Japanese GP: Friday Quotes and Press Conference
Jenson Button (6th, 1:32.533): "This morning was pretty tricky; I couldn't get a balance with the car at all, and was really struggling with understeer through the first sector. You give away so much time when you've got understeer through the esses because it's tougher to get the car to change direction. For the afternoon, we made a few changes and the car felt a lot more responsive. We're quite a bit off the pace of the Red Bulls, but we've got to look at getting the best out of the new package that we've got. And that requires extensive testing, which can take a couple of runs. I don't think we got the best out of our new parts, but we've made some good steps forward. We did a good job today of improving the car, but there's still more to come. That's encouraging, we're just not there yet."
Lewis Hamilton (13th, 1:33.481): "I damaged the car in the early laps of the first session. I was only on my second fast lap, and was probably pushing too hard too soon. I didn't go that wide - it wasn't that big an off - but the gravel was very slippery at that point. A couple of other drivers had moments there and got away with it. But that's life. The guys in the garage did an incredible job to rebuild the car - they really had to work hard, and they got me out for the last 10 minutes of the second session. They are so supportive in this team: if one person is down, they'll do their best to lift that person up. That's what we do as a team. I had to run the older rear wing in the afternoon, so I didn't really get a proper feel for where the car is. And, hopefully, we'll have a second new rear wing for qualifying and the race. Tomorrow's another day - and it looks like it's going to rain, so everybody will have to start again. They say bad things come in threes - so after Monza, Singapore and today, I hope this run of bad luck is over and done with."
Martin Whitmarsh, Team Principal: "Lewis's accident this morning cost us some track time, but we still managed to amass a serious amount of data from both his car, and from Jenson's more extensive running in both sessions. While the team did a fantastic job to get Lewis's car turned around in time for the final 10 minutes of second practice, due to a shortage of new components, he was unable to run with an optimal bodywork package, which slightly compromised his final pace. But we are already pushing incredibly hard to rectify that, and I'm confident we'll have new parts here in time for tomorrow. Nonetheless, we've got a solid basis for the rest of the weekend, and we'll be focusing on extracting the maximum from the new parts for the remainder of the weekend - something we didn't quite achieve today due to the breadth of analysis required and the shortfall in run-time that we experienced."
Nico Rosberg (11th, 1:32.880): "It's been quite a challenging Friday for me. Unfortunately my morning was hampered by a gearbox issue which cost me some running time at the end of the session which wasn't ideal. From then on, I just haven't been as happy with the car here. I had a lot of understeer which we haven't established the reason for, so we need to look into that overnight. Things started to come together more on the option tire which gives me hope that we can build on that progress tomorrow. It should be an interesting weekend with the rain so we will try to make the best of that."
Ross Brawn, Team Principal: "It's been an interesting Friday as we have worked to learn as much as possible from the dry track before the expected rain arrives this evening. Michael had a positive day with the car running well to allow him to get used to the track again and develop his set-up. Nico had a few challenges with a gearbox issue interrupting his program this morning and a few concerns with the balance this afternoon. We have a lot of information to work with so we expect to make progress overnight. It could be an interesting qualifying if the rain comes so we'll need to be on our toes."
Norbert Haug, Mercedes Motorsport Director: "There is certainly room for further improvements after today's practice sessions but we have definitely experienced more challenging Fridays this year. Our race pace today looked quite reasonable but of course we are still not good enough to fight at the front of the field. The forecast for tomorrow is predicting rain so the order we saw today may change in different conditions. Michael and Nico did a good job today taking into account the current capabilities of our car and our target is to repeat this level of performance tomorrow and on Sunday."
Sebastian Vettel (1st, 1:31.465): "We had a trouble free Friday, which is the most important thing, especially on a track like this where you need to get into a rhythm with all the quick corners following each other. The car was reliable and I had a good feeling, the pace looks okay too. The forecast suggests rain, but there's no reason why we shouldn't be competitive in the wet. The conditions have been quite inconsistent during all the wet races that we've had so far this year, so it's hard to know what everyone's pace will be."
Mark Webber (2nd, 1:31.860): "A good day, we couldn't have asked for much more - we had faultless running and got a lot of mileage. The team put the cars together well and we had a smooth day. The balance of the car feels good although it's a circuit with lots of different types of corners, so you can't have everything - you need to work out what the priorities are for the best lap times. We're not sure what the weather's going to do tomorrow, it looks as though it may be a bit wet, but we've got good info in the bank, so we're ready for what happens."
