The following is a transcript of Friday's press conference.
Team representatives Christian Horner (Red Bull), Marco Mattiacci (Ferrari), Eric Boullier (McLaren), Claire Williams (Williams), Vijay Mallya (Force India), and Monisha Kaltenborn (Sauber) took some time to talk with the media ahead of this weekend's Hungarian Grand Prix.
Claire, ladies first, if I can start with you. Phenomenal performances recently, everyone is asking can you take a win somewhere? Will it be on the fast circuits coming up after the break?
Claire WILLIAMS: I hope so. That’s why we’re here, to win grands prix. The team has done a great job this year to turn everything around. We’re building towards that. I think we’ve still got a lot of work to do. The Mercedes are quite far ahead at the moment. I think we closed that gap a little bit in Germany, so it will be exciting to see what we can do here this weekend and then obviously moving to Spa and Monza.
It would be great to see more women coming into the sport in a racing driver capacity
Do you think the faster circuits, the longer straights are going to be to your advantage? You’re quick in a straight line.
CW: Yeah, I’d like to think so. Obviously the Mercedes power unit has helped to drive our competitiveness this year, so it’s absolutely a factor.
Now, Susie Wolff made history history with, admittedly, a brief appearance at Silverstone. She did well at Hockenheim as well. Has that represented a step forward for women in motorsport do you think?
CW: I’d like to think so. Obviously Susie’s appearance at Silverstone was short-lived but she was the first female to take to the cockpit on a grand prix weekend in 22 years. I think she has set the standard in Formula One. It would be great to see more women coming into the sport in a racing driver capacity and I think she does act as a role model in that sense. She did a great job for the team and at the end of the day, for us, that was the most important thing.
Thank you. Vijay, welcome. The results keep coming for Sahara Force India but McLaren have made a little bit of progress, the gap is now just two points. Have you slipped a little bit, what’s happened there?
Vijay MALLYA: I don’t think we’ve slipped. We continue to do our best, we’ve scored points in every race. Williams have done an outstanding job. I think that was pretty clear in pre-season testing. The results are showing. But I think between Williams, McLaren, Sahara Force India, Ferrari, the gap is small and can be closed even in one race. Of course, the double points in the last race may change the equation completely and one never knows in whose favour. We feel quite confident that we can fight to stay where we are or maybe even get a little ahead. I think it's realistic to be optimistic as well. As long as you have confidence in what you’re doing and the car is performing, no hard luck stories, there’s a lot to look forward to and many races to go.
Do you think you can keep up the development, stay ahead of let’s face it a bigger team, in many ways, McLaren?
VM: I don’t want to only set the benchmark as McLaren – they are a world championship-winning team. We obviously are ahead on merit. They have the propensity to catch up but equally we have the propensity to improve even further. As I said, it’s quite competitive between three or four teams and I think the final race will be the final result.
Sebastian’s absolutely committed to the team, there’s no doubt at all that he’ll be with Red Bull next year.
I’ll come to Eric on that question in a moment, but you must be very happy with your two drivers, they’re doing a great job. Do you want to keep them, can you keep them?
VM: We have options on both. I’m very happy with both of them and I see no reason why we should be looking at any change.
Eric, catching Force India, what’s made the difference?
Eric BOULLIER: It’s obviously, first, hard work back in Woking. Everybody is working definitely hard to get to the way we want them to go and the work is paying off in the end and you can see on track we are bringing upgrades every race and we start to be able to work a little bit in a higher position.
Will you carry on developing this car? When do you actually move over to working on next years, with particular reference to the challenge of a new power unit?
EB: I think it’s all in one if you want. We will keep developing this year’s car as far as possible and as long as possible and as long as we can carry over all the development in the next year’s car. Obviously we are preparing already for the arrival of our new engine partner for next year, yes.
Thank you. Christian, coming to you next. This time last year you made a massive step forward, through the summer break as it were, to win all the races after the remaining races thereafter. Can you compensate for the problem you perhaps have with your powertrain and make a big aero jump this year?
