Transcript of the Friday Press Conference organised by the FIA for the 2016 Canadian Grand Prix.
TEAM REPRESENTATIVES – Dave RYAN (Manor), Robert FERNLEY (Force India), Franz TOST (Toro Rosso), Guenther STEINER (Haas), Christian HORNER (Red Bull Racing), Jock CLEAR (Ferrari)
Jock, let’s start with you, welcome. You arrive with this weekend with some updates, how pleased are you with the way that they’ve performed so far?
Jock CLEAR: So far, they’ve performed as expected. Obviously you don’t arrive with these things fresh out of the box. It’s done a lot of work on the dynos back at home. It’s been fully calibrated. We should know what to expect and the good thing about today is that we’ve had no surprises in that respect. It’s doing what it said on the tin.
Now, the last few races have been affected by less than ideal qualifying. Is that just a case of Red Bull moving ahead and that your updates haven’t moved you ahead enough?
JC: It’s difficult to say. Like all of these things in F1, it’s never one specific thing. It’s generally a combination of a number of things. Obviously Red Bull have made improvements and have qualified strongly recently. We’ve underperformed in Quali 3, having felt we had the pace to compete right at the front and then dropped away at the end. Was it a tyre issue? Was it set-up? That’s the conundrum we have to try to unravel and I think we are some way to doing that now. I thing that some of things we have looked at in the last couple of weeks, after Barcelona and Monaco, are pointing us in the right direction. But it’s all relative and our pace is always going to be judged by the people that are right at the front and until we’re right at the front we’re not going to be satisfied. So we just keep searching for that performance.
Thank you for that. Robert, coming to you, great result in Monaco. Do you feel that the team is back punching above its weight again after a faltering start to the season? Is that down to the most recent upgrade package?
Robert FERNLEY: I don’t think that we’re punching above our right. I think we’re working to reality really in terms of where the team is. The resources have been built up. Vijay has invested heavily in the team over the last few years and we’re moving forward as a team as a whole. We may be under-resourced in terms of personnel but I think we do a good job in terms of assets. I’d like to think we’re punching where we should be. And as far as Monaco is concerned it was a great result but we’ve got strange races, with Monaco, Montreal and an unknown in Baku and I think until; we get back into the standard circuits it’s unfair to make a judgement.
You’re currently breathing down the neck of Williams. Do you feel you can potentially finish ahead of them in the championship this year?
RF: Williams are an extremely good team and it will be extremely difficult for us to do so. Of course that’s our goal and we’re not going to give up on anything and Williams is our target but we’ve got Toro Rosso breathing down our neck, so I don’t think there any room to manouevre anywhere!
Thanks for that. Christian, obviously Daniel was clearly very upset about what happened in Monaco, coming after Barcelona two weeks before. As an experienced manager, how hard ahs it been to get him to keep the faith?
Christian HORNER: I think he’s been pretty good actually. I think it took a couple of days after the race to get the emotion out of what happened. Obviously the whole team was gutted about being in such a string position in the Monaco Grand Prix, which isn’t your standard race, and then to obviously lose what looked like a certain victory, Obviously a huge amount of analysis has gone into what’s happened, why it happened, and as with all these things it’s never a straightforward scenario. I think the way that Daniel has dealt with has been very good. After taking a couple of days out, he’s now focused fully on the positives: the fact that the car is competitive; the fact that we were able to qualify on pole – our first pole since 2013 – and the fact that the upgrades with the engine and chassis are all working in harmony with each other bodes every well for the rest of the year. Of course there is disappointment over Monaco but a lot of optimism for the future and the future races.
You’ve signed again with Renault. With the development you see there and with the importance of aerodynamics in the 2017 regulations, do you see next year bringing Red Bull potentially back into contention for regular wins and a tilt at the title?
CH: I think we’re on a good trajectory. I think all engineers relish changes within the technical regulations and that applies to the chassis guys as much as it does to the engine guys and I think that what we’re seeing is that the engines are converging. I think that the guys in Viry have done a great job over the last six months really. Progress is coming on the engine front and with a shake-up on the chassis regulations, inevitably some teams will get it right and some teams won’t. Hopefully, we’ll be one of the former. It’s exciting and it certainly exciting and it feels that we are on a trajectory that is moving more and more towards competitiveness.
Thanks for that. Dave, coming to you. How are you feeling about the battle with Sauber at the moment? How close are you to challenging them do you think?
Dave RYAN: I think we’re pretty close. We had a pretty good day today. We’re working hard at it and they’re our obvious target. We’re bringing a lot of parts to the car and I’m pretty hopeful that very soon we’ll be with them, if not this race then in a couple of races.
