F1 - 2022 BRITISH GRAND PRIX - SATURDAY PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT | Federation Internationale de l'Automobile

F1 - 2022 BRITISH GRAND PRIX - SATURDAY PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT

02.07.22

PART ONE - TEAM REPRESENTATIVES 

Mike ELLIOTT (Mercedes), Andreas SEIDL (McLaren), Guenther STEINER (Haas)

 

 Q: Guenther, today we’re going to start with you.  You got some decent mileage with both cars yesterday afternoon. How's the car performing around here? And in what areas have you still got work to do? 

Guenther STEINER: We have got work to do in all areas, I would say, but yesterday we weren’t as fast as we would like to have been, but we had this in the last races on the Fridays; we weren’t where we wanted to be, but normally we come up with some solutions for Saturday. So, we really look forward to going out now and seeing what we can do today. 

 

Q: And what about the performance of your drivers? Let's start with Mick. He had a very strong weekend, last time out in Canada, particularly in qualifying. Do you see that race is a bit of a breakthrough one for him? 

GS: I hope so, unfortunately, we had a mechanical issue in the race. So, he could have been in the points and he should have been in the points but unfortunately, the car stopped out there. So, I was hoping that he makes his first point so he gets over that hurdle of making the first points and then just a little bit more relaxed. But I see he's in a pretty good state at the moment, you know? A lot better, a lot more in tune now, driving in the team with Kevin, which is doing a good job. So, they work very well together. And it's just like, we need to get over the hurdle of his first points. 

 

Q: Do you think he's feeling the pressure of having no points? 

GS: I think he felt it more in the beginning than now, because obviously, also Kevin didn't score points at the last races. But I don't think that's the reason: is just like he's now focusing, he knows that he can do the points, we just need to get a little bit more lucky and just bring a race weekend to the end, because either we do a good race or we do a good qualifying, we never put it together. So, I think now he has got the confidence that if he puts himself in a good spot on the starting grid after qualifying, that he can get into points because he showed in Montréal, in the race. He was there: he was mingling there in the midfield. So, you know, I think he got that confidence. He just needs the points to prove that it is doable. 

 

Q: The midfield is so tight this year. Do you think you've still got a car that's good enough for Q3? 

GS: Yeah, we showed that two weekends ago. So, I think we can still go into Q3. As you say, the midfield is very close together and tells us what is happening in the midfield. I think every weekend is different, how it lines up, you know? Sometimes we are on top of the midfield; sometimes we are on the back of it. So, I think it’s changing a lot around, you know? So, I think the midfield is very close together. And that is, I think thanks to the budget cap, because nobody can outspend anybody and therefore we got everybody close together. And you can see also that everybody this year scored points already. All the teams, all 10 teams, which is a good thing for Formula 1. 

 

Q: Andreas, coming to you now. First up, how’s the intra-team rivalry at McLaren? I'm assuming there's been a ban on space hoppers in the motorhome? Is that right?

Andreas SEIDL: Yeah! I've seen the video, at least. But I didn't get any red lights or alarms from our team doctor, so I assume everything is in good shape with both drivers. No, I mean, if you say also, being in charge of the team, how Daniel and Lando are working together in order to keep pushing the team, together, moving forward, I'm very happy how this relationship is going at the moment.

 

Q: Now, what about performance this weekend? It was a strong showing yesterday. And of course, there's a strong showing last year at this race as well. Are you confident that you can maintain this form as we get into the business end of this weekend? 

AS: Yeah, as you said, yesterday was definitely a good start into the weekend here.  I think on paper, different to the last two weekends, where we definitely struggled. This track should suit our car more. And now it's simply important to, let's say, keep up this positive momentum that we have seen yesterday, and carry forward today in Free Practice Three and Qualifying because, what we need now simply after two challenging weekends is getting back into Quali Three with both cars and getting back in a position to fight for good points on Sunday, because that's what we need in order to make sure we keep fighting for this P4 in the Constructors’ Championship, where we still are. But we obviously want to stay there until the end of the season. I think we have everything in the team, together with Daniel and Lando, to do that, and that's the focus. 

 

Q: You have everything in the team – but what about upgrades? Because the team has said it's putting the handbrake on upgrades due to the budget cap? Why is that the case at McLaren, when other teams are bringing new parts a lot of the time? 

AS: Well, obviously I can only judge what I see on the McLaren side. And in the end, each team has to make its own plans of how it wants to deploy upgrades throughout the season. We have a clear idea of, let's say, how the second half the season will look like, in terms of the development of the car as well. As you will know, there are some parameters you have to manage throughout the season. One thing is obviously the cost cap, with the known, let's say challenges, we are all in at the moment, with how the world is going. At the same time, you need to also manage how to use your wind tunnel time that is quite limited. And at the same time, I think we still have a car at the moment, or a package, which we upgraded quite a bit at the Barcelona race weekend, where we can still be quite competitive and fight for this P4. So, that's the bigger picture. And obviously we need to see now how we then move forward throughout the rest of the season as a team. 

 

Q: Mike coming to you now, significant upgrades on the W13 this weekend, how are they performing? 

