Full transcript from the team representative’s meeting on day one of the Portuguese Grand Prix weekend, Round 12 of the 2020 Formula 1 World Championship, at Autodromo do Algarve in Portimao, Portugal.
Part I featuring Franz Tost (AlphaTauri), Zak Brown (McLaren) and Otmar Szafnauer (Racing Point)
Q: Welcome gentleman, good to see you all. Can we start this session please with your first impressions of the Algarve International Circuit. What are the engineers saying, what are the drivers saying. Franz, perhaps we could start with you.
Franz Tost: It’s a very impressive race track. The drivers like it. It’s a demanding track, it’s not so easy and we are still analysing everything to find hopefully a good set-up. It’s, I think, an enrichment for Formula 1 to be here because it’s really a very nice venue and I like it.
Zak Brown: I think it’s exciting to come to new venues. I think that’s been an exciting part of the season this year, with some new circuits. I think the drivers enjoy the challenge of the circuit, the elevation changes. I think it will be difficult to pass around here. The early comments as you would expect was not a lot of rubber down so quite slippery but it will be exciting. I’ve been here before, about a decade ago, so I think it was intended to have Formula 1 races here before all the testing restrictions were put in place. So, I think we’ll put on a good show for the fans.
Otmar Szafnauer: Yeah, no different to what Zak and Franz said. There’s good elevation change here and some blind corners too and some off-camber stuff. The drivers are now getting used to the track and trying to hone-in the car and get a better set-up than what we started with.
Q: Staying with you Otmar, great to have Lance back with the team this weekend. Tell us, how is he today and how has his recuperation affected the team’s preparations for this race?
OS: Yeah, he’s feeling fine, he’s one hundred per cent, physically and in himself. He tested positive on Sunday, so that was Sunday of the German Grand Prix which meant that his ten-day isolation ended in time to come here and do the track walk and have normal preparation, so it hasn’t had an impact apart from quarantine for ten days.
Q: Zak, the driver’s silly season has ramped up this weekend with the news that both Haas drivers are on the market. Would you consider someone like Kevin Magnussen, who’s a former McLaren driver in the team’s IndyCar squad?
ZB: I thought you were going to ask about Formula 1 and I was going to say we have our drivers. Yeah, I think Kevin is a very fast driver, very aggressive, which I think fits IndyCar driving styles, so we do have our driver line-up sorted. One of those drivers announced, Pato, one yet to be announced, so I don’t think there is a window of opportunity for Kevin in our IndyCar team. Had there been, he would definitely have been considered.
Q: Franz, quick question about the Constructors’ Championship. Your team is only 13 points behind Ferrari now and you’ve out-scored them at the last three races. How do you rate your chances of beating them to sixth place?
FT: It will not become an easy target but we will do everything to score as many points as possible – hopefully more than Ferrari to catch up and hopefully to be in front of them at the end of the season. But, as I said before, it will become a very big challenge because they brought new upgrades also now to Portimão. They look quite fast in FP1, especially Leclerc and the rest, we will see. We’ll be pushing.
Q: (Dieter Rencken – Racing Lines) Question for Zak and for Franz please. There have been recent outbreaks of COVID among teams. I think Mercedes and Renault, we’ve obviously had the high profile ones at Racing Point. Are you two team principals, who, as far as I know, haven’t really been affected recently, apart from you, Zak, in Australia, are you quite comfortable with the protocols and the processes and procedures that are in place?
