SENIOR TEAM PERSONNEL
Robert FERNLEY (Force India),
Mike GASCOYNE (Lotus),
Norbert HAUG (Mercedes),
Christian HORNER (Red Bull),
Franz TOST (Toro Rosso),
Martin WHITMARSH (Mercedes)
Q: Robert, Paul di Resta seems to be doing a particularly good job with the team, I think you will agree. Tell us how you came to get him and how he is in the team. Of course, he came from a slightly strange background in DTM.
Norbert Haug: Strange?
Q: Well, shall we say ‘less normal’ background.
Robert FERNLEY: In 2009 we were talking between Norbert, Martin and myself and we all believed that Paul had been overlooked in the program for Formula One. Together in 2009 we put a program for him for 2010 where we all shared a little bit of responsibility to help him though and evaluate him. So, effectively Norbert was committed to help him – not to help him – but committed to him in DTM. We wanted him to keep race sharp there. McLaren very kindly helped with a little more simulator time and obviously having done DTM for a year or two he needed to be weaned off sportscars and, of course, we provided the FP1 time to evaluate him, which is something that hadn’t been done before. We sort of broke ground there. There has been one of those stories about links to monies provided by Mercedes and things like that in order to help him come through and that is absolute nonsense. Paul is there entirely on merit. I think it is credit, to a degree, to Force India for finding and identifying him and a great help from our partners in bringing him through.
Q: Franz, in China we saw good performance from the drivers particularly in qualifying. Was that a slightly artificial result in comparison to what happened in the race as unfortunately they weren’t in the points in the race.
Franz TOST: They did a good qualifying. We started from positions seven and nine but then the start was not so good. After the first lap they came back in positions 10 and 13. Unfortunately Sébastien Buemi damaged his front wing. He got a part against the flap of the front wing and the front wing was damaged. We had to change the front wing, which meant we lost a lot of time and the race afterwards was quite good. He did good lap times. Jaime Alguersuari was quite competitive until the pit-stop. Unfortunately we made a mistake. He lost a right rear tire and he had to stop so he could not finish the race.
Q: Was it slightly artificial or do you feel they could have been well within the points?
FT: Let me say maybe position nine or 10 would have been possible, but not better.
Q: Is that trend continuing do you feel? Can that trend continue?
FT: It looks like we are close to the points, at least today during the free practice we showed a good performance and I am convinced that we can finish the qualifying tomorrow close to the 10th position, maybe we are in Q3, we will see. But both drivers as well as the team are showing a good performance and therefore I think we can be once more within the points.
Q: Mike, great news for Lotus in that they have taken over Caterham. I realize from a political point of view it probably means more than from an engineering or technical point of view but will things change for you?
Mike GASCOYNE: Not really for the Formula One team although it is great news for Team Lotus as a group. It was always the plan for the team to diversify and look at the automotive field. I think there will be further expansion in that area coming but it is just good news and it puts the whole group on a firmer financial footing.
Q: Norbert, I was going to ask about China where you led. Was that a true performance or slightly artificial but we have seen today that it was almost certainly a true performance. Are you feeling pretty satisfied here?
NH: Yeah, I think China was certainly much, much better than the first two races. They have been very bad indeed, but China was better. Having said that if you look at the two-stop strategy in Sebastian Vettel’s case, for example, of course the cars have been a little bit slower as they had longer stints, so it was probably not quite a true picture. But as the race went we would have been in a very good position with the right amount of fuel. But just to clarify that as well, it is very easy if you go so much faster than you anticipated, if you are in free air, then it is about three or four kilos. Everybody needs to save fuel during the course of the race because you are not volunteering and carrying three, four, five kilos more fuel than you basically need as that is lap time as well. In our case it was not a huge amount, but certainly enough after the braking maneuver of Nico (Rosberg) and not being in a position to push hard at the end. So it was fifth instead of probably a podium finish, whatever podium finish it would have been, that is speculation. But, yes, a better performance than the races before for both Nico and Michael (Schumacher).
Q: Martin, we don’t know where you are in comparison to Red Bull at the moment but pretty close, very close, maybe ahead, maybe behind. But how much do you fear the comeback of Mercedes and even the comeback of Ferrari. Nicolas Tombazis has said earlier on this week that McLaren have actually shown that you can come back in quite a big way and it is almost as though you have had the template of how to come back and now everybody else is going to follow it.
Martin WHITMARSH: No I think we have said from the outset that Adrian (Newey) and Red Bull were doing a great job and they are tough competition. Everyone will start to say it was up to McLaren to beat Red Bull but we were very clear all along that Mercedes, Ferrari, Renault were all capable of raising their game and are a serious threat. They are good teams. They have got good resources, good people, good drivers so we don’t take anything for granted. We have to keep pushing to improve. Red Bull will and so will all of our other colleagues. That’s the great thing about Formula One. It is a race every fortnight but it is a race between each race to develop the car and whichever of the teams that are here or even those that aren’t here that develop the car the most this year they will win the championship. It is as simple as that. Christian knows that, but at Red Bull they are doing a great job but they are not standing still and waiting for us.
Q: Christian, it has been suggested that KERS was the great concentration between the last race and this race. To get it right, to get it working properly. Is that the case? How much concentration has there been?
Christian HORNER: Obviously there has been quite a bit of focus on KERS but that only involves a select group of people. As Martin says development continues on all areas of the car and in this business you cannot afford to stand still. We have been looking to try and enhance the performance of the car, bringing a few smallish upgrades here but in the meantime also trying to get on top of the niggles that we have had with the KERS system. As our understanding has grown we have made more and more headway with the system in a pretty short space of time.
Q: Bob, we have talked about this development race. Can Force India be the equal if not more than those around it? How difficult is it for Force India to maintain a development race?