What about your drivers? It’s interesting that Haryanto has outqualified Wehrlein three times this year. How do you evaluate their performances?
DR: Both drivers are doing a really good job. We are six races in and as you say qualifying has gone one way or another. But as we all know qualifying does bring different challenges at different times. They’re doing a great job and they will get better as time goes on.
Thank you. Guenther, coming to you, first race in North America for the new American Formula One team. How does that feel and has it changed anything about how the team has approached this weekend?
Guenther STEINER: No, it hasn’t changed, because the race team is based in England, so it hasn’t changed a lot. For us… the good for me is that it’s the first time I don’t have a jet lag and everybody else has got one, so I’m pretty happy, because I live in the States. Otherwise everybody is happy to be there. North America is the home of the team. We are very happy to be in Canada and we look forward to go to Austin in October.
A third of the way through your debut season – some great results, some difficult moments, generally underwhelming in qualifying – how do you assess your start and what have you lined up for the rest of the season?
GS: I think we know now were we are roughly in the ranking. There will not be big changes if we don’t come up with something special. We are still learning. We got a lot more stable. We know now what we can achieve and what we cannot achieve. I think we can always be in a position to score points, if other people… a race is race, things can happen, and if we are there to wait to get into it, we can. So, we are not changing a lot. We try to get better, especially in qualifying; I think our race performance is better than our qualifying performance. Again, it’s a learning phase. We are pretty happy with the whole team, how they developed over the past three months, from where we came. It’s our seventh race. I keep forgetting myself. It’s only our seventh race, while we compete with people who are here for years. All in all, we just keep trying to do a better job and then get prepared for the new car coming next year.
Thank. Franz, back to Renault power next season. Tell us why that’s the right move for Toro Rosso?
Franz TOST: The main reason we decided to go back to Renault is to use more synergies with Red Bull Technology and for this we need a common power unit as a basis and I think Toro Rosso can profit out of this change, because we can get nearly the whole rear part from Red Bull Technology –the gearbox, hydraulics, also suspension systems, and this will help us make another step forward.
Daniil Kvyat is back with the team. How is he adapting to being back to the team and do you expect to have either of the current drivers in the team again next season?
FT: I don’t know yet. We have only done six races yet and this is a decision that will be made by Red Bull at the end of the season, which driver will be with Toro Rosso in 2017. So far, I must say that Daniil has recovered very fast. He is quite happy to be in the team. He got more and more familiar with the car and the team and I expect a very good second half of the season from him.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Jerome Bourret – l’Equipe) You are of course used to back-to-back races but these ones are a bit particular, with a long trip to Baku. May I ask you if this makes your life more difficult or is it business as usual in the preparation?
JC: Yeah, the facts are it does make our lives more difficult, because it’s a lot more complex. You’re going to somewhere you don’t know. But again, it’s the same for everybody and actually we relish the challenge really. The logistic battle is just the same as the battle there out on the track. Teams are big now and getting there and getting prepared is actually one of the challenges we are going to take on and try and do as well we can and hopefully that will give us an edge. It looks a very exciting circuit. The stuff we’ve done on simulators and the photographs we’ve seen, it looks like it’s going to be a great place to race. I think both drivers are really up for that kind of street circuit. The environment there sounds really good. People who have been there are really raving about the place, so actually we’re excited to get there and see what it’s like. Obviously a track that you don’t know is always going to throw up some surprises. It’s never going to be exactly the same as your simulator so we’re all going to learn a lot in the next 10 days and we’re looking forward to it.
Guenther, is there less of a disadvantage for a new team when everyone is going to a new track?
GS: I don’t think so. The good teams are good for one reason: because they can get well prepared. They spend a lot more time than us. I think as Jock says, we are as well excited. It’s a new place. We haven’t seen it. There are positives, negatives being reported. We go ourselves to look at it and then come away with an opinion. Again, our preparation is maybe less than the big teams are doing because we have other things to prepare, because for us everything is new! But in the end it should be more of a level playing field for us but the good teams know what they are doing and they will be very well prepared and better than us, but we will do our best.
Q: (Dieter Rencken – Racing Lines) It’s no secret that Formula One has an unequal pay structure with, for example, Red Bull and Ferrari in common with three other teams earning premiums from Formula One’s revenues, Haas not earning anything, even if they finish in the top ten this year and the three at the back basically receiving payments on a take-it-or-leave-it basis when the contracts are drawn-up. It’s inevitable that Formula One is going to have to address this issue going forward, so possibly all of you – Jock you may not be in a position to comment – but the rest, if you could please give me your thoughts on how you see Formula One’s optimum pay revenue structure after 2020 please.
