QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q. Martin, this new upgraded package was originally intended for Hockenheim and it's obviously been a rush to get it here. Perhaps you can give us some more insight as to how much of a last minute rush it has been to get everything done?
MW: As has been described, parts were still arriving at 1.30 a.m. There are a lot of new components on the car. People have worked incredibly long hours and day and night to just get those parts here. I think all of us, from Lotus through to Red Bull, we're all very proud to be part of organizations that are fighting to improve every fortnight. Formula 1 is an infectious business. Wherever you are on the grid you want to be one or two places further forward and that produces such commitment from people within our teams that while we are here talking about it, the amount of effort that people put in is phenomenal. It's a big effort. You've not only got to get the components, you've got to assemble them onto the car. Mechanics here worked very, very late. I'm sure they're going to be working through tonight as well as we consolidate those parts, make sure that they're working, make sure that we have the right specification of car tomorrow. We had a number of different parts on the car here today, we've got to try and pick through the data, make sure that we've got the best package that we can provide to our drivers tomorrow.
Q. Christian, you made a reference there to Bahrain. If you took the RB6 back to Bahrain now, could you put a number on how much quicker it would be?
CH: Very difficult. Difficult to say, probably somewhere close to a second, possibly. The pace of development is very high and the thing you never get a chance to do is go backwards. In the current regulations we have to try and rely on our simulation tools, be it wind tunnel or CFD and there are very few components that we've put on our car this year which have actually come off. Everything that's gone onto the car has pretty much added performance. You've got to assume that you're probably looking at around a second between now and Bahrain.
Q. You talk about these increments you make each race, the little additions. How do you actually discover what they are and how you need them? To the general members of the public over there it seems a bit strange. Perhaps you could explain why you think or how you think about a modification that improves the car. What's the process?
RB: The tools we have, which Christian just touched on: we have the wind tunnel, we have simulation tools, modeling tools. We know the factors which make a car go faster. There are some very simple, fundamental factors: if you have more downforce, or you have less drag, or you have a lower centre of gravity; those things normally bring added performance. The challenge for the engineers is that there's rarely one dimension to any changes you make. There are often two or three dimensions to the effect that it has on the car and trying to unravel those extra dimensions come from added performance or perceived added performance which is very challenging. To give you an example, it's very easy to make a front wing which is more efficient with more downforce but might be more sensitive to the height it runs at, so on the track, it's not necessarily a quicker front wing. It's when you get into that added dimension that it becomes complex and where we need to continue to develop the tools and the assessment methods we use. Years ago we just went out on the track and pounded round, using dozens of sets of tires, and try to establish the performance gains that way. Now it's actually quite different. But we all know the things that make a car go faster. Our aerodynamicists know that if they find more downforce, if they find less drag, more efficiency, then the car will go faster. So we've got lots of groups of engineers looking at areas and trying to find ways of improving their area. And it's not just the aerodynamics, it's the mechanical performance, it's the structural performance, it's new materials. Everyone in the company who is responsible for performance is trying to find five percent, 10 percent every year and it just accumulates into an improved car.
Q. In the good old days, if there had been an incident like the one that we saw in Valencia between Tony's car and Christian's, with a bit of luck, we, the journalists would have been rewarded with the two drivers rushing to each others' pits to punch each others' lights out. It's very frustrating to see the two of you being so terribly polite to each other. It was still a bloody great big shunt. I had a disagreement with a colleague of mine about who was to blame. Tony said earlier on that Heikki braked at the correct point. I'm sure that Mark Webber would disagree with that. It also looked to me as though Heikki was dithering. He couldn't decide whether he was about to be lapped or whether he was racing. Could we perhaps have a little bit more interplay between the two of you, and perhaps some figures about who did brake at what point and whether it was correct or not?
TF: First point is that he (Heikki) wasn't in any position of being lapped, he was racing. Mark came out of the pits and Heikki was ahead of him and he was racing for his position. So there was no dithering at all, he kept his line, he was straight on his line and according to our telemetry, he braked exactly at the right place, so we hold him at no responsibility at all.
