2005 UNITED STATES GRAND PRIX FIA Press Conference Friday, June 17, 2005 Ron Dennis, Nick Fry, Peter Sauber, Sir Frank Williams ...
2005 UNITED STATES GRAND PRIX
FIA Press Conference
Friday, June 17, 2005
Ron Dennis, Nick Fry, Peter Sauber, Sir Frank Williams
MODERATOR: We're about to begin. The back row, our right to left, Peter Sauber and Nick Fry. Front row, our right to left, Ron Dennis and Frank Williams. Ron, if you would like to switch off your mobile phones, please.
RON DENNIS: That's what I am doing.
Q: If you would, please, switch off your mobile phones.
Peter, if I might start with you. First of all, we all thought your heart was totally in your racing and your team. So can I ask why do you want to sell your team?
PETER SAUBER: It's principally not my intention to sell the team, but I think it's very important to do the right things at the right moment. Is enough for you?
Q: Because I've heard you wanted to safeguard the future of the team to some extent to make sure the future of the team is safe, is stable.
PS: That's normally. I follow two goals. I think it's important to make progress on the sporting side. That has to be the intention for every team. And the other point is it's important to keep the infrastructure and the people in and win.
Q: On another controversial subject, obviously a lot of interest here, Jacques Villeneuve, a former Indy 500 winner. Is his position safe within the team?
PS: I have that in written form, it's easier for me. Since the beginning of the season, there were constantly reports that we would replace Jacques. Fact is that he is still here, as you can see. And there is nothing to add to this.
Q: OK, there will be a question later on for you, for everybody, on the proposals that came out from the FIA on the 2008 rules. So I'll ask you that in just a moment.
If I can now move on to Nick. Nick, Danica Patrick is the big name over here in the States with the possibility of her running in a BAR-Honda, which isn't happening. Is there a possibility of her running in the future in the BAR-Honda?
NICK FRY: We haven't got anything planned at the moment. Clearly she is doing a good job for Honda over here and wants to focus on running the car tomorrow, and in the end just proved totally impractical. Danica had to be in Phoenix, where she is at the moment, and she had a sponsor's obligation. I think, as you saw yesterday, she causes a huge amount of media interest here in the States. So nothing planned at the moment.
Q: Right. Now, you unfortunately received a ban from a couple races earlier on in the season. Looking back now, how did that affect the team morale?
NF: In terms of morale, not much. It's amazing how well the team has pulled together. That's not only just the people within the team but the support we've had from all the sponsors has been frankly absolutely outstanding. That's all of them, from the small ones right through to the owners of the team. So I think with that support, it's been relatively easy for everyone to pull together. But I think these things you just put behind you and get on with it. I think the team has an unbelievable fighting spirit. I think you saw the effort that guys put in to change Takuma's gearbox during the race last week to get him a bit further up. Qualifying was an indication of how good the fighting spirit is. So BAR is a team which has had a few knocks over the years and spent the first few years being extremely unsuccessful. I think that has led to the team being strong. We lost a bit of momentum, which is unfortunate, probably more than we anticipated. Last race wasn't bad and we're hopeful for this weekend.
Q: Thanks, Nick.
Frank, if I can now come to you. How do you see the current performance of the team? Because it seems to be a little bit up and down.
FRANK WILLIAMS: Well, we're making quite a bit of progress over the last race, we seemed to struggle there, indeed. We did struggle there but probably going to be the same here. But we shall be back in due course with more performance.
Q: And we saw in the European Grand Prix, for example, you were on pole position there.
FW: Well, as you saw, we start quite early in the race, but tactically it did help our car to be quite competitive.
Q: One of the questions that you have been asked many times I'm sure is about BMW, but I'm not going to ask that. Are you actively seeking other engine partners, are you talking to other engine manufacturers?
FW: I can't really talk about that. We're waiting for BMW to provide an answer, which we anticipate will be next week. After that we'll have to think about which direction we want to go in, if we need to think about it.
Q: OK, thank you. Once again, there will be the same question for all of you about the 2008 regulations.
Ron, a race ago, before the Canadian Grand Prix, in theory, if Kimi had won all the races thereafter and Alonso would have come second, Kimi still wouldn't have been champion. Do you think there's a problem with the scoring points? It's ridiculous to say at that stage that situation existed. Do you think there's a problem with the scoring system?
RD: Not really. I think it's the same for everybody. It places great emphasis on reliability. I think that is something that is a good thing for Formula One. I did quite enjoy the period of time in which you were able to drop some races so that the odd car not finishing a race wasn't penalizing you too severely. So if I had to solely and exclusively decide to change that element of Formula One, I'd probably leave the points alone and maybe it just be the 15, 16 races, the top 12 or something races count. I always felt that was interesting for the teams, but I recognized it was somewhat confusing for the public and the media reporting to the public. So I could see the wisdom in changing it. But finishing races now has almost gone the other way as Nick's just pointed out. The concept of changing a gearbox during the race in order to affect your qualifying position is really in some ways perverse. In one way we're saying one engine does two races and then another, but you're saying you can do anything else, et cetera, et cetera, and even during the race. It was a strategy well executed because, of course, I think they finished 11th or something with the level of dropouts, and that was well worth the effort.
