TECHNICAL DIRECTORS: Aldo COSTA (Ferrari), James KEY (BMW Sauber), Paddy LOWE (McLaren), Sam MICHAEL (Williams), Adrian NEWEY (Red Bull)
Q. A question to you all. Can you tell us about your Monza specifications? What have you changed? Are you running the F-duct if you have an F-duct?
Sam MICHAEL: Our Monza spec is just for Monza really. We didn’t actually put a lot of work into it as it is only one race, so we put a lot of our effort into the next race as it pays off for five grands prix rather than one. We are running an F-duct, so it was pretty clear from our work where our wing was. It was an easy decision to run an F-duct and the rest of the package is pretty standard, so it is just really tune of front and rear wings for this track level. That is what we did.
James KEY: Similar situation to Sam really. It is a Monza specific package as it is such a unique circuit now, so a front wing to suit the circuit and a rear wing too which has also got an F-duct. We had the options of choosing either but as Sam rightly says it is the best thing to do if you can. We have evaluated it today and it seems to work, so happy with it.
Paddy LOWE: We have two new elements this year which is the much larger fuel loads than we have had before and we also have the F-duct element. You probably noticed we have been playing all the games today trying the combinations and we will make our choice tonight.
Adrian NEWEY: Same as everybody else really. We have the F-duct. It is a bespoke rear wing for around here. The front wing is a slightly trimmed down, modified version of our normal one.
Aldo COSTA: No big differences compared to the others. Two solutions to be tested on the rear in terms of F-duct and again front wing developed for here and other modifications around the bodywork but nothing else.
Q. Another question to you all. Are you happy about the new flexi-wing tests or should we have been looking more at the floors of the car? The amount that the nose moves and the floors as well.
SM: I think on the floor the new test is pretty vigorous. What they have done to create this 100 millimetres offset load means that if you had a bib or front edge of the floor that was very soft in torsion as you go over kerbs that wouldn’t be possible to do anymore from Monza onwards and the front wing load test from our point of view didn’t make any difference because it is only really a linearity test. There is potentially more to do on that if that’s what the (becomes inaudible) deems the best thing to do. I think the floor has been tightened up significantly in my view.
Q. And you are happy with that?
JK: Similar situation again. The front wing was never an issue for us. As Sam says it is a linearity test. We checked our wings but it wasn’t an issue, so it hasn’t affected us really. On the floor it is tighter with the lateral loading test and we had to do a little bit of work just to make sure we were complying with that 100 per cent. But vertically it hasn’t really affected us. It has tightened up and you can argue it is the right thing to do to be sure everyone is at the same level to a certain extent but for our side it is okay. We are happy with it and we are happy that we are compliant.
PL: I think in general it is better to have good clarity on the regulations and how they are policed. We were pleased with the changes. We have had to change our car in order to meet the new tests but we are happy with that.
Q. And the floor?
PL: That is what I mean with the floor, really. The wing didn’t make any difference to us.
AN: I thought the clarity in the regulation was fine but if there is a mood to change it is the same for everybody, so I have no problem with that. On the floor, we have had to change the front of the floor slightly to increase its torsion stiffness for this new test. It doesn’t make a big difference I don’t think. The front wing, that was introduced at Spa, that particular change, we didn’t have to make any modifications for that because, as has been said, it is a linearity test. Our wing was linear, so there was no problem.
AC: For me it was already clear before all this saga. I don’t know why this saga has been created. We disagreed about the comments that we heard. Okay, now we have got a slightly stiffer, let’s say, front wing test because the references are from the reference plain and not anymore from the nose. We have got a more severe test on the front floor. We have done the modifications on the front floor that were required by the new test. But we didn’t understand why this saga started, so we are still happy about what has been changed.
AN: That is really the thing. I would agree with Aldo. I don’t know why this has all been started as the test has been as it has been for several years and suddenly there is a load of excitement. But, as I say, same for everybody. But I don’t understand why it suddenly became a saga.