CH: Well… of course if it was a world like all the journalists live in where I’m sure you’re all paid the same for doing exactly the same job, then it’ll be a very easy scenario of distributing the money but as with all these things, the commercial rights holder holds the financial keys. It’s down to the rights holder to decide how they’re going to distribute the revenue and then it’s down to the teams to decide whether they want to compete or not. It’s still some way away. 2020 we’re talking about, which is the end of this agreement – but I would envisage that talks would start over the next 12 months or so – or 24 months – but impossible really to predict. But of course every team is going to do the best for themselves. You can’t blame the teams for the distribution of the revenues. It’s the job and responsibility of the management within the teams to do the best that they can for their teams. So, the distribution of it will come down to what the promoter decides to do.
RF: Well, I’d probably come at it from a slightly different angle to Christian, as you would probably expect and I’d hope we’d do things differently. The idea of privileged teams going away, negotiating with CVC and deciding how much to skim off the top before distribution to other teams, for me is not acceptable. I would like to think the Commercial Rights Holder this time does it in a more transparent way. The Premier League is a perfect example of where you’ve got a performance-related programme that’s very fair and transparent. There’s no need for negotiations: we’ve got a pot of money needs to be done; split it in a proper manner; make it transparent. Teams take it or leave it.
GS: I disagree with Christian. I think the last one in should get most! Joking aside, I think it should be more equal – but the best ones should get more because you’re better, you’re winning. It’s also in the Premier League or any football. Is it distributed wrong in the moment? People negotiate it and, as Christian said, if the management did a good job to negotiate for their own company, you cannot blame them, there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s more like the rights holder negotiates on their side and needs to keep the other ones happy. The people in the back, next time, need to make sure that we are happy as well going forward. I think there will be in something between but again once we start to negotiate I think it will get a little bit more transparent, that deals are done altogether. But again, the teams which are good and are winning and are there for a long time… if you were in there position you would ask for more of the revenue. It’s something in between. Between being completely equal for everybody and unbalanced. But let’s see what the next 12-24 months brings when negotiations start. I think they should start pretty soon because they normally take long, so that we are not getting to a point where people are forced into taking a decision to stay or to leave, or to take what is there or to leave. So, next time we will be involved. This time we knew what we were going into. So we cannot be happy or unhappy: we took the fact it is what it is, because other people negotiated – but next time we will play a part in it and voice our opinion.
FT: I hope that the private teams get more money because the manufacturer teams anyway have a lot of money, and that we can close the gap from the performance side. Because it is simply a question of the financial situation.
DR: Yes, for sure it would be nice to think it could be made more equitable. The difference between the front teams and the back teams is too big. I do believe the leading teams should get more money but I think the gap is just massive at the moment and it needs to be looked at in a slightly different manner.
Jock, are you able to speak on this?
JC: No, obviously not a huge amount of experience in that area and it would probably not be right of me to comment.
Q: (Francois David Rouleau – Journal de Montréal) My question is for Ferrari. How important is it for you guys to launch the new turbo here in Montréal?
JC: It’s somewhat a strategic decision because obviously the different aspects of the car benefit different circuits in different ways. We try and bring a development to the car as soon as possible and accelerating that development, bringing those things to the track as fast as possible has some risk involved. Were we to try and get that turbo to Monaco, the benefits would not have been huge around Monaco and the risk would have been another two weeks less of development. So it’s a balanced risk that we’re always working on in all of our developments and Canada were that risk was decided to be worth taking. It’s a circuit that will benefit the upgrade that we’ve bought; it’s a circuit where we should be able to clearly see the benefits for ourselves – and that’s important to justify and to close the loop on that development from the factory point of view. Had we brought it to Monaco, as I say, it’s debateable whether we would have seen much benefit and whether we would have exactly been able to pick the bones out of it. We’ve brought it here as a strategic decision: this is the kind of circuit where it is going to benefit us and, as I say from the earlier question, we’re seeing that today in our data. So we’re happy.
Q: (Jeff Pappone – Inside Track) I just want to pick up on something Christian said earlier about the engineers always wanting to be challenged and the new regulations are going to do that – but with the engines coming together and coming closer, could there not be a really good case made for continuing to work inside the chassis box that they have now and the racing won’t be a little separated next year as everybody tries to figure out the new regulations?