Q: You also had your own controversy or drama, shall we say, during the race in Canada. Have you changed procedures since then?
RD: Well, you know, I think it was pretty accurately reported as to what happened. But when we were explaining things after the race, we certainly weren't as well informed as we are now because we now categorically know that, you know, there was an obvious concern coming from Juan Pablo that Kimi wouldn't drop his pace if Juan Pablo dropped the pace. And they were instructed to drop the pace and to maintain a five-second gap between them. There was discussion going on, from both drivers. And Juan Pablo was on the radio discussing it, and I stress discussing it, it wasn't an argument. So there needed to be assurances given that if he dropped his pace, that it would be to the detriment of his ability to win. The amount of time that was between the point at which the Safety Car came out and the pit lane entrance, 50 percent of that time, I think, and that's an approximation, but 50 percent of the time he was on transmit, talking, and when he finished talking Davey responded. And it was in that conversation that Davey or Davey and his engineer, they missed the call. And of course, I was pretty mortified at the time, but the fact is that if I had to write my own mistakes down, it's a very, very, very long list. And you know, we are in a pressured situation, mistakes happen. But what was most definitely not taking place, there was no way we were going to influence the outcome of the race to the extent, to the detriment of Juan Pablo. There was absolutely no chance of that. We practice what we preach. So, you know, you carry the frustration of the outcome.
But, as critical or lack of criticism that Juan Pablo has had in our mistakes is reciprocated in the lack of criticism of his, and that's what a team is about. You take your successes and your failures as a team. And it's embarrassing to us because we pride ourselves on our professionalism and at that moment we weren't particularly professional.
Q: Something he stressed in here yesterday I have to say. So if I could go on to this question to all of you about the proposed 2008 regulations, I'm sure most of you will say that it's a starting point for negotiation. But there must be bits that you like and bits that you don't like, so I would be very interested to hear on that your comments.
Peter, would you start?
PS: I read the proposals and proposals over the last, I don't know, couple of years. And I'm honest, I didn't read the new one completely.
PS: Yeah. I think the direction is clear to save money, but that's the directions since many years. And when we change something, Formula One gets more expensive and not cheaper, maybe except the engine for two weekends. But all the other things, all the rule changes we had, Formula One get more expensive.
Q: Are you planning to read it when you get back to Europe?
PS: Yeah, sure. I think it's important to read it, yeah.
Q: You just haven't for the moment, OK.
NF: Since Montreal, myself and Geoffrey have been occupied doing other things. We've read it, haven't digested it. I think generally anything that improves the excitement of the racing for the fans is to be applauded. Whether these are the right things or the wrong things, I think is simply too early to say at this stage. We haven't had a chance to go through it properly. So when we have time to do so, I'm sure we'll respond probably collectively, I'm sure there will be some discussion between the teams, and I'm sure there's some very good bits and probably not so good bits, but I think it would be premature to say anything definitive at this stage.
FW: I think Nick said exactly what I was going to say.
Q: How convenient. Ron?
RD: The first thing to remember is that we're talking about 2008, and we're halfway through 2005. Clearly, that gives us the opportunity to have very considered views about change. There is no one, there's no team principal. there is no chief executive of a manufacturer who does not embrace the concept of making Formula One better. And if it can be made less expensive at the same time, that is a huge bonus. But as Peter has pointed out, most of the changes have effectively cost money and you could even argue that the tire regulation and the engine regulation, it has most definitely saved for some teams money but it has moved costs. In the instance of tires, it saved the tire companies money, in our opinion, and increased the teams' costs because there is very extensive testing that you have to do.
On the engine side, a lot more work has to be done on the test beds, and we have to run engines to prove them out on the circuits. So our testing costs have gone up. If you don't have to do that, your costs are going to go down. So perhaps it's a little bit of a Robin Hood-type of regulation where the teams who have enjoyed a little bit more of a financial cushion to the smaller teams and a bit more money, they are doing the lion's share of the work and, therefore, the smaller teams are saving money. But whether it saves Formula One money, that's very much an open issue. The regulations, I tend to have to admit that I've only seen them for the first time today. They primarily went to the manufacturers first for their comments. As I would echo some of Nick's words, the first thing is we need to understand as individuals, either as teams or manufacturers, what our own views are and then try and come to a collective position which hopefully allows us to see those things that we think are positive and perhaps are already contained in our own ideas, are easy to adopt and those things that we feel aren't so that we have the opportunity to discuss them. But no one is against change. We just want to learn from the past, and we don't want change that costs us money or change that doesn't benefit Formula One. So we've got the time and we should use it wisely. I think the important thing is no single entity should be pressuring the situation unfairly. I mean, and that is a criticism that I think we could levy at everybody involved at one stage or another, is increase the pressure and we should be balanced and discuss these issues and negotiate these issues behind closed doors. And we've got the time to do it thoroughly, and we should do it thoroughly.
Continued in part 2