Fernando Alonso (4th, 1:32.362): "It is only Friday, so the times today do not really mean much. What we must always keep in mind is that the pecking order between the cars can change significantly in terms of which track we are at: you only have to look at McLaren who were very strong in Spa and Monza, but definitely less so in Budapest and Singapore. So I would say it is best to wait until the end of tomorrow before giving a definite judgment on the situation here in Suzuka. In theory, Red Bull look unbeatable here, as they always have done, except in Monza and also there were various races where come Sunday, they were beaten, so again that's a reason to wait before drawing any conclusions. Today, we did not put together a perfect lap, so there is some room for improvement. We have to analyze the data to see how to do that, but of course the others will be doing the same. The forecast is for rain tomorrow: if that happens, we must concentrate and avoid making any mistakes, which can cost you a lot in the wet. Then it will be down to luck, as to who finds themselves in the right place at the right time on the right tire. The aim in qualifying is to be in the top five, then we can see how things go in the race. I wish to welcome Sergio Perez to the Ferrari Driver Academy. I am sure that, like me, he will feel at home in the Ferrari family alongside the other guys in the FDA. I know them all and I can say that the communal Latin culture will help him as it helped me in this my first year in Maranello."
Felipe Massa (5th, 1:32.519): "I thought Red Bull would be very strong and maybe they are even more so than I had expected. Having said that, it's likely we will have a wet qualifying tomorrow, so anything could happen: we must try and be ready to make the most of whatever situation presents itself. The aim is still the same, whether the track is dry or if it rains, which means to qualify as well as possible. The track is pretty hard on tires because of the many high speed corners, therefore managing them properly will be important during the race. We will use the blown rear wing, as on this track it definitely brings an advantage in performance terms. There is still room to improve the handling of our car, but we can't really expect any sort of change in terms of performance."
Stefano Domenicali, Team Principal: "These first two sessions certainly did not throw up any surprises. We were expecting Red Bull to be very strong and that has proved to be the case, while it is harder to evaluate the McLarens, especially given what happened this morning with Hamilton. We worked through our program and now we have to analyze the data and prepare ourselves as well as possible for qualifying and the race. Tomorrow there is a very high chance of rain, therefore anything could happen. We will have to pay great attention to managing all the various situations that could arise. We must remain focused on our own tasks, without worrying about what the others are doing."
Chris Dyer: "It was a reasonably positive day, during which we completed our program, without encountering any particular problems. We tested a few new aerodynamic components and the first signs seem favorable. There is still work to do to get the car performance right, especially on new tires. Furthermore, we must bear in mind that setting a time right from the very first lap might be less important given that tomorrow it is supposed to rain for qualifying: if that happens we can definitely expect an exciting day! With a heavy fuel load, the car's handling seems quite competitive, which is definitely a positive factor in terms of Sunday's race."
Nico Hulkenberg (10th, 1:32.851): "We had some technical problems during today's second session which prevented us from going out exactly when we wanted to, but they didn't really cost us anything and today went ok overall. It's looking really competitive out there. We aren't looking too bad; we just need to get everything right tomorrow. The circuit is living up to expectation and I'm loving driving it."
Rubens Barrichello (14th, 1:33.564): "I obviously had a problem with my car during the second session. That was disappointing, but the car seems to be well balanced and should take us through to Q3 again tomorrow."
Sam Michael, Technical Director: "We experienced some technical problems today which threw us off plan slightly. We had electrical issues on Nico's car, while Rubens' practice engine developed a pneumatic leak towards the end of P2. All of the upgrade parts are working well though so they will remain on the cars for qualifying. The car also looks like it has reasonable pace. The forecast predicts rain tomorrow afternoon, which could make for an interesting qualifying."
Robert Kubica (3rd, 1:32.200): "It's nice to be in P3 in both sessions, but we have to remember that this is only free practice. We need to wait and see what the weather will bring us tomorrow and try to do our best in all conditions. The forecast is saying there will be quite a lot of rain, so it was important to do a lot of running today and complete all our evaluation ahead of the race, which looks like it might be dry. If it is wet tomorrow, then today will have been our only chance to drive on dry tires before the race."
