Japanese GP Friday
October 8, 2004
Friday's FIA press conference with David Richards
(BAR), Peter Sauber (Sauber), Paul Stoddart (Minardi) and Tsutomu
NOTE: Continuing the policy of a guest
questioner, we have, this time, Steve Cooper of F1
Just a general question to all of you, it is a
topic at the moment. The typhoon has been up rated to a super
typhoon. What preparations are you making for tomorrow and possibly
for Sunday? How it will affect qualifying? How you would like to see
qualifying re-scheduled if tomorrow is cancelled and how prepared you
are to deal with an extreme weather situation as we are facing at the
David RICHARDS: I think the first thing is, I notice
everyone is stocking up with sandwiches and Alpen bars and booking
the Log Cabin for lunch tomorrow! Clearly it is an unfortunate
situation, more thinking of the fans actually out there, the poor
people that have actually sat in the grandstands today and didnít see
much action, and of course I suspect that if things carry on the way
they are, probably tomorrow will be completely cancelled so itís a
bit concerning. It leads on to qualifying of course and what we do
for qualifying is the next issue. Itís all very well coming up with
random ideas but itís got to be fair for everybody and it is a fairly
decisive point in the championship for many teams, so we canít have
anything that is unfairly biased towards anyone. I suspect there are
three solutions. I think the first solution is to cram both
qualifying sessions into Sunday morning, which hopefully the
organizers can accommodate. If they canít then clearly one qualifying
session would have to be based on perhaps the last result but in
reverse order, as if it were the second session, so you would start
with the race result and the winner of the last race would go last.
Alternatively a grid position based on the finishing position of the
last race might be the final solution to that, but I would suspect
one of those would be fairest.
Paul STODDART: I think firstly
again, for the fans, they are the biggest losers out of this. The
teams will survive Iím sure. We will batten down the hatches and make
the most of tomorrow if we are running and if weíre not running,
then, as David said, Sunday will become a bit of a lottery. I am sure
we will squabble over what the final outcome is going to be as to
whether or not we go for reverse grid, we go for championship order,
we go for last race or, indeed, we take Bernieís idea and draw lots
out of a hat, but one way or another we will come up for a grid for
Sundayís race and lets hope the aftermath of the typhoon doesnít
interfere with Sundayís race because I think itís bad enough if we
donít have qualifying tomorrow but if we also have to have a very
poor or indeed an aborted race, I think that would be even worse for
Peter SAUBER: There are a lot of possibilities. I
think if we started to think about it immediately then two weeks
later we would have a solution. (Laughter)
PSt: Two years,
Tomita-san, perhaps you have more experience of
these conditions in Japan. Will a typhoon last for several days or
will it be over by Sunday? Will it be safe to drive on Sunday?
Tsutomu TOMITA: My opinion is quite similar to Davidís Ė I do
hope that we will cancel tomorrow and on Sunday morning we will have
qualifying and then after two thirty or three thirty or four oí clock
we will start racing. This climate is quite abnormal in Japan because
currently October is our finest month! (Laughter) And therefore I
want to apologize to you. (Laughter) But nobody can control the
Peter, perhaps employing Jacques
Villeneuve for next season after Shanghai doesnít seem to be such a
good idea. Are you worried or do you have any regrets about signing
him up for two years now?
PSa: After Shanghai? It is nothing
to do with Shanghai. I think it was the right decision to drive with
him, for him and for us too.
There was a test scheduled
with Vitantonio Liuzzi which was arranged before you signed Jacques
but took place after youíd signed him. It seemed quite confusing that
you were arranging a test with Liuzzi for possibly a race drive. What
was the logic there?
PSa: We promised him that he could do a
test after a successful Formula 3000 season and I think it was okay
to do it. It was nice for him to drive for one day in a Formula One
car. On the other hand it was very difficult to show his talent for
only one day testing. But I think overall the test was very
Paul, you have asked for dispensation to run your
PS04B again next year, because as a small team the rules arenít
settled and itís a financial burden to do that. I just wondered if
you could you explain the sequence you would need to get permission
to do that, whether it would be from the FIA, from the team bosses
and whether you are confident it will happen?
