Full transcript from the FIA top three press conference after Friday practice for the French Grand Prix, Round 7 of the 2021 Formula 1 World Championship.
Part One: Frédéric Vasseur (Alfa Romeo), Laurent Rossi (Alpine). Part Two: Laurent Mekies (Ferrari), Mario Isola (Pirelli).
Q: Question to both of you first up. Can we start by talking about the French Grand Prix. What are your first memories of this race and of Paul Ricard please. Laurent, let’s start with you please.
Laurent ROSSI: You don’t want to start with the oldest person?
Frédéric VASSEUR: I’m older?
LR: It’s blurry memories because I was very young when I started looking at grands prix. I think the earliest memory was not here, it was in Dijon when it was Alain Prost winning, and that’s about it. I started following grands prix very early on, so it’s difficult to put a date on which grand prix and which winner – but definitely I was a big fan of Alain Prost, so I remember those ones fondly. Still a big fan of Alain Prost!
FV: The first memory of the French Grand Prix for me was 1990, the first time that I worked on a grand prix, with Franck Lagorce. We were in a Formula Renault and it was a great, great event for us to be in front of the F1 and on the same track.
And what about the French Grand Prix itself? Can you remember your earliest memories of that?
FV: I would say Dijon also probably. The beginning of the 1980s probably, or something like this.
Q: Laurent, if we could come back to you. The big news in the lead-up to this race is Esteban Ocon’s new contract with your team. Great news for all parties. First, can you tell us a little bit more about Esteban, and what impresses you about him?
LR: A lot of things actually. First off, he’s a great fine-tuner, if you will, a metteur au point, he reminds me a lot of Alain again, actually. He’s very good at extracting the maximum out of the car and it shows, constantly improving it. He’s damn fast too. Give him any car, he’s fast. He shows it every quali. So that makes him a very good driver first-off. He’s a very good team-mate, he’s good with the rest of the team. When I say ‘team-mate’, not just to the other driver but also to the rest of the team. He’s basically pushing everyone up and it shows. He’s a great guy to have in the team, in fact. Beyond the F1 driver, he’s a great guy. He’s humble, very generous of his time, constantly giving his time, even to us helping in the larger construct, he always offers to chime into the development of the new cars or the brand, or in any step of work, so it’s really good to have him around. That’s also why we signed him for three years.
Q: That was the next question: why three years?
LR: Well, it’s a three-year regulation period that opens up next year. I know it goes with 2+1. We have a mid- to long-term view of things at Renault. We want to be here for a long time, so we wanted to secure that first step. The first step is three years. We’ve seen enough of Esteban. We know he’s good. I don’t want to be here again, looking for another driver after two years, when the recent past shows that it never really turns the right way: if you have a good driver, you want to keep him. I think it’s good for us, good for him. We have a long, long way to make progress. He buys into the project, he lends credibility to our project. For me, it’s also a guarantee that we’re going to perform in the driver department. Esteban is arguably a top ten driver, minimum. So, we don’t make a big mistake here. For me, it was a no-brainer. It’s part of a long journey and Esteban fits into that mould quite well.
Q: And under the terms of the new contract, does he maintain links with Mercedes?
LR: Well, I mean, there’s no reference. He’s a Mercedes-managed driver, that’s about it. He’s constantly under their management but there’s no such clause – if that’s your question – of Mercedes poaching him out of the team. No, he stays with us for the next three years.
Q: And while we’re talking drivers, can we have a word on Alonso’s progress. Where have you seen the biggest improvement from him in recent races?
LR: Consistency. He was fast already. Every single race he’s been able to clock in some very good times that are always – most of the time – as good as Esteban’s. He was not necessarily comfortable repeating those efforts, those good times, over and over again, which I guess was a bit of an adaption period. He needs to get used to the car, to feel that lap-in, lap-out. He does the same performance over and over. He is getting there, evidenced by his grand prix in Baku. It was a very good race. And today’s showing that this morning, he started off at good pace – so that’s good.
Q: And, I guess your heart was in your mouth when you were watching those last two laps in Baku?
LR: Yes. This guy, he gave us a couple of points just by sheer talent, yeah.
