US GP: Friday press conference, part 2

Continued from part 1 Q: Are there bits, things in there that you like? RD: I think that to cherry-pick out of it would be dangerous. I think everybody's got a common objective and, you know, in the right environment, I'm sure we can...

Continued from part 1

Q: Are there bits, things in there that you like?

RD: I think that to cherry-pick out of it would be dangerous. I think everybody's got a common objective and, you know, in the right environment, I'm sure we can improve Formula One and reduce some of the costs. But there are those people that are definitely going to resist some of the easy wins on cost reduction, which is number of races, controlled testing. You know, these things are very easy wins and there is a list of easy cost wins, where everybody knows there is a real saving there but for some political reason are fighting against it.

Q: OK, thanks.

MODERATOR: Some questions from the floor, please.

Q: Question for Peter. Can you confirm the BMW deal for the engine supply will be announced before the end of the month or not?

PS: I can't confirm, but I hope because we need an engine for the next season, and I hope we can do it before the end of June.

Q: A question to all of you about feelings of fear of Formula One. The new proposal says same engine, V8, same angle, internal of the gearbox is the same. What else? ECU is the same. Brakes are the same. Is it the future of Formula One, is it like GP2 and now maybe called GP1 and everybody the same? Why should the manufacturer stay into Formula One if everything is the same?

RD: As far as I'm concerned, the temptation is to have a discussion about it. But I think that the right place to have the discussion is behind closed doors. But I mean, I think you've made some valid points, but we most definitely will consider everything but behind closed doors and then come hopefully to a common position.

FW: There's just one comment I'd like to make and that is how does Max (Mosley) truly define an independent team? Is an independent team a team with no money or is it the opposite, namely are we owned by a billionaire with lots of money with only one mission and that is to win every championship he can get his hands on? That, too, is an independent team.

Are we an independent team? We certainly are. We've managed to get through merit a freebie engine, but next year maybe have to pay engines. It doesn't suit me to want to have to fire 500 or under 500-plus people next year. But much more importantly, if you want to field a perfect field of 10 independent 30-man teams, would Formula One still be Formula One and still have the world's third-largest sporting TV global footprint?

NF: I think it's just as a general principle, we've said nothing a number of the other teams have said several times. We want to see Formula One at the so-called pinnacle of motorsports, and I think we need to define what that is. As Ron says, cherry-picking from the list put forward at this stage is probably inappropriate, but I think most of the companies have made it clear that they want to see Formula One at that apex. But I think that's as far as we should go on that at the moment.

PS: I follow what Ron said.

Q: Question for all of you. We haven't heard much from the group of manufacturers recently. Is there anything more you can tell us about behind-scenes negotiations or what your latest position is?

RD: I think it's for them to voice the current status of their discussions. But certainly we perhaps -- perhaps is a little -- I think the teams are the catalyst to the momentum in the process and as such, you know, these back-to-back races, especially these ones that see us out of Europe for a period of time, tend to mean that we, you know, it is hard for us to build into our week the capacity to address these issues. So the momentum does tend to go up and down but that shouldn't reflect as a lack of commitment from anybody.

MODERATOR: Does anybody have any further comment on that?

RD: I think actually it reflects also in the timing in the issuing of the document. If you get my drift.

Q: A question to all four gentlemen. You're all signatories to the test cap. How does the test cap affect the requirement to test cost for next year's engine regulations or obviously the costs are different to those you have this year? Has the committee or the group thought of that? What decision have you reached on that?

RD: It's not documented, but I'm led to believe that everybody agrees that the V8 running should be part of the existing testing agreement. That's been circulated and agreed, but it is undocumented at the moment.

Q: Is there not a case to be made then to stop development on a car that's not competitive at this stage and concentrate on next year's car?

RD: One is free to do that. But I think you'll find that engines are still at the very beginning of their development curve and engines for cars are going to come out probably over the course of the next three months. But anybody's free to do what they want and perhaps that's why the teams in recognizing that point said let's keep it under the umbrella of our existing testing agreement. You can't profess to have a desire to keep costs down and then act in a different way. I mean, it's the -- it is the strength in unity of the teams. All those teams are part of that testing agreement which is somewhat unusual and, of course, for someone that's uncompetitive to be faced with being restricted against those people who don't wish to be part of this testing agreement, that's even more difficult.

NF: I think the thing you probably have seen happen is that, as Ron says, we've all stuck together over this. We all kind of by e-mail sort of loosely agreed that we'd contain the V8 testing within the present restrictions. But probably what you have seen, I think everyone is working like (unheard) to maximize the benefits of every single day. So the test mileages, I think, of all the top teams have gone up dramatically, unfortunately taken the costs with it. So to some extent, you know, we've just used it more efficiently, but obviously miles mean money at the end of the day because lots of the parts for the car have a finite life.