PSt: Well, first
of all, it has to come from the team bosses. And letís just clear up
what it is Iím actually asking for. Itís not a dispensation against
the cost. The cost does have some issue here but if you look at it
from our position, we have no technical regulations as we speak now.
We had thought, like all other teams, that the technical regulations
would most likely be what Max has put forward, what the FIAís put
forward, but we donít actually know that, as we sit here today. So
we, like most other teams, if not all other teams, have taken a
gamble on designing a car around an engine that we had a signed
contract for next year. Suddenly with the news of Cosworth and
Jaguar, everything was thrown into turmoil and as we sit here now, we
have to face the reality that there is just a chance there may not be
an engine available for independent teams next year, or certainly not
the engine that we thought we would have.
That is actually a
case of Force Majeure. It is not an issue of money, itís an issue of
unavailability, so weíve made all we can do, contingent plans to make
sure that Minardi is on the grid next year. We are a little but lucky
in that we are able to do our own engine if we are forced to do so.
It will be slower, thereís no doubt about that. Because itís going to
be slower, weíve asked the teams to allow us to run to the 2004
regulations for one year only and, letís face it, all of these
regulations and lack of clear regulations came about because the FIA
want to slow the cars by Ė and I quote - three seconds. Anybody
thatís looked at Minardi realizes that we are already slower by three
seconds so there is no safety issue involved here. It is just a
common sense approach to try and keep some independent teams in
Formula One. We are a dying species. You all heard recently, in fact
one race ago, certain quotes were made that Jordan and Minardi
wouldnít be there in Melbourne. And that kind of behavior, I can
only speak for myself, put me under enormous pressure from both
potential sponsors, drivers and so on asking the question Ďwill
Minardi will be in Melbourne in 2005?í Well Minardi will be in
Melbourne in 2005 and we are asking for, in the first instance, the
teams to support us running to the 2004 regs and I have to say that
we have had a lot of support there, more than half of the teams have
said yes. I am not going to name and shame but thereís an incredible
temptation to do so. There are a few teams who donít seem to be
interested in letting it happen. Iím sure it will come out in due
course. But if we do get the teams behind it, we then need to ask the
FIA for the dispensation. So itís not guaranteed and the worse
possible case is that we would be in Melbourne next year with a car
that complies to the 2005 regs with an engine thatís cobbled up into
it because we have to do it that way, and we will be slow.
Can I ask the other three guys whether they would allow
Paul to run a 2004 car in 2005?
DR: Our position at BAR is
that this is an FIA situation. They have introduced new regulations
on the basis that they claim it is a safety issue. If they accept
Paulís car is safe to run in those conditions then we wouldnít
TT: Toyota is supporting the FIA proposals because
they are saying two things. The first thing is the safety, the second
thing is the cost reduction. Now we completely agree with this
because we know Formula One is in severe crisis now and we therefore
should make a solution for the future.
PSa: It is a political
question, itís not easy for me to give you a good answer. On one side
I would like to help him because I absolutely understand the
situation. On the other hand we have to be careful when we go in this
direction because there are other teams, maybe between Minardi and
Ferrari, Sauber for example, and what would be our compensation to go
closer to Ferrari? Thatís an example.
When you mentioned
that come hell or high water you would be on the grid in Melbourne
next year, I wonder whether you could perhaps clarify whatís going on
with the engine, with the car, with the team? Will there be new
ownership? Will you be running a Cosworth engine? Will it be a
customer engine, your own engine? How will you be paving the way to
be in Australia next March?
PSt: First of all, if we had to,
and I stress we do not want to go down this road because itís not
right for Formula One and itís not right for Minardi, but weíre very
lucky that we ran our own engine program in 2001 and that both that
car and that engine are still compliant to todayís regulations and we
keep updating it every year. But sometimes people have asked me why I
bother because itís clearly not competitive, but for one reason or
another we have kept the 2001 car homologated to 2003/2004 and we
will homologate it to 2005. I do not want to be in Melbourne with
that car, let me be very, very clear about this. But equally I will
not be pushed out of this sport by politics.