Q: While we’re talking drivers, Fréd, can I bring you in now. There’s been an announcement very recently about Juan Manuel Correa, who has joined the Sauber Academy. His return to racing has been an inspiring story, can you tell us why he’s joined the Academy?
FV: Yeah, it’s a way to support Juan Manuel on his own project. Honestly, I was in Spa two years ago, it was a very tough time for everybody and Juan Manuel had something like 22 surgeries. He spent the last two years with a clear target to come back. It was, for him, the main motivation and I wanted to help him, and the way I have to do it is to ask him to come back to the academy and try to support him on the project. It’s such a huge human effort that I think it makes sense to be part of this.
Q: And while we’re on the subject of news, there is news about your chief designer, Luca Furbatto, who’s joining Aston Martin. At this stage of the year, with a view to the 2022 car, how tricky is this timing for you?
FV: We knew for a couple of months. That means we anticipated the move and it’s not a drama at all for the team, and he will join the other team in the beginning of 2022 and not before.
Q: And what about replacing Luca?
FV: We have a couple of options. One internally, another one externally. I think that we will go for the internal option. I want to invest and to invest in the guys in the team. I want to help them to grow up and I want to take this option.
Q: Fréd, is now the moment to tell us who that person is?
LR: Good try. Try again.
Q: OK, Fréd, let’s talk about car performance. You’ve said that there’s more potential in your car, that you’ve yet to get out of it. So where is that potential?
FV: We’ll see this weekend – but it’s try that over the last couple of weekends we were always around 12-13 in quali and 11-12 in the race. We did a good step forward, compared to last year. This is sure. And now we have to be consistently in this situation. I hope that very often we will fight with my friend of Alpine – and then when the race is a bit chaotic that you will score good points. The most important is to have the pace, to be able to fight with the midfielder, and then we will score for sure.
Q: (Dieter Rencken – Racing Lines) Question for Fréd please. Fréd, we were talking about contracts just now. Some of the questions from Tom, your own contract and also that with Alfa Romeo, what’s the situation there please?
FV: Don’t worry about my own contract! I’m working for Sauber and I’m in good shape. Regarding Alfa Romeo, we are in ongoing discussions but it’s moving forward and I hope that we will be able to close something in the next few weeks. We’re offering the same answer as last week!
Q: (Andrew Benson – BBC) It’s for Laurent. A question about each of your drivers. On Esteban, a clarification, the announcement said for three years Laurent but in the course of your answer earlier to Tom, at one point you said 2+1. So I just wanted to make sure if it was three or 2+1. And on Fernando. In his previous career, he never needed any time to adapt to anything, he just got in things and was quick straight away. Do you have an understanding as to why that’s not the case this time?
LR: Yeah, OK, the 2+1, I might have said that as a reference to the usual type of contracts. We wanted to sign a three-year contract straight away. It is a three-year contract straight away. There is no 2+1 here, to clarify the matter. On Fernando, I guess it’s the same as Checo and Danny. It takes time for them now to adapt to the new cars. They’re probably a little bit more complex, technologically speaking, if you will. Danny took a good full year at Renault to get used to the car. Now he repeats the experience with McLaren, so I guess it’s a good comparison. It takes time now: it’s not just jump in and drive the car. It’s a little bit more complex. There’s probably more parameters that you can fine-tune. And the car is probably, at the beginning, was not too much to his liking – but he’s shown that, just like Checo again, he’s getting acquainted with it quite well now and he’s extracting more and more out of it every race. So, I think it’s just normal with the modern cars.
Q: Laurent, staying with you, can we talk a little bit about the team’s goals for the remainder of this season? You’re currently seventh in the Constructors’ Championship, a dozen points behind Aston Martin. How important is it for you to beat Aston Martin – or is the focus now all on 2022?
LR: No, no, it’s important to beat whoever is in the way of the fifth position – not necessarily Aston Martin. We want to beat Alfa Romeo consistently, my friend, but the idea is to finish at least fifth. We want to carry on the momentum from last year. At the moment we’re not in the position we want. It’s not what I want for the team. And I guess the team doesn’t want it either anyways. So, all eyes are on fifth at the very least. Fifth position on the constructors’ standing. And that’s to go for everyone. The 2022 car, we started working on it obviously. It’s simply a sliding scale between the amount of effort we put into the ’21 versus ’22. And obviously we’re ramping down the ’21 and ramping up on the ’22. So far, so good. It’s going according to the plan. Back to your first question and the connection to the performance. I guess we had two very unusual tracks, or typical urban tracks with Baku and Monaco where we didn’t have a great run of form despite Alonso’s antics in Baku. So, hopefully this track puts us back into more of a Portimão-type performance, which would then get us back on track for the fifth position, I’m assuming.