RF: I think we went through a significant process in trying to improve the racing, improve the aesthetics of the car and generally get Formula One to be a little bit sexier – which is what we were asked to do, by the commercial rights holder in particular. I think overall we’ve done quite a good job of that. It’s a balance, as you rightly say, between trying to keep the competition. As one of the teams that could go either way on that, it’s one I feel, a bit like Christian, that we relish the challenge – even though it’s quite a significant challenge to us. So I think overall it will be beneficial and I look forward to ’17 very much.
Jock, you want to give us an engineer’s view on this?
JC: Yeah, from an engineering point of view, as Christian said earlier, we all relish all sorts of development in any area and any change in regulations is seen as an opportunity to steal a yard on the opposition. We’re excited about next year in every respect. You just get on with what you’ve got to get on with. So we don’t really look at the bigger picture. As engineers we don’t look at the bigger picture of whether this is going to be holistically a better solution for the sport. The engineers themselves just say ‘right, this is the challenge that the regulations have now set me, let’s get on with it,’ and that’s what we’re doing at Maranello quite aggressively now.
Q:(Alexander Govorov – Championnat.com) I have a question to Franz Tost. Franz, you just said Daniel Kvyat is quite happy at Toro Rosso but at the same time you cannot deny that he is going through some difficult time in his career. What can the team do to help him get over this time?
FT: First of all, if you’re in Formula One, it’s not always going up, sometimes there are some obstacles and you have to find a solution how to jump over them. Dany has come back to us, he feels well in the team, he knows nearly all the engineers and what we have to provide him with is a competitive car. Currently I think we have a good package together. It’s not so easy here in Canada. I don’t know what’s going on in Baku because there’s a very long straight – but nevertheless I expect that he, in the second half of the season will show some very, very good races and that he is able to come back and show a good performance because he is a very high-skilled driver. He has to come over this difficult period. We have to support him from the mental side and I think the team is pushing hard. I am convinced Daniel will come back with a smile on his face.
Q: (Graham Harris – Motorsport Monday) Franz and perhaps also for Christian: in Monaco, Carlos was doing rather well and he got let down by arguably two not so good pit stops. This is not the first time that it’s happened to a Toro Rosso driver. Are you looking at anything specific to improve your pit stops like Williams put their programme in and they’re now king of the pit stops?
Is there something you’re working on or is this something that you’re just addressing generally?
FT: Of course we have to work on the pit stops. The front right wheel was removed too slowly in Monaco therefore Carlos lost one second. This was the reason why he came out behind the train of Perez, Vettel and Hulkenberg, otherwise maybe he could have finished in third position. We have done around 55 pit stops before the race, as preparation, and nearly all of these pit stops were between 2.4s and 2.6s. During the race, unfortunately, the front right wheel locked and therefore they couldn’t remove it as fast as they wanted to. Today, I think we did 17 pit stops. The fastest was 2.1s but not only one, there were three or four with such a good time. We also made some pit stops during the free practice; they were between 2.4s and 2.5s. If they can repeat this in the race, we shouldn’t have a problem. We have also had some really good pit stops during the season but unfortunately in Monaco the pit stop was not good enough.
CH: Obviously in any competitive sport you’re always pushing the boundaries and when you push the boundaries sometimes mistakes happen. At Red Bull, we push the boundaries, we push them constantly and when you live life on the edge sometimes you fall over. The most important thing with that is to learn from it, put procedures in place to learn from those difficult days and inevitably human error will creep in now and again. We do our best to mitigate it, we do our best to eradicate it. Red Bull’s had a tremendous history of success in the pit lane. I think we’ve got the Guinness Book of Records fastest pit stop. Generally, we’ve been rock solid in the pit lane. Monaco was one of those unfortunate perfect storms of things going wrong. We’ve analysed it, we’ve learned from it, we’ve put procedures in place to try and ensure it will never happen again but of course you can’t guarantee that. All the teams push the limit and that’s what sport and Formula One is all about.
Q: (Dieter Rencken – Racing Lines) Before posing my question, Christian, just to comment about your journalism perfect world issue. We generally get paid on the basis of performance and quality but none of us gets paid a premium for turning up to every race until 2020.
CH: Are you sure?
Q: (Dieter Rencken – Racing Lines) Absolutely, absolutely.
CH: There are a few guys that I….
Q: (Dieter Rencken – Racing Lines) Well, that’s maybe your PR people. Getting back to my question: when we do negotiate these new contracts going forward, one of the other issues that’s got to be negotiated is the governance structure which has been very very contentious and in fact the subject of an EU investigation. Again, to the five of you, what would be the ideal governance structure in your opinions please?