Are you any
closer to finalizing what will happen with the engine for next year?
PSt: Not at all. To put it simply, I asked a very direct
question toÖand I have to be very careful here because the people we
deal with in Cosworth, as you probably understand, we have
tremendously good relationships with, but at this moment in time, in
their crisis, they are not able to actually have any executive
decision-making power, so I have to look at the worst, worst, worst
case. What could I do if there was no engines and no assistance and
no will for anyone else to support us? I will get to Melbourne on my
own, with my own engine which nobody can take away. However, we will
be incredibly uncompetitive. Minardi has prided itself, in all these
years, that when cars come round to lap us itís never an issue, we
get out of the way, we make sure we get out of the way. Well, I donít
think itís very wise to have a Minardi lapped six or eight times in a
race. Itís crazy.
Tomita-san, with the talk of the loss
of Cosworth engines for next year there has been talk that Toyota has
been involved in perhaps providing customer engines to teams next
year. Can you perhaps clarify the situation and whether you are going
to supply a customer engine to a buyer for Jaguar for next year?
Whatís the situation?
TT: It is possible, but talking about
next year, 2005, it is much too late, to have the preparation, for
both that team as well as ourselves.
So you are reluctant
to get involved then?
TT: No mind to get involved, for next
year, but in the future it would be possible to supply an engine to a
So you are saying too late for 2005 now? For
any buyer, at any price?
TT: Too late. It is too late. It is
October and every team should be preparing the car for 2005, for the
end of this year. It is only two months away, itís
PSt: Just picking up on what Tomita-san just said
there, heís absolutely correct. Itís too late for people to start
thinking about engine supplies and that is why Iím saying it is a
case of Force Majeure. We are going to be forced down a route we
donít want to go, not because people arenít willing to supply, but in
October, we havenít got any technical regs and we havenít got any
engines. Not a very good position.
Do you see a future
for Cosworth, perhaps in a different guise, down the road?
PSt: I do, I do. But whether or not the owners of Cosworth,
whoever they may beÖ I mean Cosworth is a bit like Minardi, itís had
more lives than a cat and more owners than weíve had. It will
survive, Iím sure of that, but will the owners, whoever they may be,
want to subsidize a commercially affordable Formula One engine for
2005? We donít know the answer to that question and it would be
irresponsible to just continue on the basis that it will be alright
on the night, because many times in Formula One itís not right on the
night. It needs sorting out now.
Another question to
Tomita-san. This is the first race for Jarno Trulli for Toyota. When
he tested at Silverstone he seemed quite reluctant to get in the car
this year. What has changed to make him drive in the last two races
TT: It is also surprising for us because we had
no plan to use Jarno Trulli for the last two races but fortunately we
had some opportunity to get him and therefore we decided to use
Olivier and Jarno at Suzuka and then Jarno and Ricardo in
Wouldnít it have been easier to put the faster
driver in for the last two races rather than just chop and change or
was it a marketing decision to put Ricardo in for Brazil?
It isnít marketing, it is very good for him, I think.
David, this is an important race for you and for Honda, you have a
major step here on the engine, youíve got an improved gearbox here,
it seems like you are going very aggressively towards the end of the
season, to maintain the second place in the championship. Is that
DR: I think thatís a good observation. We havenít let
up, weíve been testing quite a lot recently and we were testing back
in Jerez last week again and we will test again next week. We have
further modifications as you so rightly said. Honda always come up
with another step in their engine development here for their home
event. They have not let us down on this occasion. Geoff has come up
with some further design tweaks on the car so we will carry on
hopefully the progress for here and for Brazil.
A question about finance.
Earlier this year you said that sponsors were almost falling over
themselves to get involved with the teamÖ
DR: I donít think I
quite used those terms, Steve, but I wish I had though.