Christian HORNER: In all honesty it’s probably unlikely. If you look at the gap, it’s a significant gap. Last year was more of a level playing field on the power unit side. But obviously with the big regulation change it’s reshuffled things, Mercedes are doing a super job and they deserve to be in the position they are, they are in a position of real dominance, dominance we haven’t seen for a long, long time, where they keep scoring these one-two or one-three finishes and it’s a significant amount of performance to close down. But we’re keeping pushing, we’re keeping the hammer down and hopefully after the summer break we’ll have some circuits coming up that we will be able to get even closer to [them]. But I don’t think you’ll see a situation like we had last year.
Q: We’ve heard some speculation about Sebastian Vettel’s future. Is there any substance to it or is it silly-season nonsense?
CH: Well usually it’s the start of the silly season where he’s either going to Ferrari or Eric’s made him a big offer or maybe going to Mercedes. So, we just wait to see which team it’s going to be. But no, Sebastian’s absolutely committed to the team, there’s no doubt at all that he’ll be with Red Bull next year and he’s enjoyed so much success with the team, he’s happy in the team and the team are very happy with him. We know we’ve got a lot to do. None of us are comfortable or happy with the situation that we’re currently in – but, y’know, we’re in it together and we’ll work our way through it.
I think it’s clear he is a friend of Ferrari and I have utmost respect for Niki. So chapter closed.
Marco Mattiacci on Lauda's recent criticism of Ferrari
Q: Monisha, similarly, you made big advances in the second half of the season last year and you must be hoping that you can do the same. What are the chances?
Monisha KALTENBORN: Well you really can’t compare actually, last season to this one. We know the reasons why we are like this, this year. Of course it has to do with all the rule changes that came in. Last year we took a certain risk. We were well aware of it but if you allocate the resources you have more to last year’s car, this will have an effect on the new car. It’s good that we know the reasons but we clearly have to stop making the mistakes we have been making in the last races. So I do hope that we’ll make a step ahead but to be realistic I don’t expect we’ll take that kind of a jump.
Q: Yesterday there was confirmation of a future Mexican Grand Prix. What does that mean to you – and also the fact that Azerbaijan seems to be coming onto the calendar in a couple of years’ time as well. The calendar is expanding: what does that mean to a team principal?
MK: Well looking at Mexico, of course it’s very good news for us because we know that our partner Telmex and Carlos Slim particularly has had this long-term vision to establish motorsport in Mexico. He’s been pursuing this for many years and this has many elements to it, like the Escuderia Telmex, with the drivers, they then got their driver – Sergio – into Formula One and they’ve been working on this grand prix. And we also know how important that is for the other partners we have. So, such a race, which has so much heritage, returning now is fantastic for the sport and I’ll sure we’ll see how many fans we have. We were there a couple of years ago doing a show run and we couldn’t believe that 200,000 people came out to see that. That tells you what a strong fan base it is – and that’s a very positive sign.
Now, if you’re taking the races beyond 20, I think we’ve had that discussion as well, that I think we should be careful of not saturating the year with too many races. We know what it means on our personnel. We might have to restructure things again, so I think we should be careful before we take these kinds of steps, and also where we go to – because we want to establish Formula One in these countries, not lose heritage races. So it’s a difficult.
It was a little bit of a surprise to see they (Mercedes) could change their brakes obviously.
Q: Marco, we’ve seen Fernando Alonso drive some phenomenal races, the last couple of races. Real classic Formula One, wheel-to-wheel stuff. How does that reflect on the team? What’s the mood with the team when they see races like that?
Marco MATTIACCI: It’s very motivating.
Just motivating, or more than that?
MM: I think when you see your driver that is driving like that, that is very motivating for the team.
And do they want Kimi to be doing the same thing?
Q: There’s been some harsh criticism of the car recently. What’s your response to that criticism?
MM: Which one are you referring to? Internal criticism or outside?