Mike ELLIOTT: So far, so good. I think obviously, we lost the best part of P1 with the weather, we got some running in P2. I think generally we're happy with what we've seen. I think the upgrades have delivered what we wanted. They're not a miracle that's suddenly going to jump us to the front of the grid but I think they're a good step in the right direction. And I think what's pleasing for me is that we've been able to develop those, and bring them without making any of our problems worse, some of the bouncing problems we've seen early in the season. So, hopefully, our understanding there is improved and we can keep chipping away and keep moving forward from here. 

 

Q: You say these upgrades have delivered what you wanted. What did you want from them? What areas of performance have you focused on? 

ME: I think it's quite obvious, looking at the car, we made quite a big change in Barcelona to the way we were trying to use the aerodynamics. And in doing so we made some good inroads into the bouncing. But we did that by probably compromising some of the bulk aerodynamic performance of the car. So, this was really about trying to bring that back; trying to add performance to the car and just generally move it forward in lap time. And the aim was to do that without compromising bouncing or any of the other sort of negative side effects that we could have got. 

 

Q: Christian Horner thinks you can win the British Grand Prix this weekend. What are your expectations? 

ME: I hope he's right! We’re realistic. I think we had a decent showing in the short run pace, but I'm sure Ferrari and Red Bull have still got more to come. I think the long run looks pretty encouraging. But again, there wasn't a huge amount of laps done and I think it's difficult to judge from that. I think if we've made a decent step forward in pace, I think we'll be happy with that, and we can keep chipping away and keep building from there. A win on Sunday would be really nice, but I think that's probably a little bit far for us. 

 

QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR

 

Q: (Keith Collantine – racefans.net)  Mike, the FIA has issued details of the new restriction on porpoising it's going to bring it in a couple of races time. Would Mercedes have been in danger of exceeding that limit in races earlier this year? I'm thinking particularly of Baku, and what's your understanding of what the penalty for that will be if it happens again in the future? 

ME: Well, it's obviously early days, I think that's come out as a draft TD that doesn't come into effect until Ricard. I think, from what we've heard from the FIA, I think it's something they're going to have to sort of work on and build and work out how that's going to work pragmatically. I think Baku – we're going back through and looking at the races using that metric – Baku is one we wouldn't have passed. If you looked at where we were yesterday, we wouldn't have even triggered the metric. So, I think it's difficult: it's going to be interesting to see how it is applied; how it's used through the season, because… none of us want to be bouncing, I’m sure colleagues here would say exactly the same thing, so we're not trying to develop into that position. And then the question becomes if you are exceeding the metric, can you actually fix it during a race weekend? Because I don't think any of us want to see cars not taking part or cars thrown out, because they're not able to get on top of those issues. So, I think time will tell whether that metric can be done in the right way, whether that can push teams in the right way without ending up damaging the show, but we'll see what happens. I'm sure the FIA are conscious of that.

 

Q: Mike, with regards to bouncing, are the worst circuits behind us now? 

ME: My view is that there's a couple of different versions of bouncing: there's an aerodynamic bouncing, which is where the aerodynamics are inputting energy; and there's a version of bouncing, which is because these cars are really stiff. They need to be stiff to run close to the ground. And I think what we've seen is different circuits have different effects. And certainly, the last few circuits where we've seen quite a lot of bouncing, I think it's just because the circuits are quite bumpy and with very stiff cars. And I think when you look forward, you'd say, Budapest might be challenging for teams for the same reason. But at the same time, I think we're all getting on top of our issues. We're understanding those issues and developing the cars. So, hopefully, we can move away from that.

 

Q: (Scott Mitchell – The Race) For Mike again, just on the progress you've made with the car this year, you've had lots of questions about the core concepts and whether that needs to change. Do you think the progress you've made on the aerodynamics side validates that initial concept? And is there still work to do on the mechanical side to address the quality of the ride, that kind of thing? 

ME: I think the reality is that people look at the car and they look at the differences and think well, that's massive. That's got to be the big difference there. I think an aerodynamicist will tell you the really important bits are what's underneath the floor, the wings and the key aerodynamic structures. And while the bodywork contributes to that it's not the sort of big defining feature. I think it’s been sort of well publicised, I think the difficulty of what we've done with the narrow sidepod means you've got a big cantilevered floor, and managing that, and managing the stiffness of that is a challenge. And I think we, like probably all of the teams, will evaluate what we've got, we’ll look at what others have done, work out what we think are the right ways forward. And I think for us, so far during the season, the aim has been to try and generate as much understanding as quickly as we can, and then work out what are the right things to do from there. And hopefully, we're making good ground. So, have we got the right concept? I think it's almost impossible to say because you only play your cards, you never play everybody else's cards. As for the mechanical aspects of the car, we're learning, like everybody's learning, and I'm sure there's more to gain in that area. But I think we just need to keep chipping away at it. I think we’re pretty honest with ourselves: we've not started on the front foot, and we just need to look at where our weakness is, look at how we improve and then just keep bringing those upgrades as fast as we can and within the cost cap as well.