RF: I think the key thing, as Martin says, is the race between races effectively. Force India isn’t standing still. There is no question that we lost direction in the last quarter of 2010 and we had to take stock of where we were, where the issues were and we had to understand what those problems were. I think we identified them over the winter. We are running an evolved 2010 package at the moment, which is trying to correct some of those areas. Today we ran and evaluated the new front end of our aero package and hopefully in Spain and Monaco we will launch what we believe to be the 2011 package or the evolved one, whichever way you want to look at it. That will come out and hopefully it will keep us in line or slightly ahead of our competitors.
Q: Franz, we have seen you running Daniel Ricciardo on all the Friday’s so far. Is he being groomed for next year? What is the situation for him?
FT: The situation is that he is driving for Toro Rosso the first practice on Friday. He should learn the team, all the race tracks, to work together with the engineers, get a little bit of knowledge about the press work, about the marketing and this should be the preparation for him to race for Toro Rosso in 2012.
Q: No plans for before then?
FT: No, currently not.
Q: You have two drivers?
FT: We have two drivers, yes.
Q: Mike, what chances of you running KERS later this year. Is that part of the program?
MG: I think that probably will be pretty difficult for us as a small team. Obviously, it requires some fairly large updates to the chassis to do that. I think we would have to be very convinced of the benefit that would bring outweighed against putting those resources into other areas such as aerodynamics, so I think it is going to be pretty difficult for us. We have got a lot of catch-up work to do in terms of development. We have made a big step forward relative to a lot of the teams on the grid but we have got to do even more as it hasn’t really affected our grid position, even though we are more competitive. But we are bringing a range of updates to the coming races so it is unlikely just for the amount of resource that it takes for the gain that you get. But it is something we are very actively working on for next year.
Q: Norbert, do you feel you are now potential winners?
NH: Potential winners? Not yet. We are working on it. I think that would be unrealistic. We have been forced last year and I think we have a real strong group of competitors around us. The team won the championship before but we restructured a lot and we have a new environment and we need to resettle things. That takes a while. It takes a while everywhere. But I think there is big potential there. We are learning. It is getting better and better. We certainly underperformed in the first three races. We don’t need to repeat that as I think that is well known. Hopefully we can stabilize on China or comparable to China. That would be the plan, to be among third and fourth position and then go forward from there. Every position you want to gain in that region gets tougher and tougher step by step, that’s for sure, but the direction is the right one I would say.
Q: Martin, we see Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button racing week in week out. How do they work together? How has that changed? How is that gelling? Is it continuing to gel or do you think it is pretty much stabilized? They seem to get on very well, they don’t seem to be major rivals.
MW: Well I think the good thing is they are major rivals on the track. Certainly neither of them likes being beaten by the other one and that is just as it should be. But they are both very, very open with one another. They share information and they share jokes as well so I think it is a fantastic relationship within the team and it helps us, that harmony. You cannot necessarily quantify it on the stopwatch, but it makes a pleasant environment for the engineers, their exchange of information. I think they are both very comfortable in the team. Inevitably two British drivers in the same team, immensely competitive individuals, there has always been the hope in some corners of the media there would be aggravation – and who knows what will happen in the future? But, so far, it has been very, very good. It looks as though it will continue to be so and they will race each other on the track. We have seen it on the track this year. They are not giving anyone quarter, they really want to beat each other, but I think they have got a tremendous amount of trust and respect and I think that makes it easier to calm my nerves a little bit, occasionally, when you are on the pit-wall wondering if you are going to be the idiot team principal that allowed your drivers to race each other.
Q: Is it the best pairing you have ever had, do you feel?
MW: From a relationship point of view I think it is. I think it is very, very, good. It does not matter what I say, anyone can see it. You have only got to come into the McLaren hospitality facility and you see them together. It is very natural, it is not forced. There is general warmth and affection between the two of them.
Q: Christian, I think there was a meeting of the constructors or the team owners the last couple of days. Can you tell us what happened, what was decided or discussed during that time?
CH: A meeting of the constructors?
Q: Well a meeting of the team owners, a FOTA meeting or whatever you like to call it?
CH: I think we got one later this weekend. I wasn’t aware of one earlier. Martin is the chairman, ask him.
MW: We will meet at a fairly routine meeting, a number of issues, on Sunday morning.
Q: Christian, tell us about Sebastian’s accident today. The damage?
CH: It was a shame. It was just one of those things that we, as a team, were keen to have a look at the inter. As Sebastian went out the rain increased slightly, he got a little bit high on the exit of Turn Eight onto the curb, just put a wheel on that Astroturf that has claimed a few victims today and he was just unlucky. Unfortunately it did quite a lot of damage so rather than rush and cobble together the car for FP2 we decided it was important to rebuild the car carefully in preparation for tomorrow. It was one of those things. It did quite an extensive amount of damage. He must have hit just about every corner on the car so it has given the boys plenty of work to do this evening.
Q: Quite a rare occurrence really?
CH: I cannot think the last time Sebastian went off. It was just one of those things. It just started to rain a little bit heavier at that time. As we saw quite a few other drivers having spins and getting out of shape and unfortunately it just caught him out. It is a quick corner there. There is that bit of Astroturf or fake grass and unfortunately there is little to zero grip on there and it just spun him off into the barriers. One of those things. Unfortunately he missed out on running time this afternoon but he saved a few tires. You never know, he might need them.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Sarah Holt - BBC Sport) Martin, we had quite a quiet morning at McLaren. I think you only did a few laps but, this afternoon, were you able to put any of the new upgrades on the car or is it basically the same spec as China?
