Canadian Grand Prix FIA Friday press conference transcript with Flavio Briatore (Renault managing director) Christian Horner (Red Bull sporting director) Colin Kolles (Jordan managing director) John Howett (Toyota Motorsport...
Canadian Grand Prix FIA Friday press conference transcript with
Flavio Briatore (Renault managing director)
Christian Horner (Red Bull sporting director)
Colin Kolles (Jordan managing director)
John Howett (Toyota Motorsport president)
Q: Colin, obviously the burning issue is Trevor Carlin, why did he leave?
Colin Kolles: He left basically because of personal reasons, as I said today to the press, he called me on Monday and he told me he would prefer not to come to Canada because the basic idea was we started to build up a team from scratch and the stress is too much for him, driving each day from Surrey to Silverstone, one and a half hours in one direction and one and a half hours in the other direction, and all over the world, and his other projects are growing with the A1 engagement, so that is basically the reason.
Q: So, could he just have not come here and then carried on, or did he not want to do that either?
Colin Kolles: No, he said if I wanted him to be here he would be here. He is still a consultant to us, but not on a daily basis.
Q: The other questions, obviously, the team, is it still for sale?
Colin Kolles: As Alex said it is not for sale. At the end of the day everything is for sale and if you speak to sponsors, yeah, and this particular sponsor has been approached by an agency in Russia before all these rumours started, long before, so he said he wants to commit for a long engagement in Formula One, to sponsor the team for a period of four or five years, and then the question came up if can he have some shares in the team, and this is how it started. But there are no detailed discussions about this, or detailed meetings or anything, and it just came out in the press from some people who need maybe some promotion or something, I don't know.
Q: What about the future, next year, what is in place for the design team, the engine, and so on?
Colin Kolles: I think with the engine, there will be some announcement very soon, I think the relationship between Jordan, Midland and Toyota is not so bad, I think that we are working very well together, it is very positive, and regarding the engineering side, you know that we started with Dallara, building up the team from scratch with the engagement of Dallara. This is continuing until December 31 and we are building up also to improve the intellectual property of the team, bringing in new people, new young people, and new ideas. The decrease in number of personnel has basically stopped and it is increasing now.
Q: Finally, is there a possibility of Franck Montagny driving at the French Grand Prix, either on the Friday or for the whole weekend?
Colin Kolles: You have to ask Mr Briatore this question. I think that Franck Montagny did a good job at the Nurburgring and we are looking forward to this, for sure. We will try to find solutions.
Q: John, would Jordan get V8s or V10s for next year?
John Howett: I think our intention, from a supply point of view, it is much easier to supply the same engine that we are running, so a V8.
Q: What is the situation with the V8 at the moment?
John Howett: It is on line in development plan, it is running on the dynamometer and we hope to run in the chassis in July, the end of July, before the summer break.
Q: The figures that we hear, sort of over 20,000rpm, are you up to that level?
John Howett: I wouldn't like to tell you!
Q: In the last couple of races the team seems to have just gone off the boil a bit. Do you agree?
John Howett: We made a mistake on the grid otherwise Jarno would have been on the podium in Hockenheim and we were a little bit unlucky with the safety car and some other action in Monaco, so yes, we haven't delivered, but in terms of competitiveness of the car we are still there and fighting for podiums on a fairly regular basis.
Q: So you expect to be doing that?
John Howett: Yes, this weekend, we hope so.
Q: One more question about the testing, because you are part of the 30 day testing accord, which I believe is intended to save money. How is it saving money when you send one test team to Monza and one to Silverstone and fly the drivers between the two?
John Howett: These costs are minor. The main fundamental cost is in component use -- brake discs, carbon fibre components. All these items are lifed, and I can clearly say, managing the budgets on a daily basis, 30 day testing saves us a lot of money.
Q: Even sending two test teams?
John Howett: You have to realise, you have the fixed assets of the trucks, and diesel fuel is not a high cost. But when you are changing items like brake discs or carbon fibre suspension components or gears, which are lifed, it is a very high cost. In our view, it is the right direction and it is making a positive contribution to budget saving. We have a strong view that other teams should support that direction, because ultimately we will be forced to increase testing if we lost competitive position.
Q: Christian, from your point of view you seem to have a lot of drivers at the moment, in that you have four competitive drivers with David Coulthard, Christian Klien, Tonio Liuzzi and Scott Speed as well. What is the policy with those drivers?
