German GP: Friday press conference

German Grand Prix Friday Press Conference Transcript with: Norbert Haug (Mercedes motorsport director) Luca Marmorini (Toyota technical director, engine) Paolo Martinelli (Ferrari director of engine development) Otmar Szafnauer (Honda Racing...

German Grand Prix Friday Press Conference Transcript with:

Norbert Haug (Mercedes motorsport director)
Luca Marmorini (Toyota technical director, engine)
Paolo Martinelli (Ferrari director of engine development)
Otmar Szafnauer (Honda Racing vice president)
Mario Theissen (BMW motorsport director)

Q: First of all, a question to all of you about the proposed new engine regulations due to come in over the next three years. Can I just see what you feel about them, what you agree with and don't agree with, etc.? So, can I start with you Mario?

Mario Theissen: Well, first, I have to say we agree with the targets, which were put forward by the FIA originally, which is to cut costs, enhance the show and, obviously, to guarantee safety on the track. So the targets are certainly accepted and supported by us. As I understand, we are in a phase now in which the teams have to put together a proposal and we have two months to do this. To support us the FIA has given us a proposal right away and we will certainly include that in our discussions. We will have a meeting tonight on this issue and I am confident we will come up with a reasonable proposal by the end of the two-month period.

Q: Are you in agreement with what the FIA has proposed?

Mario Theissen: Certainly there are different ways to achieve the target. Generally we support to extend engine life because in our view it is the most efficient way to cut costs and at the same time to reduce power to a certain extent. When doing this you have to make sure the timing is right. A reasonable lead-time for a new engine concept is 18 months - that is what Max Mosley said in the press conference a few weeks ago. And if you get shorter notice the opposite might happen, that costs go up instead of down because you have to trash some development work you have done and instead start from scratch with a new concept, so you have to be careful about that. On engine size, which means displacement, I think the right approach would be, if you really want to cut costs and extend engine life the engine has to become more robust than it is today and this will favour a bigger engine or stay with the displacement we have, rather than make the engine smaller. On the other issues, the aero package and tyre package, I think this is the right move. Aero and tyres account for 100 percent of the lap time reduction we had in the past 12 months. We had to extend engine life, to double engine life, from last year to this year, so on average we have seen the same engine power on the track and still lap times decreased by one to 3.5 seconds per lap, so it is 100 percent down to tyres and aero and it is certainly right to tackle these two parameters and I think the way they do it is appropriate - reducing the number of tyres, in my view, will help to reduce testing and to cut costs and enhance the show at the same time because a hard tyre is less grippy. So I think that all makes sense and both packages, aero and tyres, will probably be good for at least a lap time increase of three seconds, maybe more.

Q: Paolo what do you feel about the displacement and engine life package proposals?

Paolo Martinelli: There are two aspects there. I think the extension of engine life is effective to reduce the costs, it is the most effective element in the cost cutting. To reduce performance and make a significant step that is around 20 percent -- down from the range of 900 to the range of 700hp, to go where we were in '95 basically, you could say ten years ago, the rule has to be applied in one or two years from now. I think the only way is to reduce the engine displacement by about 20 percent, so I think the best technical solution to achieve that is to have a V8, so we are in favour of a V8 2.4-litre to reduce performance and we are in favour of a ban on the materials and the very expensive technologies and increase engine life. Those are the two principal actions, I think, with a view on the engine side together with all the methods that Mario was saying before concerning aerodynamics and tyres, to improve the show, reduce speeds and increase safety in our sport.

Q: Norbert, your feelings?