 

Q: (Jon Noble – Motorsport.com) To Mike, part of the TD was a bit of a clampdown about floor flexibility, to make it fair and equitable going forwards. Do you think it was fair and equitable beforehand? Or do you think there was scope for other teams to perhaps allow a bit more flexing in the floor to manage porpoising better?

ME: There's two interesting aspects there. The first one is how much of it is to manage porpoising. And how much of that is just to get the cars lower? Formula 1 cars have always been ride height sensitive, but these ones are designed that way. So if you can get the car lower there is performance to be found. As to whether it's been fair and equitable? Unfortunately, we don't get to measure everybody's car so I don't know what anybody else has got. And I think we have to just trust in the FIA that they do that job. That they've been around, that they're happy, that there isn't a massive difference. They're obviously unhappy enough to introduce a rule that changes that. And we'll need to see what happens in Ricard as a result of that. As to whether there has been a significant advantage or not, I can't really answer the question any more than that.

 

Q: (Luke Smith – Autosport) Another question for you,. about George Russell and his development this season. From a technical side… I know he's worked with the team for a number of years as a junior driver, but working with him closely on the development of this car, how have you found him? Has he impressed you as much as you thought he would from working with him in his junior career? And have you seen him come on leaps and bounds even in this sort of first half season working with you?

ME: Well, firstly, we've got two fantastic drivers and I couldn't be happier with the combination we've got. I think they're working really well together. I think that's a major plus for us, that while we've been struggling with the car, both drivers are contributing and helping us move forward with it. I think what's been interesting working with George is just to see the development of his understanding of the car and being able to work with the engineers, explain what his issues are, pick up on the small differences. Not only is he quick, but he's also bright as well. But I would say that's true for both our drivers and we're very lucky.

 

Q: (Dieter Rencken – Racing News 365) Guenther, there have been reports out of Russia that Nikita Mazepin and his coterie are planning to sue your team to recover some funding. Is that so? Have you heard anything? And secondly, if they do, take that sort of action, do you believe you have grounds for counter action?

GS: I haven't heard anything up to now. And even if I hear, I don't want to comment on it, because it's a legal issue. And I don't know. It's with our legal people, which will deal with it, if it gets to it.

 

Q: (Josh Suttil – The Race) Another question for Mike. You mentioned the upgrades coming later in the season. Can we expect another major upgrade like Barcelona or Silverstone? Are you expecting to produce spring kind of minor upgrades for the rest of the year? 

ME: I think as Andreas explained earlier, the cost cap is a challenge for everybody and we'll have to sort of look at what we can afford to do for the rest of the season. We'll keep developing. I think in a normal year, your focus is on how to get the best out of this year, and what we need to put into next year. And at the moment I think you've just got to get on top of the understanding, because you need to know what you're going to do for next year as well. So we'll definitely be bringing experiments forward, making sure that we're on the right route for next year's car. Whether they turn into a big upgrade will be dependent on what we find and what we can afford. 

 

Q: Mike, how far down the road are you with next year's car?

ME: Like all the teams, we will have started. And we're looking at what it is we want to do. I think the big architectural bits, you need to be getting on with now. The more detail of the outside shape, the aerodynamic shape of the car, will come later. And I think what we're trying to do is to say, ‘have we got the right path at the moment? Do we need to carry on developing that? Do we need to shift to something new?’ But making sure that we've got our understanding right, that our tools are now delivering what they need to deliver. So we've got good correlation to the track is probably the most important thing.

 

Q: (Simon Abberly – Nevis Radio) A question for all team principals regarding budget caps for this year and into next year. There was talk of it being reduced for next year. And F1 is looking at other venues to go racing. And with the comments made earlier this year of some teams maybe not be able to finish the season within the budget cap, how does that fit for next year? Is F1 pricing itself out of its own rules? 

AS: Well, first of all, in terms of completing the season, I'm pretty sure that every single team will be at each race until the end of the season. We will have contracts in place not just with Formula 1 but also with our partners and sponsors, but as widely communicated or spoken about, also on our side as McLaren, we face an issue this year with these unexpected big increase of costs, especially on the freight side, and utility bills, and that's why we are still having discussions between the teams and also with the FIA of finding a solution for this year. There’s a big meeting coming up next week, the F1 Commission in Austria, where we hopefully find a solution in the best interests of the sport and close the topic. Moving forward towards next year, as you all know, there is the next step coming in terms of the reduction of the cost cap, which we all agreed on in the past, which is also the right thing to do. But at the same time, it's still important that we keep having this discussion about introducing the inflationary increase of the cost cap limit, whatever it is, introducing it already in 2023, instead of the original implementation, which was for 2024. That's a discussion we are still having. But also there, I'm quite positive that we will find solutions there. And in terms of the number of races, for example, next year, if that was what you were referring to, there's a mechanism in the cost cap, which adjusts the cost cap level based on the number of races we are doing. So I don't expect any issue from this. 

GS: I think that has a lot to add to what Andreas said. I think the meeting next week, the F1 Commission meeting, hopefully we’ll make a step forward to bring this home, so we don't speak about it anymore. And which everybody can be happy with, which will be difficult to find. But normally we find solutions, that's what we are here for. And as he said, if there are more races coming, there are things in place, regulations in place, that it gets adjusted accordingly. So that shouldn't be an issue which will be debated. And also, we don't know the calendar yet, what is coming next year, but I think we are covered on that side. 