MM: Everybody is free to make comments. I’m happy that they have time to think about our cars because I don’t have enough time to think about other teams’ cars. I know what you are referring to. I think it’s a statement taken out of context. He has a big title and, as I said, I have the utmost respect for Niki Lauda. For me he is an iconic figure of my childhood and in particular for Ferrari. Today he came to our pit to apologise and honestly I feel very uncomfortable for Marco Mattiacci or Ferrari in this case receiving an excuse from such a champion that I think has been put in middle of something. But I think it’s clear he is a friend of Ferrari and I have utmost respect for Niki. So chapter closed.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Péter Farkas – Autó-Motor) Question to all of you. Obviously it is very surprising to learn that the FIA has allowed a change of brake material in parc ferme. Have you got a clear explanation from the FIA yet, why did they let them do it and, do you think it’s acceptable? And do you think there is a danger that things you start to ask to change brake materials and even something else in parc ferme before the race after that.
CH: Look, from our perspective it was very interesting to see the way the FIA dealt with it. Theoretically it is a change in car specification and the interesting thing for us to observe was how the FIA dealt with it, the precedent it sets going forward. So should that circumstance occur again, the precedent is now extremely clear and I’m sure there will be further discussion on it and where does that stop? Obviously we’d like to change the engine in parc ferme but that’s not quite allowed. I’m sure there’ll be further discussion. It was intriguing to see the decisions that were made.
EB: Well our position is quite similar to Christian’s one. It was a little bit of a surprise to see they could change their brakes obviously. And even if some specs were similar, the rule on parc ferme are very strict. So, as Christian says, it is a serious precedent and we’ll see how it develops in the future.
MM: From me it’s a different perspective from my colleagues – even though I understand where they’re coming from. I think in Formula One where everybody is debating about the show, to see a driver from the 20 spot arrive to the podium, for me is a great thing to sell to people and honestly, to pull the trigger, because changing the brakes that are the same spec, probably they don’t have a great impact on the performance, honestly to go to ruin the day for Hamilton was not my principle about racing, so I don’t see the need. It is clear we need consistency in the approach of the FIA but I think we have seen a great race from a guy and we didn’t feel it was the case to ruin that show.
CW: I don’t think I have anything to add to that.
VM: My concern is the precedent that it sets. The FIA rules basically say that if a component is similar in mass, inertia and function, I guess that’s the definition under which the change of brakes was allowed. Going forward, under parc ferme conditions, one could also argue that the rear wing settings could be changed because the same mass, inertia and function are retained. So long as this is not used as an unhealthy precedent going forward for changes under parc ferme conditions, that is the way I would look at it.
MK: Well, the FIA took probably a surprising decision here but I think more important is to see that they realise that they need to clarify the matter. I’m a bit less concerned about the precedent being set here because if you look at the cases that have gone through the FIA, different courts or tribunals, you very rarely see a certain consistency there because you can’t bring up cases from the past but every case is looked at individually, so I’m not that concerned. I tend to agree with Marco, that it just shows you no matter what would have happened, have you also given a penalty, still a driver can come up, right in front, and I think that’s the remarkable part about it and shows the dominance of the team.
Q: (Pablo Gorondi – AP) Two parts, the first part is concerning the upcoming race in Russia. Do you have concerns about it considering the fact that the conflict in Ukraine seems to be growing every day. My second question is about… we just heard about the new races in Mexico and Azerbaijan and the one thing that’s common to them is that they will both be street races, not on permanent circuits – does this pose a special kind of challenge to you?
If there isn’t any interest in Formula One, like we saw last weekend, then why not go to a new market
Christian Horner on Azerbaijan
Dealing with the first one first, Russia: does anyone want to comment on that? Claire?
CW: Obviously what’s going on in Russia and that part of the world at the moment is of huge concern to everybody – but we’ve always said as a support we try to disengage from taking a political angle on these things. Here the FIA is the governing body of our sport, they issue a calendar and we have to take our direction from them and at the moment, the race is still on the calendar.