Norbert Haug: I would like to come back to the targets we should achieve. First of all, the discussion started in May and we said to cut the costs by 50 percent. I cannot see that being achieved by what is proposed and I am sure we will find a better solution. We have a meeting tonight and I am sure we will have a very constructive meeting. I cannot see the cost cutting at all and I cannot see the target to do more for the sport being achieved and I think it is very important the safety issue, the lap times, and I think Mario pointed it out quite correctly, the increase this year up to three seconds, is due to the aerodynamic package and the tyres. It is very clear that the average of all the engines does not have more horsepower than last year and still we do up to 3.5-seconds quicker lap times so I think that says it all. We need to cut costs and I am sure we need to do that in a much better way. We did some calculations of what is on the table right now and we can find an increase of 25 percent at least if you need to design a V8, if you need to do a new engine from 2006 onwards that is capable of doing 1,600km, and I think we should be very, very careful. So far we have not achieved the goals of saving money, none of us saved money with the one-engine rule, and what I have pointed out earlier, we must not come from the most expensive way to produce 900hp to the most expensive way to produce 700 hp. That is the danger. I am sure the FIA's goals are the right ones, but as I said earlier we need to define the right path, we need to take the correct decisions that we are not surprised with the decisions we have taken.

Q: Luca?

Luca Marmorini: We think that in the short term the proposal to extend the engine life will present a good solution for decreasing operating costs. Then there is the target of reducing performance. For this we think as well that the best solution is to reduce displacement and we are in favour of the V8 solution for this. We would like to retain a little bit of technical challenge because we think that technical challenge can also go together with the reduction of costs.

Q: Otmar?

Otmar Szafnauer: I want to point out that we do support the FIA's efforts in increasing the safety of the sport and I think the latest proposal just talks about the safety aspect, reducing the lap time. And we at Honda have worked closely with the other engine manufacturers and as was stated earlier there is going to be a meeting tonight, which we will attend and also support, to come up with proposals that would help, from an engine perspective, to reduce the speed of the car. We definitely will support that but there has to be in conjunction with the aerodynamic package which was talked about as well as the tyres. And I think if we do those things, the targets of the FIA will be achieved and we will increase the lap times, reduce the speeds of the cars and improve safety. However, increasing the life of the engine to last two races instead of one, we don't think will have a big impact on performance and therefore won't enhance safety. And as for cost - which I don't think the FIA's efforts today are aimed at costs, they are just aimed at the safety aspect - we don't think we will save any money by having an engine that will last two races. Sure, we may have 18 less engines or perhaps 16 less engines in a year but I think the costs saving there may be made up by additional development costs. And as for lower displacement in 2006, we are in favour of the targets of reducing power to increase safety. One way to do it is to have a 2.4-litre V8, which we are not against, but there are other ways, there is a capacity-reduced V10, which we can also support, but what we are definitely against is technological limitations, where we don't challenge our engineers any more - things like having minimum weight for engines and centre of gravities defined and bores and strokes and cylinder spacings defined, those things we don't want.

Q: Ok, it sounds as though there is a little way to go yet in two months - now an individual question for all of you. Otmar, today Honda have announced a new agreement with BAR. What does that mean for the future? What have you been able to go ahead with now that perhaps you hadn't been able to go ahead with?

Otmar Szafnauer: It is a multi-year agreement, a three-year agreement, with BAR and it is both an engine and a joint chassis development agreement. We are forever working closer with BAR and we are identifying our individual strengths and we are sub-dividing the work such that the things Honda are strong at, we focus on and the things that BAR are strong at, they focus on and we are working closer together on that. In the future you will see us working even more closely together. We are now studying bringing in more engineers from Japan into Brackley and vice-versa, so you may see some organisational changes because of it.

Q: Luca, you have a B-version of the car here, what sort of engine modifications have taken place?

Luca Marmorini: The engine group wanted to bring our contribution to the B-car today and we brought an engine that has a higher performance by about two percent hoping that it would contribute to the competitive performance of the car.

Q: But, is it a new engine?

Luca Marmorini: No, it is an evolution of the existing engine and now we are focussing on increasing performance.

Q: Norbert, we hear about changes to the chassis on this B-version of the MP4-19. What changes have taken place on the engine?