ME: I'll leave it to the team principals to answer that question. I don't think Toto would have given a different view. Same.

 

Q: (Matt Coch – Speedcafé.com) One for Andreas. Andreas, Daruvala tested the car last week or so. What was the purpose of that and where are things with Colton Herta and Pato O’Ward? Are you closer to deciding who you will field on a Friday, or what role they'll have in the next year or so?

AS: Well, as you know, it's actually the first time for us at McLaren to run such a TPC car, which we were not in a position in in previous year. But thanks to this change of the regulations, and together with the great partnership we are having with Mercedes that put us in that position we simply want to use this car now or this project in order to give young guys a chance to drive a Formula 1 car and also to show us or to put us in a position to evaluate what these guys can do. And that was the reason also for the programme we have put up with him, which went quite well last week in Silverstone. As you know, we have further runs planned in the next month with Colton, probably with Pato again as well. And then we will make up our mind at some point about whom we want to give the chance to do also a free practice one session, so stay tuned please. 

 

Q: (Adam Cooper – Motorsport.com) For all three of you. As part of the TD, Nicholas talks about potential changes for next year and asking you guys to run things through CFD. Is there some frustration there that having put all this effort into these rules that the goal posts might move, or is it a positive thing? Do you know there are floor shapes that could improve the cars that you can't use now that perhaps could be allowed next year?

ME: I don’t think it’s frustration. I think when you look at the position we're in, I think the drivers are saying it's uncomfortable. It's not safe for them driving the cars, when there's heavy bouncing. And I think the sport has to deal with that and the sport has to adapt and change as a result of that. I think the difficulty is these cars were designed around a ground effect set of rules, they were designed to try and improve overtaking. And the question is, can you maintain some of that and move away from the bouncing. And the devil is in the detail and I think it will come down to the aerodynamicists in the various teams to try and work out, along with the FIA,  how do we change the rules in the right sense, but getting the teams to agree to that's also going to be a challenge.

AS: Yeah, obviously I can't answer this question better regarding a technical aspect than Mike. But from my point of view, what I was very pleased with the last two weeks after all the emotions in the Montreal paddock is that we actually had a good process in place the last two weeks, led by the FIA, we had a technical advisory committee where the experts came together and actually discussed the way forward under the clear leadership of the FIA, which was important, they made it clear that on the grounds of safety, they will implement changes and the will implement a TD, but I was very happy that each team actually could contribute and still can contribute to this TD that comes into place from France onwards, and in parallel, also regarding the direction for next year, that's the right process. That's what I would like to see as well. Formula 1 works and I'm pretty happy with that.

GS: I guess I am in the [inaudible] part of this one, because in the technical advisory group, it was discussed to change the rules, which I think the majority of the team don't want to do. They are diligently working to find a solution without changing the rules dramatically. Because I think, if you go to change the rules in, what have we got now, July, it's a little bit late, so I don't think that that's the correct way to go around that, you know. I think, obviously, if there are some safety issues, we need to address them. I fully agree with that one, which is being worked on. And as we said before, in France, there will be work going into it, to see where we are at with these things. But to change the rules drastically or something like this, we are against it, because it's pretty late in the year. And, obviously, on the other side, you could say some people have done already some work with the new rules, which are proposed, and they will be ahead then. So, I think we need to be careful here that we are not doing the wrong thing. And I'm sure the FIA will look into that one and listen to everybody.

 

Q: (Ed Spencer – Motorlat.com) A question to all of you. What race weekend will you decide to run a young driver in FP1, and particularly for Andreas, will you use Mercedes’ talent pool for the mandatory FP1 session? 

AS: As I said before, first of all we want to go through this evolution at the moment with the different talents that we are seeing before then making up our mind whom to give the chance to run a free practice one and at which race weekend. It will definitely happen, most likely in the, let's say, after the shutdown period, towards the end of the season. And yeah, until then we stay pretty open minded of who's actually getting the chance. 

GS: We are looking into doing the FP1s with young drivers towards the end of the season, and we’re looking into who is going to do it. Maybe we are doing it with our reserve driver, at least we could keep him in shape a little bit in the car, because the opportunities to test for these drivers otherwise, they're almost non-existent.

ME: I guess a similar answer really, which is, I think internally, we probably know roughly which races we would use but we'll wait and see how things pan out and then make the final decision then. 

 

Q: Any drivers in your mind?

ME: Probably can't say just yet.

 

Q: (Dieter Rencken – Racing News 365) Guenther, based on what you've just said, will you actually be challenging whether it is a bona fide safety issue? Because that, in fact, is the crux, whether it's a bona fide safety issue, when it comes to the Commission next week? 

GS: I think we have to look into what it actually is. It's good discussions going on, they are not negative, but then we will look at all these details with the technical guys, and then we will see what will be done on that one.

 

Q; (Jon Noble – Motorsport.com) Mike, when new rules arrive, invariably teams settle on a preferred concept and go down that route. We've seen a number of teams adopt the Red Bull concept of sidepod and floor, you've got a very different solution. Are you still 100% committed to your solution, that it can work in the end or is there a possibility to go and do something different and go down a Red Bull route for next year?