But to paraphrase it, there doesnít seem much evidence that thatís
actually happening. I do wonder if itís the uncertainty over the
future of Jenson with the team thatís maybe making people lose
confidence. If Jenson does move to Williams next year, do you have a
financial back-up plan to replace the sponsors that may be lost by
DR: On the sponsorship side, what I would have
said is that interest in the team has grown substantially over this
year as obviously performance comes in. It is no rocket science to
suggest that sponsors follow performance and natural budget cycles go
in 12 month cycles, so I wasnít anticipating any significant increase
or coverage until next year, despite the fact that we have, as you
can see on the car, we have Epson here now, we introduced Ray-Ban not
so long ago, thereís another one that may possibly appear before the
seasonís end as well, so weíre actually looking for next year in the
main and so the situation is very much as I described it earlier in
Are any of those major deals contingent on
Jenson being in the team for next year?
DR: No, I wouldnít do
a contract based on an individual driver at all. Thatís not the way
we do things.
David, I want to ask you about tobacco
sponsorship. There are obviously people talking about the July 31st
deadline for next year. Could you explain what will happen after
that, will you run without Lucky Strike branding for the rest of the
season, will you run with it, who will become culpable because itís
against the law in Britain, will someone be going to prison because
of this, I mean, what will actually happen, it sounds naÔve butÖ
DR: Let me explain this just very simply again. The law in
England, well, basically the European Union put forward proposals on
the tobacco legislation, tobacco advertising law, a couple of years
ago. Each member state then has to put its own legislation in place.
Great Britain, being very careful about these things and fairly
pedantic, has rather gold plated some of the regulations and has, as
a result, created a certain ambiguity in the legislation because the
basic legislation was only intended to cover what went on in EU
states, i.e. what we did within the European Union. It was never
intended, and the government has recognized this, it was never
intended to cover what we did outside the EU, for instance here in
Japan or China or Brazil for that matter. And yet the way it is
drafted at the moment could be interpreted to have that effect. So at
the moment we are seeking clarification on that. I hope that
clarification will come shortly and that will mean we can run outside
Europe with our sponsors and advertising legitimately to the end of
2006, when the tobacco industry themselves have volunteered to remove
their advertising. If that legislation doesnít get clarified then
potentially we do have to remove the advertising after July next year
at all races worldwide and the consequences of not doing that, for UK-
based companies, registered in the UK, both the sponsor and the team,
are a potential criminal offence.
A question to the other
three just to wrap up on that, even though we are saying tobacco is
ending at the end of 2006 the GPWC and Marlboro have both said they
will stay beyond that date. Do you think that the long-term
involvement of tobacco sponsorship in Formula One is damaging the
PSt: It is an interesting situation because I think we
need to watch very carefully what happens post July 31st next year. I
am quite sure that if we see Bernie or Jean Todt going to jail then
you can rapidly see the demise of tobacco in Formula One. Having said
that, I think now Philip Morris are perhaps in a different situation.
The red and white is synonymous around the globe with their brand,
they are probably the one company that could actually run unbranded
but still get the benefit of the advertising, so I think they are in
a slightly different situation and I would like to hear what the
others have got to say post next year.
Is it hurting
Formula One, tobacco sponsorship, Peter?
PSa: I donít
understand the question.
Does having tobacco sponsors
staying in Formula One affect new sponsors coming into the sport?
Does it affect the teams who donít run with tobacco sponsorship?
PSa: No, I donít think so. You have a lot of people without
tobacco advertising and people smoke more than the others: China,
Denmark, for example, there are a lot of examples I think. It wonít
be a problem for Formula One.
TT: We can understand the
gradual movement to ban tobacco sponsors, but it is a fact that they
are big sponsors supporting Formula One currently, so we donít like
to stop the tobacco. But talking about Toyota, Toyota decided not to
use tobacco sponsors.
You cannot avoid hearing talk about
the British Grand Prix and its future and the ongoing political
games. Can we get from each of you your own take on what is happening
to the race at Silverstone, with Bernie, with everything that is
happening, like, with Nigel Mansell? What do you think is happening
to the British Grand Prix? Will there be a race at Silverstone next
PSt: Yes. As I said, there will be a race. Anyone who
wants to put their money on that is a pretty safe bet. Why is it all
happening? One word: Politics.