MW: No we had some upgrades, a few. We took the decision this morning that we were not going to have enough time to do everything we wanted, so that was a shame. I think people know we seem to have an ambitious program normally on a Friday morning. In P1 in particular we knew we could not do any meaningful work so that’s slowed us a bit, but that’s the same for everyone. You have got a limited amount of testing but we have got a few little bits and pieces, nothing particularly significant. I think here it is a very demanding circuit as we have seen. We were pretty shocking on occasions over the bump going into Turn 12 so I think we have got to do a little bit of work there. I think the drivers weren’t, they certainly didn’t look comfortable. I wouldn’t want to be in their seat when they were going over that bump so I think we have got to do something there. It is a fairly savage bump on most cars but I think we were as bad as most over it. I think we have learnt a fair bit this afternoon. The forecast for the rest of the weekend is that there is a fair chance of rain, certainly on Sunday, and we don’t have many intermediate or wet tires available to the teams so we took a view that we weren’t going to learn much, we couldn’t do our development program. You can easy have an accident and what happened to Sebastian, let’s be honest, could have happened to any of us. As it happens we did an install lap and we were going to just do a launch in the end. That’s all we intended. In the end we didn’t quite manage to do that with Lewis anyway so it was a fairly quiet morning, as you say. This afternoon was pretty busy, but there is a limit to what you can do as you have to do some long runs on heavy fuel, on the tires you think you might start the race with.
Q: (Moderator) A lot of people are talking about the future of Formula One, the future marketing of Formula One. You all have a voice in that, what is it that you personally, in your team, want from Formula One in the future?
BF: I think that it should be a collective program. It’s very nice to say what we want individually but we are a group of teams that put on a show, and I think it’s the consensus of the teams and where they want to go as a whole, and I think FOTA will handle that under the guidance of Martin and Eric Boullier. There probably are (individual requirements) but I think they have to be brought together with the needs and the consensus of all the teams.
FT: It’s important, you know, that from 2013 onwards, the new drivetrain is coming, that the price for the new drivetrain is not too high for the private teams, that we find a consensus like it was with the FOTA teams before, which was quite an important job done by FOTA, that we got a good consensus, and that we are racing in countries who can afford Formula One, that we can save our structure and our income, and that we increase the show. I think that the last races – especially Shanghai – were quite an interesting race, an exciting race and that we can continue to go on in this direction.
MG: I think that it’s important for Formula One to develop, to look at issues like green issues but you’ve got to make sure that it’s kept in perspective, that costs don’t go up, that we do put on a good show and also that we’ve got a formula where the independent teams and smaller teams can be competitive, and I think we’ve gone that route with FOTA. We need to go further down that route, but any changes that we bring in have got to bear in mind that Formula One will put on a good show when it has lots of competitive teams and we’ve got to make sure that we keep that.
NH: I think first of all we need to describe what we have, and if I look back to the last race, all of us have been in Formula One quite a while, but this certainly was one of the most thrilling races, full of leaders, with Mark Webber storming through the field from 18th position to third, almost catching his team-mate, who started on pole position. So, I think we need to realize what the sport is delivering, what is happening currently and this is very, very good compared to whatever Formula One was capable of presenting in terms of very good and very thrilling races. I think the concept very much influenced by the FOTA teams co-operating with the FIA, the new tires – everything was really good and, you know, today we are in the position to ask for new powertrains, for not too much money. The manufacturers brought Formula One and the teams into a position where they pay a third of what was paid five or eight years ago. I think sometimes we need to reflect on these facts as well. There is a very, very good Formula One. There is, of course, one team at the moment commanding, leading; McLaren catching up; then a handful of teams behind, chasing, but look at teams like Force India. They are doing an excellent job; look at teams like Toro Rosso, they have had their highlights. Look at traditional teams like Williams; OK, they struggle sometimes but never, ever have there been seven really very good teams in Formula One. Look at us, it’s difficult for us to fight for third position and then go from there further on. But again, we are here in Formula One. Others left and I think it is very good that the Silver Arrows are in Formula One. That needs stabilization, it needs more work but we are here for a decent amount of money and that’s good. I don’t want to paint the world in blue colors but we should reflect, sometimes, on what we have, because a lot has been achieved already and together we can further improve it.
CH: I think Formula One is a fantastic show, it’s a fantastic sport. I think we are all fortunate to be involved in the sport. I think that in the last couple of years the way the sport has continued to evolve, I think the racing on track has been fantastic. The competition has been good and one senses that the buzz about the sport, the interest in the sport has grown, has continued to grow, and you can see that through the television audiences, and in many cases circuit attendance, that we’ve even seen in the early races. I don’t think that we’ve got there by accident. I think that collectively, the commercial rights holder and the FIA have done a good job to get us to exactly where we are and the teams and the drivers are a key part of that. I think that for Formula One to continue to grow and move forwards is crucial. I think stability is also very important. At the end of the day, it’s about the show that we put on. It’s about entertaining the crowds, entertaining the fans and the spectators, and that it is man and machine at the limit and that’s what Formula One should certainly continue to be. It’s important to have a balance of independent teams and manufacturers and I think at the moment we’ve got that balance right. I think costs have dramatically come down so an independent team such as Red Bull has been able to run at the front and win. I think that’s certainly healthy for the sport and I think we’re well set for the future.