Vitaly Petrov (7th, 1:32.703): "I was quite satisfied with my day because we found a good balance with the car and this is really important for this circuit. In the morning we tried not to take too many risks and do normal runs to help me learn the circuit. In the second free practice we just tried to push a bit more to understand the car and the set-up. We changed a lot and the car feels much better so the team did a good job. But let's wait and see what happens tomorrow because I think it will be a very tough day."
Alan Permane, Chief Race Engineer: "The track was fine. It's quite high grip here so there were not too many complaints from the drivers. The wind picked up in the second session, which gave us a little bit of trouble and made the car a bit more difficult to drive, but no real dramas. With the weather looking very wet for tomorrow, the main objective was to have a really good look at the tires because we don't expect we will get a chance to do any dry running tomorrow morning. So we spent a bit longer than normal evaluating the tires in the second session. With Robert's car we are struggling with a little bit of inconsistency, which I'm sure we can work on overnight. Vitaly was suffering with some understeer this morning, but his engineers made several changes between the two sessions and improved the car a lot. I think he (Petrov) did a good job. He finished up about half a second away from Robert and we can expect him to close that gap a bit more tomorrow."
Adrian Sutil (9th, 1:32.842): "I feel today went quite well. In the morning session I did just one run on the hard tires as we had a small issue that kept us in the garage for longer than we hoped for, but we fixed it between sessions and got on with a very busy program in the afternoon. We made a lot of runs to test the fuel levels, the wing settings and run through our normal changes. The car felt good the whole day so there wasn't really very much to change. We also didn't have any major problems so overall we can be quite pleased with the progress we've made. I'm looking forward to tomorrow, there's a threat of rain and it should make it a very interesting and exciting qualifying session."
Vitantonio Liuzzi (18th, 1:34.310): "It was generally quite a decent day as we did a lot of work, particularly in the afternoon when we did over 30 laps. We are struggling with the balance at the moment with a lack of overall grip and we couldn't get the best out of the soft tires when we ran them in FP2. We should be better tomorrow when we've looked through all the data and gone a bit deeper into why we haven't got the ideal set up just yet. The predicted weather will add another dimension so I'm looking forward to getting back on track to have a better day tomorrow."
Dominic Harlow, Chief Race Engineer: "A good day's work from the team today. We evaluated some of the aerodynamic upgrades that we have brought to this event and carried out our normal Friday preparation. The Bridgestone tires are working very well, and we are going in the right direction for the balance of the car. The wind picked up a bit this afternoon, affecting the first sector, and Tonio suffered a systems problem on his new tire outing so we know there a little more to come. Tomorrow is a different day, but it's been a solid start to the weekend."
Sebastien Buemi (16th, 1:34.005): "I had an impressive spin at a high speed corner, but apart from that there were no technical problems. I managed to do quite a good lap time on the Option tires and I feel I have a clear picture of what the car is doing. But we need to work hard now with the engineers to improve the car, although tomorrow will be a different picture if it rains. We do not appear to be as competitive as we were in Singapore and Monza and it is difficult to say exactly why. It is hard to tell how much we can improve, but the situation is still open for us to increase our performance level."
Jaime Alguersuari (17th, 1:34.055): "This morning, I tested various new components which made the session more complicated than usual, as I found the car quite difficult to drive. I made a couple of mistakes and there were times when I found it hard to keep the car on track. This afternoon went much better, even if we lack a bit of speed compared to Singapore. We can analyze the data tonight and improve for tomorrow and I would be happy if it is wet for qualifying, as I think we can be more competitive in the rain than in the dry."
Laurent Mekies, Chief Engineer: "It was a trouble-free day for us and we evaluated several different set-up options across both our cars. However, we still have a lot of work to do tonight to try and improve our performance and to get the car as well adapted as possible to the layout of this track. Suzuka presents a real challenge for engineers as well as drivers, which makes it very enjoyable. Life will be further complicated by the fact the forecast is for a wet Qualifying and a dry race, so it seems we are set for a fun weekend!"
Heikki Kovalainen (19th, 1:36.095): "I think we've got to be pretty pleased with today. We ran through the whole program and even though we can't find the same grip levels as the guys ahead, I think we achieved what we set out to today. The battle with the guys around us is now really tight, and that's excellent, for us in the team as it keeps us focused, and for the fans as they have something to keep them on the edge of their seats. Obviously nearly all the effort back at the factory is on next year, so it's good that we can keep ahead of Timo and Lucas, and I think for the rest of the weekend it will be a really good fight between us."