Q: (Scott Mitchell – The Race) Laurent, with Esteban’s contract, the length of it puts him in a situation that’s normally only enjoyed by the absolute top guys – World Champions or guys like Max Verstappen or Charles Leclerc. Is the fact that you’ve given Esteban this contract, does that indicate that you view him as that sort of calibre of driver?
LR: Yes Scott. I see Esteban as having that potential. He needs to fulfil it but I see him having that potential. When he was younger he raced against all the guys you mentioned and consistently… I would not say beat them all the time but it was competitive at the same level. I wouldn’t see why he would not be able to be a match. And actually, he’s showing it every single qualification. Bar the first four that have arguably a faster car, the rest is usually more of a driving performance and he’s consistently getting very high on the rankings. So for me, yes, he has a lot of potential that we want to unpack, unfold at Alpine.
Q: (Luke Smith – Autosport) Question to both of you. I want to get your thoughts on what the FIA and Pirelli have put out about the tyre failures in Baku a couple of weeks ago. Andreas Seidl said this morning he felt there was a lack of transparency in what the finding had been and getting to the root cause of the tyre failures. How do you both feel about what’s been put out so far?
FV: Honestly, we don’t have access to the data of the accident, of the punctures. That means it is difficult for us to have a clear picture. For sure, if someone was running with lower pressure, you have two options: either they start with a lower pressure or they were running at a lower temperature. But we don’t know, honestly. But it makes sense, by the way, to try to fix it and put some guardrail on this. Then, each time we have a new regulation, we have to be sure that we will be able to police it and to be able to stick with it. But it means from one weekend to the other one it could be tricky but it is like it is and I think it’s a good step forward.
Q: Laurent, please?
LR: I’m going to copy paste Fred’s answer here. I totally agree.
Q: Fred, can I come back to you and talk about performance, because you’ve scored two points this season, both of them at street tracks – Monaco and Baku. What happens now that we are back at a permanent circuit? Is that good news for you? Are you happy to be back at a more conventional race track?
FV: I hope that we won’t score points only on street circuits because the next one is cancelled! But no, the pace was also there in the races for. It’s not just a matter of pace. You have also to be opportunist, to be able to put everything together at the right moment. You have one lap in Q2 to do the qualification. It would make no sense to be very performant at the beginning of Q1 and to make some mistake at the end of Q2. It means that we really need to put everything together, the team, the drivers, everybody, and I think we did a decent step forward in Monaco and Baku. Each Friday morning you are starting from scratch. Paul Ricard is a different story with different compounds compared to the last two weekends. We will a very hot tarmac this weekend and this will be a key factor for everybody and the layout of the track is a bit different. The main issue for everybody will be to manage the wind. It will be very gusty all the weekend and we have to adapt to this. But I don’t want to have a look in the mirror, we have to start from scratch every single Friday.
Q: (Dieter Rencken – Racing Lines) Thanks Tom, a reference to Luke’s earlier question about the way that the FIA and Pirelli handled it. I’d like to take that one step further and ask you in this budget cap era whether Formula 1 is too over-regulated? If we have a look at the flexi-wing saga and we now have a 12-page directive on how to operate tyres. Is the sport over-regulated?
FV: If you compare the regulation today and the regulation of 10 years ago, you can say that the sport is over-regulated because we have two times more pages than 10 years ago and then we have some article perhaps in contradiction with other ones – we saw it in Imola. Now, we have to understand that this comes also from the teams because the teams are always trying to find some small loophole into the system and then the FIA has to come back and find a solution. I think it’s part of the game, part of the DNA of Formula 1, to always be at the limit and every single engineer in F1 is trying to be at the limit, but now you have to police it properly again.
Q: But do you think it’s over-regulated, just to repeat Dieter’s question?
FV: Probably, yes.
Q: Laurent, please.
LR: Once again, I’m going to echo what Fred said.