AC: We are also happy to further increase the stiffness if we want a front wing that is double the stiffness. It was discussed in the Technical Working Group to have, instead of 10 millimetres deflection, a five millimetre deflection but also engineers who were at this table they didn’t accept to go for a five millimetre deflection.
AN: I think it was Paddy who suggested 10 millimetres.
PL: Yes, it was. Which it still is. It is still 10 millimetres.
Q. This time of year a lot of people are looking at next year’s car but also still trying to win the championship this year. What sort of developments are you expecting to bring through the next five races to the end of the championship?
SM: We have one more upgrade. We have quite a big change to the car for Singapore. We probably should get 90 per cent of that package to Singapore, maybe some of it will trickle over into Suzuka just in terms of timings. But that’s it in terms of our design process. There is no aero design on this year’s car anymore. We stopped that just after the break, so it is just really a production loading, production making those bits at the moment. The design office has been fully focused on next year’s car for quite some time now.
JK: We have some more bits and pieces to come for the end of the season. We are planning to introduce the majority of those also in Singapore, so they hit four, or five I should say now with Korea, reasonably standard tracks, let’s say and that will be an all over the car update. Primarily aerodynamic, but there could be some mechanical changes too. The last bits of that are being finalised now, at the moment. What follows on from that we will have to see depending on initial results but at the moment that is the plan.
PL: With the championship still wide open we will be pushing right to the end, so I cannot imagine we won’t have new pieces at all of the remaining races. We have certainly got a lot in the programme at the moment.
Q. Adrian, the same?
AN: Yeah, we have some new parts for Singapore and then keep pushing. But until you find new parts you can’t say what is coming.
AC: It is quite a tough moment for the company as we are working on two projects. We don’t want to slow down the progress on next year’s car but in the meantime we want to bring bits and pieces for the next few races. We are preparing them, so there will be development planned for the last five races.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q. (Joe Saward – Grand Prix Special) James, you said that Monza is a very unique circuit nowadays. Do you regret that? Do you all regret that? Would you like to see more circuits like this and do you think they are part of the spirit of the sport rather than the stop-go tracks we tend to have these days?
JK: Personally, I think it is good. Monza is obviously a wonderful place anyway. It has got such a history to it and so on, so it is a wonderful place to come to. A few years back we had both Monza and Hockenheim which were a similar spec of car, so it was slightly easier to soak up an aero development package in that respect. Now we just have one, so it is unique. But, certainly I think you wouldn’t want to change that. It is good to have events like this and at the other end of the scale is Monaco which is also unique in its own way. It spreads the situation out from what are quite standard tracks in between in many ways. I think it is good to have events like Monza.
SM: Same for me.
PL: Yeah, variety is great. One of the issues though is that as the regulations drive us into narrower and narrower boxes, then the range of aerodynamic configurations does actually get smaller, so Monza is a very significant (inaudible word) now but actually most of the rest of the races are starting to cluster together which they wouldn’t have done with older regulations.
Q. (Joe Saward – Grand Prix Special) Do any of you regret that?
PL: I think that is just the passage of time with development.
AC: Also, it is a positive element that there is a race that is different from the others. Otherwise if we standardise all the circuits with all the same corners I don’t think it is a big challenge from the spectacle point of view. I like Monza. I like the old Hockenheim. I like the unique circuits like Spa for example. It would be nice to have more different circuits in the championship and not standardised, medium-to-high downforce circuits.
AN: I agree with that. I think variety is a good thing. Certainly if you go way back to my experiences with IndyCar circuits, one of the great things about that was that you had super speedways, short ovals, street tracks and then fast tracks like Elkhart Lake. That did give a variety of challenges to the engineer and the driver and, of course, tended to change the results about a bit which I think is the other positive about different circuits. You can get a change in results. A car which has got a very powerful engine for instance, obviously somewhere like Monza suits it. A car with more downforce somewhere else might suit that, so you do get these changes in performance.