VM: Well something similar occurred in Bahrain and we followed the FIA’s directive, or recommendation. I think I agree with Claire. It’s up to the FIA to guide us and we all follow what the FIA guidance is.
MK: I absolutely agree with that. We have to rely on the governing body and commercial rights holder. They’re the ones who have the responsibility and we will do as they say, like we’ve done in the past.
If we come to the business of… I think Mexico is going to be a permanent circuit, but Azerbaijan could well be a street circuit – what are the thoughts on those two new races? Marco, would you start?
MM: I think it is a great opportunity, first of all Mexico is one of the countries with the greatest tradition about racing. We have had amazing drivers in the history of Formula One. Is one of the upcoming economies in the Americas, probably the third largest economy after Canada, but it’s good that we keep promoting the brand. It is clear that, as Monisha was saying this week, there are big effort to be done to establish the culture of racing, particularly in upcoming country. So, but it’s good. Definitely a big effort but Formula One needs to reach new audiences so is going to be a another big effort. Let’s see what is the profile of the race we are going to have – but I think I would see this in a positive way. It is clear that stretching the championship to many races, it means more investment on our side so it opens another discussion – but I’m positive.
CH: It’s great to be going back to Mexico. Certainly my memories of Mexico were Nigel Mansell’s move on the outside of Gerhard Berger into the last turn. I just hope that corner is left intact. I think it’s fantastic for Formula One to be going back to Mexico. Azerbaijan is an exciting new venue, new country to be visiting. Of course there’s only so many races that we can accommodate in a year and I think it’s very healthy for Formula One to have such competition for these places on the calendar. For new markets coming along like this, I think it’s great news for the teams, for the sport and will be of great interest.
Does it make a big difference Eric that it is potentially a street circuit?
EB: Yes it does in one way obviously but GT went to race in Baku already so they have a little bit of experience, at least how to judge the foundation of a track in the city. I know Tilke is in charge so we know he will do a very good job of it. I think it can be very exciting. Street racing obviously we know is a great show, there is more risk of a car breaking, crashing, anything like this, but today the safety is good enough and obviously we rely on everybody involved today to make a very, very good racing show there.
Vijay, your thoughts on that.
VM: We need to race under all conditions and on all surfaces and on all tracks. That’s part of the fun of Formula One, I guess, and part of the competitive spirit. Street races have their own unique character, as we’ve seen in Monaco and Singapore and other places and I’m sure none of us would object to a street race. As far as new countries are concerned, like Mexico and Azerbaijan, fantastic news. The more the Formula One canvas expands across the world, the better it is for the sport and the teams and the sponsors. And that’s why I keep nagging Bernie and trying to persuade him that India must come back.
CW: I think everyone’s said it all. I think to have two new races on the calendar is really exciting for everybody.
Monisha, any more to add?
MK: I think just the aspect of the street race is probably a better approach to take in a country where there is not that much history of motorsport. You can probably attract more people, can be supported even by tourism activities as we’ve seen in Singapore, the Government backing. I think it’s a good idea.
Q: (Kate Walker – crash.net) I’ve got a question for Vijay. Looking ahead to 2015 it seems almost certain now that you’re going to inherit Lotus’ place on the Strategy Group. Now I was wondering, first, you’ve had a year’s experience of being out in the cold, and to what extent is that going to inform your input on the Strategy Group, and secondly, to what extent is your role in the WMSC going to inform your contributions to the Strategy Group?
The Germans were obviously so hung over from the result they’d had the previous weekend that none of them could make it down to Hockenheim.
Christian Horner on empty grandstands in Germany
VM: First of all, we’ve been out in the cold for more than one year. As part of the Strategy Group, if all goes well, yes, we have a best chance to be there, I think the fundamentals of our views will not change. We will represent our views and concerns within the Strategy Group but then the Strategy Group ultimately decides by majority the direction in which we all go. So, I will rest my case there and not speculate more about the Strategy Group or our potential role in it.