FV: I will do it alone next time, huh?
LR: Yeah, you can represent me! It’s the nature of the sport to, like, try and find loopholes in the sporting and technical, and even… let’s not kid ourselves, the financial regulations. There’s been constantly ways of adapting your resources and the performance you extract from them to the regulations and of course the FIA has been responding with more and more regulation and that’s how the sport evolved and grew. I guess one thing would be, under a cost cap, teams won’t have the luxury of exploring so many ways and therefore opening so many doors and perhaps we will see less innovation, perhaps not… I might imagine that we might have to less and less, refrain (sic) innovation here and there, but I don’t know, we will see, we are at the turn of a crossroads here. And to your questions, because I know you are going to ask me, I think it is probably slightly over-regulated, yes.
Q: (Luke Smith – Autosport) A question for Fréd. You spoke earlier about the Sauber Academy and great seeing JM going back into that. I wanted to ask about Théo Pourchaire, because he’s had a really great start to the F2 season and is doing well. He has said he is not thinking too much about Formula 1 in the future but how impressed have you been by his progress and what opportunities can you see down the line?
FV: I have been impressed by Théo, but I was also impressed with Théo last year. He did a very, very strong first F3 season. Coming from F4 he was P2 at the end, he missed the championship for two laps, something like this, but he did very well. This season he started with very strong pace. He did the pole position in Monaco, the first time for him in Monaco. Then he had the incident in Baku. It’s a shame but he will be back in Silverstone for the next one. Now, for next year it’s a bit too early, we did only three races in F2. If you remember in the past all the guys who were able to be champion or to have good results the first year they were very performant in the last part of the season. He is very young, he is 17 and still chasing his driving licence and we have to give him time to do the job. I’m not in a rush but I think he is a very good one.
Q: What was the extent of his injuries after that crash in Baku?
FV: He had an issue on the arm, a small break, but it looks OK and the doctor was very optimistic to be able to let him go to Silverstone. Hopefully, we have five weeks between Baku and Silverstone, and it will be enough.
Q: (Scott Mitchell – The Race) With a guy like Theo, because he’s clearly so exciting, do you feel like you have got a driver who you need to work out how you hang on to because he seems like the sort of talent that you will probably have a few people chasing after him?
FV: Yeah, we have a contract with Theo, but again, I don’t want to be in a rush with Theo. Keep in mind he is 17. If you compare him to all the other talents coming into F1 they were much older. I don’t want to make any comparison with Lewis, Hulkenberg, Nico Rosberg or Charles and I think it would be a mistake to push him to early. He has to do the job in F2 first and then we will have time to discuss later on.
Q: Laurent, can I bring you in on this. With the Alpine Academy you’ve got some great guys on your books but your race seats are full. What happens with those guys?
LR: Well, they have also to show their value this year first of all, some of them next year. There are always options. The roster is seemingly full for next year but then there is the following year, subsequent years. Fernando is on a two-year contract with us at the moment, until the end of next year. There could be options after that, depending on how he feels, how he performs and if we want to carry on the journey together or not. There are reserve driver options in our team and there are also options in other teams and that’s how you manage the talent and I’m sure we will find them a seat.
Q: (Dieter Rencken – Racing Lines) After this triple-header set we are moving to the sprint race at Silverstone. How prepared is your team for this? Have you got simulations going or are you making it up as you go along during the weekend? How do you plan to run that?
FV: I will do a copy paste!
LR: Oh, you want to claim copyright? OK, well, it’s certainly a bit of a novelty so it’s not like we already have answers. We wonder how people are going to treat that. It’s potentially a qualification run, I mean it is a qualification run for Sunday, so how many risks are you willing to take? So we will look into that, we will look at the scenarios, but then again we will take it one race at a time. Every Friday morning you almost reset things. So nothing in particular at the moment.
FV: Yeah, I think it won’t change the technical side of the weekend, except the strategy, how you manage the session and the allocation of tyres. Probably the most important will be to see the approach of the drivers on Saturday, because if you have to take some risk to make one position and you take the risk to lose 15… If you remember, the races in Macau were on the same format and sometimes on Saturday everybody was a bit freezing the situation to maintain the position. But I would say that as soon as the red light will switch that it’s always different from the strategy.