Christian Horner: Well, it is a very pleasant problem to have, to be honest. We have a very good balance within the team, with David and his experience, he has contributed a huge amount to the development of the team in its first year in Grand Prix racing. In Tonio and Christian Klien we have the first two products of the Red Bull junior programme and we have a very healthy situation within the team where we have been looking very closely at their development, their performances, and obviously this is a building year for the team, which is why we have not been afraid to move the drivers around a little bit. Scott Speed is an emerging talent coming through the GP2 category at the moment. With a gap in that calendar and with obviously the two North American races, it made complete sense, following some very impressive tests he had done for us, to put him in the car here and at Indianapolis next weekend.
Q: Some people have been saying you said it had nothing to do with being American.
Christian Horner: No, he is here because of his ability. Obviously Scott is the first product of the driver search in the US, but he wouldn't be driving the car if he didn't have the ability to drive the car and he clearly demonstrated that in the lower formulas in Europe. He has tested very strongly in Barcelona and at Silverstone last week, he is very much here on merit and I think it is positive for Formula One that there is a real emerging talent from the US.
Q: Can you finally tell us what the situation is with Ferrari? Is there progress being made or is it too early to say?
Christian Horner: Obviously we are delighted that we have secured a two-year agreement with Ferrari to supply engines. They, like Toyota, are working hard on the development of the V8, on dynamometers, and I am sure engines will no doubt run during the latter part of the summer, but we are happy with the progress that we have heard and we look forward to seeing the engines in due course.
Q: Due course is the earliest you can say?
Christian Horner: Well, it will be towards the end of the year, you know.
Q: Flavio, first of all, let's go back to the question of Franck. Is he likely to have any role in the French Grand Prix?
Flavio Briatore: I don't know yet. Franck is doing the 24 Hours of Le Mans. I talked to him today, let's see what happens, we will see, I want to talk with Franck. He is really concentrating now on doing the best possible in the race in France, and let's see. I don't know, if it is possible to have somebody doing it, no problem at all, and especially Jordan. Alex is a good friend, Kolles is a good friend, but it depends on the driver, what he wants to do.
Q: In the previews for this race, you have talked about the spectacular races that we've had so far, a mixture of risk, strategy and racing. Is anything else needed?
Flavio Briatore: Sure. No, I believe that this year Formula One is very interesting. It is not because Renault is winning but McLaren is there, Toyota is there. We have three or four competitive teams. At the beginning of the season Red Bull and David was very competitive. It's not like last year. I believe it is a lot better for the spectators and a lot of people. Somebody says that the television audience has gone down, but it may go down in some places but goes up in others. It may be down two million in Italy, but it's up seven million in Spain. In the end, overall, it is up. It is normal. You have some countries with different situations. I believe Formula One is great and it's better than the last two years, it's the best we've ever had.
Q: Fernando is obviously having a fantastic season at the moment, what can you do about Giancarlo?
Flavio Briatore: What can I do about him? He is racing. He is doing the best he can. Some drivers are lucky sometimes and some are a bit unlucky. That's life. We're doing everything possible to put Giancarlo in the best situation. But you know, he won the first race. We're talking about him as though he's dead. He won the first race and finished in the points and helped the team on Sunday. He did a fantastic job to finish in front of Montoya. This was our target. Today he was very, very competitive all day, and obviously competitive tomorrow. Giancarlo is part of the team and trying to do the best that is possible for the team.
Q: I know that this is working in your favour, but the fact is that if Kimi won every single race from now on, and Fernando finished second, Kimi still would not be champion...
Flavio Briatore: I don't think that is right in Kimi winning every race. I don't see Kimi winning every race.
Q: Don't you think the points situation, which kills off the championship so early...
Flavio Briatore: I don't think this is killing the championship. If we stop two races he is there. Thirty point is a lot but also nothing. If we stop in one race, it happens, it happens to everybody, or we are dead lucky... I mean the championship is fully open. I'm sure Michael, if he is competitive in this race it is possible he could be part of this. If Toyota with Jarno... Thirty points is a lot but it's not enough. We will see, we saw in Monte Carlo that it was great somebody else winning the race again, winning the championship. And we had a good race in Germany. It's part of the sport, it's very difficult to predict where you are but we are in good shape, the car is good, the engine is maybe not the most powerful engine in the business but we're working on that and I'm sure we have a good package.