Jarno Trulli (20th, 1:36.333): "It's always good being in Japan. I have some fantastic support here, and it's great to be here for the first time with Lotus Racing. It's easy to see what we mean to the fans, and next year will be even better for them, in so many ways for the whole team. Today we completed a good number of laps but I haven't been particularly happy with the grip levels and balance, in either session. I think there's a lot more to come from the car tomorrow, and with some more work tonight we should be able to find more time and more performance tomorrow."
Riad Asmat, Chief Executive Officer: "I'd like to add my thoughts, and those of the whole team, to Peter Warr's family on the sad news we received as we arrived in Japan. He was an inspiration to all of us, and long may his memory remain. We're all pleased with the day's work - it was good to see both cars complete a lot of mileage and maintain our position ahead of both other new teams, and it was also good to turn our attention back to the track after a very busy couple of weeks for the whole team. We have a huge amount of support around the world, particularly in Malaysia, across Asia and in the UK, and we have had some amazing feedback to the news that we will be running Red Bull gearboxes and hydraulics next year - we'll continue to do our best in 2010 to make all our fans and partners proud, and I think today we did just that."
Mike Gascoyne, Technical Director: "Today was the first day of running for us since the very sad news of Peter Warr's passing. This weekend we want to pay tribute to Peter who contributed so much to the Team Lotus legend. He paid us the privilege of being our guest at the first race this season in Bahrain and our thoughts will be with his family for the whole weekend. On the track it was a good day for us. We had a solid session with both cars, running a normal Friday program and we had decent pace and no reliability issues at all. We managed to complete as many laps as possible as obviously the forecast tomorrow is for a lot of rain, so this will be the only dry running we will have all weekend."
Bruno Senna (23rd, 1:37.352): "It was a good day for us and we went through some changes to get a good feedback from the car. We have some ideas of what to do in preparation for the next sessions. Apparently, the weather is going to be wet so we won't be able to carry on with our setup. We hope to do a good job tomorrow and we will see what happens."
Sakon Yamamoto (24th, 1:37.831): "It was good to be back racing in Suzuka in front of my home crowd with the team at this challenging circuit. Today was quite successful and we managed to do many laps. Now we have to analyze the data and work on improving for tomorrow. It is going to be exciting to run here under wet conditions, something which I really like to do."
Colin Kolles, Team Principal: "It was an effective day for us, as we could do 121 laps in total and we could fulfill our program completely. So we were able get a lot of information in preparation for Sunday. In the morning, the track was green but it improved in the afternoon when it got quicker. Both drivers, Sakon Yamamoto and Bruno Senna, got more experience on this technical track and now we have to see what happens tomorrow, when the track is expected to be wet."
Kamui Kobayashi (12th, 1:33.471): "I am very happy to be in Suzuka, and I enjoy driving here a lot. But nevertheless it was a tough day for me. I wasn't happy with the balance of the car because I have too much understeer. We definitely have to improve the balance by doing the right set-up changes. I found both tire compounds difficult because they dropped off so quickly. After just one lap I had problems. In the morning I also had some aero parts to evaluate."
Nick Heidfeld (15th, 1:33.697): "Driving on the Suzuka Circuit always gives me a lot of enjoyment! I found the car really not too bad on the harder Prime compound, but then it was a surprise when we fitted the softer Option tires. The car behaved a lot differently and the lap time actually didn't improve. This is something we have to sort out before qualifying. In the first session this morning I did runs comparing different front wings."
James Key, Technical Director: "It was a standard Friday for us. We had some aero test items in the morning, and rather than doing a lot of set-up work we mainly concentrated on running different parts to make sure we optimize our package from Singapore. In the afternoon we made some set-up changes and ran both tire compounds. We found we have a small inconsistency in the balance in sector two, which is by far the weakest sector for the car. We have to work on that tonight. We have a lot of data to look at and we'll analyze this in preparation for tomorrow."
Lucas di Grassi (21st, 1:36.630): "For me this is easily the most technically challenging track of the season. There is no margin for any mistakes as the track is very fast and narrow and if you push too hard you're definitely going to go off. It was a real pleasure to drive the track for the first time. A lot of work has been done with the car today. We are still far from where we need to be but there is more to come from the car and myself over the next two days. Things are getting better all the time so I think we can make a good improvement for tomorrow."