ZB: Yes. Is the short answer. If I look back I think we were the first team to get COVID within the team in Australia. This disease is extremely contagious and extremely dangerous. I think the FIA and Formula 1 have done a very good job in putting on these grands prix. If you look at some other sports I think they’ve had bigger issues. I think it requires a lot of trust, transparency, communication and responsibility from all the teams to make sure we have not only safety within our own teams but within the whole racing community. For McLaren, we put our people first and foremost. We won’t take any risks; we won’t gamble; we recognise how dangerous this is and we want to make sure everyone stays healthy and we can continue to put on grands prix. So, I think the sport’s done a good job. There has been more cases, obviously Racing Point, as you mentioned, being the most visible recently, and we do a tremendous amount of testing. We take full precaution and will do an immense amount of testing and I think we all just need to look after each other’s back. If I look at the Racing Point incident – incidents – I would probably test anyone that isn’t feeling well, daily. When in Australia, we had someone that didn’t feel well. Andreas and I aren’t doctors but we took the very quick decision to isolate and then once the test came back positive, isolate the team and ultimately we knew that would shut us down for the race. So, I know the doctor didn’t think a test was positive. Maybe in hindsight that should be different. I don’t know who the doctor was. Don’t know if it was Dr Mallya, Dr Seuss… maybe it was Dr Dre. Maybe next time around we should be testing any sorts of symptoms because we know how dangerous this is.
FT: FIA and FOM are really doing a very good job because this COVID-19 story is really a difficult one. I think that Formula 1 showed that with a really good organisation and control you can do all the races and the sporting events. Because Formula 1 started more or less with everything in June and we, from the AlphaTauri side do everything to prevent that people get this COVID-19 virus. We once more worked all of our guidelines and we retested people, also in their private life, to protect themselves, to wear the mask, to not come together with too many people and everyday in the morning, when our employees come to the factory, they are being tested with the temperature and as soon as anything is not clear, we send them immediately to our doctor – but so far I think we have everything under control and I hope this will stay so until the end of the season.
Q: (Jonathan McEvoy – Daily Mail, via email) It’s to you Otmar. Yes or no, did a Racing Point engineer test positive for COVID at or following the Russian Grand Prix?
OS: No. We didn’t have an engineer test positive after Russia. I think we’ve now done nearly 20,000 tests, 15,000 at the factory and however many that we do here because we test more than once. We’ve had our two drivers test positive and a few members at the factory, and that’s it. We test more than any other business, more than any other Formula 1 team on the planet. We test all of our employees every Tuesday and every Friday and we test everybody that’s at the track upon landing in Britain. So, every Monday when our aeroplane lands we have Eurofins there testing, so everyone has piece of mind when they go home to their families that they’re not bringing the virus with them, which is why I know that we didn’t have a positive test after Russia.
Q: (Scott Mitchell – The Race) A question to Otmar following up on that. Otmar, when you spoke to a lot of the media yesterday and explained in quite detailed terms why you’re satisfied with the Racing Point testing protocols, after that media session it emerged that the FIA intended to give a warning to the team, which I think was for not disclosing Lance’s positive test earlier, rather than what happened over the Eifel Grand Prix weekend. Could you just clarify what’s gone on there, what communication has there been with the FIA and are they satisfied with how you handled that situation?
OS: It wasn’t a warning, it was a reminder, and it was a reminder that we have an obligation to inform the FIA in a short period of time after, and we’ve learned from that. And if it happens again, of course we will do it immediately. So yeah, like I said, it was a reminder, not a warning. When Lance tested on Sunday he was isolating in Switzerland after he got the result. Our concern was first and foremost for his health but also making sure that we contacted all of his close contacts to let them know – but by the time we had word, all of his close contacts had already tested negative for the virus.
Q: (Christian Menath – motorsport-magazin.com) Question for Zak. If I understood you correctly, there was some criticism between the lines about how Racing Point handled the situation. You were talking about trust and responsibility the teams have. Do you think they dealt with the situation not with this trust and responsibility?
ZB: Look, I don’t know what everyone’s testing protocols are. I know how much we test; I don’t know how much Franz tests. I’ve just heard Racing Point test more than any company on the planet. Not sure how you substantiate that. All I know is that when we had our issue in Australia, we communicated it very quickly to everyone because I think we have a moral obligation to people’s health, that they need to have a high level of awareness. I think that’s what Mercedes did when they had their incidents. So, again, I don’t know all the details, I just know what I read and see. Looks like there wasn’t immediate transparency and you know, for an entity that tests as much as they do, all I know is we would be testing at McLaren anyone who doesn’t feel well, daily. To make sure that person is healthy and that they’re not transmitting, and then would isolate anyone that was around them immediately.