Q: (Luigi Perna – La Gazzetta dello Sport) Question for Mattiacci. Considering the gap from Mercedes at this point of the season and the big changes, technical changes, going on in your team, it will be possible to see a Ferrari fighting for a title in 2015 – or it is more realistic to consider 2016 as a goal?
MM: I think the more realistic thing is don’t take such kind of commitment at the moment. We need to work every race, definitely we are working for a medium/long-term plan to come back and be at the top, to be extremely competitive but at this stage I really don’t have any element to make commitment on when we’ll be back at the top.
Q: (Fredrik af Petersens – Honorary) You talked about Azerbaijan, fantastic to go to a new place, a new venue. Is it worth going to a new place with no tradition whatsoever of motorsport and lose, for example, a classical race like the Italian Grand Prix at Monza?
CH: I think it’s all about balance. It’s about keeping the historical events and also bringing new events. Of course, Monza is a very popular race on the calendar – hopefully it’ll be there for many years to come – but it’s finding that balance. I think Formula One has done a good job of that over the past few years. If there isn’t any interest in Formula One, like we saw last weekend, then why not go to a new market that is crying out for Formula One.
VM: I’ve always said that expansion of the canvas is good. If there’s no history of motorsport in Azerbaijan, well, one can always hope to create interest in Formula One with its attendant benefits but I would agree it would be sad if it were at the cost of a long-established historic race. But, yeah, the wider the canvas, the better for all of us.
Marco, anything on that?
MM: I agree with Christian and Vijay, we need to find the right balance. Formula One has a DNA and a race like Monza, I guess they’re extremely important. At the same time, we need to move forward, to look at the future, to bring the culture of racing and Formula One where it’s possible to do it. So, we need to have the right balance but definitely we need to move forward.
Q: (Dominik Scharef – Motorsport-Total.com) Last week in Hockenheim, only 50,000 fans came to the race track. Today we saw relatively empty grandstands again. How concerned are you about that?
EB: Good question. We can’t draw any conclusions obviously or be scared about what’s happening in a couple of venues. You also need to remember Silverstone, for example, was very crowded, having, the same weekend, three major sporting events in the world. There were some other venues – Austria was obviously a great success. I thought that Germany was maybe not as big as before. There are many reasons and to be honest, I’m not an expert, a specialist on that, so I will not comment on this. You were right. As we mentioned before about the new venues, it’s true that we need to make a balance so we need maybe more venues because there is a shift of interest on sport, about F1 in particular, in that case, to some other countries. I don’t have the answer and I don’t think it’s a concern now when you see some other venues getting crowds and being successful.
MK: It is, of course a concern because Germany has a strong history in motor sport and we have and have had some great drivers from there, so it’s an important market by all means and I think that that just shows that we really need to look at our product, our sport – which is a fantastic product, comparable to any big, global platform, comparable even to football or the Olympic Games - and see how we can connect better to the people outside. It’s not about the product itself. We’ve had some fantastic races and we’ve had some bad races and that you have in every sport. You can have a fantastic tennis match or a bad tennis match, but it’s how you connect to the fans out there or to the consumers and I think that’s where we need to improve.
VM: I don’t know whether one should be judgemental enough to say that just because attendance was a little lower than before, that it’s cause for alarm. As Eric rightly pointed out, Silverstone was a major success despite Wimbledon being on. To the English, these are really two very significant events but so long as the overall viewership and the interest in the sport and the sponsors are happy, we should preserve, as I said before, those races that have more than just a spectator value. Monisha referred to the fact that Germany has produced top class World Champion drivers. We have excellent German drivers in Formula One as I speak so I’m sure that the interest level in Germany hasn’t fallen to the extent of any alarm.
