s our job and it’s our business. It’s not a question of Mercedes or Ferrari blocking here or blocking there. The question… it’s very very simple. I’ve said many many times that our vision of the future on the engines after 2021 is very simple. It’s reducing the costs, it’s keeping the same engine architecture and keeping the performance, improving the performance. Now, it’s very very simple. Normally you have the simple equation: what and how? What we want to do? We want to cut the costs or to reduce the costs. We want to enhance the show. How to do it is something that we are going to discuss in the next few days because everybody, they have their own ideas and for sure it’s not Ferrari or Mercedes who is driving the show. But for sure, they are the people who are manufacturing the engines.
CA: Not much to add frankly. I think we have all agreed, including with Red Bull, about the what, the objective of the future engine regulations. Hopefully we can also agree on the how and I don’t think that moving backwards would be an acceptable and sustainable thing, no sense to all the people investing in Formula One and not just the manufacturers. If you look at all the sponsors who are current financing Formula One, moving backwards would just be completely inappropriate and quite certainly turn them away from Formula One; including manufacturers like Aston Martin who are big believers in the fact that automotive needs to go in one direction and that direction has to be the electrification route. So there is no doubt. Maybe the ratio between the internal combustion engine and electrification can be revised. We are open for the discussion and clearly Mercedes, Ferrari, Renault, Honda, we are all open to the discussion and that’s what we are looking forward to doing next week.
Maurizio, based on your how and what that you just mentioned and Cyril, you referred to it, the current regulations for the post-2020 period still fall within the procedure that we have at the moment, i.e. Ferrari’s veto is valid. If the how and what doesn’t suit Ferrari would Ferrari consider triggering its veto as it did two years ago with the V6 biturbo engine? And Cyril, are you are concerned that Ferrari could in fact veto anything that may be decided?
MA: No, at a certain point we apply our right to do a veto for good reason at that time. Within a severe people and people who have a clear idea, people who understand what they are talking about, I think you don’t need any veto. I said it’s quite simple, if we are able to find a good equation in between what I said when I described the what, the how is going to be easy but as Cyril stated quite well before, there is no reason to not consider one part or no reason to not consider the other. For us, if I have to talk for Ferrari, for us the performance is part of the DNA of our company so the performance is important because we are representing this brand. Then, if we able – as I’ve said, many times – to reduce the costs, to keep the performance with the same base in terms of engine architecture, fine. And then it’s important to understand how to do it and if it’s acceptable the way that it’s going to be proposed but we don’t need to apply any veto.
Will there be, in the future, more economic and sporting equality in Formula One?
MA: You have to ask Liberty. We have at the moment – Dieter, I thought it was you who asked these questions, I’m surprised, she’s taking your place, be careful. At the moment, we have a contract with the commercial owner of Formula One and it’s quite clear on how we have the distribution, the financial distribution in the future. It’s something that we need to discuss for sure. Distribution also means commitment to Formula One. The first thing is to commit to do this sport and to do it well and not to come in for one or two years and then disappear and close the factory. This is not what we have done because since the beginning we have been here and we would like to continue to be here. It depends… the discussion is going to be long and complicated.
Cyril, would you like to see greater equality?
CA: Well, clearly if we are in Formula One it’s because we believe in the value of the sport and we want to be part of a great show and to have a great show we need a certain insurance that there will be a better level playing field and there are many different ways it can be achieved. It can be achieved by revenues which could have their distribution revised in a way that would maybe have more parity; we would be open to that as far as Renault is concerned. But it’s pointless just to address the revenue side without also addressing the cost side so for us it’s a whole framework that needs to be looked at, how much we need to spend towards the technology, towards the chassis, towards the engine in order to be competitive, versus the prospect of revenue and the revenue is the prize fund but it’s also sponsors. If Liberty can guarantee that the figures will be going up, sponsor revenue may also be going up so that whole needs to be looked at, not just one element of the equation but we believe that there are ways to do that and again, if there is constructive discussion that there has been so far with Liberty and the other OEMs there is no way that it cannot be achieved.
Maurizio, you have some promising young drivers, including the Formula Two champion. Can you just give us an update on where you see Charles Leclerc being next year? Will he be in Formula One do you think?
MA: First of all, Charles has demonstrated his talent by winning the championship with two races in advance. We are looking forward to seeing how not only Charles but also Antonio Giovinazzi can make the next step. At the moment we are focused on this Formula One championship. At the right time, we would also like to focus our attention on them. At the moment, what I can say is that both of the guys are valuable, Charles and Antonio.
Cyril, Christian Horner was in here a few moments ago and he confirmed that Carlos Sainz is on loan to Renault. Is that for one year or could it be more?
CA: No, we have confirmed that Carlos is indeed on loan for the remainder of this year plus next year so it’s already more than one year and there is an option mechanism, the detail of which will remain confidential, that could extend the partnership, the collaboration between Carlos and Renault but for us it’s a completely acceptable compromise, given what he can bring to the team including on a short term basis.
One of the things that increasingly gets said is Liberty depends on what regulations they come up with and Liberty setting out their stall about the regulations etc. In the team opinion, where does the FIA fit in as a regulator if they don’t make the regulations?
MA: Normally I’m not involved when Liberty is meeting with the FIA or the other way around. I don’t know what they are talking about. Most probably they find an agreement to co-operate together, writing the regulations. This is what I suppose. Our job, as I said before, it’s to build cars and to manufacture the engine. Their job is to run the business so we don’t have to mix this up, otherwise it’s going to be a nightmare, in that case.
CA: My only comment is that the two, the revenue and the costs, go hand in hand and in my opinion, one of the reasons why there’s been some… Formula One has maybe lost some ground in the recent past is due to the fact that there was too much separation, too much breakdown between the cost side that was governed by the FIA and the regulations and FOM, really working on the revenue. That is really something that needs to reconciled and that whole aspect of the equation that needs to be looked at and for that to happen, it can only happen if there is a good working relationship between the promotor and the regulator which is again happening, so I don’t think we should be creating some antagonism between the two bodies.