Q: (Christian Nimmervoll – motorsport.com) Question to Zak and of course Otmar if he wants to add anything. Zak, it looks like Racing Point, in spite of the penalty earlier this season and the 15-point deduction, has a very good chance of finishing third in the championship. If that remains the case until the end of the season, would you regret not having pursued the matter further earlier this year and is there a bit of a bitter feeling that this was a lenient penalty?
ZB: Look, Racing Point has an extremely fast race car. It’s the third fastest race car on the grid and it has been all year. Racing Point, formerly Force India, has always been a strong team. I think we got what we wanted, which was clarity and a change of direction for the future. I think you can’t look backwards in the sport. Franz’s team, I think there was a question earlier about him running for sixth in the championship, I wouldn’t rule them out for fifth or fourth in the championship; they are extremely competitive. That’s the nature of the beast. Don’t regret anything from the past, just glad that we have got clarity moving forwards so that you can’t replicate a race car to the extent they have done in the future.
Q: (Ronald Vording – motorsport.com, via email) Helmut Marko said Red Bull’s preferred option for 2022 is to take over the Honda project and to run the engines themselves but they want a complete freeze on engine development from 2022 in order to do that. Would that be acceptable to you if it kept both Red Bull teams on board?
ZB: You’re looking at me. Obviously we want to have both Red Bull teams participating in Formula 1, they both great teams. I think it’s too early – we have some upcoming meetings – to understand what that would look like. Of course we don’t make engines so we would defer to Mercedes, our future engine partner, on what they think engine regulations should look like moving forward so I think at this point, until it’s discussed, it’s a bit premature to have a strong view.
OS: I tend to agree with Zak. The Red Bull teams are both an important part of Formula 1, both Red Bull and AlphaTauri, and we for sure need them to stay. As for freezing the engines, that’s a question for Mercedes. However, I think it’s healthy for us to have a sport where you compete a little bit on the engine, you compete a little bit on chassis, you compete a little bit on set-up and you compete a little bit on drivers and I think excluding any one of those and it’s not Formula 1.
Q: (Scott Mitchell – The Race) A question for Franz, please. We’ve heard the interest and excitement around Yuki Tsunoda. It seems to have been indicated from Helmut Marko that Yuki is in a good position for an AlphaTauri seat next year. Is it as simple as: if Yuki gets the Super Licence points he will be in Formula 1 next year?
FT: The driver line up is not decided yet for next year. The programme is with Yuki is, in a few words, the following: we had him in the factory last week to make his seat, because after the race in Imola we will do a 300km test; maybe, but this us not decided yet, he will do an FP1 once, and then he has another two races in Bahrain and we will see where he is finishing the F2 championship, in regards to the Super Licence. Then he will do the Abu Dhabi young driver test and then Red Bull will decide who will be the driver line-up for Scuderia AlphaTauri in 2021.
Q: (Dieter Rencken – Racing Lines) Thank you. A change of tack here from the normal COVID questions. A question for Otmar. Otmar, I wonder if you could clarify please, whether you or any of your team members or team executives are being or will be called upon to testify in the Uralkali court case against the administrators in regard to the sale of your team?
OS: I don’t know what the future holds there Dieter, but I can tell you I haven’t been asked.
Q: (Luke Smith – Autosport) Zak, you spoke about the IndyCar project earlier. You previously said Sergio Pérez could be an option were you to run a third car in IndyCar next year. I wondered if you’d had any further talks there and what are you looking at for your IndyCar project for 2021?
ZB: Yeah, I think Sergio, too, is an extremely good talent and someone that would be great to have in an IndyCar but I suspect he’ll stay in Formula 1, but I don’t know that for sure, but I think a third car for us, other than at the Indy 500, is unlikely.
