Q: Paddy, could I get your opinion on the ban on DRS that they are imposing on cars in Eau Rouge and if it is necessary to be banning DRS in certain corners, does that prove that it's fundamentally an unsafe system and it shouldn't actually be on the cars in the first place?
PL: I think that would be a pretty extreme position to take. I think what's been imposed is very sensible. That is a very extreme corner. Everything on a racing car has some risk. One of the jobs of the FIA and the teams in fact, through the Technical Working Group, is to maintain the right balance between the sporting interest and general safety. The restriction that's been put on there, it's just balancing the risk properly because if the wing were to misbehave through that sector, we know you can have very big accidents.
Q: Some figures that Mercedes have released show that there is a 1G lift as you go over the crest. With DRS, what would the effect be if DRS was open through there?
PL: We haven't calculated it precisely but it's one of those things that if the car is fairly near the limit and if you apply DRS or find the degree to which you can apply DRS through that sector by experimentation which is what the drivers would end up doing, by definition they will find a place that is just at the edge and that means there's no margin, so if the wing, for instance, were to be a bit slow, or act when it shouldn't have done, the driver will lose control. I don't think it detracts at all from the spectacle which was the intent of the DRS so I'm supportive of the restriction.
Q: We've loads of fast corners round this track like Pouhon and Blanchimont; why wasn't it considered to ban it there as well?
PL: We weren't involved directly in that particular restriction. I think it's because this is a corner where you stay flat through it so there would be a great temptation to find the limit with the DRS whereas, with the normal corner, I think the drivers are finding that edge as they pick up the throttle. It's a question of balance. There's no right or wrong answer. I don't know what others here on the panel feel about that. It is one of the most if not the most extreme corner in the Formula 1 calendar, so to take the experimentation out of it in that form is probably a sensible idea.
RB: The DRS has been stopped from corner exit so it's also the arrival speed at Eau Rouge which is important, not just the fact that you're cornering through there with DRS activated. It's a fact that you would arrive quite a lot quicker and I think that had to be taken into consideration as well. It's also a corner which, if you get into trouble, there's not much you can do, whereas in a lot of the other corners mentioned you lift the throttle or you ease off and you can normally get the car back under control. That's a corner in which I wouldn't like to have a situation, it's not normally one you can recover from. And DRS is not just a drag reduction system, it changes the balance of the car because obviously it affects the rear. I think it's a good system and I think to moderate it occasionally doesn't do any harm, and I think applied sensibly it's given us a very interesting feature this year. I think all around it's positive.
CH: I think the guys have summed it very well. If you've ever driven through that corner, which I did a long, long time ago, I can't think of anything worse than opening your rear wing on the way down there. That said, the drivers went through it one-handed last year with a hand over the F-duct but I think that it's a prudent thing to do. As Ross says, it tempers your entry speed to the corner as much as anything else and it's the one place that if you're going to have an accident, you really don't want to have it there. If you open up the car in some of the other fast corners like Pouhon or so on, you've got plenty of run-off there whereas get out of shape going up the hill and you could be in a bit of trouble.
Q: Paul Hembery, an interesting bit of news was that qualifying tires might return to F1 if the teams agree. What has the reception been so far and maybe the other attendees could shed some light on that as well?
PH: In reality it was a discussion point. We're new back to the sport, certain things we have seen and we just wanted to know the teams' opinion. We've listened to fans, listened to teams. At the end, it's the teams' decision and it really went back to the point I've mentioned. We've got Sunday nights where we're having sets of tires unused and also comments were coming through that fans were worried that teams were trying to save tires during qualifying so we thought we'd have another look at it. It probably needs a lot more looking at. Initial reaction was cool; I think that's the best thing to say but sometimes these things... because it's very complex, the tire allocations have a big impact on the teams' strategy so I think we need to go back and discuss a bit more.
Q: This is for Ross, Paddy and Andy I presume. There were rumors earlier in the summer of Mercedes High Performance Engines in England working on developing an exhaust layout called the Bagpipe. It would adjust the pressure right after the exhaust manifold. Are we going to see anything like that in the near future?
RB: I haven't heard that story, I'm afraid, so it must have been for somebody else, not for us. Perhaps Paddy can respond.
PL: I haven't heard that story either and we certainly don't have anything called a Bagpipe that I'm aware of. Maybe someone else.
RB: I think perhaps there was your system at the beginning of the season, Paddy, that looked like a Bagpipe, so maybe it's an old story.
PL: The one they called Octopus
AG: We can't afford to develop exhaust systems!
Q: We've heard about the proposal to return to some in-season testing days. What are your thoughts on that?
CH: I think this has been discussed with the team managers and I think with the calendar now being available, I think one of the things that has been discussed rather than... What all the teams are keen to avoid is to re-introduce a test team. So what is currently being appraised, effectively, is to look at lessening the amount of preseason testing by one test and making that an in-season test as well as making the young driver test effectively an in-season test as well. That's under debate within the team managers group at the moment.
RB: I think that the point Christian has made is very important. The threshold is not to have to create a new testing team. We must be able to do whatever we want to achieve with the group of people we have and with RRA and the other restrictions we have, we need to make sure we can achieve it, and next year's calendar is creating an ideal opportunity to have one test perhaps at the start or just after the start of the European season which I think would fit very well with everybody, getting the bugs sorted out that they inevitably have in the first few races.
PH: We agree if we can have an in-season testing week, that would be fantastic. It depends of course where we go. We would prefer to at least go to a reference track, that would be very useful, thinking only of tires, that would be very useful to us.
Q: Ross, there have been quite a lot of reassuring noises made by you personally and Norbert Haug about your confidence in Michael Schumacher's ability to start winning races again. I don't know whether you know but the history books actually show that over the last 43 seasons, only three drivers over the age of 40 have actually won a grand prix and that was only one each. Don't you accept that this is perhaps conclusive evidence that F1 is and always has been a game for young men or at least, under the age of 40?
RB: Sorry to turn the question around, but how many drivers have won seven World Championships? He's an exceptional driver, so our optimism, our ambition is based on a very exceptional driver. I think that optimism is well-founded. I think there is some exceptional driving going on now. We haven't got a car to support the drivers we have, so once we get the car sorted out, then I think you will see some results.
Q: Going back to the testing debate, has it been considered to hold a one-day test on a Monday after a grand prix weekend as they do in MotoGP?
CH: I think that a lot of different permutations have been thought about and discussed. One of the options to be looked at is to stay on at an existing venue after an event so maybe not quite on a Monday but as we're doing with the Abu Dhabi Young Drivers' Test this year – a day off, obviously the cars have to be rebuilt and then to effectively be able to run in that week with effectively the same staff, taking away the necessity of a test team, so that's something that's under consideration and something that might be brought in next year.