MW: I think Christian’s provided an excellent summary, so I don’t know that I can improve on that. From a different angle, I think that for the last 20 years, perhaps we, collectively, have not managed the sport as well as we can. There’s been in-fighting, there’s a competitive spirit in Formula One that sometimes has been quite damaging. I think the first thing is that we’ve had a relatively brief era now but we’ve had an era of unprecedented co-operation between the teams and I think that’s been fantastic and trying to get co-operation between the very large teams and the smaller teams has necessitated compromise on both sides, and I think that’s been a fantastic effort and I think the teams have collectively worked much better together. We’ve had some great championships, we’ve had comparative lack of the paddock polemics, which I think we were all getting bored of, and I think we’re focusing on some great racing, a great championship last year and hopefully we will have another one this year. We have to work together with the commercial rights holder, with the governing body and establish that partnership that we can really promote the sport. I think that we’ve now gone some way to look at improving the show. We now have to tell people about it. We have to promote and I think, again, that needs all of us to work together. I’m not pointing fingers at anyone. We’re all part of it. All of us, the six of us here have all been part of Formula One for some time so we’re part of the historic problem; we’ve got to be part of the future and how it can be better. I think there is, now, an environment of people realizing that we’ve got to work together. We shouldn’t be complacent, we’ve had some fantastic championships. As Christian said, there is an increasing buzz about the sport but we shouldn’t be satisfied with where we are; we have to improve the show, we have to improve the promotion, we have to improve the co-operation, we have to make sure it’s sustainable. There are still teams that are vulnerable so we’ve got to make sure that this is a sport that is affordable for all of the teams. We shouldn’t lose any of the teams that we’ve got if we can possibly help it.
Q: (Sarah Holt – BBC Sport) Speaking of FOTA, F1 and the future – I’m happy for anyone to answer this if you want to – is it important that F1, as you renegotiate the Concorde Agreement, remains on free-to-air television? Or, could it thrive on a pay-per-view platform?
MW: No, I think it’s clear that the business model of all the teams relies on free-to-air. We’re selling a large, broad, media exposure. That’s the business model and I’m sure that that’s the business model of all the Formula One teams will require going forward.
Q: (Alan Baldwin – Reuters) I’ll ask Martin this but if anybody else wants to chip in… We still don’t know whether there are 19 or 20 races this year. The decision on Bahrain was delayed until next month. How much do you feel that as teams, your views are being listened to, because after all, it’s your guys who are going to be on the ground if the race is re-scheduled?
MW: Again, I think the FIA and the commercial rights holder decide the calendar; we turn up and race. I think at the moment there’s obviously an evolving situation there. I don’t think any of the teams are being consulted, in particular. It is always difficult balancing the calendar. There are some sensitive issues there. I think we’ve got to wait until we’re informed of what that decision is.
Q: (Gary Meenaghan – The National) Two part question: I would just like to gauge your thoughts on what makes a track good for overtaking and what makes a driver good at overtaking?
CH: I think that it’s an interesting question and one that is difficult to fully understand. You’ve got circuits like Brazil, which always delivers good races. There are certain circuits, like Monte Carlo, that don’t lend themselves to good overtaking but always, again, have the habit of throwing up good races. I think the interesting thing really is the tools that we have this year, with the KERS system – when it works – and the DRS, the moveable rear wing. They’re two elements that have really helped the drivers. I think, in the last two races Mark Webber has passed about 20 cars, which is probably more than he’s done in the last five years. It’s certainly assisted the drivers, and I think historically, the last two races that we’ve seen in China and Malaysia, have been quite static races. There’s been more of a strategic element, whereas strategy is a crucial part, part of that strategy is that you’ve got to overtake and certainly the tools that we now have have encouraged that. I’m not quite sure if that fully answers your question, but I hope it gives a bit of an insight.
MG: There are always races where you never get any overtaking – Valencia – and I think that with the changes that we’ve made on the tires and the type of racing that’s now giving us, I think we need to wait and see and look at some of those circuits that traditionally have been very processional races. And if we get overtaking at those circuits, I think we’ve shown… Many times we’ve tried to change the cars to promote overtaking. It’s proved to be very, very difficult, almost impossible. Certainly we need to look at circuit design, but also with the tires operating in the way they are, it provides a very cost-effective way to get very exciting racing, rather than very expensive car changes. In the past, we were guilty of bowling ourselves a bit of a googly too often and spending lots of money and not really getting any improvement in the racing. The tires this year have shown us a very clear direction.
Q: (Marco degl’Innocenti – La Gazzetta dello Sport) Question for Christian about Sebastian’s accident: I can imagine that in the accident there has been some damage to some new aero parts updated for this race. Will it be OK to change them for tomorrow and for the race, or are you concerned that you have to take a step back?
CH: I think we’re reasonably well-equipped because you need to look at the data, look at the parts that have been consumed in the incident. But the information that I have so far shows that we are in reasonable shape but obviously need to understand the configuration the guys want to run the cars in tomorrow.
Q: (Cem Nadiran – Power FM) This weekend is actually a very sad weekend for us, because as residents of Istanbul, this is supposed to be the last race in Istanbul. I just want to know how you guys feel about this and how you felt about the seven years that you’ve been coming here and racing in Istanbul? How was it for you? Is it a hassle to be racing here in Istanbul or is it something nice for you? How do you feel about Istanbul Park? And what can you do to help us fix this situation?
MW: Firstly, I’m not aware that any formal decision has been made that it’s the last time we’re here and I, for one, hope that it isn’t. Istanbul is a great city, I think people like coming here and of the modern circuits, this, actually, is one of the good ones. It’s a good circuit, it’s a great city, we enjoy coming here and I think all the teams are of that mind. There are lots of rumors about the future of this Grand Prix. Maybe some of my colleagues are better equipped than me but I certainly haven’t any definitive information to suggest that this is the last time we’re here. I very much hope that it isn’t.
FT: It would be a shame if it’s the last race here because now the infrastructure has really been built quite well and it’s beautiful to come here, to the track. The streets, everything has been finished now. As everything is finished, it looks like we don’t come any more, but it’s totally easy: give Bernie more money and we come.