Q: (Julianne Cerasoli – UOL Esporte) Does the sequence of added races at new circuits tend to increase the gap to the biggest teams or is your simulation capacity similar to theirs?
OS: Yeah, that’s a good question. It’s hard to know the details of the simulation work that the bigger teams use as they try to keep that to themselves. We too have a driver-in-the-loop simulator that we use to prepare for new circuits and for those that come in quick succession and we do the best we can to be ready when we get here and to utilise FP1 for a bit of set-up work and long runs. We’re doing the best we can with the resources we have but it’s hard to compare. I hear rumours of what the bigger teams are doing but I’m not 100% sure.
ZB: Yeah, I don’t know what the other teams are doing but you have to assume that the teams with larger budgets are outspending you and have greater resources in probably everything across the board, give or take. We do the best we can with what have; we do a lot of simulation. But I suspect that those that have bigger budgets are doing more.
FT: Of course the big teams have an advantage coming to new race tracks, because they have the resources. They have the hardware and the software to get more out of it on the part of information and therefore the gap increases because they use these tools in a very good way for them and for the teams that don’t have all these simulation tools have a disadvantage.
Press Conference Part II featuring Simon Roberts (Williams), Guenther Steiner (Haas) and Frédéric Vasseur (Alfa Romeo)
Q: If we could start with you first impressions of this wonderful Algarve circuit. Simon could we start with you please?
Simon Roberts: Yeah, it’s a great track. First time I’ve ever been, so really nice to see. Also we’ve got a brand new surface, which has made it interesting with the tyres this morning but yeah, it’s a proper three-dimensional track and the drivers are really enjoying it.
Guenther Steiner: Yeah I agree with Simon. Everybody seems to be enjoying it and I think also this year going to a few new places or going back to really old places is exciting for Formula 1. I think we spiced it up there and something new is always nice. In general it’s a very nice track and I think all the drivers enjoy it.
Frédéric Vasseur: Yeah, it was a nice feeling this morning to be back in Portimão – I went there 10 or 12 years ago. But OK with Guenther, on this season we are visiting or re-visiting some nice tracks, like Nürburg two weeks ago or Mugello before and it’s always nice for the championship to have new layouts and new tracks. It will be an exciting weekend.
Q: Thanks Fred. Staying with you, how do you fancy your teams chances in Portugal this weekend on the back of what was a strong weekend at the Nürburgring last time out?
FV: Yeah, we made a step forward over the last couple of weekend and we were into the pace in Mugello and Nürburg. I don’t know if it’s linked to the new tracks or the fact that we are coming to different circuits but the pace this morning was OK, but let’s see. It’s still a long way to go before the race and we will see during the weekend.
Q: And how impressed have you been by Antonio Giovinazzi’s performances in the last couple of races?
FV: Yeah, but he was more consistent than at the beginning of the season and he did a good job. He was a bit unlucky during some events but the last one in Nürburg he did a very strong job but it’s important for us to score points because we want to stay in front of Guenther and Haas and it’s important to score points with the two cars.
Q: Guenther, Romain Grosjean expressed surprise yesterday that you’re changing both drivers for 2021. Was continuity a consideration for you?
GS: I’m surprised that he’s still surprised with my decision. I’m always surprised, but he should be used to that. No, I think we just wanted to make a change and we thought it was the right time now because next year it will more difficult because with the new car coming in ’22, we don’t want new drivers in ’22, when a complete new regulation comes in place, with a new car and different tyres and things like this. You want to start with somebody you know. If you had committed to either of them longer than this it would be at least for the next two or three years and at some stage we need change as well and we need to put our focus where we want to be in the mid-term. We are not looking only at the short term. In the short term obviously it would maybe have been best to keep them but now that we signed the Concorde Agreement going forward we need to look a little bit further ahead and see what maybe in three, four years is coming towards us.
Q: How much was the decision to change both drivers driven by financial reasons?