Norbert Haug: We have slight changes, nothing spectacular. We had a test session after Silverstone, quite a successful test and we did quite a lot of miles and tried some things but all of these aerodynamic parts are introduced here but I think we at least improved, we made another step, we are very reliable and very quick and I hope we can continue to go in that direction. There is more to come from the engine but I think the engine is competitive, I hope it will be reliable as well, and I think we are very close to the best ones and very comparable power-wise to the benchmark.

Q: Paolo, we hear from all the other teams of increases and steps in performance but we very rarely hear about it from Ferrari. Perhaps we could hear about it from you - what sort of steps have been made so far and what sort of steps are there to come?

Paolo Martinelli: We made an evolution during this season and we think that with the new regulation, with the one engine per weekend, the reliability is more important so we don't want to make continuous modifications race-to-race, basically. We introduced a package in Canada and we are preparing something for later in the season and apart from that, of course, we try to adapt the driveability, the mapping - all the details that can improve engine performance without touching the key elements that could impact on reliability.

Q: Mario, the same sort of question for you -- what are the steps so far and what is to come?

Mario Theissen: Well, it is similar to what Paolo said. Obviously the doubling of engine life puts the focus on reliability and basically we had three targets for this year. The first target was to have a reliable 800km engine for the first race and that was achieved by Melbourne. The second target was raise race power, to make maximum power available in the race itself because this year the second 400km of engine life are most important, so it was our priority to make sure we had full power available in the race and that was achieved by Imola. Since then we have been able to go maximum engine speed even in top gear, which is an advantage on the straight, and now our third target, which we are working on now, is continuous improvement in power and reliability.

Q: To all five of you, any change in F1 regulations usually ends up costing money. What is the best way to cut speeds next year without adding to your costs?

Mario Theissen: I said before that the two packages on aero and tyre probably will improve the target already - I understand the FIA asks for a lap-time increase of three seconds per lap next year and the entire aero changes should account for that without any other change.

Paolo Martinelli: I agree with Mario that the most important points are tyres and aero and they are a priority. On the engine side, what can be done in the really short time, we cannot, of course, none of us, can design a new engine in six months, so the only way is to think to an extended life of engine. I think the target for all of us this year has been to maintain the performance of the previous year, it was much more difficult to have more horsepower compared to 2003. And the same, in the case of the proposal from the FIA, to have two races for each engine, we will just concentrate again on the reliability of the engine so we will not be able to make significant step in performance, maybe a small drop.

Norbert Haug: The most cost effective way certainly would be higher capacity and lower revs, but unfortunately I think that is not an option. But basically if you would think about a four-litre engine with lower revs doing 3,000km or whatever, you would certainly save a lot of money. Maybe this is not an option, but if you are asking me what would be the best way then this is a proposal that probably does not get much of your votes but it would be a good idea anyway.

Luca Marmorini: I think that at this moment of the year, the short term of reducing costs can be done by extending engine life but this will not work as a performance reduction, so this will probably keep the same level of performance next year. We think that the best way in the long term is to reduce the number of engines we are sending during the year. This will be done with a careful extension of engine life and reduction of testing.

Otmar Szafnauer: I agree that the best way to do it is to implement the aerodynamic and tyre packages that have been discussed and to meet the target. It's a bit short notice for us to extend the engine life to two races now. Our engine's already designed, running on the dyno and in the development phase. It would cost us money now if we implemented that strategy, so maybe the most cost-effective way is to leave the engine formula as it is or perhaps introduce some of the changes that were proposed by the engine manufacturers' group such as banning some very expensive materials that can be introduced early and they have an effect on costs.

Paolo Martinelli: May I make a point. I think the extension of the engine life and the reduction of the engine not necessarily for the race event will be a major factor of cost of saving for minor teams, the teams that have to purchase their engines, basically, not the engine manufacturer. On our side, we have the costs of development but of course you can consider that the number of engines that would have to be used by a secondary team would be about fifty percent of the number of used this year, so it's not a representative figure but you would have some significant saving for a minor team.