CW: I would agree with everything that’s been said and that maybe Germany was a slight anomaly but I do think that as a sport we need to look at what we are doing, look at our product and to make sure that it is the best that we can offer our fans. I think we have a great fan base and we have a significant fan base globally but I think we need to look at what we can do to engage a new generation of fans to watch our sport, a younger generation. This is a wonderful sport, it’s a great sport, people do want to come and watch us but I think that what we could potentially offer the people who pay a lot of money to come and watch us race every weekend, I think that if we could provide a better show and work together as a group of teams to do that, I think that it would stand us in really good stead for the future.
MM: This is the most frequently-asked question so I think that we still believe that Formula One is one of the most phenomenal platforms of sport. Definitely there are warning signs. I think now after that - I think I have been asked this question probably several times – what we are trying to do in a positive way, to bring all the stakeholders to converge within the right institution and at the right table, to discuss, to make concrete steps in order to have a clear view of where we want to go. I don’t think it’s positive that every time we have a press conference, we discuss about the issues of Formula One. We are all here to promote the sport. I think we need to do it in a smart way. Definitely, as I said, there are warning signs but I think that we need to move to the next step: that is to discuss, debate and find solutions.
CH: I think it’s obvious: that the Germans were obviously so hung over from the result they’d had the previous weekend that none of them could make it down to Hockenheim. If you look at the previous three races, they were all sell-outs: Montreal, sell-out; Austria, sell-out; Silverstone, sell-out. Massive crowds, great racing. So something’s got be wrong at Hockenheim for only 50-odd thousand people to turn up. But if you look at the ticket price, if you look at the way it was promoted or wasn’t promoted - that race. If we take a car to Sebastian’s home town which is 45 kilometers up the road and get 150,000 turn out for it, then it’s rather surprising that only half a crowd is in Hockenheim at a race that is Mercedes’ home race, Mercedes winning the World Championship – you would have expected a capacity crowd. So then you’ve got to ask the question ‘what’s wrong?’ Sebastian has been highlighted as one of the reasons to blame that people aren’t going there by the promoter of that race, which is rubbish. When the ticket price that they’re demanding is so high, you’ve got to get realistic and there are obviously issues around that race that need to be addressed and it’s worrying for all us to see so few people in Hockenheim when there’s so much German success in the sport at the moment.
Q: (Dieter Rencken – Racing Lines) At exactly the same time as you’re lamenting empty grandstand seats in Hockenheim, it became public knowledge that CVC, the owners of Formula One’s commercial rights, are planning to load the sport with a billion dollars’ worth of debt. Is this not concerning to all of you, collectively, as team owners and businessmen, particularly as it affects hosting fees, revenues etc going forward?
VM: CVC and other shareholders of Formula One, currently, have every reason to be delighted with the profits that they’re making and the returns that their investment is providing and of course, as a relatively small team, we have been representing to the commercial rights holder and to CVC that the distribution of income should be more equitable so that all teams are financially able to survive. But that is notwithstanding that they make huge profits. If those huge profits can service huge debt, it’s CVC’s business, not our business. I don’t think we as participants in Formula One should really be concerned about the financials of the commercial rights holder because it’s not going to get us anywhere. The fact that the commercial rights holder are now extremely well off doesn’t get us anywhere. That fact that debt may be loaded on, so long as it’s serviced, does not get us anywhere either. So it’s nice to know that somebody’s willing to provide a billion dollars of debt to Formula One. It only reinforces the financial success of the sport.
CW: I agree with Vijay. I don’t want to be dragged into comment around CVC and its business operations necessarily. Williams are here to go racing and love going racing and I would much rather sit here talking about that.
MM: I already answered before, so I don’t think this is the venue to discuss and I’m not going to answer about CVC issues of investment strategy.
CH: I fully support Williams’s position.
EB: Nothing to add.
MK: Nothing to say.
This is becoming a very depressing press conference
Q: (Ralf Bach – Sport Bild) So we learn now that we are going to Azerbaijan. We drove in Bahrain, everybody knows that Bahrain is killing their own people. We go to Russia and no comment. We drove in China, China is not very famous for democracy I heard. So my question is: all you guys say that you have a Formula One and drivers and everybody has to make a good example for young people. Do you think it’s a good example to follow Mr Ecclestone everywhere he wants? Next question is when he would go to North Korea, would you follow him?