CH: I spoke with Heikki this morning and I said to him that it might be a good idea to fit some brake lights because the braking point was what took Mark completely by surprise more than anything. At that point in the race, Mark knew that he needed to pass Heikki quickly and he was tight in his slipstream, Heikki was in the middle of the circuit. I think it was not having followed cars in that proximity, so closely previously, where previously we've only ever lapped them, it just took Mark completely by surprise how early Heikki braked. There's obviously a performance difference between the cars. Yes, Heikki was in the middle of the circuit but the closing speed was... at that point, Mark was doing just over 300kph and the resulting impact was quite horrific. At that point of time, all you can really think about is your driver's safety. Both drivers ended up having reasonably sized accidents, Mark's being the far more spectacular. We were just relieved to see him get out of the car unaided and without injury, and it's testimony to the regulations, to the design of the car, to the strength of the car that he's managed to be sitting in a grand prix car this weekend. I think it's wrong to place fault at Heikki. Mark was in a situation where he knew he had to pass and I think that the closing speed at that point was just so phenomenal, it just took him completely by surprise. It was one of those things, but there's no point of Tony and I getting excited about it, just relief that certainly our driver was OK.
Q. Question to Christian and Martin: both of you are managing the four drivers who are running for the World Championship. How much time are you dedicating to managing the relationship between your two drivers, what resources are invested in this? Are you using any kind of psychology or scientific methods? And Christian, it's the first time that two of your drivers are running for the World Championship, what kind of experience is this for you?
CH: I think the most important thing is the way that we treat our drivers with transparency and equality. They're both competitive, they're both hungry, they're both at different stages in their career and they both get equal priority and treatment from the team. For us, at the end of the day, it doesn't matter which one of those drivers wins a grand prix, so long as it's in a team car. As we saw earlier in the year they had an incident in Istanbul where perhaps they pushed each other a bit too hard but they've raced each other on many occasions where they have gone wheel to wheel, such as in Malaysia and in China to think of two examples this year, and we will continue to support both drivers equally. They're not pretending to be best mates, they're competitors at the end of the day. That's what we employ them to be and the most important thing is that they get the job done, not only for themselves but for the team, and that they work together in a very professional manner and a very constructive manner, they drive the car in a similar way. I'm sure they won't be spending Christmas together but it's a very constructive and positive environment within the team. I think the most important thing for any driver is to know that he's getting equality of equipment and priority.
MW: I endorse everything that Christian just said. I think that on top of that, I think that if the drivers are communicating, not just professionally but socially, then I think that that creates an environment where they are more likely to understand the motivations and moves that each of them make. But in both teams, clearly those drivers want to win, they want to beat their teammate, so it always has the potential for some tension and I guess that's something that the media is looking forward to, some of that tension, because it's something to write about, it's entertaining to see it, particularly if it goes wrong. I think in both teams at the moment, Red Bull and McLaren - obviously I know the situation at McLaren rather better than at Red Bull – I think you've got some balanced young men. They want to beat everybody, they particularly want to beat their teammates. They're willing to race, they're willing to push it quite hard. Our guys haven't touched quite as hard as the Red Bull drivers – yet – but they will continue to race each other and all four of those drivers in question want to be World Champion this year. That's just how it should be. I think if we sat here and said it will never go wrong, I think that would be ludicrous. I think, 'Has it gone wrong so far in McLaren?' No, not this year and I hope that it won't as the year progresses but I hope that the tension remains because if it does, it means that they are both still in contention.
Q. Martin, since we're clearly not going to have a punch-up between Tony and Christian, can I ask you if you're going to have a punch-up with Bernie (Ecclestone) about the continuing need for the Formula 1 Teams Association, and if so whether your extra height, reach and youth will win the day?
MW: I think people will draw lines between FOTA, between the FIA and between FOM. The fact is that Formula 1's got quite a lot of challenge: economic challenge, we've got challenge from all sorts of other forms of entertainment. The intelligent thing is actually we work on improving the sport together and it needs the governing body, the competitors and the commercial rights holder to co-operate. Now, there won't always be everything that we agree upon, but I don't think we're trying to compete, fight... we're really trying to find ways in which we can work together. Now it's difficult enough to have the teams working together. I think what FOTA has been able to achieve so far has been outstanding. While we talk about teammates, there's always tensions between the teams. I think providing we're very honest and straightforward about that – we all want to beat each other, we all want to get as much of an advantage one each other as we can – but if we do so without regard to the future of the sport, developing it and improving it, then we do so at our peril.
I think FOTA demonstrated fantastic compromise between all of the teams, for what it's achieved so far, in terms of cost-saving, facilitating the championship, helping some teams to be here that wouldn't otherwise be here. So I think that there's a list of achievements. I think we're now trying to understand how we can engage with fans, how we can demonstrate that Formula 1 can be a socially responsible sport as well, that we've got a lot more work to do and Formula 1 is far from perfect, as we all know here, but underlying it is all the things we talked about earlier on, the great commitment within the teams, people that work in the sport, the passion that exists here to try and win. So I think we're looking forward to working with Bernie, not slugging it out with him, and making the sport better.