TEAM REPRESENTATIVES – Andrew GREEN (Force India), Rémi TAFFIN (Renault Sport), Martin WHITMARSH (McLaren), Toto WOLFF (Williams), Luiz Pérez Sala (HRT).
Andrew, if I can start with you. First of all, who does Force India see as its rivals and where do you hope to be at the end of the season? What position? What are you targets?
Andrew GREEN: Ultimately, everybody on the track is our rival. At the moment we would be targeting sixth position, that would be a realistic target for us. It’s going to be difficult. The cars in front of us are all very, very competitive. So it’s going to be a big ask and we’ll have to dig deep, as we always do, and we’ll be pushing like crazy right until the end. That’ll be the plan and we’ll see where we finishing. So far we’re in a position where we’re better than we were last year with respect to points and we’re reasonably happy with that. If every we score more and more points then ultimately we’re going to go up, so happy with that. But there are just some teams in front of us who have scored some big results and got on the podium and that’s put us behind them. It’s just a matter of chipping away at them and hopefully by the time we get to the end we’ll be just in front. That’ll be the plan.
What about developments? What sort of developments can you envisage coming through?
AG: It’s a tricky time. We brought our last big development to Silverstone. We didn’t really get a chance to evaluate it in the wet conditions. Beyond that it’s about optimising what we have and getting to know what we have and getting it to run at its peak. Development now really is turning to next year. For a team of our size we can’t afford to develop a car much beyond this point in the season. It’s really a case of trying to optimise what we have.
That was going to be the next question, when does development shift to next year?
AG: It started a while ago.
So most thoughts from the design team are on that?
AG: From about this time, yes, it has switched over.
Rémi, first of all tell us about your role within Renault F1?
Rémi TAFFIN: Basically, I’m just working on the track as Head of Operations, so whatever we deal with on engines on track I’m responsible for. Basically we have four teams we supply engines to, as you know, and I will make sure through a race weekend that we’ve got let’s say a crossover in between these teams to make sure the Renault engines are well used in any car but trying to keep the confidentiality that we must have.
Obviously the great subject here is all about mapping. Can you explain to us what that means and when you change that how big a change is that? And how it is done.
RT: We’re not talking about big changes. We’re talking about an ongoing process, which is obviously race after race you try to optimise your package and engine maps are part of that and that’s what we’ve been trying to do since the beginning of the year. When you talk about engine maps it’s something that is done by everyone in the pitlane. So that’s not something unusual.
When we talking about it, we’re talking about software… someone has referred to it as a ‘gizmo’. Can we explain that?
RT: Let’s take the example of the engine map we’ve been talking about. It’s basically what the engine is able to produce as torque during the weekend, for example here. And that’s where is the bulk of the part to play with in Renault engines. That’s what shape… what we have got as torque in the car.
And when it comes to Red Bull – how much of a change in performance would that have been, that was caused by that change.
RT: It’s very difficult to quantify, but let’s have, say, a scale: we’re talking about hundredths and not at all about seconds or tenths. We all know that every bit on the car we’re going to be working [on it] to get the hundredth out, so that’s part of the job.
Martin, obviously you’ve had an update recently but how much has that been affected by the weather. We’ve had a wet Silverstone, a wet Hockenheim and now we have we weather here. How much has development been affected?
Martin WHITMARSH: Well, it’s certainly difficult now that we don’t test. If you bring a whole package of upgrades to the car, on Friday morning P1 typically we have our only test session and if it’s wet then it rather handicaps that test. It’s been difficult. I think we’ve made some progress and we will continue to do so. We had a reasonably big package of upgrades in Germany and we have a few bits and pieces here as well. You’ll do what you can. We’ve had a remarkable run of run of rain in the practice sessions so far this year. It would be nice to get some steady, dry conditions where the engineers can work more easily. But it’s the same for everyone. Everyone, to varying degrees, is trying to develop and improve the car and that’s part of the challenge. Sometimes you’ve got a great data set and you can go forward with confidence and other times you have to make a decision on a limited data set and in some ways that’s more interesting. The engineers don’t like it but it’s more interesting when you have to take a bit of a flyer.