Mario Theissen: Sorry. I would like to come back to that as well because apparently I missed the point before. It is the same situation with us - next year's engine is on the dyno already, it is a one race engine not a two race engine, so if we have to convert this to a two-race engine it will increase development effort and money?

Q: Could Honda provide an engine to another team in the next two years?

Otmar Szafnauer: Our focus isn't to provide engines for another team, our focus is on BAR and to win the World Championship with BAR. However, if there was a sporting regulation like there is for the tyres that says if you're in Formula One you must provide two teams, we would be happy to go along with such a sporting regulation.

Q: In the early nineties, pneumatic valve control was not such common technology and maybe used less sophisticated materials for valve springs. There was a physical limit to the revving of engine because otherwise the valve would just rebound. Has this issue been considered when we are talking about performance reduction?

Mario Theissen: What we have now in pneumatic valves, in my view, certainly is less costly than reverting to springs. We know about very expensive spring steel development which had to be done. Air is for free, at least up to now, so I think that from the cost perspective change to conventional valve springs would increase costs. In terms of power we see IRL engines revving up to 17,000 already. It would cause a power decrease but not too much, I think. I think it would certainly not increase reliability at the same time so probably the wrong way to tackle power and costs.

Paolo Martinelli: We agree, I agree. You have can also foresee other types of systems - desmodromic system that can be even more complex or expensive. Again, we have a solution that has been proved reliable for a long period, so if you maintain the technology that has been stabilised it would probably be the most effective and cheapest way to continue.

Q: This question is for all of you except Mr Martinelli, who has produced the engine that last the longest. If all the others were able to see in his computer, what would you like to see, where would you look?

Paolo Martinelli: No secrets.

Mario Theissen: I think the difference in reliability is not that big. Congratulations, Ferrari has the best record in terms of reliability but I am quite happy with what we achieve. We've had no engine failures either last year and this year was quite okay as well. So you're always having to go for the trade-off between reliability and aggressiveness in terms of power development and I think it's not such a big difference.

Q: Norbert, where would you look? What would you be looking for?

Norbert Haug: You've got a computer? (Laughter) I don't know. I think what Mario pointed out is correct but I don't think it's in the computer with all due respect. I think they do an excellent job, they have excellent quality control, they are on the move, they on the crest of a wave, but one thing is for sure, things can change quickly, but I think the reliability record of Ferrari is absolutely impressive: As bad as our pace in the first half of the season is as good as these guys have been. Things can turn around, but compliments from my side and I think this is what we all need to achieve, and at least I'm sure we are having in the right direction.

Luca Marmorini: From our point of view, congratulations to Ferrari for the job that they've done. But with the new rules, it's very difficult to understand how the engine is used in terms of power delivery and rpm during the weekend. So other than seeing his computer, I would like to put the engines of all the other manufacturers in the same cycle and compare them. I don't care what is inside, but this is something technical that I would like a lot.

Otmar Szafnauer: Yeah, congratulations to Ferrari, they have had a remarkable reliability record and, like many things in Formula One, I don 't think it's just one area we would like to look in. It would be good to take the entire computer home and study it!

Q: First a question to all of you. If you more or less all agree that the required three second lap time change can be acquired just by a tyre and aerodynamic package, why can't you agree that the engines are left alone for next year - as most of the people have started - which would probably cost less? And secondly, for those who support the 2.4-litre for 2006, do we really have to come down to 700 horsepower in a more cost-producing way, if there are other ways to reduce power, most likely by an engine lifetime extension which would also help the smaller teams, the independent teams to get engines cheaper and earlier than with this 2.4-litre?

Mario Theissen: I can only say I am on board, I support that absolutely, it would be the right move at the right time and it is exactly our position.

Q: Is there any other way of doing it?

Paolo Martinelli: We can probably repeat something that we said before. We think that just the life extension is not enough to achieve a strong step in the power performance reduction and we have seen this year that in spite of doubling the engine life the power remains the same. We are requested the step of minus twenty percent.