Timo Glock (22nd, 1:36.834): "Today has been a fairly routine day and we kept to our normal program. This afternoon the car wasn't feeling too bad at the start of the second session but when we switched to Option tires we weren't able to find any time in them, which is a bit strange. I think we will need to review our set-up direction but as the weather is starting to change towards the cloud and rain forecast for the weekend, this will be the case for everybody. I think we will see rain tomorrow so we will see what those conditions bring for the car."
Jerome D'Ambrosio: "It was something very special to be running here at Suzuka today. The track has a lot of history and is very interesting - a kind of 'Asian Spa' with a great blend of technical challenge mixed with some very fast corners. This was really my first proper run in dry conditions because the track was wet when I ran in Singapore. It is never possible to get a lot of laps because of the tire allocation, but I still get to learn a lot in a very short time and I'm very happy about the way everything went today."
John Booth, Team Principal: "Once again Jerome did a very solid, professional job in the first session and was able to give us some useful information on set-up. We have had to work hard on car set-up today but we seem to be going in the right direction. Unfortunately, neither driver was able to get the ultimate performance from the Option tire. We're expecting heavy rain tomorrow, which hopefully will provide a good opportunity for us to qualify further up the grid."
TEAM REPRESENTATIVES: Norbert HAUG (Mercedes), Robert FERNLEY (Force India), Adam PARR (Williams), Franz TOST (Toro Rosso), Hiroshi YASUKAWA (Bridgestone)
Q: First of all a question to all the Team Principals about your engine deals for next year and also your engine usage this year. Are there any concerns about the eight engines coming up as we are near the end of the season. Franz?
Franz TOST: Toro Rosso will continue the co-operation with Ferrari. We will run next year the engine as well as the KERS system from Ferrari. Regarding the usage of this year we are absolutely on plan. We will run tomorrow a new engine here in Suzuka. With this engine we will do Sao Paulo and Abu Dhabi and in Korea we will run with the Monza engine. We are absolutely on plan.
Q: That is with both drivers?
Tost: Both drivers the same, yes.
Robert FERNLEY: Yes, we are also fine with engines. We are linked again to Mercedes I am pleased to say for the next couple of years and we have no issues at all with our engines for 2010.
Norbert HAUG: The same for us, knock on wood. We are on plan like we have planned it. So far everything is fine. Regrettably we had a problem with Tonio Liuzzi's car in Force India which was not according to plan, so sorry for that but other than that everything was fine and like we have planned before.
Q: Does that mean he is out of schedule?
Haug: No, no, everything is fine.
Adam PARR: We are with Cosworth next year and we are fine with engines this year.
Q: There was something published today that Rubens Barrichello had an engine problem this afternoon?
Parr: Yes, I don't know whether that was one that is going to affect the number of engines he has got. But he has two in hand anyway. He was going to have a fresh one for this weekend and then a fresh one for Brazil.
Q: So you have almost got more than you need?
Parr: We have got stacks.
Q: Another question to you all about the young driver test at Abu Dhabi. What drivers are you going to run there and are you evaluating them potentially for inclusion in the team?
Tost: We will test in Abu Dhabi Jean-Eric Vergnes. He is a French driver, 20-years-old. He won this year the English Formula Three Championship and was also good in Silverstone when he raced in the Renault World Series. He won the first race and in the second race he finished second and I am very much looking forward to testing him in Abu Dhabi. But next year our driver line-up will be with Jaime Alguersuari and Sebastien Buemi.
Q: So Vergnes will get both days in Abu Dhabi?
Tost: Yes, he will test both days for us.
Fernley: We are not planning at this time to run the young driver program. We have no plans to test anybody else. We are comfortable with the drivers we have.
Q: For next year as well?
Haug: No final decision is taken for the young guy but hopefully it can be one of the guys who are in the Mercedes scheme. No final decision is taken.
Q: And for next year that is all taken care of?
Haug: All set, like we are.
Parr: We have one day reserved for the winner of the Formula Two Championship, Dean Stoneman, and we haven't decided on the other day yet. We haven't confirmed our driver line-up for next year either.
Q: Franz, this year you have designed, developed and built your own car. That was something you hadn't done previously. How has that come together and how is it looking for next year?
