Team principals: Ross Brawn (Mercedes), Tony Fernandes (Lotus), Christian Horner (Red Bull), Martin Whitmarsh (McLaren) press conference
Q. How important is this event as a home race? You are all based in the UK, but some of you also have bases elsewhere.
TF: I think it is very important. It is where it all started for me. I met Mike Gascoyne here a year ago. I feel as though I have been in Formula 1 for 100 years, but it was only one year ago that the first idea came out. Of course it is great for the team to be back here. It is great to see a Lotus car back at Silverstone, so it is important. Hopefully we can deliver something to be worthy of the Lotus name. It has been a fantastic start for us, but expectations grow and grow and grow. Let's hope we can bring two cars home. We have had lots and lots of emails, lots and lots of people saying they are coming. In Snetterton the other day we had 22,000 people turn up. That was quite an eye-opener for me and many of them said they are going to be here on Sunday, so let's hope that we can give a performance that's worthy of the name and the support that we are getting.
RB: Very meaningful race for me. It is a circuit where when I was working with Frank Williams, Frank won his first grand prix with Clay Regazzoni, so it has got some very fond memories and it is nice to be at a race that some of our staff can enjoy. We are based here but we are very multi-national. We have four home grands prix as we have Britain, Hockenheim, Abu Dhabi and with Petronas we have Malaysia, so we are fortunate that we have four races with extra pressure.
Q. Christian, an Austrian team but based down the road in Milton Keynes...
CH: It's our local grand prix and this weekend we have pretty much all the factory coming up over the course of the weekend. It is the one time that they get to see the cars in action. It is fantastic to be back at Silverstone. We all thought that perhaps last year might be the last year but it is great the work Damon Hill has done with the BRDC to secure the future of the British Grand Prix here at Silverstone. I think it is one of the circuits that is still amongst the favourites of the drivers. It still offers a massive challenge, an adrenalin rush for the drivers to compete around here. I think it is important that we retain the historic events combined with the modern events such as Singapore and Abu Dhabi. It is tremendous to see the turnout even on a Friday that is here this weekend. It is one of the highlights of the calendar and a race we are keen to run well at.
MW: I think as the guys have said it is great for a lot of people at the factory to be able to come and see the cars and I think that is important. It is very special for that reason. It is a campsite grand prix. It is a grand prix where you are very aware of people who have camped out for three or four days. They are very knowledgeable, very enthusiastic, and you meet them. I think that is quite special and it is something which increasingly we don't have in Formula 1 where perhaps we haven't developed that level of following and that history in some of the new circuits that we go to.
Q. Another question to all of you. What has been your drivers' reaction to the new circuit? What did they think about it?
TF: The initial thought was they kind of missed the old circuit. But they grew to like it towards the end, what they did run of it. They felt there was a little bit of low grip in the new bits but overall they enjoyed the circuit.
RB: I think they are fine with it. It is not such a dramatic change. There is a bit of an issue with the bumps adjoining the old and new circuit which brings a bit of a challenge but they are fine with it and I think it hasn't taken anything away from the great character of Silverstone. I am not sure if it has added a lot but it certainly they are pleased with it and there is nothing strange.
CH: I think it is an interesting addition to the track. It puts the track close to six kilometers which is a very long lap now. I think the only thing probably the circuit has given away is Bridge Corner which was a real challenge for the drivers and spectacular to see a grand prix car through there. But it has got a different characteristic, it adds a different dimension to the track. It puts an added emphasis on slow speed performance rather than just high speed predominance and it is another dimension and interesting challenge. The drivers have reasonably enjoyed it. There is a big bump through Abbey that you probably have all seen which is a little bit tricky but it is the same for everyone. Different, not necessarily better or worse, but just different. An added challenge.
MW: I think our guys were spending the day exploring the new car and the setups of that, not so much the circuit, so I don't think I have got anything to add to what has already been said. I think we were trying to understand what we have got here in the way of a car rather than understand the circuit.
Q. Tony, what have been the repercussions as far as you are concerned within the Lotus team after the accident at Valencia? Has anything changed?
TF: No, nothing at all. I am still friendly with Christian and vice versa. No, nothing at all.
Q. There wasn't anything that you could have said to the driver?
TF: We were perfectly happy with what Heikki did. He was racing. He braked at the right place. The telemetry said so. That's just racing.
Q. Ross, you talked about what you hoped was an improved performance here and about the various bits that have gone on the car. Has it been already improving what has gone on the car and really sorting it out, something which I suspect every team has got to do with these blown rear wings, blown diffusers etc.?
RB: I think there is an interesting chemistry to this year. With Christian's team we have got one team which is setting the standard in terms of pace and we are all trying to catch up and in trying to do that you take jumps but sometimes you fall over and with no testing it is very easy to make a slightly wrong move and the field is so close. I think Nico (Rosberg) in Valencia was six-tenths off the fastest time in Q2, but he didn't make it to Q3. You get a few things wrong in trying to put your package together, perhaps don't pay attention to the fundamentals as you are chasing these new features and you can fall away very quickly. I know Christian said this the other day and I always said it at Ferrari. There are no silver bullets. There is no one thing that you turn a switch and you suddenly find a huge amount of lap time. It is an accumulation of smaller things and because they are smaller things they are very often difficult to quantify and know that they are definite improvements. It is pretty challenging this environment of Formula 1. But it is the same for all the teams, it is just a different type of challenge now to perhaps the one we had five or 10 years ago and I think it brings to the fore the need for modelling, simulation, driver-in-loop simulators, those sort of facilities which the top teams are building up to substitute for testing.
Q. Martin, the same question to you. You are not at the bottom of the rung but is that what you are experiencing now, particularly with the bits that were brought at half-past-one this morning?
MW: Yeah, I think everyone in the factory is pushing hard and we are bringing the parts here. I think the issue is that often when you are developing the car you are incrementally bringing downforce to the car, the balance of the car. The driving setup characteristics don't change dramatically but with the changes that we are evolving all of us on the cars apart from Christian, then it requires a different approach, a different driving style, a different setup, so in an era where there is not very much testing it is quite difficult to go and nail that. You have a limited number of tires, fairly limited number of time and laps to do it in. That's the challenge. That's the modern era of Formula 1 and we have got to take all the data we have got today, make some decisions on what we are going to do tomorrow and hopefully get it right.
Q. Christian, do you see everyone getting closer and closer to you? And what does it take with those various bits to then develop them further?
CH: As we all know if you stand still in this business you tend to go backwards. As a team we are working very well. I think we have managed to add performance to the car at every grand prix so far this year and we have got a few little bits here which are helping as well. It is testimony to the effort that is going on in the factory 10 miles or so from here that as a group the extra mile they are going to get the components to the car, the hours that are going in, are just immense. Our performance is very much a team performance. I cannot speak too highly of the effort that is going in at the moment. Inevitably when you are setting the pace you are there to be shot at effectively. People tend to cherry pick bits and pieces or highlight bits of the car that might add performance but at the end of the day as we all know it is the package that counts. The guys have done a great job in evolving that package and the car, for example, here compared to where it was in Bahrain at the beginning of the year is considerably different but we can only focus on our own, getting performance to the car and hopefully that will be enough to keep us towards the front. We must never underestimate the likes of McLaren who have got tremendous heritage and also Ferrari and obviously the other big teams such as Mercedes. It is a very healthy situation for Formula 1 that there is not one team running away with things at the front of the field.