Q. Ross, you just spoke most eloquently about Michael's ability to incentivize a team but only yesterday Michael himself told us, rather surprisingly, that the lack of reliability that he's had this year, was no big deal for him. This suggests to me that perhaps he's rather less ambitious now than he once was. I wonder if this is going to affect your decision about whether or not to re-employ him next year?
RB: I think you need to separate the opinions Michael gives to the media and the opinions he gives to the team. They are sometimes quite different. Michael's tough, Michael's very demanding in terms of within the team, but he does that in a very positive way. He demands things of the team and he commits himself to the team in return, but that's not something Michael shares outside of the team. As I say, he's a good team member so when we do have a problem, Michael's as disappointed as any of us, perhaps more so and will express that disappointment. But quite honestly he doesn't express that to the media because that's not part of being a team. It's as simple as that really.
Q. Ross, you know this year's Mercedes car very well; where do you see its biggest weakness and where do you have to improve the most to be fighting for the championship next year?
RB: It is very close this year. A few tenths seem to make a huge difference. Sometimes we've had qualifying where there is a very small amount between the whole top ten so small differences are pretty significant this year. We've had some good races with the car and some more difficult races. I think the more difficult races – for instance the most recent one was Hungary, we struggled with the balance. Paddy mentioned about what you try to seek with a racing car and it's balance, consistency of balance through a corner: entry, middle, exit. We've been struggling a little bit to find the right balance that also gives the consistency we need with the tires so we can get consistency with the tires, but then we don't have the quickest balance, the quickest car. When we have perhaps the balance we need for the quickest time then we perhaps struggle with the consistency of the tires so it's just finding that... yeah, optimizing the car around that has been difficult. We've got ideas, we've got our theories and views on what we need to do with the car and some of those will be implemented this year in order to understand what we need to do for next year's car. But it is this question of finding consistency of balance against tire consistency and tire durability. I think at the beginning of the year we had a very quick car but we were damaging the tires too much. As we've improved our usage of the tires, we haven't necessarily taken the performance forward and that is what we're focusing on now. But these challenges, these aspects of the car are what all of us here faced, it's what we're fighting all the time. Sometimes your car becomes a reference point; with no changes, after a period, it's not quick enough, because other people have improved, so it's a constantly moving target.
Q. For all three at the front, it's a question about the V6 engine. The V6 is on the dyno for everybody. With the current test situation, not being allowed to do any testing; what will happen? Are you discussing a new open session just for the V6 and is it a possibility to put the new engine in this year's car or next year's car for some testing?
PL: There have been a lot of discussions about whether we might make what is called a mule car to run the new engine next year. It's very expensive to make a mule car, especially when we have other programs running as well, not just expensive in money but in terms of the people you need to design it. We talked earlier about the challenge between different seasons; then you're adding a new challenge. Actually, most of the teams are agreeing that we will not have mule cars. The regulations wouldn't currently make a mule car of any benefit anyway but we're not agreeing to introduce any new test sessions that would use mule cars. So then the question is: can we enter a new season with a new power unit, without that track testing? That will place great reliance on the laboratory testing, using dynos, transient dynos. I think that compared to previous points in time when new power trains were introduced the technology is far more sophisticated now in the lab, so I think generally the manufacturers and the teams are feeling that it is realistic to bring in these new power units without needing to introduce special cars to get that earlier learning. But we will see. As we get closer to the time and the fear builds, maybe different agreements will be reached but at the moment, that seems to be the consensus. Ross, I don't know if you have some comments on that.
RB: I think Mattia should answer this one as well.
MB: It's clear that from an engine point of view we are very keen to run the new power unit earlier because what you can find on a car is never equal to what you can find on the dyno: all the dynamics of the car, gearchanges, running on bumps, whatever, is quite different to the dyno itself so we are all afraid that by the start of the season you find out that you have a big issue with the engine and the power unit, and you have no time to sort it out. On the other hand, I think it's very equal for all the manufacturers so whatever will be the decision, and it will be the decision of the teams, we have to accept it and we will try to do our best from that.
RB: I think the points have been expressed absolutely correctly. I think the only point I would add that rather like Paul is doing now with testing of the tires, he's using an old car to test the tires and my understanding is that there's nothing to stop a team testing an engine with an old car if they want to. Whether that is the most effective thing to do is a different matter, because it's a huge resource to do that and as Paddy said, there's a lot of improved technologies there since we last introduced a new engine. We have lots of ways of trying to understand the engine and the complete power train and the systems will work together, so I think there's going to be a lot of laboratory work but I think a team can chose to use an old car and put the engine in it, but it's a pretty massive program.
Q. Paul, some teams did have issues with blistering here last year. I just wondered if you could just run through what Pirelli have done to look at that and what the teams have been asked to do in terms of that as well?
PH: Yeah, we've obviously got a similar issue to last year, in that we haven't been doing any running today in the dry so replicating what happened last year there's always that risk that the teams don't have a chance to run at what is a very very difficult track for the tires. Here we've made some slight changes. We've got a slightly thinner tread to reduce the material in the shoulder area which is subject to blistering, reduce the camber levels for the front tires. We ran here earlier, as I said, in testing and that seemed to give us a positive result so if we get some dry weather we will see.
Q. Ross, there are rumours of Mercedes thinking of quitting the team and AMG becoming the owner of the Formula 1 team. Can you say something about that?
RB: We don't comment on rumors as you know but we're very committed to succeeding in Formula 1 and the level of commitment that's being made in the team is indicative of what we want to achieve. As I say, we don't comment on rumors but Mercedes has been in Formula 1 for a long time through good years, through bad years and we're committed to succeeding.
Q. I'm not sure to what extent this follows on from what you were saying about mule cars, Paddy, but in light of the WEC (World Endurance Championship) rules, is anyone tempted to put some bodywork on an F1 car and try testing your engines at Le Mans?
RB: I think it's a good incentive because obviously it's a huge investment in a new engine and I think the technologies on this new engine are exciting and much more relevant now than the engine we have. I think it's great that the initiative is carrying through into different forms of racing but I don't think any of us would be ready to undertake such a program plus obviously the needs for an endurance engine can be a little bit different to an F1 engine, although we do have to make the engines last longer again than at the present time so we are moving in that direction, but I think the idea of having a cross-usage of the engine in different categories is very good and could certainly help with the investment that's needed in new powertrains.
Q. Has that been mooted at all with either McLaren or Ferrari?
PL: No, I haven't come across that idea before, but as Ross says, I think the point of the new power unit in Formula 1 is that it's supposed to introduce a technology which is relevant to the automotive manufacturers. It is a positive direction, so if that is the case, then it must also be true for any other form of motor sport so if we can find ways of using the same power unit in other formulae then that must be a great idea.