Tost: We are still building up the infrastructure at Toro Rosso. That means we are still bringing in new employees. We started in the aerodynamic department from September 1st this year onwards working in a two shift and as well as production we extended the working hours to two shifts. So far we are within schedule. Last week, on Wednesday, the (inaudible word) of next year's monocoque was machined. They are just making the moulds now and so far everything is running quite well. We are not as large as other teams but the number of employees will also increase in the next few months and I am so far quite confident that we are on the correct path.
Q: Hiroshi-san, obviously this is an emotional time for you. Your last Japanese Grand Prix for Bridgestone. Just tell us first of all, looking back at the past, how it all started.
Hiroshi YASUKAWA: Actually our brief for motorsports started in 1976, and in 1976 and 1977 we supplied our tires twice to Formula One in Fuji and at that time our dream was that one day we would come into Formula One. But very far away and also at that time our company was so tiny. Co-incidentally in 1980 Honda re-started in Formula Two. Then in 1981 we started with Formula Two and our competitor was Pirelli. Then maybe the second year Pirelli stopped and Michelin was coming and we lost a lot. That was a very tough year. In 1983 we did Formula 3000 and the company said 'Hiroshi, you have to come back to Japan.' After that we did Le Mans and different races, categories, and I think in 1991 Mercedes Benz asked us to start in DTM. Also at that time against Michelin. ... (becomes inaudible). We dominated DTM and also we were doing IndyCar and that time Norbert Haug introduced to us a very strong Penske team. We made good results but always I had a dream that one day I wanted to join Formula One. Then in 1997 we started and in 1998 we got the World Champion with Mercedes Benz McLaren and at that time we had very good competitors. But always we are losing and now just by ourselves and very unfortunately we are going to stop at the end of this season.
Q: What do you think motorsport has done for Bridgestone as a company?
Yasukawa: Actually first we were going to develop the radial tires. When we started at that time cross-ply tires were the majority of the construction. But Michelin already started the radial tires. We wanted to produce radial tires. We achieved that and after that our brand awareness in Japan became very popular. But, unfortunately, we did not do anything outside Japan and only some people realized that Bridgestone is a tire company. But when we started Formula One very quickly we increased our brand awareness. This is one of the biggest profits for our company.
Q: Tell us about the history of Bridgestone and here at Suzuka as it is quite fitting that this is one of your last grands prix.
Yasukawa: This racing course started 1962. I was a boy. I came and I watched the race. Not car races but motor cycles. In 1964 Bridgestone supplied some tires but just normal tires. After 1976 we were pushing very hard and we have very good memories and we met many very famous drivers but all of them were very young.
Q: Robert, it may seem a little unfair to ask you about the Indian Grand Prix. It should perhaps be the Team Principal, Vijay Mallya, but I believe you do a lot of business in India yourself. Perhaps you can tell us a little bit about how the Indian Grand Prix is coming along, particularly when we have the background of the Commonwealth Games which are not going so well.
Fernley: I think just to correct you on one thing I don't get involved in the business side with Vijay in India. Vijay and I have been pals for over 30 years and one of the things that means a great deal to him... he was actually the first person or he and I both took the first Formula One car to India many, many years ago and it is going to be quite a thrill to take the Force India racing team there. So as far as the track is concerned as far as I know it is moving along very, very well. It is a private enterprise program. Slightly different than the Commonwealth Games, so I don't expect any difficulties there. I expect it to be a great event.
Q: And the interest in India and Formula One?
Fernley: I think the interest will be very, very high. We are also going to be complementing that. We will launch a driver academy in 2011 for Force India which will be longer term and hopefully that will give it the grass roots' process as well.
Q: Have you got plans to place him? It looks like he is going to win the DTM Championship this year.
Haug: Well, that is still open. Three races to go and I think four guys can still win the championship. But Paul is certainly a remarkable driver, no doubt. But it is not in our hands. Of course we have discussions with Force India. We have a good relationship but it is not our decision at the end of the day. We cannot influence it. But it would be nice for Paul, nice for our junior scheme, nice for DTM to bring another driver up and hopefully he has a good chance.
Q: Adam, is Nico Hulkenberg still looked on favorably?
Q: Has he a chance of staying? What is holding up the driver process?
Parr: I cannot go into that. We haven't announced it yet and I don't think this is the moment to do that.
Q: Can we expect an announcement soon?