Q: Gentlemen, your memories of the French Grand Prix. Laurent, perhaps we can start with you? Home race for you.
Laurent MEKIES: Oh, it’s a long way back, Tom, but it’s actually a very special memory, as it’s the first race my parents took me to, probably back in 1988, as a small boy. So it was for me the beginning of a big, big passion and I have been very lucky as it eventually also turned into a job. We are very glad that we have spectators here today as it means that hopefully very many little boys and girls will also discover Formula 1 this weekend and become hardcore fans as we all are.
Q: Or working in it 30 years later?
LM: Or eventually working in it, yes!
Q: Mario, please?
Mario ISOLA: My first time was in 2001 but I have a lot of memories from 2003 and 2004 because I was involved in the Maserati MC12 project and this circuit was one of the test tracks mainly used by Maserati. I spent here, I don’t remember, probably 100 days per year, something like that so it was really an old memory but a good memory.
Q: Mario, can we stay with you. It has been a busy time for Pirelli since Baku. Can you talk us through the investigation that has taken place since the race and the conclusions you reached?
MI: Yeah. It was a busy time because we obviously had to react quickly to understand what happened to the two tyres. We sent them back immediately to Milan and we started the analysis, not only on the two that failed but also on several other tyres used during the race. At the beginning we had the idea that it was debris because we found some other left rear tyres with cuts but then we discovered that the failure mode was a circumferential cut on the internal sidewall that is due to what we call standing waves. Standing waves are connected to running conditions. Now, running conditions are a mix of running pressure, camber, load, speed and because these running conditions were above our expectations we had the failure of the two tyres.
Q: Can you tell us now about the new operational procedures that are in place at Paul Ricard this weekend?
MI: Yeah, obviously after the investigation was concluded we sent our report to the FIA. As you probably know, we don’t have the possibility to monitor and police the running pressures and the running conditions simply because we don’t have a standard sensor at the moment. This will be implemented in 2022 but at the moment it is a sensor that is coming from teams, so we have to rely on measurements that the FIA can do directly. When we spoke to the FIA and explained the conclusion of our investigation they decided to implement the technical directive, with new checks and controls, that are obviously not replacing the policing of the running pressure but are checking more carefully in a way that is much more strict, that the running parameters are followed. We make some assumptions on running parameters and it is important that the tyres are operated within these assumptions, as any other part of the car. That’s why with this new technical directive, or upgraded technical directive, we are happy with the result and that the FIA is carrying on additional controls.
Q: Laurent, what do these new checks and controls mean for you the teams?
LM: For a team the new technical directive should not change anything. At the end of the day, the technical directive does not change the way we operate the tyres. It does not change the running parameters of the tyres. What it does is it adds a number of checks to ensure that you are actually respecting the prescriptions of the FIA and of Pirelli that were already there before. So if you were respecting them before it does not change anything to the way you operate the car here, it’s just that the FIA has a lot more checks to ensure that you are actually sticking to the parameters that were already in the regulations.
Q: Thank you. Mario, different compounds here this weekend. How will that impact?
MI: We have the same compounds that we brought to Paul Ricard in 2019. This is a different circuit. We have also some parts of the track with different tarmac. In terms of roughness it is not very different compared with 2019, but looking at Free Practice 1 the level of grip is slightly lower. I don’t know, we will ask Laurent also! But I’m not expecting anything particular in terms of strategy or output from these tyres – C2, C3. C4. They are from the middle of the range. They are well suited to the characteristics of the circuit. I am expecting a one-stop race. Going softer was not the right approach because on this circuit, in these conditions and with the weather expected, which can be very hot in this period of the year, the C5 is not the right compound for Paul Ricard. So we decided to stay on the previous allocation – C2, C3, C4.
Q: Laurent come back to you, can we just talk in general terms about Ferrari performance? What chance a third pole position in a row this weekend?
LM: These are very slim, Tom. We will not be hunting for three in a row. But joking aside, we know our cars have been performing very well in slow speed corners so far. We know it’s been a little bit more difficult in medium speed and high-speed corners. It’s no secret that here the track’s a lot more about these medium and high speed corners so we don’t expect to be battling with the two top teams. We will be in the midfield. It will be a strong midfield. We’ll try to understand if we have improved in these weaknesses that we had since the beginning so even though car development has been less this year obviously because of the focus on 2022, there are still means for us to try to unlock some potential, try to understand why we were more limited in these medium and high speed corners and this is for us a very good challenge to be faced with, to see if we’ve actually made progress there.