Q: Two questions for Mr Kolles. The first is, when we went to Australia we learned that your chief designer, Mr Smith, had left the company and you promised severe action to make sure that he stayed with you. I wonder if you can tell us what progress you have made with that move?
Colin Kolles: Wait and see.
Q: Is there progress, are you going to continue?
Colin Kolles: I am not going to answer this question, I am sorry. Wait and see.
Q: The second question is that we read a lot from Mr Shnaider particularly saying that the company could be for sale if the right offer would be achieved. We never hear anything from either you or him about winning races which appears to be the business of Formula One. Do you have any ambitions to win races ever, or Mr Shnaider has, and if you can tell us what progress you're making towards that?
Colin Kolles: I can tell you this: first of all you have to be realistic, and this year, if I told you we wanted to win races this year it would be completely unrealistic. Because you have to remember that when we took over on January 23, it was a bankrupt company with four old monocoques. So you cannot win races immediately. I think that we have to build up this team and it will take some time. Mr Shnaider is committed. But these rumours are coming around and they are part of the game. I cannot tell you more than this. I will talk about wins when we are able to win but we are not able to win at the moment.
Q: The question I asked was do you have ambition to win?
Colin Kolles: Of course I have ambition, I would not be here if I did not have ambition to win. But I am also a realistic person and we have to work very hard to get to a point to be able to win, and even if you are able to win, then you also need a big portion of luck to win races. And then I can talk about winning races. But at the moment, if you are three seconds off the pace we cannot win races. But we are doing a lot to change the situation.
Q: Mr Horner, could you assess Scott Speed's performance. He had a good strong run this morning, it appeared, and then this afternoon had an excursion. Could you talk about both of those and his day in general?
Christian Horner: Scott had a very positive session this morning, the fundamental role of the third driver is tyre comparison work and he completed his programme well this morning. Obviously he had never seen or driven this circuit before and certainly performed quite impressively. This afternoon he had an excursion, he had a spin. The reason behind that we are not entirely sure at the moment, it was quite an odd incident but we are investigating it. I think he has learned a great deal from this weekend already and I'm sure he will be looking to put that into action next weekend in Indianapolis.
Q: Mr Briatore, can you talk about the real strengths of Fernando? It seems his consistency this year has been really something and as we've watched him develop over the last couple of years, he just consistently runs well.
Flavio Briatore: I think Fernando is very mature for 23 and the car is very good as well. You need the right package. You need super driver and a super car as well, and this year we've made very few mistakes, very consistent and what I can say? It's surprising because for a young driver to be consistent in the races as he is and qualifying all the time is amazing and he's done a fantastic job. But he's got a fantastic car as well. Aerodynamically the car is very good and as I've said before, maybe McLaren have a better engine at the moment, a few horsepower more than us, but we're working on that.
Q: Flavio, I understand that you have or will have a guest this weekend from Las Vegas. Can you tell me if this is true, and if so is this an indicator that we will possibly be having another race in North America?
Flavio Briatore: You know, I think so. North America is very important for Formula One. You know Bernie has tried very hard to have a race in Las Vegas and we have a few friends from Las Vegas visiting Formula One this weekend and I hope we start talking, because Las Vegas really is... North America is very important, it's important for everything. It's important for Formula One and I hope one day we will have a race there.
Q: Could you identify your guests and secondly could you give us an assurance that if we go to race in Las Vegas that we don't do so in a car park?
Flavio Briatore: No I promise you. If you give me an assurance that you're going there to gamble, you're there with the people. What kind of assurance can I give you? Sure Formula One is something magic, something unique and now in America people are starting to appreciate Formula One. It would be magic to have another race in North America. This is why I believe everybody, every team and every sponsor would be happy about that.
Q: Flavio, Colin says everything is for sale at a price. Is Fernando for sale?
Flavio Briatore: Nothing to do with the price. Fernando is part of the team, he is racing with us, driver price is... he very much wants to stay with the winning team. When you have somebody special you want to win, and to win you need the team, the car, you need the effort, you need the investment and Fernando is very happy with Renault.
Q: So he is not for sale at any price?
Flavio Briatore: Any price. You buy the world at any price. You put in an offer and see what happens.