Parr: I don't know.
Q: All cards are in the air?
Parr: I am afraid they are at the moment.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Joe Saward) Gentlemen, team principals; Bob Bell, recently technical director of Renault, is on the market. Anybody want him?
Parr: He's certainly a very capable guy. I hope he will get a job very soon.
Haug: Certainly, first of all I'm not the team principal, so maybe I cannot talk about that. It's Ross's job but he has enough today, and it really is. I think this is not a good opportunity today to talk about these issues. As Adam said, Bob did a good job and I've no idea what will happen.
Parr: Is he paying you for this, Joe?
Tost: He's a high-rated engineer but we have Giorgio Ascanelli in this position and we are very happy with him.
Fernley: Yes, I think Bob's done an incredible job for Renault and all we can do is wish him well. I don't think there's anything Force India will be able to do but he deserves a place in Formula One.
Q: (Joe Saward) Can I come back to you, Robert, on the subject of the technical goings-on in your team? It seems that one driver always goes well and the other driver doesn't. Is that because one driver's slower than the other or is there a problem with the cars and is Tonio Liuzzi just unlucky?
Fernley: There is an element of those factors, Joe. Tonio has had a problem with the mechanical and aero packages in the car throughout the season, and we work hard to try and correct them for him. There are times when it all clicks together and other times he's still struggling a little bit with it, but it is fundamentally something we have to keep working with on him.
Q: (Joe Saward) Lotus have signed a deal with Renault and they're getting to buy Red Bull transmissions. That makes them a fairly competitive force for next year - perhaps. Why didn't Williams get a Renault engine and go down that route, Adam?
Parr: Because we have the view that the Cosworth engine is very decent; we don't want someone else's gearbox we make our own and we're very proud of the technology that we put into it. To change engines, I think, would have been a massive disruption again, and any possible benefit that it could have brought would have been more than outweighed by the disruption and waste of time in changing everything again. So we're very happy. We've got a nice steady program going into next year for once and we're really enjoying that.
Q: (Joe Saward) Despite not having any drivers who are going to necessarily...
Parr: You don't need any drivers, do you?
Q: (Bob McKenzie - The Daily Express) Could I ask everyone what they think about racing at a circuit that has not yet been signed off and is still drying off and there is apparently not much of an infra-structure, that being Korea, and particularly from Bridgestone's point of view about racing on a track that is still curing?
Tost: As far as I know, Charlie Whiting will go there next week, will have a look, will have an inspection and then they will make a decision and so far as I know we will go there and we will race there. Maybe there's a little bit of an advantage (to that for us), we will see. Just let's go and see what's going on, because I haven't yet seen the track, therefore it's difficult to estimate the conditions but I'm convinced that the FIA and FOM will find the correct decision.
Yasukawa: Always when a new race track is coming, this time Hermann Tilke, the producer, they give us some idea of the surface. I think we've already made the tires, so we have to try. Our tires are equal for everybody. At this stage, wait and see.
Fernley: I think, like Franz, we're very comfortable as a team to put our faith in the FIA. They're not going to sign off on something that they're uncomfortable with. If there are a few things missing, we're all in it together and it's the same for everybody. We're quite comfortable.
Haug: Well, absolutely the same. We supported the decision to go there. I'm sure the right decision will be taken by the FIA and I want to underline that if we had stayed where we used to be, years and years ago, Formula One wouldn't be what Formula One is right now. Of course, everybody would have wished that this track is ready a little bit earlier but I'm sure there are good reasons for the delay. But if you look back, there was a lot of criticism sometimes of new tracks which are really good right now. I think Formula One developed in a very good way and of course Bernie (Ecclestone) was very much pushing in that direction, not the easiest way to go motor racing for the teams but if you are not growing, it's just wrong and I think it's the right approach, really.
Parr: I totally agree with what Norbert said.
Q: Norbert and Hiroshi, what's been the interest from Korea from your commercial points of view, selling cars and tires there?
Haug: Yeah, it's a fast growing market. If you look back to China years ago, there was basically nothing, or not a lot. This August, we sold 2500 S-classes in one month in China, which was a record there, so the fast-growing markets are important for us. Of course, it's important that you go there for a couple of years - you cannot expect the big breakthrough in the first year, but as I pointed out, this is the right direction. I think it's very, very positive if the automobile industry is growing, is selling cars and this is what is happening right now with our company. We never produced more cars than in September, so this is a record in the history of Mercedes Benz which is quite amazing if you look back at the last year, how the situation was. So Formula One contributes, and I'm sure that when we get the right results on the race track, then Formula One will contribute even more.