Q: It’s a very close battle between yourselves and McLaren in the constructors’ championship; you’re two points ahead at the moment. Lando Norris said yesterday something quite interesting: he said Ferrari makes more mistakes than McLaren in the races. I would just like to get your reaction to that.
LM: It’s a very tight fight with McLaren. As you say, two points apart after six races I think they have beaten us in the first three races. We have been in front of them in the last three races so it’s extremely tight. It’s true to say that our qualifying pace has been globally better than our race pace and therefore we have been too often having to sit back in the race, because we were not having quite the same edge that we’ve been able to have in qualifying. We are working on that. We are working on this race pace performance. We are working of course also on trying to do as little number of mistakes as possible, as I’m sure Lando and McLaren are also trying to.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Luke Smith – Autosport) Laurent, Andreas Seidl spoke this morning and he said he thought there’d been a lack of transparency in the response to what was the exact cause of the tyre failures. He said that unfair assumptions maybe had been made about Pirelli, he said he wouldn’t support criticism against them. I just wanted to know, from a Ferrari standpoint, where do you guys stand on it? Are you happy with what’s come out or do you think there are still more answers needed?
LM: I think tyres are not different to engines, wings, suspensions, just to respect the parameters they are designed to work in with so we have a very clear set of parameters that we need to respect on the tyres, they could be pressure, temperatures, camber, whatever. We understand that from the analysis of Pirelli and the FIA, these parameters do not change and as I explained earlier, it’s effectively introduced a number of additional checks to make sure that we respect these parameters so for us it’s going to be transparent and you know, I would say that on top of the regulatory considerations, it’s our responsibility as a team that we send out our drivers in the most safe conditions and therefore we were obviously taking these parameters very seriously already.
Q: (Dieter Rencken – Racing Lines) To Laurent, but if Mario would like to comment as well, please feel free to do so. Laurent, when we have a look at it, yes, you’re correct in saying that you have all sorts of parameters for engines etc, but that isn’t really the subject of that a technical directive which runs to 12 pages. We’ve also had technical direction on the flexi-wings, for example. Is Formula 1 becoming too over-regulated? I’ve got a copy of the 1963 tech regs and they run to four pages…
LM: I think it’s going to be difficult to come back to the four pages, Dieter, but you know, allow me to stress that the technical directives, as lengthy as it is, does not change the regulations. It’s only there to make sure the FIA has the means to enforce what was already written. So, it’s like having ten policemen in the garage, if you see what I mean, and if we need to go there to make sure we have a safe spot on the first four (sic), then fair enough. I don’t think it adds complexity, I think it’s about enforcing what’s already there.
MI: As Laurent said, it’s important that we have a regulation this protecting everybody and it is clear that we cannot come back to a four pages regulation when we are working in an environment where we have the best engineers and cars are very complicated, rules are very complicated sometimes. The most difficult part is to explain to spectators what is going to happen. We have to find a compromise but it’s impossible to think that we go back to 50 years ago.
Q: (Luke Smith – Autosport) This one’s for Mario, again on the tyre situation, again picking up on what Andreas said this morning about maybe some of the unfair assumptions made towards Pirelli. Lewis Hamilton spoke yesterday and he said it’s not Pirelli’s fault what happened. How difficult and frustrating has it been for Pirelli… I guess quite a lazy assumption might be to blame the tyre manufacturer but if the team’s are running outside the rules then you guys can’t really do anything about that, can you?
MI: I didn’t say that… I mean it’s not my job to define if they were running outside the rules or within the rules. What is important that we supply a product and we are sure that the product is used in the framework that is necessary to open the tyres in the right conditions. Is it frustrating? Sometimes it is but priority for me after Baku was to identify not only for me but also for all Pirelli team, also identify the causes of the failures and to come to Paul Ricard with actions in places to guarantee that it doesn’t happen again. That was my priority. Then I read a lot of stuff in the media and obviously not all are really nice to read but it is what it is. My priority was to find the real causes.