Q: Who is requesting, that is the final question?

Paolo Martinelli: The technical working group has also asked the engine people to think of something that can reduce the engine performance.

Norbert Haug: I think this is the best solution for next year, not to change but we will discuss it later tonight. But anyway, we achieve our targets. We need to reduce costs by fifty percent and my proposal would be to reduce the cost by fifty percent and take whatever, three, four, five million from each manufacturer, put it in a box and probably help smaller teams. Not give anything for free but maybe you could help them reduce their costs. You can help produce television pictures, you can help marketing issues, whatever. Everything we are doing is better for the sport, better for the spectator than putting a hundred million into the engine. This is a serious issue. If we are going to change it for next year, we need to address it for 2006 and none of the proposals on the table is achieving a cut of fifty percent, so we've failed so far. That's the reality. We could do better things with the money because all the top engines are very, very similar, believe me. There is not a huge difference, there's probably two or three tenths, maximum, between the best, the second best, the third best, the fourth best engine and we are just spending too much money for a difference of two or three tenths. We could use the money in a better way. That is my opinion, that's Mercedes-Benz's opinion and I would be happy to discuss that further.

Luca Marmorini: I think there would be easier ways to make an engine with less performance, but we think that introducing rev limiter or bigger displacement or let me say reducing a lot of technicalities would risk compromising Formula One a little bit. This is not an easy decision for technical people. We think technology and the reduction of costs can be together.

Otmar Szafnauer: We agree. We do support the FIA's aim on safety but the rule changes have to be implemented in such a way that they are not done very quickly. We need time to plan these things, so we would ask for time regardless of what the changes are.

Q: We have heard a lot of different opinions here, a lot of different views. Bottom line, yes or no, do you think the engine manufacturers can come up with a rules package to satisfy the FIA in the two month deadline here?

Otmar Szafnauer: I am confident that we can. We've had the best co-operation that I have ever seen with the engine manufacturers in our meetings leading up this. We've got a meeting again tonight and I am very confident that we can put a proposal together that will meet the needs of the FIA and that, at this time, is decreasing the speeds of the cars for safety. I don't think the cost issue is part of the FIA proposal.

Norbert Haug: Don't forget our representative companies have to be satisfied as well, it is not only one institution that needs to be satisfied. I think we should do it in a positive approach together but there are probably good ideas in the pipeline and I hope that we can put them through.

Luca Marmorini: I think the engine people already met several times but we couldn't find an agreement that made everyone happy but engine people had a proposal and this was sent to the FIA. I think this proposal could be a starting point for discussion. We still have to have a final decision from the FIA with regards to the specific proposal from the engine manufacturer and, of course, this proposal didn't make all the manufacturers happy. I had some concerns, Norbert had some concerns, but this, anyway, represented the majority of the engine group, so we should again do, from the beginning, an activity we already did together.

Mario Theissen: I would prefer to answer the question in six weeks time!

Paolo Martinelli: I think it's obvious that we have quite different opinions. We are doing our best effort to make a joint proposal as far as possible but there are different points of view, it's quite clear. Then, I think what is common opinion will be put forward. We have had other meetings before today's one. We will make another step forward today and then after the sixty days the FIA will take the best decision.

Q: You keep speaking about reducing the costs in the last few months. If the Formula One budgets keep going up and up are you under pressure from the board to stop Formula One?

Norbert Haug: No, quite the opposite. I tell you, we are committed and if we are forced to spend more money to win races we will certainly do so, but that's not the way. As the guy in charge, I'm really trying to find the right argument to cut the costs but it is not a question if (unclear, mike breaking up) I'm sure we will have a 1,600 kilometre engine with 870 horsepower and then we go from there, but this is not the way to go. It is fundamentally wrong to spend that much money for the engines. That is my point.


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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Norbert Haug , Mario Theissen , Paolo Martinelli
Teams Ferrari , Mercedes