Q. (Joe Saward – Grand Prix Special) In the regulations that are being discussed for 2013, it seems like we are going in the direction of a small capacity turbo with KERS and other bits and pieces. You guys always say you build cars to the regulations, but do you think that this is the right way for Formula One to go in terms of being green or not being green? What are your views?
PL: Do you mean the engine configuration specifically? I’m not a great expert on this; the engine was defined by the engine working group, working with the FIA with a lot of consultation. I think a lot of philosophy within those proposals has been driven by discussions with manufacturers and trying to promote technologies which will genuinely be transferred into the ultimate market. So the particular configuration they’ve come up with is felt to be the way forward and I think Formula One should not only embrace change but actually lead it. If that’s what they believe is the right direction then I fully support it.
AN: Obviously the correct thing to say is what Paddy said. I think the reality is, it depends… there’s two levels, first of all, do we manage to pick the regulations which truly do forecast the future in terms of road car development, and secondly, if we do manage to do that, then does the technology that goes into developing Formula One engines actually enhance road car products or not. Those are the two questions which I think both need to be ticked for it to be a justified thing. Having said that, of course, the alternative is to stay with the V8s and at some point in the future the V8s will become sort of archaic Harley Davidson-like things, so there has to be a change. It’s very important to get that change right and to try to make sure that the development that then goes into the race engines is truly relevant to the companies that are involved, so that they can justify it into their overall budget, as an engineering exercise rather than just a marketing exercise.
AC: Yes, at Ferrari we are very open on new technology in the engine field, in the KERS field, in energy recovery, in hybrid vehicles. We are also quite happy to get closer and closer to the road cars or to work to introduce things that are road car relevant. Of course, our production is not small capacity engine production but it’s GT car production, so we would like to be closer to our brand in the research that we do in order to be a help for future development. Again, we’re open to discussion, quite interested. I think we need a change. If this change is right or not, we would like to discuss it. Furthermore, we would also like to discuss with our competitors and to find a good direction. To make a drastic change can be very, very positive but can also have some negative aspects that need to be considered very, very carefully before deciding.
SM: I pretty much think the same as Aldo. I think that the four cylinder turbo that they’re talking aboutâ€¦ we fully support that direction. I don’t think we see it as the same change really to the sport that some people are talking about. Remember we were running four cylinder and V6 turbos in the mid-eighties and no one said ‘well that’s not really racing’ or ‘that’s too green.’ So I don’t think it’s really going to be the same impact as what some people are potentially saying. Adrian’s right as well in that it’s hard to see in 10, 15, 20 years time that V8s are going to be the stock engine, because manufacturers are all moving away from them, so Formula One has to be careful that it doesn’t get left behind. So we fully support it.
JK: Obviously as a customer team we need to consider what’s important for us, but we’re certainly open as well. We recognise the importance of environmental technologies and how Formula One can help market and lead some of those technologies, so we’re open to it. I think what’s important to us is obviously if the costs are kept under control, because obviously changes cost money, ultimately, and the spectacle is maintained as well. But other than that, it’s something that clearly needs to be done in the future anyway as has been said and we’re open to it.
Q. (Bob Constanduros) Is it a done deal that it’s going to be a 1.6 turbo or is it still under discussion? You give the impression that discussion is still going on.
SM: I don’t think there are any fixed regulations yet but from the engine working group that Paddy was referring to, that’s definitely the spec that they’re drafting around.
Q. (Thibault Larue – Sport Auto) We all watched the first on-board camera lap of the Korean circuit. From the simulation can you say if it’s a real challenge? Because from the outside it seems to be a very fascinating track; what’s the biggest challenge?
SM: From the maps and simulations that we’ve looked at, it looks like a high downforce track. It will be interesting to see if you can overtake because it looks very high load and that normally detracts from that (overtaking) but not necessarily.