GS: I mean, it is driven by the financial. If you can find a driver that brings sponsors it’s fantastic or a driver that costs less. For me, in the moment, we need to invest our finances into the car, as I said, because next year’s car will be very similar to this year’s because some of the parts are homologated and frozen and we need to focus on ’22 and we need to make an investment in the car and we need to use the money as best as we can for the money.
Q: Simon, earlier this year Williams confirmed both of its drivers for 2021. Has the picture changed in recent weeks?
SR: No, nothing has changed. There’s lots of speculation and there are lots of good drivers around that are now looking for seats. Dorilton bought the team and nothing changed. I can’t say any more than that.
Q: When you say nothing has changed, are you confirming that George Russell and Nicholas Latifi will be with the team in 2021?
SR: I’m not going to say anything about either of our drivers. They are both doing a great job. There’s so much speculation around I don’t want to inadvertently fuel it. Someone will take some nuance from whatever we say. We’re happy. Let’s watch the rest of the market.
Q: (Dieter Rencken – Racing Lines) Simon, could you confirm please, that you will honour the contract with both drivers and that they will be with the team next year?
SR: I’m just not going to talk about it. Dorilton bought the team, nothing changed with regards to the drivers and there’s some speculation and rumour. It’s crazy, it’s silly season after all, so yeah, we’re not saying any more than that.
Q: (Scott Mitchell – The Race) Simon, I appreciate what you said in the answer there, that you don’t want to fuel the speculation but would it not make sense or be possible to extinguish that speculation by ruling out the chance of signing Sergio Perez to replace either driver?
SM: Yeah, possibly, but we just don’t want to say anything, one way or the other. We’re here to focus on a race weekend. We haven’t got any news. Guenther’s here, he has got some news. We’ve got plenty on this morning. We were running lots of part in FP1 and we’ve got to get through all that and get both our drivers in the best possible place for Saturday and Sunday.
Q: (Lewis Larkham – Crash.net) Guenther, with Haas keen to field an American driver in Formula 1 and you’re open to running an all-rookie line-up, would you be interested in Colton Herta and could it be an option for 2021, given his impressive performances in IndyCar? He has also surpassed the revised 30-point minimum requirement for a Super Licence.
GS: I think Colton Herta is doing very well. He’s one of the drivers when I watch IndyCar and I’m back in the States, actually. I think he’s doing a great job there. I haven’t spoken to him so we stop this speculation. We have had to stop speculation lately. But I respect a lot what he does. He’s very young, I think he’s got a great future but I think he’s pretty happy where he is at the moment, and therefore we didn’t talk to him. It is also always difficult… I know that he based in Europe before and all that stuff but he’s in his second season in IndyCar and he’s with a good team there and the investors, I think they want to see him there but I haven’t spoken with him, but I have the utmost respect for him, what he’s doing there but he will not be in our car next year.
Q: Guenther, Lewis Larkham said in his question there that you’re open to running all-rookie team line-up next year. Can you just confirm that is the case?
GS: Yes, yeah, we’re open to anything. We’re open to anything. I always said that. I’m sorry I didn’t respond to that, Tom, but for me it’s like we’re open to anything and I don’t want to go down and say it could be this, it could be that because it was so direct, he asked if Colton Herta is on it, I say no because otherwise speculation starts there but what we are going to do, we will try to announce as soon as possible who our drivers are so we stop this guessing but we are not at that point because we haven’t got signed contracts yet so it would be no point to say something, this could be, this should be because then people just… if it doesn’t happen, then you have to again explain it, so people just need to be a little bit patient. Hopefully it isn’t long, maybe a month or so away, and then everybody gets to know but it’s just one of the things, if you do contracts, you are obliged not speak about it.
Q: (Christian Nimmervoll – motorsport.com) Fred and Guenther, I know you’re both not going to tell us if Mick Schumacher is going to be in one of your cars, I’m not stupid enough to believe that, but can you tell us a little bit about the strengths and weaknesses you see in Mick because I’m sure you’re following his career development. Do you think he has what it takes to be successful in Formula 1?
