TECHNICAL DIRECTORS: Ross BRAWN (Mercedes), Aldo COSTA (Ferrari), Sam MICHAEL (Williams), Nick WIRTH (Virgin)
Q. A question to you all. You have all brought new modifications to the cars. How are they performing so far looking at today's performance? Would you like to start, Sam.
Sam MICHAEL: We had some of our parts on the car today. Just on Rubens's (Barrichello) car actually. They are all working fine and we have some more parts coming tomorrow.
Q. Can you give us some indication what they are?
SM: We are running a diffuser today, a new sidepod and back part of the engine cover and then some mechanical parts which you can't really see. And tomorrow we will have a new front wing.
Q. Nick, you are obviously limited to the amount of bits you have brought.
Nick WIRTH: Yeah, we were planning to run our two updated monocoques, which unfortunately got affected a little bit by the delay in freight coming back which meant we were only able to bring one of them today which Timo (Glock) is running. It has a completely new fuel system on it and various other bits and pieces, some of which are coming out tomorrow as well, so it is just early days for that. So far, so good.
Q. He didn't seem to be very quick today. In fact, slower than Lucas di Grassi.
NW: Yes, we were running different fuel levels as we are sorting out the fuel system and bits and pieces, so we will see tomorrow.
Aldo COSTA: We had a pretty intense program today. We had several aerodynamic components to test, so we had modifications on the front wing, brake duct, diffuser and then we had our version of rear stalling wing.
Q. How did that go? It was interesting you were very quick in a straight line this morning but not so quick this afternoon.
AC: Yeah, we were doing a different test on a different wing setting, with a different system, standard versus the new system, so we have to put altogether the picture this afternoon, understand the data and then decide for tomorrow.
Q. Ross, you had quite a lot, I think. Longer wheelbases, different chassis, all sorts of things.
Ross BRAWN: Well, the bodywork change looks fairly dramatic. It is an improvement, of course. It is not a huge improvement. Most of the big improvements come from the wings and the underside of the car. But it is how we conceived the car at the beginning and we had a bit of work we still wanted to do before we introduced the car as you see it now, so we went conventional for the first four races. Now we have got the system we always planned. Like everyone there are modifications to the other key bits, wings, diffuser, brake ducts and we have changed the wheelbase in order to give us more range, more weight distribution, although this is a circuit where I don't think rearward weight distribution is so attractive, but it will be something we will want to use in some of the future races.
Q. Another question to you all. It has been talked about that KERS might be introduced next year or might be introduced with the new engine regulations in 2013. Can you just discuss that and whether you would like KERS next year, whether KERS is very important for Formula 1, whether it is an integral part of the 2013 engine regulations, if you feel that. Sam, you obviously have got a vested interest in the team.
SM: To answer your first question, we generally at Williams have always been supportive of KERS and we see it as part of Formula 1 in the future. The exact timing of when it is introduced is something that is still being debated within FOTA and I think the idea was to have the final decision this weekend, as everyone has got to get on and design their cars for 2011. But there are obviously different technologies out there and, as you said, we do have vested interests. We have battery technology and fly-wheel and I think that is a secondary or even third order of decision. The main thing is we just want to see a plan whether it is next year or later when it is going to be introduced. That is still going around for discussion at the moment for a final decision but we are fully supportive of it.
NW: Well, for us it represents quite a challenge. Obviously, we have not had the experience of packaging that and neither has our engine supplier. In principal, we absolutely support the principal of it and the principal of introducing hybrid technology to Formula 1. But we entered Formula 1 under a different set of regulations which have actually come to pass this year and I think everyone has to bear in mind that we are supplying and building Formula 1 cars to Virgin Racing which are cheaper than a Bugatti Veyron, so for us to introduce that with this kind of cost limitation that we have is quite a challenge. We think all round it is probably the most appropriate to look at that for the 2013 technology when we can choose the appropriate storage medium and integrate that in the new engine regulations.
AC: Like Williams and Renault we are supporting the introduction of KERS next year. On top of that ourselves and Renault in the last few months were also pushing for developing the KERS system furthermore to allow the system to have more performance as at the moment we think the system as it has been written in the rules is not performing a great deal. We think with a more revised system we can achieve from it much more and the application can be used also during a weekend or during a race for other purposes and for better integration of the KERS in the vehicle to reach the proper status of hybrid vehicle. At the moment it isn't as it is written, so we are proposing that but, unfortunately, there is not a lot of consensus at the moment. Another possibility is to use KERS for the sport to have a better show, so to write a sporting rule that allows the use of KERS for overtaking again is another good aspect, I think, for Formula 1. We are keen to use it, we are keen to develop it, we are keen to give to KERS more and more importance in the next few years.