NH: I think this is an exceptional race track. Martin already pointed out that, of the new race tracks, this is certainly a very good one, a special one. Turn eight, I think we saw fantastic television pictures today. OK, the bumps are probably not what you want, but they are delivering spectacular pictures and so it’s a great track. The city is fantastic. It’s very good, you will probably never be caught speeding in Istanbul, which is also a positive in a way. We like being here, but it’s not in our hands. Arrangements must be the right ones, but I think the guys here and the teams – they really like it, absolutely. We have been with here with DTM as well. We have been here with our partners, McLaren and we have good memories. I think we won three times in total with our engine, with our partners. It’s a great venue and a great track of course. We could do with some more spectators, but it needs to be developed in the right way, and as Martin pointed out, I’m sure there can be a future.
Q: (Dieter Rencken – The Citizen) Martin, I would like to revisit the issue of free-to-air and pay-per-view television. How does one really define free-to-air because arguably the BBC annual license fee is a pay-per-view and in this instance… If you look at internet, for example, that could be free-to-air if we go in that direction and is it not really the business models that are possibly at fault as opposed to the broadcast medium? One of your members said to me that they got 42 seconds of TV out of China. That’s not really free-to-air stuff, is it?
MW: OK. You’re right, it’s a much more complicated issue than terrestrial free-to-air versus pay-per-view but I think that what we require in Formula One is a mass audience to television, mass audience to the pictures we produce, whether that’s internet, whatever the means. I was trying to answer that question, but inevitably, nowadays, media is much more complex than the polarized debate about pay-per-view and free-to-air terrestrial, but we certainly need a mass audience.
Q: (Dieter Rencken – The Citizen) Wouldn’t it be true to say that the future is now more business-to-business in terms of sponsorship rather than stickers?
MW: I think Formula One remains the third largest sporting spectacle, the most powerful sporting media for creating media exposure, brand differentiation and media exposure is one of the most powerful driving forces of this sport at the moment and I think it will be for the foreseeable future, so I think all of the brands or primarily all of the brands that are involved in Formula One expect to see a very, very broad exposure of their brands, as a consequence of investing in Formula One.
Q: (Joris Fioriti – Agence France Presse) Christian, after a hard end to his 2010 season and a rather disappointing beginning to 2011 – at least if you compare his performances to his teammate’s – is Mark Webber in an awkward position in your team, regarding his contract for next year? So my question is: is it true he’s in danger? Secondly, he said yesterday he has his own destiny in his hands, which means that if he’s good and he’s sure he will perform well this year, he will stay at Red Bull. Is that true? And thirdly, if you had to change him, would you rather take a driver from Toro Rosso or any other driver?
CH: Wow. That was a big question! Mark has had a difficult start to the year, or certainly up to the race in China and he drove an absolutely phenomenal race there. He’s had some bad luck but he’s still delivering at a massively high level and I think that the dynamics that we have between the two drivers, the combination of the two, is really very positive. They bring the best out of each other, they push each other hard. Mark, who is 34 years of age, 35 later this year… it was inevitable that we would, at a certain stage in his career, start to take things one year at a time which was a mutual thing. It was agreed between Mark and the team that we would take things, at this stage in his career, one season at a time and we’re only three races in (to this season). It’s way too early to be focusing on 2012 at this point in time. We’re very happy with Mark. He’s a very popular member of our team. He enjoys driving for us, we enjoy having him there. He’s delivering at a fantastically high level, he’s probably one of the most dedicated Grand Prix drivers out there. But at this stage, it’s certainly too early to be talking about the future. There will be a private discussion that we have with Mark and not something to be conducted through the media. When the time’s right we will sit down and discuss it.
Toro Rosso are doing a great job of developing young drivers. Sebastian Vettel came through the Red Bull Junior program and as a graduate from Toro Rosso, so, of course, we keep an eye on how the Toro Rosso drivers are developing and it’s great to see not just the current drivers but the future drivers as well, further down the ladder: Daniel Ricciardo, Jean-Eric Vergne, even Carlos Sainz Jnr in Formula Renault. Red Bull has invested in some real talent but it’s way too premature to be speculating on whether or not any of those will sit in a Red Bull racing car. We’re happy with our current line-up and that’s what we’re focused on.
Mark Webber (5th, 1:27.149): "We learned quite a lot today. It's a pretty challenging venue here with the new regulations - so it was tricky for us all with the weather this morning. We had to fit a lot of our planned work in to this afternoon, but it went smoothly. Sebastian had an issue this morning which could happen to any of us; it just shows you can lose a session very easily. The team will share the data that we gathered this afternoon. KERS worked pretty well this afternoon - each time we use it we get more experience so, so far so good."
Sebastian Vettel (24th, No Time): "There wasn't much I could do to stop the car from hitting the wall this morning - but the most important thing is that I'm fine. Unfortunately we couldn't get the car ready in time for this afternoon's session, as there was too much damage, so I'm sorry to the guys. It makes things a bit more difficult, but I don't think it will be a problem, we know the track well from other years and, in the end, it was only one afternoon that we have lost. I'm still confident - it looks pretty close. I was able to watch the times today, which was something different."
Jenson Button (1st, 1:26.456): "I'm pretty happy with how today went. The car's been working reasonably well - there are always things you want to improve, but we've made some good progress and have a lot of useful data to go through. Trying to get the car to ride the bumps well into Turn 12 has been difficult, but we improved it through the session. Turn 12 is really bumpy - it's like they put a motocross jump in there! And Turn Eight's quite tough too because, depending on your balance, it can damage the front and rear tires. It's about getting the balance right, which we concentrated on today. We haven't put everything on the car that we wanted to this weekend, which is disappointing, but we still have some useful upgrades so it's nice to keep moving forwards."
Lewis Hamilton (3rd, 1:27.033): "We saved tires during this morning's session. In the afternoon, despite the limited running in P1, we got quite a lot of our run-plan completed, which was very satisfying. I initially struggled a little bit with set-up, which we can look at and fix overnight, but I was really pleased with my long-run pace - I think it was probably one of the best practice long-runs I've ever had. Generally, our car has a pretty good baseline. We're still in the fight: the most important factor this weekend is to continue with our consistency - getting on the podium is my target, and if we can win that'll be even better!"