You must have been really pleased with the way those worked in Germany for Button particularly in the race but obviously Lewis a little bit as well and Lewis fastest in both sessions today?
MW: Yeah, you’re not pleased until you’re scoring maximum points. I think we’ve made some progress. But this year has been a very difficult to predict championship, it’s been tyre dominated. Those who work the tyres… you can work very hard on your car but if you can’t turn the tyres on then you’re in trouble. We’ve seen that a few times on our car – too often – and we’ve seen it on a few other cars. That’s a great challenge for everyone. I think it’s going to be a very exciting championship. You’ve got to say Fernando and Ferrari have done a great job to be where they are, but there are still 430 on the board, to be taken, and I’m sure ourselves, Red Bull, all these teams here will be trying our best to pull back that advantage.
Jenson’s had a bit of a difficult time recently – you must have been really pleased with the way he bounced back in Germany?
MW: Yes, of course. If you are a racing driver and a racing driver in a team like McLaren or Ferrari, you’re going to come under quite a lot of scrutiny. It’s very different, you can turn up as a rookie in some other teams and there’s pressure because you’re in Formula One but I think if you’re in McLaren, whoever you are, same if you’re in Ferrari, year in, year out, if you’re not qualifying on the front two rows of the grid then there’s quite a large enquiry afterwards and all sorts of pressure ensues. I think Jenson hasn’t lost his skills, he’s had one great win this year, he’s very, very fit and very, very committed and I was delighted for him that he’s back on form and I’m sure he’ll be strong this weekend.
Toto, first of all, you have a new position within the Williams team, what does that involve?
Toto WOLFF: Formally, I have a new title. Actually the position is not quite new, I have been doing the same job for a couple of months already after Adam’s departure. It involves basically helping Frank in the daily job running the team.
You’re an investor in the team as well as holding this new position. Where do you see the team in five years’ time? What’s your plan to take it forward?
TW: My approach, kind of changed. I was an investor before, which is the easier part – you can criticise and stick your nose in everywhere. Now formally I’m an official employee of the company – at least I work for the company – so I have to deliver as well, I’m part of the team. Where do I see the team? When I joined in 2009 I gave myself a five year period to progress. Now this is a random period, it just sounded OK for me. We have won a race this year, which came quite early, maybe earlier than expected, but I think the team is on-track technically and on-track setting all the other commercial departments as well.
And to have this commitment, you must have a vision for the sport as a whole as well. How do you see the sport progressing?
TW: The sport, Formula One, is still the biggest or largest global sports platform in the world and it’s growing, it growing healthy and successfully. Obviously you can always try to change and optimise things but it’s a fantastic platform worldwide and this was the basic concept behind getting involved in a Formula One team.
Luis, the team seems to have made some improvements – how do you see that progress?
Luis PÉREZ-SALA: We are quite happy, I am quite pleased because the start of the season was very, very difficult; to have the car ready was almost a goal. And then, from the first race where we did not qualify, we have been improving the team. We have new headquarters since April 1st in Madrid. The race team is already working on, I will say, getting used to the races and we still need to grow the team on the design and the aero side.
How is that expansion coming on from the team point of view? And also, from an economic point of view how easy is it to expand the team in that area?
LP-S: The problem is when you are short in economic… no, in the budget – we have maybe the lowest budget of any Formula One team – you need more time to grow because you cannot do whatever you want. You have to be careful – but I think we have enough to make a good team and to stay. That’s why we are here. We try to improve but we have to be realistic. And it is going to take time for us.
Is recruitment fairly easy for you? Are you looking worldwide for recruitment, for engineers, for design people? How easy is it to get people to come to work in Madrid?
LP-S: It’s not difficult, it’s one of the advantages of the crisis I would say: you have more people on the market and we can find them. The problem is that it’s not easy to find the good people to work for HRT. Sometimes it’s not easy to find who are just the key persons. But we are there, we are having a lot of interviews and slowly, slowly we are growing. We are hiring people. And even if we want to keep it as a small team, I think if we optimise our research, we can improve our performance and be closer to the front rows.
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