RB: I think KERS is definitely the future. I think the concept of the new engine in 2013 is very much around a core internal combustion engine of some sort but then a lot of technologies around it, and the philosophy will be that those technologies are the areas that will be the focus of attention for development. We are very supportive of that. I think we have to recognise that KERS is in the regulations at the moment, so anyone within the regulations can use KERS next year. There was an agreement within FOTA in order not to escalate the costs that teams could use KERS if they could meet some target figures in terms of costs and if they could make their system available to customers for those costs, so I think as long as people meet those requirements, then KERS could be seen next year. We welcome any of those technologies. Whether we will do it or not we will have to look at all the numbers. But we are certainly not against KERS. We think it is a good technology. The issue that Aldo touched on is that some of the teams want to have more freedom with KERS and that will require a consensus from the teams and there are a lot of teams that have difficulty with that. That's the issue at the moment. But KERS is in the regulations next year, so anyone can use KERS next year as long as they meet the criteria.
Q. I can throw that back to Sam. Is that a possibility, might you just go out on your own and use it anyway?
SM: There is definitely a strong possibility that we will run KERS in 2011, but we won't be alone. That's why I said at the beginning that it is under discussion at FOTA at the moment, so we can try and come to some consensus as to what we do. But everything Ross said is correct; it is in the regulations. It is in this year's as well. It is only because of the agreement that no one ran it this year.
Q. Nick, have you got on top of your initial problems or are they still there? Obviously, hydraulics are something that seems to bug you in particular.
NW: Yeah, I don't think we are alone in that with the other new teams. For sure, the first testing and the first four races simply haven't met the expectations or standards of the team and also Wirth Research and our suppliers and as a group we continue to work tirelessly night and day to try and get on top of these problems. We are working right now in facilities all across Europe to try and get on top of this, literally as we speak, doing race distances on components across the whole transmission and hydraulic area. It has been a great challenge and I think we understand what the problems are as a group and hopefully we will apply a fix to it for this weekend but it really has definitely put us on the back foot for the first part of the year and made the focus of our efforts not on improving performance, just simply reliability.
Q. Aldo, have Ferrari got on top of their engine problems? It is difficult to say as, presumably, they were different for Sauber than for yourselves?
AC: Yeah, we had a few bad experiences at the beginning in the first few races. Now this question is becoming a bit more normal and we hope to be on top of it. Of course eight engines for 19 races are not much, so we need to be very, very careful in the use of the engines for the following part of the season. But we hope to be on top of that.
Q. So it is only hope to be on top of it?
AC: No, no, as I said the situation is more normal than for the first few races.
Q. Ross, what was the reaction of Michael (Schumacher) to the different chassis? Did you expect a reaction to it?
RB: Well, I think we don't have a complete understanding of the reason for the lack of performance in Shanghai. As I have said before Michael was making good progress. Any driver even of the caliber of Michael who comes back to Formula 1 after three years with just a few days testing is going to find it quite a challenge. It, for sure, has been. But what I saw was very good and steady progress through the first three races, so Shanghai was an anomaly, a blip, and there were areas of performance which we couldn't understand and you couldn't put down to driver ability or driver technique, so we changed the chassis as a precaution. That chassis had been damaged on the underside going over curbs. We thought we had repaired it adequately, but we didn't, so that car has been properly repaired back at the factory and Michael is using the chassis that we used in testing. He is relatively happy with the car and I'd say today things are back to normal as an extension of what we saw after Malaysia with Shanghai being a blip. It is very early in the weekend but we saw no areas of concern today which we did have in Shanghai.
Q. Ross, did the package meet your expectations? Did it meet what the wind tunnel predicted? And, secondly, Michael was significantly faster today than Nico Rosberg. Was it due to different programs or was it a fair comparison?
RB: No, there were different programs. Nico tried some different changes to Michael, so I think tonight we will put all the packages together and see how we run the cars tomorrow which is obviously how any sensible team runs. Particularly with no testing. You have got a lot of things you are doing on a Friday to try and gather the information, so at the end of today we will put everything together. But the package was doing pretty much as we expected. Normally, you come to Barcelona after a winter test with a driver saying the car is nowhere near as good as it was in the winter. At least our drivers are saying the car is much better than it was here in the winter, but it is relative; it is not comparative on the day, so I think we are reasonably happy with it but all the teams have moved forward and it is a moving target. If you do nothing in Formula 1 you go backwards very, very rapidly, and as Nick Wirth was relating to when you are trying to fight your reliability problems you cannot also progress on performance. If you stand still you go backwards two-tenths, three-tenths a race, so you are fighting hard just to keep up with what is going on and I think we have kept up but we have still got to find more.