Martin Whitmarsh, Team Principal: "This morning's uncharacteristic heavy rain meant that we opted to conserve our supply of Wet and Intermediate Pirelli tires by sitting out the majority of the session. With cold and unpredictable weather predicted for the remainder of the weekend, and with relatively little to learn from running on a wet track, we felt it was more prudent to save the rubber for Saturday and Sunday. Happily, this afternoon's session turned out drier than we'd imagined, and we were able to pack the majority of our day's run-program into P2. Indeed, both drivers' long-run pace looks extremely promising. Lewis and Jenson felt happy with the balance of their cars, although both said that the bumps upon entry to Turn 12 were fairly severe and unsettled the car. It's too early to read anything into this afternoon's times, but we're happy that we've found a good baseline for the set-up and that we can build upon it for the rest of the weekend."
Felipe Massa (6th, 1:27.340): "From what I could see, we have made a step forward in terms of performance, but we are not yet close enough to the best. It is always difficult to say how much progress one has made after just two free practice sessions: we will have to wait for qualifying to get a clearer picture. We are working very hard to catch up and I think we are on the right road, but the others are definitely not standing still. For example, Mercedes seems to have made a significant step forward here. Would I prefer a wet race? Sure, if it turns out we are not competitive then the rain would open up more possibilities, but it could also go well in the dry and it does seem as though the weather is improving. This is a very demanding circuit, but I really like driving here because there are so many different types of corner."
Fernando Alonso (11th, 1:28.069): "These two sessions were very different one to the other, because of the change in the weather. It was useful to do some running in the wet because there is a chance that it might rain again at some point tomorrow. We tried various new solutions and now we have to evaluate them carefully to see what worked and what did not. I had a hydraulic problem which cost me some time in the pits at the start of the second session. That contributed to the fact it's difficult for me to give a precise evaluation of tire behavior. Then, I also had a spin, when I was being too optimistic in my use of the moveable rear wing. For sure this track puts a heavy load on the tires: it will be interesting to see what happens in the race. I think we have made progress, but there are various teams that are quicker than us. We have to try and do our best, putting together the best package made up of new components and those we have used before to try and get all the potential out of the car."
Pat Fry: "It's always difficult to say what the real order is after Friday's free practice sessions and that is even more the case when one of them takes place in the wet, as was the case today. At least this morning we were able to get a first impression of the balance and handling of our car on both types of rain tire. However, we didn't do that many laps because the weather forecast for the rest of the weekend is still uncertain, therefore we have to try and manage the few sets of tires available to us as well as possible. In the afternoon, we concentrated mainly on evaluating new aerodynamic components and, as usual, comparing the two types of dry tire. Unfortunately, we lost at least half an hour with Fernando, because of an hydraulic problem and so the Spaniard was not exactly in the best of shape to get the most out of the soft tires. As for Felipe, he managed to get through the entire planned program. Some of the new elements, like the rear wing for example, immediately showed good results, while others, such as the floor and the front wing, still need further careful evaluation."
Nico Rosberg (2nd, 1:26.521): "We have made a decent start to the weekend and I am optimistic for tomorrow. We had a productive afternoon and tried a lot of things with the car. I didn't have too many problems with the tires on the long run and I was quite surprised by the grip levels, which were higher than I expected. The wet tires had a lot of grip this morning too. I'm happy with what we learned and expecting a very interesting time tomorrow and on Sunday."
Michael Schumacher (4th, 1:27.063): "We had quite a positive Friday, and it was especially good that we were able to test both wet and dry tires. I hadn't really driven the wets so I'm pleased that I finally had some opportunity to use them. Also, my sessions were quite eventful with three spins in Turn 11. All in all, our car confirmed the performance improvement from China, so we can look forward to the rest of the weekend. We still have some questions relating to the set-up but I am confident we will sort them out tomorrow."
Ross Brawn, Team Principal: "We had a reasonably good day and it was nice to get a lot of work done. We had a good opportunity this morning to see what the car was like in the wet conditions. It was also the first time that Michael had really driven the car in the wet, so that's useful as the conditions this weekend could still be mixed. Then we had a nice dry session this afternoon and completed a lot of work on low and high fuel. The balance of the car isn't there yet and there is a lot of work ahead, but the team and drivers have worked very well today."
Norbert Haug, Mercedes Motorsport Director: "The morning session in the wet saw Nico and Michael complete 32 laps and the lap times on wet tires looked quite good. In dry conditions this afternoon, we ran 50 laps and worked through our planned program. I would not read too much into today's positions in both sessions; there is more work to do for tomorrow."
Vitaly Petrov (7th, 1:27.517): "It was a bit difficult today with the weather conditions. We didn't use inter tires in the first session which was a pity. We wanted to save tires, which is why we only had 10 laps. In P2 we knew it would stay dry. We need to be happy with today. As expected, we achieved quicker lap times and there's still some more in the car. Judging by our performance in P2, I think there are encouraging signs ahead for the rest of the weekend."
Nick Heidfeld (13th, 1:28.475): "It was good to finally get an experience of the wet conditions by using the extreme wet tires, because I haven't used them before in testing properly. That went quite well I have to say. We didn't want to destroy them - as we hadn't tested them before, we didn't know how long they would survive and the forecast was still not clear for Saturday and Sunday. Unfortunately we didn't get into a position to be able to drive the intermediates. Then, as the second session was completely dry we were able to completely focus on our program, which was to get a long run in towards the end, whilst having a high fuel load."
James Allison, Technical Director: "Like all the teams, Friday work is focused on race preparation rather than maximizing qualifying performance. It was tricky to read too much from this morning's times. The rain ebbed and flowed throughout the session and the pace of the competitors varied accordingly. We were pleased to get through the session unscathed. The afternoon session was a more regular affair. We appear to be more or less where we have been on a Friday in the first three races of the season. We ran our new tires early in the session and ran relatively long stints on heavy fuel in the second half of the session."