RF: I feel quite strongly about this. First of all we’ve got a payment scheme that only pays into ten teams so we have to decide if we’re going to have ten teams, eleven teams or twelve teams and then once that payment scheme is sorted out as to that level, because even this year you are going to have a situation where perhaps eleven into ten doesn’t go. But if we move on from that, each team really is paying the same amount of money to put the show on. There’s very little difference between what Ferrari, Red Bull, Haas have to pay in order to be able to get here, to put the show on, to put a chassis in place, get the two drivers out. The difference is the development costs and the development costs are something that even though we would like to control it we’ve been unable to do so. So I think that as each team is paying roughly the same amount of money, each team should have a say in what’s going on so I am a great believer that the strategy group should be replaced, as it was before, with each team represented.
CH: Well, my view is quite simplistic on this. The business belongs to the promoter. It’s down to them how they want to promote the sport and how they want to generate the funding and then obviously the distribution. They’ve got to make a decision of can they afford a big offset of payments or should it be more evenly distributed but that’s their business, that’s their job to decide what is the best for the sport. I think the promoter should say this is what I want Formula One to be, this is what I want the cars to look like, this is the show that I need to put on to bring the fans into the sport, to bring in the sponsors, to put on a great show for TV and make Formula One the spectacle that we all know that it can be. I think the governance should be very clear that the FIA are the regulator and so having understood what the concept of the sport should be from the promoter, the regulator should regulate that. They’re the policemen at the end of the day and their role should be very clearly defined. And the teams are the competitors. I think where it all gets very blurred is when everybody starts messing in everybody else’s business and I think that’s where we constantly run into trouble. If you keep it simple, keep it straightforward, then it should be a very straightforward negotiation. It won’t be, we all know that but that’s an idealistic view I would have.
DR: I have to say that one of the things that’s quite different since I’ve come back is the way the regulations are formulated. It’s difficult not being involved in any of the discussions early on and you get presented with the regulations to vote on it or not. That’s how it is and that’s how we have to deal with it but it does seem a bit strange that you can be participating in a sport and other people dictate the regulations that you then have to abide by.
GS: In a simplistic world or in a sensible world, what Christian says is right: the people decide what we have to do but in the end, we want a say in it as well or everybody, so I think the governance should be that all the teams have the same say like it is suggested we should all have the same money, everything is equal, which will not happen and again, I think the better ones should get more money but a say in the sport, I think the sport could do away with the strategy group but then again, I wasn’t there when the strategy group was introduced and don’t know the real reason why it was introduced so I’m a little bit careful to say that. But I think if you want more say but then we don’t want more say, we need to make our minds up here. What do we actually want? I think it will all come out when the next negotiations start for after 2020 to see where it goes but until then, again, we knew when we came into it how it is regulated, how the governance is and we were happy with that and I think we get involved only when the time comes up to say we want to change it and we give our opinion. I hope we can sort something out. We are happy and the sport has got a good future.
FT: The FIA should make the regulations without asking the teams too much because that’s useless, everybody has his own opinion, everybody does not want to lose his advantage, therefore we have all these discussions and the commercial rights holder should distribute the money in a fair way, also without asking too much.
Q: (Matthew Walthert – Bleacher Report) For Dave and Robert and anybody who wants to answer: there was a lot of excitement yesterday with the big Heineken announcement and I’m wondering from your perspective with smaller teams if there’s any concern when these big global sponsorship deals are done for the whole series that perhaps it takes away opportunities for your teams to find new sponsors?
DR: I went to that presentation yesterday and I thought it was great and I think it will be great for Formula One so no, I don’t have a problem with that level of involvement, no.
RF: Probably the same as Dave. We’ve got to remember that all sports are changing and Formula One isn’t excluded from that and that’s I think the reason why we have to look at a better distribution of the income model because sponsorship is now getting confused a little bit between circuit sponsorship and the team sponsorship. The teams are finding it harder and harder to land the bigger sponsors, it’s more competitive. I think Heineken is fantastic for Formula One. I like it where it is and obviously the teams will benefit from that but in order to get it more balanced, we need to get the distribution right because the mix between TV money if you like and sponsorship money is changing and has changed hugely over the last couple of years and we need to address that.
CH: Yeah, just to pick up on that, the great thing about the Heineken deal is that it’s a great brand, it’s undoubtedly a significant amount of investment into the sport over the next few years and every single team will benefit from that, through the distribution portals that the money filters its way into the team. Every single team will benefit from Heineken’s involvement in the sport. I think it’s a positive thing, I think it’s a good thing, there are some great brands involved in Formula One now and hopefully we can put on a good show for them.
FT: Heineken is a very well known brand all over the world and as more such big companies join Formula One the better it is, either with teams or at the race track advertising there, this doesn’t matter. The important thing is that they are involved in Formula One.