ME: In some ways, I kind of answered the question earlier, which is I think that the bodywork bit, the bit that's visibly different, that you're referring to is probably not the key differentiator if you like. It's a detail in the floor design. We've evaluated some concepts in that direction. I'm not going to say which way we're going to go, but we will look at that. I think you’d be silly not to have a level of humility that you think you potentially got it wrong and go and look at what everybody else has done. And that's not just the Red Bull concept, that's looking at all the concepts up and down the grid and saying what looks interesting and why. And I think, I guess as an ex-aerodynamicist, I would say that what you try to do is understand what you think is happening in the flow field, work out what you want to do with the flow field, and then develop the bodywork shapes from there. So, you know, we'll go and look and say, ‘what we think the Red Bull body work does and why does it do that?’ Same for all the other colours up and down the grid, and then see what we can learn from that, see what we can apply. And then maybe you'll see changes this year, maybe you'll see changes next year. And we'll maybe we'll stick with where we are. I think that they're the questions we're trying to answer.

 

Q: (Scott Mitchell – The Race) Mike, just to follow up your answer from earlier, just on the cars ride quality. When George Lewis talks about having one of maybe the equal worst on the grid in terms of just the harshness of it, is that something that requires bigger mechanical developments, you know, changes for future cars, rather than something you can sort of chip away at? It didn't seem like a set-up thing. It seems a bit more fundamental than that.

ME: It's difficult to answer that without explaining the detail and that’s probably not something I want to do here. I think fundamentally it all comes down to how you are developing your aero platform and how you're using it and it’s that that we need to change. And whether there's mechanical bits that go with that? The answer is probably yes. But in terms of the detail of what that is, that’s probably beyond the scope of what I would want to discuss here 

PART TWO - TEAM REPRESENTATIVES 

Jost CAPITO (Williams), Christian HORNER (Red Bull Racing), Otmar SZAFNAUER (Alpine)

 

Q: Welcome back to Silverstone for part two of our press conference this morning. Otmar, first up, this week your team has announced your Rac(H)er initiative. Tell us more and can you put a timeline on when we can start to see changes that you and everyone in the sport wishes to see.

Otmar SZAFNAUER: Well, the initiative is to make motor sport, and specifically Formula 1, more attractive to females. And we looked around at the ratio of females to males in Enstone and we're about 90% males and we'd like to redress that balance and make it more balanced, and at the same time start making karting more attractive to young girls, so that we can have a greater pool of young girls who want to go karting and see where that brings us in the long run,  to, you know, having Formula 1 drivers that perhaps are female. As far as timing, the one thing I want to point out, especially for the team, it will still remain a meritocracy. We will hire the best engineers that we can. However, from a timing perspective, we're now going out to universities and in our young graduate programmes trying to entice more females to apply for engineering roles. And that's happening now. 

 

Q: In terms of performance this weekend at Silverstone, what improvements are you seeing from the upgrade package you're running?

OS: Well, we only ran it in one session and we did gather some data. And the initial indication is that it's working as we expect. However, we're doing some more analysis, or we have done overnight, and I haven't heard the results of that. But I will do after this. But initial indications are it's performing. 

 

Q: And after a qualifying session in particular that we saw in Montreal with Alonso starting on the front row of the grid, has that skewed your expectation levels going forward and in terms of where you are aiming this weekend? 

OS: Yeah, it's skewed in a positive direction in the wet. So if it rains, which it can do here. But wet or dry I think we've got a good package here. And let's see how we go in FP3 because we've only run the new package in really one session. We haven’t optimised. So there are some tweaks that we will be doing an FP3 and hopefully, we'll get a little bit more out of it. 

 

Q: And Fernando Alonso has told the media that he's looking for a two-year extension to his contract with Alpine. Are you on the same page? 

OS: Well, it's, it's good to know and thanks for telling me it's two years. I'll talk to him now thereafter. 

 

Q: Are you on the same page? 

OS: Which page? The two-year page? We haven't really started talking in detail with Fernando yet. But you know, now that it's two years, I'm sure. We'll do that just after the break.

 

Q: Christian, a very different looking RB18 this weekend. What impact are the changes having on performance?

Christian HORNER: Still early days, we obviously didn't run much in the first session due to tyre availability, and then had a bit of running yesterday afternoon. And yeah, you know, it's a matter of gathering the data. It's largely behaving as we hoped. While visually it’s quite different, it's not a huge step. It's more evolution than the revolution. So, hopefully a few set-up changes overnight tonight, and ideally a dry P3 will give us a better indication.

 

Q: Checo seems to have had a more difficult time yesterday. Have you found any particular problems on his car? 

CH: Yeah, we found a couple of issues after the session, so, again, they've been rectified overnight. And yeah, hopefully that'll be more in the window and to his liking during today. 

 

Q: And how do you see the competitive picture as we go into qualifying today? You said earlier in the weekend that you think Mercedes are going to be closer. Is it a six-car battle for a race win this weekend? 