FV: Yeah, if you have a look at what he did in the junior series, he did pretty well, he won the F3, he’s leading the F2 now. Each time he took one year to be at the top of the field but he’s doing the job at the end. This is the most important thing, he’s about to improve and deliver and now it’s a shame that we didn’t have the opportunity to FP1 two weeks ago but let’s see what happens.
GS: I don’t think I can add anything there to Fred because I think he’s the expert in these things, he’s form…
FV: You can say something.
GS: But the best teams in the feeder series over the last 20 years, I would say, yeah, he’s this old so I think Mick, now leading the F2 championship, says it all. I don’t think we don’t need to say any more than that. He’s in his second season in F2, he’s leading the championship – I wouldn’t say by a good margin – by a nice margin so I think he’s doing a good job and I think for sure he’s ready for Formula 1.
Q: (Dieter Rencken – Racing Lines) For all three, we’ve had a recent increase in terms of COVID cases – we think of Mercedes, we think of Renault, we think of high profile cases at Racing Point this last week. Are the three of you totally comfortable that the FIA’s policies, procedures, the whole COVID infrastructure is working the way it should be?
SR: Yeah, I think we are. We only focus on what goes on in our team. We are taking extra special measures really, for the last two events we’ve started that, and we also do the same at the factory. The most important thing is keep all our team safe and we work really hard at that but we’re all out… in our normal lives as well, as safely as possible. Yeah, compliance with the FIA rules is pretty straightforward, pretty easy. We have no issue with it whatsoever.
GS: I agree. I think the FIA guidelines and rules are very good implemented, how they are also done at the race. I’m sometimes surprised that we don’t have more cases because, as Dieter said, the cases are going up everywhere and they risk a sporadic case popping up there and about in here but I think that you cannot… it has to happen, so I think we are pretty safe. We do the same for our people, we try to adhere to all the regulations, rules and so on and sometimes this saying we have no freedom any more but our freedom is that we can go racing and everybody gets a job, that’s the most important thing is how I explain it. We need to watch. If each person is responsible we will be OK but your initial question, yeah, I think what the FIA is implementing is pretty good.
FV: Yeah, the FIA and FOM put in place a protocol, the protocol is strict and I think all the teams are following the protocol strictly and so far that everybody is safe and we had some very small number of positive cases but I think compared to the rest of the world it’s a very small number and everybody is doing a very professional job in the paddock but now, for sure, the number of cases is rising up like crazy and we have to be more and more focused on this.
Q: (Scott Mitchell – The Race) To all three: looking ahead to next year and also preparation for 2022. As we have the new aero restriction rules coming into place which will give the teams at the bottom of the Constructors championship more development time and as you get closer to 2021 and you start to have a bit more of an idea of where your development’s going to be set, do you see much of an advantage coming, even next year and then in preparation for 2022 with a bit more aero development, or do you think that actually in real terms it won’t make much difference?
FV: Yeah, the situation is a bit strange, with the car almost frozen for next year, even if we had some small modifications on the aero regulation but for sure we started the development for ’21 and quite early into the season we will have to switch to the ’22 because it’s a completely new rule and it will be the same for everybody, then we will have to adjust when we want to switch completely and it will also depend on the first event and where we are on the grid at this stage but it will be the same for all the teams and we will all have the same approach at the end.
GS: I would say for ’22 regulations the advantage of having more time and so on will not be a big advantage. It will help us but the big teams still have got the momentum going for what they are doing now when we get into the ’22 development in ’21 so I think it will level the playing field but we cannot expect in ’22 that everybody is the same. I think also there are finances involved and even if a budget cut comes in, how much can you spend of what you are allocated on wind tunnel time. So I think it gets closer together and if you do a good job, somebody could surprise for ’22 but for sure we will be full on the ’22 new regulations once we get to ’21 as soon as we can because ’21 will go by very quickly with the old car and we don’t want to invest time and money in that or as little as possible – we have to do something but we want invest as little as possible in that programme but get ready for the future which is ’22.