Q: Question for Ron Dennis. To what extent is it an advantage to run a third car on a Friday? You know, can it win you the championship?

RD: Well, to be honest, it certainly gives us the ability to verify tire choice but, I mean, whether it's a huge advantage or not is constantly debated within our own organization. The fact is that there's a degree of official and unofficial sharing of information out of the Michelin organization, and we're very comfortable with that. So I think everybody benefits. Does Michelin mind us running a third car? I don't think it's unique to us. But it is an advantage, but, of course, it puts pressure on the logistical side of Grand Prix racing, it increases those pressures. But I wouldn't say it's a huge advantage.

NF: From a team that had it and lost it, I'd say very big. (Laughter)

Q: And do you benefit from the Michelin side or do you know that you benefit?

NF: I think there's a reasonable exchange. Michelin are tremendous to work with in many ways, and there's a lot of Chinese walls there, so obviously we don't get information which is specific but obviously they use the information they get generically to give gentle guidance. But I think we've noticed quite a big difference. There's a lot of things you can do with that additional car on Friday which you lose, and certainly we've noticed it hurts a bit. It's not the end of the world, but it's an advantage.

Q: Same for you, Frank?

FW: We've not had the opportunity to run a third car. We're all a bit jealous of Ron this year in a way.

Q: Peter, still no chance of you running a third car?

PS: No. Makes no sense. It is too expensive.

Q: Question for Nick. Nick, at your launch in February, you said that you're seeking clarification regarding tobacco from the British government in particular and that you felt that would be forthcoming fairly soon. You have got three race dates left after this one where you can run tobacco. Have you had clarification? What is the status on that?

NF: In our absence over here, and maybe Ron will have some information for his sponsors, my understanding is that the question was asked in the house and to Mr. Hoon with a fairly positive response that the so-called issue of extra-territoriality was not intended, it was not intended to mean that pictures shown abroad transmitted back to the UK would result in any kind of penalty. Now, that was a verbal response in the house. Our lawyers are currently looking at that to decide whether it has a material benefit. So it's still a little bit up in the air. But at the latest I heard, once I've been out here, was that was a positive sign.

Q: Have you heard anything, Ron?

RD: No, I haven't, to be honest. One of those rare occasions where Nick is better informed than me. (Laughter)

NF: It's the age that does it, Ron. You've been around longer.

Q: I'd just like to canvas a few opinions on the single tire because some say the effect of the tire on the overall package is disproportionate, and therefore there is a case for regulating the tire, that it makes racing more interesting and it would also obviously if it was a single tire, cut your budgets by a considerable amount. Where do you stand on that? Do you agree or not?

NF: I think it comes back to what I said earlier about the pinnacle of motorsports. We all want it to remain there at the top. I think a rhetorical question is, is restricting one particular thing compatible with that? And the answer is I think that's part of the whole discussion process. Why pick on that one thing? So I think it's just part of the mix that we have to discuss as we review what we do post-Concorde agreement.

PS: The same opinion.

RD: Well, I've got mixed emotions. If we go back to the beginning of the season, I would say in the cost discussion issues, I think everybody accepted that there would be significant cost reduction as a result of a single-tire format. We struggled -- we are, in fact, spending more money at the moment on tires, primarily because the cost has moved from the tire companies to the teams because the teams have to run them for greater distances and the evaluation process is just longer and more mileage oriented. So those are the sort of negatives I think the positive, and I don't know if it was by design or by accident, is that clearly the racing becomes very, very interesting in the latter parts of a Grand Prix as those cars that do not have particularly good balance suffer more and more with tire wear and the imbalance that was shrouded by the opportunity of changing tires through the race. And, you know, it's an area, as always in motor racing, if you have anything that you think gives you a slight edge, you're very reluctant to give it up. At the moment we feel pretty sure that in most races the phenomena that comes from high tire wear and an imbalance is more -- is felt more by our competitors than ourselves. So it certainly played, it plays to our strengths, as it were. Does it make motor racing more interesting? Well, I think actually some latter part of the races have been really great this year.

FW: Well, I remember the good old days when they supplied Formula One uniquely. For many years racing was arguably just as good as it is now. I must say if cost-cutting is king, then you have to have one tire only. But two tires availability means a better spread of performance. Because if you go back to let's say a Bridgestone, they were the only supplier, one was always jealous and worried about the top two teams who did all the testing. But they were inadvertently driving development in their direction. So there's always been plenty of room for complaint.

Continued in part 3

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