CH: I think it could well be. I mean, we knew this type of venue… If you think the closest to it that we've seen so far is Barcelona, in terms of circuit smoothness, high-speed, medium-speed, low-speed corners, and, you know, certainly Mercedes were quick there, they've obviously bought a reasonable update here as well. We know Ferrari are very quick, they were obviously very quick in Barcelona, and that's what some of our updates have been aimed at, to try and address some of the weaknesses that we had at that venue. And from first look yesterday, it does certainly look like, at this venue there could well be six cars in contention, which is fantastic for the fans. I think it's going to be interesting to see how it plays out. The weather could well play a factor as well. It's a beautiful English summer's day out there, about 16 degrees and intermittent rain, so that could well be a factor as well. 

 

Q: Jost, first big upgrade for Williams this weekend. Are you seeing the progress that you desire? 

Jost CAPITO: I think that you can copy paste the answer of Christian to the first question. It's exactly the same. We need to collect data. And yesterday we were a bit compromised by the weather of course for the first session. To save tyres you couldn't go out a lot. And the second practice was dry, so we have to analyse the data and see if it's according to what we expected. But so far it seems a pretty good update. 

 

Q: What areas of performance have FX and his team been focusing on? 

JC: All. 

 

Q: All of it? Can you just give us a little more detail as to where you've been focused on? 

JC: So from the aerodynamic, so when you look at the car it's a different aerodynamic concept. And of course we looked on weight saving as well, so we did a good step forward on the weight saving. It's mainly aerodynamic and weight. 

 

Q: When can we see these changes on Nicholas' car? 

JC: As soon as we have the parts ready. It's difficult to say. It depends a lot on the damage we will have this weekend. If we don't have damage, it will be earlier. If we have a lot of damage it will be later.

 

Q: It's been a tough season for Nicholas so far. How close are you to deciding upon his future with the team?

JC: It's difficult to say because I think we have to see which contracts run out and we have to do the best for the team for next year, when there are various options. 

 

Q: But this is an issue for next year? I mean, can you confirm that he will see out the season with Williams? 

JC: You can never confirm but it's not the plan. If he breaks a leg, we have to have a replacement, but it's not the plan to replace any of the two drivers during the season. 

 

QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR

 

Q: (Dieter Rencken – Racing News 365) To all three. You'll be attending next week's F1 Commission meeting, I assume. There will be two major topics, namely the TD 39 and the fallout there from, and future regulations and also the budget cap inflationary adjustment. Where do the three of you stand in terms of your own teams? 

JC: Seeing as the commission is only scheduled for two hours, we have to get aligned very quickly. I think we're discussing the various options. And I'm sure we will find a compromise that works for all of us. So I'm pretty confident we'll find a solution next week.

CH: I think the TD has largely been addressed. What happened in Montreal wasn't right, the process, that it was introduced on a Thursday afternoon and the manner without any consultation with a technical group, etc. So I think that consultation has now happened through that technical working group or the TAC as it's now known. And I think the implementation with the timing for France has now followed that process. We need to come up with solutions, because we're now at the half-year point. Regarding obviously the cost cap issue, it will be interesting to see what the FIA presents. They promised obviously to come back to us with a proposal, so we'll listen with interest to see what's put on the table.

OS: I tend to agree. Let's see from a cost cap perspective what's proposed. And, you know, we voted, I think once at the last Formula 1 Commission meeting, but that was a totally different proposal. So if it's something reasonable, we'll assess it and vote accordingly. And I think Christian is right. The TD process has been tidied up and I think we'll get to a good conclusion.

 

Q: (Mat Kew – Autosport) A question for you Christian. With Vips sacked, Daruvala testing at McLaren, Gasly in AlphaTauri holding pattern and Pérez with his extension, what's your current assessment of sort of the top bracket of the Red Bull Junior Programme?

CH: Well, you know, obviously we've got quite a few youngsters and really promising youngsters that are out there at the moment. We have, obviously, Liam Lawson. We have Dennis Hauger, you know, racing in Formula 2 as well as obviously Daruvala that remains as a junior driver, despite, you know, testing with another team. Iwasa is showing great potential as well. And that's just in Formula 2. In Formula 3, it's great to see Johnny Edgar back after illness, quite a nasty illness earlier in the year, giving him another chance. Isack Hadjar is doing a super job as well. So we've got no shortage of talent coming through, all the way from karting through the different formulae. And that's always been a policy of Red Bull, to give youth a chance, to back youth, and give opportunities to some of these kids that otherwise wouldn't have been able to progress their careers.

 

Q: (Jon Noble – Motorsport.com) Christian and Otmar. As manufacturer teams, the original plan was for the ’26 engine regs to get signed off by the World Motor Sport Council last week; that’s not happened. What’s your understanding of where the delay is coming from and is there any concern that it’s going to drag on and potentially put off new entrants or come too late and make things too expensive to develop engines as we go forwards? 

CH: I think it’s just a process. I think the technical stuff is largely done. I think that these things always have to be a package and so you’ve got technical regulations, you’ve got sporting regulations, and you’ve got financial regulations that all need to be clear plus obviously what the governance is going to be from ’26 onwards. So I think it’s just that package that needs tidying up, I think it’s largely there so it really is in the hands of the FIA now and yeah, I expect hopefully we’ll have a bit of an update next week at the Formula 1 Commission. 