SR: Yeah, I agree with what Fred and Guenther say. It will make a difference and we’re kind of pleased that that optionality is in the regulations going forward, but the big teams, they’ve got so much inertia in their IP and their technology that it’s not going to suddenly come back but it will help so yeah, I think we will all be in a slightly better place in theory but it’s still a lot of work to do and when you’re a long way back, you’ve got to catch up. It helps.
Q: (Christian Nimmervoll – motorsport.com) Fred, again, I don’t expect you to drop any names but we know that one of your drivers next year will be decided by Ferrari. When you talk to Ferrari about your driver lineup do you voice a preference who you think is best suited to that car or is it completely Ferrari’s decision?
FV: If you are not expecting an answer from my side you are right, you won’t get it. But it’s not without discussion but it’s not that black or white that we need to have a look on what’s happened on the current races and also the evolution of the F2 drivers and so but don’t forget that we have still six events to go and we are not in a rush to take a decision. This is the most important.
Q: (Ronald Vording – motorsport.com) To all three: Helmut Marko said Red Bull’s preferred option for 2022 is take over the Honda project and run the engines themselves but they want a complete engine freeze from 2022 onwards. Would this be acceptable to you?
SR: I think it’s more of a question for the power unit manufacturers really. We buy our engines, we’re very happy with that situation.
Q: The concept of an engine freeze; does that appeal?
SR: I don’t know. But there’s not that much change possible under the regulations currently, so maybe there’s something that Red Bull know about or are fearful of, I don’t know. They will have to be a bit more explicit.
GS: I think the engine manufacturers, between them, they need to decide is it worthwhile to invest a lot more money in developing the engine we have got now or should we invest in technology for the future, but we cannot decide. I think, to go back to the question, these engines now, if the engines are parity, and then freeze them, I’m OK with that but it’s not my decision. I don’t have a vote in that one, to be honest, but I think it’s more the few manufacturers saying we develop this engine for – I don’t know – five, six years, how much money do we need to put in to get a little bit advantage out of it, is it worth or should we focus on the long term future of what is the best technology. Again, I’ve got an opinion, I’ve got no vote so I’m not very… here nor there because I cannot decide it any way, but in general I’m open for everything. If you want to make changes, fine, if you stay like this… what can I do?
FV: Yeah, as Guenther said before, the discussion is for the few suppliers, not for us. At the end, we are expecting to have a cheaper engine for sure but at the end of the day we have to take care of this kind of request to freeze the engine, it’s always coming from someone who has a personal interest. I remember that during the discussion that we had last winter that Honda was pushing to avoid to freeze the engine but I think that we have to discuss it between them but to take a decision, not based on what happened last year or what happened in the last six months but on what could happen in the next ten years.
Q: (Dieter Rencken – Racing Lines) I won’t ask a question that I don’t expect an answer to so Fred, if you don’t mind, I wonder if you could clarify your contractual situation? I’m told or I hear from people that it may expire at the end of this year. Are you going to renew it, will you be with the team next year or is it just another crazy season rumour?
FV: We have no contract for next year, nobody has an option and you will know about the drivers quite soon.
Q: (Lawrence Edmonson – ESPN) Simon, again on the drivers, just within the new structure, who would get the final say on the drivers for next year and can you give us some indication on what the key motivators would be for drivers: would it be money, would it be talent, something else?
SR: The decision will be made by the management committee and the board of Williams Formula 1. It’s a normal situation but we have nothing to say on that matter right now, so that’s all I can say.
Q: (Dieter Rencken – Racing Lines) Sorry Fred, I was actually asking about your own situation, not the drivers’ situation. Will you be with the team next year, is there a contract that’s expiring, what’s the situation there please?
FV: I have a contract with Sauber, the challenge is huge and I have the contract until the end of the season, it was already the case last year and I’m really focused on developing the team for next year. I’m not thinking about my personal situation.