Pastor Maldonado (15th, 1:28.828): "It was an unlucky day. It was wet this morning so we decided not to do too many runs. This afternoon we lost a bit of time as the team were fixing the rear end of the car after I crashed at the end of FP1. When we did get out, the speed was there but on the long run I made a mistake and lost the car at the exit of T8 and crashed into the barrier damaging the front wing. However, I know this circuit and the car has improved so I'll be up there tomorrow!"
Rubens Barrichello (16th, 1:28.946): "The new package is promising but we had a KERS water problem which meant our day had to be cut short. It was a pity but we are optimistic as the new front wing, rear wing and other parts were all working well and we were running competitively. Our main objective is to start in the top ten this weekend and that's definitely realistic."
Sam Michael, Technical Director: "This morning was wet so we didn't start our evaluation of new aero components until second practice. During that session we ran the new rear wing on Rubens' car and we were pleased to see that it functioned well, with a healthy gain in top speed and no signs of aero separation. We will have a second rear wing for Pastor's car tomorrow. We also ran a new rear brake duct and new front wings on both cars. All the data from those parts checked out well, with positive driver feedback. So we'll race everything this weekend. We also investigated a different mechanical set-up with Rubens. Unfortunately before we could run the soft tire with Rubens we had a KERS water system failure and had to stop his car to investigate due to safety issues. We're looking into the problem now. We didn't use KERS all day on Pastor's car due to a voltage fault early in second practice. With the limited number of parts Pastor will also have to use the old front wing tomorrow after damaging his new front wing in second practice."
Paul di Resta (8th, 1:27.725): "The wet weather session this morning made it difficult to learn much about the new front wing, but it was important for me to get a feel for the track and the wet weather tires. For the afternoon, the priority was to try and understand the hard and soft tires: we did two runs on the hard and two runs on the soft, which has given us lots of data to analyze this evening as we plan our approach for tomorrow. Overall I think we've made a good start and the car feels relatively straightforward. There are always things to improve, but I'm happy with my day."
Adrian Sutil (10th, 1:28.052): "We had the wing to try on my car this afternoon, which was quite interesting, but now we have to look at the data and try to really understand it. At the moment it's too early to say that much. I tried both the hard and the soft tires and did a long run on each, so I feel quite well prepared. I think the hard tire was the best and most consistent today, but that could easily change as the track evolves. For the general balance of the car, we will work on trying to improve in the final sector and dial out some of the understeer. However, the car felt very well balanced in the high-speed corners."
Nico Hulkenberg: "It was very wet out there this morning, and this was pretty much the first wet running for everybody on the Pirellis at a race weekend. I spent the whole session on the same set of wet weather tires and there was quite a lot to learn. Towards the end of the session the rain got heavier and there was more standing water, which meant the car started aquaplaning. But at least we have done some set-up work in case it stays wet for the rest of the weekend."
Dominic Harlow, Chief Race Engineer: "It has been quite a good Friday for the team with our three drivers contributing to the program. In the FP1 session the rain made the circuit quite tricky: conditions were in the most part fairly consistent, but at times some standing water built up at turns two and 11 - this was the case after the red flag. We ran only the wet tire and worked to find a balance during what was still quite a new experience for us in terms of running on the Pirelli tires in this weather. It dried up for the afternoon and, as well as sitting out the morning session, Adrian had to work through an aero test program, which he did very well. We've now got to focus on the data to understand what we have learnt today. For Paul, after trying the new front wing in the morning, it was more about tire evaluation this afternoon. Nico, once again provided us with a solid baseline and initial set-up evaluation in the wet."
Sergio Perez (9th, 1:27.844): "I have completed the program which had been planned for me. In the morning I didn't put in a proper lap time due to some aero testing. After the second session I'm quite positive for tomorrow. We have to draw the right conclusions tonight, and I believe we can be good in qualifying. I absolutely enjoy every lap going through turn eight. For me it is the first time in an F1 car here and it is sensational."
Kamui Kobayashi (18th, 1:29.637): "In the morning I did some testing with mechanical parts, but we have been quite unfortunate with the weather conditions for this. It is really difficult to judge from the wet testing. Nevertheless it was a good experience to use the wet tires for an entire session. I think Pirelli has done a good job, I don't see degradation problems, and the tires should be ok for a race. In the second session we did our normal program, despite an hydraulic problem which we had to solve. But again I find it difficult to judge how good the car really is here, so we need to look into the data tonight."
James Key, Technical Director: "Today was the first wet session of the year, and we ran the full wet tires in FP1. Sergio had some aerodynamic test items on his car, which we plan to introduce at the next events. Kamui had some mechanical parts. From what we can tell in the morning's difficult conditions, things seem to work well on the mechanical side and we plan to continue with these updates for Saturday. In the afternoon we worked through a normal program in dry conditions, comparing the tires and working on the set-up of the car. Overall this was trouble free for Sergio, and we are generally happy with the car. However, we have a few bounce issues in lower speed which we have to tackle. For Kamui it was reasonable for the first outings, but on his out lap on the option tires he suffered an hydraulic leak, and he had no chance to put a sensible lap time together. The team did a great job in fixing the car quickly, and getting it out for a longer run. We will analyze all the data from today and see if we can make further progress for tomorrow."
Sebastien Buemi (12th, 1:28.153): "This morning's session went well and we managed to complete quite a few laps on the extremes, although we did not use the intermediates, as the conditions never seemed good enough. At least we have a good read of how the extremes behave, so if it rains on Sunday we will know what to do. Apart, from that, it was a productive day for us in general, trying a few different set-up changes and I am quite happy with the work we completed today. But of course, this is only Friday, so we need to study the data carefully and hopefully we can maintain the good performance level we have seen in the first three races. From the tire comparison I did, the difference between the two compounds seems smaller than usual, but it is still too early to draw any definite conclusion."