PSa: There are two sides. On
one hand, I think 16 or 17 Grands Prix are enough, on the other hand
Great Britain is the homeland of motorsport and I think it is
important to have a British Grand Prix. Personally I like the track
TT: I am sorry, I donít have much information
about Silverstone, but everyone knows Silverstone is very famous and
we would hope to keep it.
DR: I am very confident there will
be a solution found and we will be racing at Silverstone next
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
To take that
on a bit, are you expecting to be paid for the extra Grand Prix?
DR: I think you should firstly understand the finances and
how little we actually see, as teams, of the money that goes towards
staging Grands Prix. I think, in round terms, Paul is probably better
at the numbers than I am on this particular point, but if I remember
correctly we get 30 million dollars shared between all the teams for
16 events, am I right Paul?
PSt: Itís a little bit more than
that, but itís probably simpler to put it in terms that we, the
teams, share 23 percent of the Formula One cake and we then divide
that disproportionately amongst ourselves, so when people talk about
an 18th or 19th race there is a cost to the teams. It does vary
enormously, but very few of us can go to a race for less than two
million dollars, and in fact that is probably on the lower side. We
do need to be compensated. But please donít anyone think of the teams
being greedy. I think with 23 percent of the overall cake the teams
are anything but greedy.
Anything further to add?
PSt: There will be a Silverstone race.
Saward Ė F1 Grand Prix special) Paul and David, do you think it is a
fair price that is being asked to hold a race at Silverstone, given
the fact that the price goes up 10 percent every year?
Well, number one, I am not party to the actual negotiations or know
the precise price, but clearly the price has got to be what is
affordable, or what is the market rate, if you like. And to that
extent, these events elsewhere in the world can afford whatever they
pay, and logic dictates that there are a finite number of races that
can be run then that is the market forces that determine the
PSt: I think if you are wondering why David and I
and perhaps these other gentlemen seem a little bit evasive on the
question, the answer is we donít know how much each of the races
contribute. We have a fair idea, but we donít see that information,
so it is very hard for us to comment on something that we donít have
exact information on.
(Joe Saward) To just follow up, do
you think that tradition is important in the sport or is market
forces all that matter these days?
DR: I think tradition is a
very important aspect of Formula One but it is a balance at the end
of the day. Everything moves on, everything evolves in life, whether
it is a sporting event like Formula One or anything else, so itís
finding that balance and I donít think anyone here would argue that
the addition of Shanghai and that wonderful circuit there has
benefited Formula One, but so does keeping some of the older circuits
and keeping them going.
PSt: If I can add to that, keeping the
teams going as well. I mean, you all think I would say that but to be
absolutely honest I do actually fear for Formula One the day we have
only half a dozen manufacturer teams, because I really just donít
think that is keeping in the tradition of Formula One. Certainly the
circuits, again, there are some very historical circuits. Sometimes
facilities are used as an argument, I donít think that washes with
most people because I think all of you sitting in front of me know
the circuits that have good facilities and know the circuits that
have bad facilities and most certainly Silverstone does not feature
at either end of that scale, itís somewhere in the middle, so thatís
not much of an argument.
TT: Of course, we donít like to lose
such a traditional Grand Prix event and, sorry to Bernie, but 10
percent increase every year is a little bit too big.
Again, I like Silverstone and I think all the tradition is important
for Formula One. But when you speak about Silverstone you speak about
money and I think it is not only the money, it is also the time and I
believe that 19 Grands Prix are too much.
(Marc Surer Ė
Premiere TV) We understand that if there is a cancellation of
tomorrow, the organizers and the stewards can change the time
schedule, for example they can change qualifying for Sunday morning,
but they cannot change, as I understand, the way the qualifying
happens, because if they change that they change the sporting
regulations and that means all of you, all 10 teams, have to sign. So
my question is, would you sign to change for qualifying?
I am probably the most experienced at trying to get all 10 teams to
sign something and all I would say is good luck, because we have
never managed to agree on anything else!