VM: I think we’re racing people, more popularly known as petrolheads. We come here to race and to win and to enjoy it. The governance is an international organisation called the FIA. It is up to the FIA to decide where the sport is conducted. I don’t think that the teams, individual participants in the sport, should be holding their individual positions to determine social political issues that you have raised. The FIA is perfectly competent to determine where Formula One should be staged and not be staged.
Q: Anything more to add? Do you all agree with that? No more to add? So the question is you would follow Ecclestone to North Korea or you wouldn’t?
VM: You know, it’s a not question of following Bernie. I think the question has been wrongly framed. It’s the commercial rights holder, it’s the FIA. We race where they stage the events. It’s as simple as that.
Q: (Christoph Becker – Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung) Let’s put the question in a different way: do you think that as you’re talking about promoting the best possible product, do you think it does your product a lot of good going to Baku, given their human rights record, given the fact that they rank – I think – 160th on the list of Reporters Without Borders?
CH: This is becoming a very depressing press conference as we’re only focusing on the negativities. Look, there’s a calendar that comes out in October or November. We all have a choice whether we enter the World Championship or not. All the people sitting here are racers and they’re here because they’re passionate about the sport and they want to compete. When we sign up for that championship, we put our faith and trust in the promoter and the FIA and we will attend those races unless they deem it unnecessary for us to be there. All of you will be at those races, or the vast majority of you will be at those races and why, because you’re either passionate about the sport or because you earn a living out of covering the sport and I think it’s wrong to make Formula One a political statement or subject when we are a sport. We should be talking about the drivers in these conferences, we should be talking about the spectacular racing that happened between our drivers and his (MM’s) driver at the last Grand Prix. We should be talking about what a great race it was for Lewis Hamilton to come through the grid, yet all we do is focus on the negatives and it has to be said, it gets pretty boring for us to sit up here and field these questions. So how about asking some questions about what’s going to happen in the race on Sunday, what’s going to happen in qualifying tomorrow, because if you’ve got these questions, please point them at Mr Todt or Mr Ecclestone rather than the teams.
Q: (Graham Harris – Motorsport Monday) Talking about tomorrow’s race; Pirelli are very optimistic about the tyres, they’re not degrading, is it going to be one stop or two stops?
CH: I think it’s going to be a challenge, it’s going to be interesting whether it’s going to be a two stop or even a three stop and I think that was the interesting thing about last weekend’s race. The tyres were on the edge, some people ran two stops, some people ran three in it. It created some interested racing. I think the tyres that Pirelli are actually bringing to the races are producing good events, like we’ve seen at the last few Grands Prix.
EB: Well, the question is a bit early in the weekend, because I don’t know if it’s going to be one, two or three stops, even though here, obviously, it’s very difficult to overtake. So I don’t know, I don’t yet, to be honest.
Q: And the possibility of rain, Monisha, what about that?
MK: Well, we certainly wouldn’t mind that but we cannot rely on that. It is indeed a bit early so we will wait and see.
VM: Well, Monisha has the rain specialist in Sutil but no, it’s really too early to comment on tyre strategy on race day. It depends on so many things. I think we were caught out with the temperatures on Sunday in Hockenheim. You really cannot plan in advance. It’s a split second decision you have to take on the day.
CW: Yeah, I agree. We don’t know yet what strategy we’ll go for but our strategy this year has always been verging on the conservative in order to score the maximum amount of Constructors’ points and we took Ferrari’s very nice P3 in the championship in Germany and we want to just strengthen our position and go into the summer break in a strong position to finish the season off.
MM: I think that the Pirelli tyres have been better than expected today. We have some interesting elements but it’s too premature to define what is going to be the strategy but it’s going to be an interesting race again.
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