Jaime Alguersuari (14th, 1:28.765): "I think we have a lot of work to do to prepare for tomorrow, because I did not have a good feel for the car today, so we need to concentrate on finding a better set-up for the rest of the weekend. We will look at the data to analyze what we need to do, although I have a good idea where the problem lies and I am sure the engineers will know what to do. I ran a different set-up to my team-mate today, which at least means we have more data to study. I did a tire compare and the changes made to the hard tire seem good, as it performed consistently and also I did not find such a big difference between the Prime and Option as in previous races. It seems the balance between the two compounds has improved."
Daniel Ricciardo: "This was my very first time driving at the Istanbul track and the session went well giving me an understanding of why drivers are so keen on this circuit, with all its undulations and different types of corner. I enjoyed it, even if the conditions were not ideal. It was useful to drive in the wet, because this was only the second time I've had that experience after a few laps at Barcelona in winter testing. I felt confident and comfortable in the wet and I ran just with the extreme rain tires. We considered intermediates, but there was too much standing water on the track. We made some set-up changes before my second run and even though the track was wetter then, it improved the lap time, so hopefully that information can be useful for this afternoon."
Jarno Trulli (17th, 1:29.409): "I'm pleased in general with today. It's been a positive, trouble free day and we managed to run through a number of options that give us a good direction for tomorrow and the race. We have made an adjustment to the power steering and that's definitely improved things in the cockpit for me but there's more to come from that and the whole car so I think we can go into tomorrow in good shape."
Heikki Kovalainen (19th, 1:30.281): "That was a reasonable session for me - I had a DRS issue that definitely cost me some time but I think the balance was pretty good and we got through some decent setup work so I think we'll be ok tomorrow."
Karun Chandhok: "The wet weather meant we limited the morning run plan but despite that it was good to get back out on track. I didn't get a chance to push but I'm enjoying working with the team and the more time I spend with everyone the more I can see how far this team can go. There's a great spirit across the whole garage, and back in the factory, and with the constant progression towards the midfield this is a great place to be working in."
Mike Gascoyne, Technical Director: "A pretty good day. Obviously we had limited running this morning in the wet conditions as we wanted to save tires in case we have to use wets in the race. Unfortunately that limited the running Karun and Jarno could do but this afternoon we completed the whole program without any real problems with the performance levels we showed I think we are looking at having a pretty good weekend."
Thierry Salvi, Renault: "We didn't manage to do much running in P1 this morning due to the weather so we had to work a lot harder during P2 this afternoon, especially with specific engine mapping. I hope we will have good feedback from the drivers and can take another step forwards on strategy. I think there is more to come from the whole package tomorrow so this was a pretty good start to the weekend."
Narain Karthikeyan (22nd, 1:31.320): "We tried our updates out today, with the first session being wet we obviously couldn't evaluate much but after the second session it's clear that the updates are a positive improvement. The team is going in the right direction. Today we worked on the mechanical balance of the car and now we have to take a look at the data to see if we improved. Personally, I need to get some laps under my belt on this track because last time I came in 2005 it was an absolute disaster, I experienced a lot of mechanical problems. So bit by bit it's getting better. Unfortunately I didn't get a good run on the option tires but the primes were fine. I think the options will be quicker in the race."
Vitantonio Liuzzi (23rd, 1:31.989): "Today we had a decent day of testing. The morning was good as it was my first chance to try out this specific car with the Pirelli tires in wet conditions, so I got some good data and strung together some good laps. In the afternoon we did a good amount of laps, we needed to understand a few things about our new updates so we had to re-balance the car and work on the set-up meaning that in the end, with the option tires, we couldn't do much as there was a lot of traffic and yellow flags. But, all in all, we've come away with good data to work with tomorrow."
Colin Kolles, Team Principal: "I'm confident that we took a step forward today. It's a shame that Tonio wasn't able to put a lap together on the soft tires but he did a good job on the prime tires. I think that tomorrow we will look even better and, as I said before, we've taken another step forward."
Jerome d'Ambrosio (20th, 1:31.035): "It was a good day. This morning's session was obviously disturbed by the rain, which even if it wasn't great for this weekend's program, l can still see it positively as it was the first time I've driven the car in the wet; so it was great for me to get an idea of how it feels in those conditions. The afternoon went pretty smoothly. We had a small issue with the power steering and we lost a bit of time and so we couldn't do everything we wanted, but in the end I think the car feels fine and I'm looking forward to tomorrow."
Timo Glock (21st, 1:31.221): "The weather has made for a difficult start to the weekend. This morning it was very tricky for everyone as there was a lot of standing water everywhere. In the second session we got a better chance to start evaluating the new package, which was really the priority for today because we knew there would be a lot of work to do. There have been some issues we have had to deal with, especially with the exhausts, and once we work through those we will be better off. Overall we need to look at the data we have gathered now to see what we can learn about the new package because, as we predicted, it's not easy getting something so new to work straight out of the box."
John Booth, Team Principal: "The elements of the upgrade package that we fitted to Jerome's car have performed well today, so we're pleased with the progress there. Timo's car, with the full package, was always going to be a bigger 'ask' because of the complexity of the car at the rear with the new blown exhaust system. It is always difficult coming straight into a race weekend with such a new and complicated package and with no testing to optimize it. As we predicted there have been a few issues to contend with, particularly with the management of the heat from the exhausts. Generally we've made a good start on Jerome's side but we have yet to realize the full performance potential of the wider package with Timo. We have a lot of work to do and a lot of data to look through to see how we can extract more from the package."