OS: Yeah, I think Christian’s right. I think predominantly, the big things have been decided. It’s the detail that needs tidying up and it will just require a little bit of more time and then thereafter the package should be voted on and out there. It takes time to make sure that the… and it’s not an easy thing to do, but the playing field is level for both the engine manufacturers that are in the sport and those who are coming in so I think that’s the bit that takes a bit of time. 

 

Q: (Alan Baldwin – Reuters) Christian, following on the question about Red Bull Junior drivers. You obviously have a vacancy now as a reserve driver in the team. What are your plans for that? Jehan Daruvala obviously has a super licence, would he be someone who you might look for that role for this season at least? 

CH: Well, Liam Lawson steps into that role, obviously following the Juri Vips announcement and Jehan is doing a great job and we’re just following his progress with interest as well as Denis Hauger as well – all obviously qualifying for super licences so again, that’s our coverage at this point of time. 

 

Q: (Alex Kalinauckas – Autosport) Christian, just going back to the technical directive and the porpoising; you seem happier with the process that’s being followed with that but what about what the FIA is actually planning to implement from Paul Ricard? How concerned are you on what the metric is and things like that, how that might shake up the competitive order, will it favour some teams more than others? 

CH: I think the metrics that they’re talking about is quite complicated, that’s a concern about it and for what period is the measurement taken, individual incidences and all that kind of thing and I think when you look at it from a purist point of view it’s not ideal because it seems that we’re giving more and more influence to the FIA to dictate what your set-up is, at what point do they say that you have to run this rear wing or a certain ride-height or… It’s a dangerous avenue to go down. I understand on the grounds of safety that this is being introduced because the porpoising on a limited amount of cars is obviously at an extreme level and they’re looking to have a net mechanism to control hat but I think that hopefully it’s only something that will be there for this year as it’s something that hopefully all the teams will be on top of as I’m sure the cars will converge next year but it’s certainly not a precedent that we want to go down otherwise set-ups will be being dictated by FIA directives. 

 

Q: (Scott Mitchell – The Race) Primarily to Christian: obviously the big focus has been on this metric and porpoising but within it as well, the FIA has identified things like the planks and trying to make sure that teams aren’t flexing beyond a certain amount. Has that been a surprise that has been a focus, because obviously externally it’s been so much on porpoising but there does seem to be a big focus on the FIA side to make sure that teams aren’t doing anything they’re supposed to in terms of rigidity of the underneath of the car? 

CH: Well, obviously it’s a key performance factor so you can understand why they’re looking at it but of the course the difficulty is – you only look yesterday if a car runs wide at Copse, I’m sure the driver’s backside is getting pretty warm with the amount of wood he’s leaving on the aggressive kerbing there so again it’s something that, as the regulators, that they are closely looking at, that there’s no abusive of it but again it has to be subjective. 

JC: I think I can add to Christian that the proposal is much too complicated and we have to find simpler solutions that still allow the team to work and do the set-up, and still fulfil the regulations. 

 

Q: (Adam Cooper – Motorsport.com) Question for all three of you. As part of the TD Nicholas talks about changes for 2023 and asking the teams to run things through CFD. Is there any frustration that the goalposts could move, there's more expense involved and also that some teams may have already done that work and got a head start? Or is it a positive thing if the cars can be improved, if this package can be better next year? 

OS: Well, to me, it's always better to have sight of rules early on and not change them mid-season. Having said that though, there has been precedent as if it's a safety issue, then the FIA have… they’re duty-bound to look at it and make changes. But I'm always in favour of knowing the rules well in advance, having an even playing field and then let everyone come up with their own solution. So the earlier we know, the better. But like I said, if you're midseason and there's some safety concerns then they have to act.

CH: Yeah, I think that it's too late in the day to be introducing changes for next year. We have a governance for that, and the costs involved that if… sometimes the unintended consequences of changing complete philosophies are… it will affect what you carry over into next year, it'll affect your design and development. And the most important thing and the biggest way to achieve stable cost is stability. And the cars will converge; you can see that already that the cars are certainly looking…  some looking more familiar. And I think that that will continue over the next six to nine months so I think the most important thing is don't dick with it, just leave it alone and the teams will sort it out.

JC: Yeah, I agree to that. I think they have to look at the regulations, they should be more simple instead of getting more complicated. And it's very important to implement regulations that the FIA can control. Doesn’t make sense to put regulations in that can't be controlled.  I think that's the… and we will have, I think, a very interesting discussion in the next F1 Commission. 

 

Q: (Simon Abberly – Nevis Radio) Christian, it's been reported over the past while that you guys are maybe talking to Porsche. You've obviously built your Red Bull power trains engine division, and there's talk of Honda wanting to come back. Is that positive/negative for you or is that a bit of a headache?