Yasukawa: For us it's also the same. Korea is a very, very important market and nowadays their economy is growing sharply. This is very interesting for us, and also many products are now coming from South Korea to Japan, and also we can export. This is very interesting. Now many Korean cars are also exported which means that we have lots of opportunities to sell tires. I can say it's a very important market for us.
Q: (Alan Baldwin - Reuters) Norbert, I gather that there's a story from Bild saying that Mercedes have given Michael Schumacher an ultimatum to shape up or get out at the end of next season. Can you just give a comment on that, or a reaction?
Haug: Well, this is an interpretation of what was said, but of course there was no ultimatum. I think Michael again showed today his class, his full commitment. We are currently a little bit handicapped with our car but I have no complaints and no regrets that we're going to achieve our target. We need to work hard. As I said before in a similar conference, we are sticking together and Michael is, for me, as good as he ever was and probably even better. He's relaxed, concentrated. He doesn't need anybody to defend him, certainly not me but we are very happy with the job he's doing and we need to give Nico (Rosberg) and him a better car. I think it's absolutely obvious that Nico has so far extracted what was possible from the car. Only on a very few occasions was this not the case. I think he learned a lot with Williams and if you would name one of the top guys that are currently young and experienced in Formula One you would certainly mention Nico. So Nico is a very good benchmark for probably everybody in the field. You would never know that, because you're only driving one car for one team but it's not easy for anybody to compete against such a guy and Michael does that quite well, not always in qualifying but if you look throughout the season, if you take into consideration that he was not in Formula One for three years, we are heading in the right direction and there is certainly not an ultimatum.
Q: (Michael Stauble - SRG / DRS) I would like to know your opinion about the new safety car rule that says the pit lane will be closed as soon as the safety car is deployed, as in IndyCar.
Parr: I'm very embarrassed to say that I wasn't aware of this new rule.
Q: (Michael Stauble - SRG / DRS) It's in discussion right now.
Parr: Oh, I see. Better tell somebody before the race starts. You know what? We seem to change the safety car rule about once a week, usually because a team, one or other team, has had a bad experience. The problem is whether you close the pit lane immediately or you close it at a certain point or you don't close it at all. Every time there is a safety car, somebody is going to win and someone's going to lose. So I'm afraid I kind of get slightly bored with the idea that we should keep changing the rule all the time.
Tost: I personally am against closing the pit lane because I remember back in Canada, I think, for me it's stupid if the red light is on and cars crash into each other in a Formula One race. We are not on the street where there are traffic lights. It should be open and then it's up to the teams whether they get an advantage or not.
Haug: Well, as Adam pointed out, there have been some changes in the past and I think that a couple of years ago the rule wasn't too bad. Maybe one should have a look at what we have had but you need to be mindful with changes. There are pluses and minuses whatever you do and of course if you want to have a surprise result, the safety car is deployed, the guy in twelfth position can still enter the pits and get a big benefit, or if it rains or whatever, then the whole field is in a different shape than before. If you look for a decision like everybody has got the same chance, then you probably can discuss closing the pit lane. There are pluses and minuses for both solutions.
Fernley: Yes, I'm also against artificially controlling the races. I think it adds to the excitement, adds to the show. As Adam says, you win some, you lose some and I think it all benefits the Formula One program.
Q: (Joe Saward) Norbert, just to go back to the Michael question again: if you build a faster car next year, if Michael goes faster in that car, surely you will be criticized for helping him, or if he doesn't go faster, you're going to get the same questions about should he retire or not. It sounds to me you're in a kind of no-win situation.
Haug: Well, I'm happy to take the criticism when we are first and second. It will take a while but we're working on it and no worries, it will take a while but I think we're heading in the right direction and again, Michael needs nobody to defend him. I think sometimes one should reflect what this guy has achieved, how he handles the criticism, how good he is for Formula One and again, this is not defending, this is just explaining. I'm happy and I think the Formula One community should be very happy to have Michael.
Parr: I don't think one should dismiss immediately the idea of building a slower car next year to help!
Haug: Well, we can discuss that afterwards!
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