Maybe it is a
good chance to get the regulations for next year?
itís possible, isnít it. Good idea mate! Iíve had all day to canvass
it, havenít I?
PSa: Why donít you start immediately, you need
a minimum of two weeks!
PSt: Two years?
TT: We should
always think about the customers, who are the fans who are coming to
PSt: Good point.
DR: I would just wait and
see what is proposed tomorrow. Letís see what comes out of this, but
hopefully they can put the qualifying on Sunday morning in the
standard format that we have had all year.
(James Allen -
ITV) Paul, I donít know if you are aware of this guy Alex Shnaider,
who is looking at coming into Formula One in 2006 (with Midland F1)
and put a statement out today. One of the reasons he says he wants to
come into Formula One is because he says he believes the franchises
will be worth a lot of money in the future. I remember doing an
interview with you about three or four years ago and you said the
same thing to me. Your franchise isnít worth any more now than it was
then. Have you given up hope that it will be worth more in the future
or do you share your optimism that post-2007 there will be a gold
rush of teams coming into Formula One, a cheaper Formula One?
PSt: There are two points there. I think I hold the track
record for number of due diligences done Ė I am up to 23, including a
10 million Euro bounced check that sits on my office wall for one of
the fly-by-nighters that didnít have the money to go through with it.
So, no, I donít believe the franchises have a value. I think when we
lost Prost and Arrows and now perhaps if we have lost Jaguar we have
fallen below the minimum number. I think it is a battle for the rest
of us to survive to the end of this Concorde agreement. We have all
had so many false starts, you know, you guys saw the MOU (Memo of
Understanding) signed last Christmas, before that it was the GPWC
that was going to come in and save everyone. I suppose I have almost
given up on anything happening before the end of 2007 and, as such,
someone coming into Formula One saying that they value the franchise,
um, itís good to hear but I have been down that road and it is not
such an easy road to go down. I wish them good luck.
(Byron Young Ė Speed Sport) David, you said earlier with a large
degree of certainty that the British Grand Prix will be held next
year. Is that based on more information you have had over the last 24
hours or just a gut feeling?
DR: No, just my own personal
feeling and my personal wish that it should happen next year. I think
itís, you know, going back to the point before about traditional
events and, you know, for us as a team and I am sure for many of the
other British-based teams, the commercial impact of not having the
event and the affect on all our staff as well is, to me, not
acceptable. We need to find a solution.
(Byron Young) Have
you had any contact with Kim Cockburn and the Nigel Mansell
DR: No, not a clue. Never heard of
(Steve Cooper) At the last race Bernie said he would
be happy to see all the independent teams out of the way and the
manufacturers running three-car teams for the whole season. Could you
clarify how that would work? What point do the grids have to get to
before you have to run a third car? Who will pay for it? How would it
be run? Is it paid for by Bernie or do you pay for it? Will you
receive more money for it? How will it work? Has it been decided yet?
PSt: It is something to be clear on: it is not really for
Bernie to say. Bernie does not run my business, I donít run Bernieís
business. That was a personal opinion and I think enough has been
said about it. Were the teams to fall below 20 cars, and we all
assume that is 10 two-car entries, there is a mechanism in the
existing Concorde agreement at which point there is a way of putting
a third or two third cars up and running. Currently in the Concorde
agreement, which obviously needs unanimity to change, which is
something we can rarely achieve, it says those cars canít score
points, that there is no money paid for them and that they can take
no part in any formalities, so one would assume that in that event
that we fell below 20 cars that we would get together and decide a
way to go forward with the third cars. Now, I think also just to pick
up on the point there, Bernie did not chastise all of the independent
teams he made it very specifically directed towards Jordan and
Minardi and he did not in any way, shape or form say anything about
Peter, and nor should he because Peter has done probably the best job
of any of us, letís just be clear on that. But I just think it would
be a very sad day for Formula One if you do lose the independents,
including Jaguar for that matter. If we fall below 20 cars it is not
that team that has failed formula One, it is Formula One that has
failed that team, and that is a very, very important point.
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