CH: Well, all three are great things. We opened the Red Bull Powertrain building earlier this week so the staff moved into the building, which is a facility that should hopefully enable us to produce really competitive engines starting from 2026. We have an engineering partnership with agreement with Honda for the supply of the current engines under the current agreement to the end of year the 2025 set of regulations and of course there's  discussions of Porsche and Audi looking at entering the sport, which I think again is really exciting for Formula 1 to have brands like that wanting to come in, but again that is subject to what are the regs going to be, what is the treatment of a newcomer going to be and so many of those aspects. So all three are positive things. Should Honda choose to reverse their decision post 2025? That really is a question for them. There's certainly been no discussion with ourselves about that.

 

Q: (Mat Coch – Speedcafé) Otmar, Is there any development on where Oscar is up to?  There's been reports that he will get a Friday outing in France? Is that the case? And Oscar has also been linked to Williams and have you or anyone at Alpine had discussions there with the man to your right? Do you know what Oscar’s future is?

OS: As far as free practice in France, that's not the plan. Oscar will be running in free practice for us, but it'll be after the break. And as far as a seat at Williams, I think it's best to ask Jost.  It's great to have one of our young drivers (to) be wanted by other Formula 1 teams, just shows that he's got the potential which we're aware of. 

 

Q: (Scott Mitchell – The Race) Otmar, just on the Fernando and Oscar situation in terms of resolving both their contracts, do they sort of almost go hand-in-hand in a way? I guess you don't want to nail down a position for Oscar and remove him from the table if you haven't secured Fernando’s contracts and details for next year.

OS: Yeah, you know, they're all linked and tied and it's just a matter of timing. And we're not to that point yet. So like I said before, I think it was in May that I was asked the question and we're going to start thinking about it around Silverstone time and probably concluding something after the break and that's still the case.

 

Q: (Dieter Rencken – Racing News 365) Christian based on what you'd said in Montreal and based on what you also said this morning, it appears to be a slight change in your opinion about the porpoising bouncing, whether it is actually bona fide a safety issue? Do you now believe it is bona fide of safety and how will you vote in terms of the regulation change, if any, come the commission? And the same sort of question to the others if you've got any comments, please. 

CH: I think for us porpoising isn't an issue anywhere near any of the other extremities. Now, what I understand from the FIA is that within their metric, from what they saw in Montreal, all teams would have been within that metric so it wouldn't change anything. But there was one team that was outside of that metric significantly in Azerbaijan. So, theoretically it shouldn't really change anything for us which would seem unfair if it were to suddenly have to require a redesign or to run our car in a different manner. But I guess that the TD is being used to bring into line the set-up of teams to ensure that there isn't too aggressive porpoising for the drivers. 

I think that, as I said earlier, I just think things will converge. And I think that the best thing history shows in Formula 1 is, if you want convergence, if you want closer racing, leave the regulations alone and that way, this porpoising issue, this time next year won't even be a discussion.

JC: No, I think it's the same. We don't have an issue with porpoising. We see a bit here and there, but nothing that would concern us regarding safety. I think under the regulations we have you can have a safe car and we have a safe car

OS: Yeah, we experienced it too early on and at the expense of ultimate performance, we're able to get rid of it to a point where the drivers are comfortable and like Christian says we're well below the limits. However, if other teams are outside that, I think the FIA have a duty to look at it, understand it, measure it and then try to control it if there is a need. There might not be.

 

Q: (Ed Spencer – Motorlat.com) To all three of you: when will you switch your focus to 2023? 

OS: That's a good question, I was just asking our technical team the same. We're in a battle hopefully for fourth. We're not that far away from fourth, we're not that far ahead of six in the championship and we've got to do everything we can to give us our best chance to finish fourth in the championship. So we're going to keep developing until we're comfortable but at the same time, we can't do it at the ultimate expense of next year so it's about this time that we're going to be switching over to ‘23.

CH: Well, the constraints of budget cap dictate largely what you can do this year, but of course, with stable regulations, whatever you're learning this year is pertinent and relevant to next year. Last year was, for example, way more complex, where you got a totally clean sheet of paper with not a single carry-over component on the car. I think next year you might see a more transitional effect.

JC: I think that it's not switching a switch, it's not going from black to white, it's a continuous take-over from this year’s car to next year's car, for us at least. I think we still have to learn from this year's cars to next year's cars. And if we can do that, we have to do that and I think it's a continuous switch from this year to next year. 

 

Q: (Jon Noble – Motorsport.com) To all three of you: none of you have had a big porpoising problem this year but on the TD, what's coming in for France includes areas like the stiffness of floor and other changes. Are you going to have to change anything on your car, how you run it from France to cover those or can you ignore it because you won't hit that metric?

JC: I think our technical team is looking into that and we haven't got a final conclusion but it looks like we can run with our car.

CH: Yeah, I believe we fully conform. 

OS: Yeah, we don't plan to make any changes based on the TD that's come up.

 

Q: (Mat Coch – Speedcafé.com) Christian, in Spain, you mentioned you're going to conduct an internal investigation over potential IP breaches with the Aston Martin? Where are you up to on that one, please?

CH: Obviously it's an on-going process. It really sits with the FIA at the moment so nothing really further to add from our side. I'm sure again, within the two hour window that we have in Austria for Formula 1 commission meeting next week it'll be added to the list of discussion topics.

 

Ends