Q: (Julien Billiotte – AutoHebdo) Mario, on the same topic: in a very tactical way, what sort of tactics can a team use to be within your starting parameters but outside when the car is on track?
MI: That’s a question for the teams, because what I can answer to this question is that we receive data from all the teams. This is a package that was agreed some years ago so we receive simulations, we make our assumption, we come back with a preview and with prescriptions and then we check what happened during the races but we have the data a couple of days later and we react accordingly, adapting our prescriptions to the data that we receive. Then, if we receive that there is a parameter that is not in line with our expectation, we ask ourselves what can be but at the end of the day we have to rely on the data we receive and again, we cannot find what the teams are doing or not doing.
Q: (Dieter Rencken – Racing Lines) Laurent, I would like to follow up again on my earlier question about being over-regulated. If we set aside this policeman, 10 or 12-page TD. Is Formula 1 too over-regulated? You’ve been on both sides of the fence, so possibly you’re well-placed to comment on that please?
LM: I don’t think it is in this example, Dieter. It’s not over-regulating to specify what pressures the tyres should be running to and what temperatures the tyres should be running to. I really don’t think it is. It needs to be enforced because it’s a key safety parameter and it’s a key performance parameter so this is probably why it comes into a great amount of focus right now but I don’t think it’s a matter of over-regulating. I think it’s a matter of enforcement and I think we, as a community, we should all very much welcome there will be additional checks that we can go out there in being sure that everybody’s on the same page.
Q: (Luke Smith – Autosport) Laurent, I would like to ask you about the Ferrari young drivers you’ve got coming to you. You’ve got quite a few still in Formula 2, you’ve obviously got Callum Illott working in reserve role with Alfa Romeo for this season. Are you guys already starting to think about replacements for next year if any more of them could move up to F1 or do you think the way the market’s moving it might be a little difficult to find someone like Callum or Robert an F1 seat?
LM: It’s a very good point. We’ve been very lucky with the current generations of young drivers coming up. We have Mick in the Haas car, as you said, Callum is doing quite a lot of work with Alfa Romeo. He has done an FP1, he will do more, and we have Robert and Marcus, hopefully fighting for wins in F2, so it’s a lot of drivers for the F1 market, you are right, but we think we are in a good position in a way that Mick is progressing very well, we are hopeful that Callum will have a chance this year to express himself with his FP1s and we are running him in our Fiorano track with an old car. We have data points to compare him to, we think he is developing well and we also see the next in line guys, Robert and Marcus, making progress. Marcus is struggling a little bit more right now but Robert has been taking more points than anybody else in Baku. He has won one of the three races there, he’s fighting for the title and it’s all going into a very positive dynamic. It’s a good problem to have to think that these guys may have the potential to be in front of the task to find drives for them.
Q: (Dieter Rencken – Racing Lines) Laurent, if my information’s correct, the soft landing that was granted to some of the teams expires at the end of June so a couple of weeks’ time. In terms of budget cap, have you been able to restructure the way that you need to?
LM: Yes, thanks Dieter, yes of course, we are now halfway through the year and therefore of course the company has been under a great amount of effort, try to resize to budget cap values. We are getting there. There is a lot of effort still to be made because obviously it’s one thing to stick to the values this year with pretty much a frozen car compared to last year, at least for a lot of its components. It’s something different to be able to operate in that cap in the context of completing new regulations for next year so you know we finish one challenge and we start the next one. But again, I’m sure there is still many discussions with the teams, with the FIA, with F1 to find the best solutions moving forward and it’s been very intense for us on that front.
Q: (Julien Billiotte – AutoHebdo) Mario, we know F1 teams are always on the edge when it comes to performance gains. Therefore, is it fair to ask if Pirelli’s operating window is not too close to the failure thresholds, because we know they’re always going to be on the edge? So if it’s the same limit when it comes to the failure, can you do anything to put more space between these two limits?
MI: As I told you before, we always take a margin in our prescriptions to be sure that nothing happens. Now we learn that this margin can be probably not enough. It was the case in Baku but it was not the case for everybody, that’s important to underline because we checked several tyres from different cars and we didn’t find anything strange on the tyres or initiation of the failure or any other elements to tell us that we were really at the limit, so we have always to balance this margin and a prescription that is also in line with the performance of the tyres. We had to react to what happened in Baku and this exactly what we have done.