JK: We have a similar prediction. Obviously it’s a mix of fairly long straights and high downforce sections, so it’s going to be one of those compromises, potentially. One thing that we’re not sure about at the moment is how the track surface is going to be, being such a new surface. If it’s particularly slippery, for sure it will be high downforce. If it grips in well it then maybe will change, but we won’t know until we get there.
PL: I’m afraid I really can’t make any very interesting comments. I think we’re just looking forward to going there and seeing what we find. It’s a new circuit, it has some differences but we will see.
AN: I concur with Paddy. Until we get thereâ€¦ As James says, the traffic surface is certainly a big unknown. We know the layout but we don’t know how the asphalt is going to behave at the moment.
Q. (Bob Constanduros) You didn’t get any more information from the team when you were there?
AN: Not to my knowledge but the honest answer is that I’m not an expert on the matter within the team I’m afraid.
AC: Not a lot to say. There are things where the amount of information that we had was not great. We don’t know a lot about the kerbing, we don’t know about the details of the corners. We have just a little blot of the track. It seems a high downforce track. Some simulation has been done but not for sure, as you can be when you have a very well known track, so it’s still a work in progress.
Q. (Bob Constanduros) Question to Adrian: what was the problem with Mark (Webber) this afternoon?
AN: We had a water pressure drop-out. I don’t know what the exact cause of that was at the moment.
Q. (Bob Constanduros) Another question Paddy: the on-board camera on Lewis’s (Hamilton) car, particularly, either the camera or the car seems to be moving around, wanders around.
PL: I think that’s in the camera, and how it’s mounted. The car’s not moving like that. It’s there to entertain! There is a bit of an issue and we’re just trying to get to the bottom of it at the moment.
Q. (Joe Saward – Grand Prix Special) Just wondered about the engine numbers that you have a left. James, you have a particular problem with Pedro (de la Rosa). How are you going to get round that problem of not having any engines left?
JL: Yeah, Pedro unfortunately had a difficult situation at the start of the season. We took advantage of the qualifying which didn’t quite go to plan at Spa, to change the engine after qualifying for Pedro, so we limited the impact on the grid position, so basically it was only two positions for him. There is a slight disadvantage to that in that we now only use that engine in a race at the end of the season but we looked at it pretty hard with our colleagues at Ferrari and it works out OK. It’s a little bit tight but it works out OK. I think that at the end of the year we will have a fairly fresh engine for the last race. I think it’s OK.
Q. (Matt Youson – Matt Youson Associates) Question about next season and KERS; does the refuelling ban change the proposition for KERS or will you look at it in the same way as you did in 2009?
SM: I think the biggest influence on KERS is the fixed weight distribution that everyone has for next year. At the end of last year, I think the KERS was quite competitive on the McLaren, and that was with a non-fixed weight distribution, so it made it very difficult to make KERS competitive, but it was towards the end of the year. And if anything, next year, it’s removed quite a big variable, so I think it’s an easy decision. I’m not sure that the fuel load is a primary input to that, because everyone’s got the fuel load in the tank that they’ve got anyway.
AC: I agree with Sam. I don’t see a big correlation or a big link between the fuel capacity and the KERS position. Of course, compared to last year it’s a different layout of car, so you have to make other considerations and also you’ve got a different minimum weight, so you have to make other considerations. Also you have a different minimum weight, a fixed weight distribution, so there are some parameters that have been changed, so they are making the choices slightly different compared to last year but nothing is changing fundamentally because we don’t have refuelling any more.
PL: I just agree. I think the benefit of KERS stands in its own right, irrespective of whether you’re running light fuel or heavy fuel or qualifying or racing. It’s the same as 2009.
AN: I would agree with that. The main thing with KERS is really that it’s quite a heavy system to install and it means that there’s very little ballast left over, so that is probably the biggest challenge, particularly if you have a heavy-ish driver, which I think most of the people sitting here have at least one, so it doesn’t make it quite a challenge.