TEAM REPRESENTATIVES PART 1 – Guenther STEINER (Haas), Toto WOLFF (Mercedes), Mario ISOLA (Pirelli)
TEAM REPRESENTATIVES PART 2 – Franz TOST (AlphaTauri), Frederic VASSEUR (Alfa Romeo), Marcin BUDKOWSKI (Renault)
Q: Can we start with our first impressions of the Istanbul Park circuit. We’ve just had the first practice session, it looked pretty slippery out there – so what conclusions can we draw?
Guenther STEINER: I would agree with you: it was very slippery but I think the track wasn’t used for a while and there was some damp patches and it was pretty cold with the Hard tires, so, end of the session, seems to be getting a little better when you can get some temperature in the tires – but I think we wait for FP2. Otherwise, it’s a great place as a circuit here, it’s in very good shape, it’s just like we need to get a little bit more grip and then it will be alright.
Toto WOLFF: I think we haven’t been here for a long time and the circuit put a lot of effort into resurfacing and that is good. The consequences, obviously there is a lot of bitumen coming out and that makes it very slippery. As Guenther said, I think we just need to run and run and run and eventually the grip levels are going to increase – maybe not to the levels we know – but we need a little bit more rally skills in order to go fast tomorrow. It’s different to what we had.
Q: Mario, from Pirelli’s point of view?
Mario ISOLA: Toto is right: we have a level of grip that is lower than expected. When we selected the tires, we didn’t know about this idea of the circuit resurface, all the track, so the characteristics of the new tarmac are different from the old one. That means that we decided for the three hardest compounds we have in our range. It’s a bit challenging for drivers but they’re all the same tires and at the end they have to work with what they have. I believe it is quite difficult if it is going to rain because of the bitumen and the fact that you have some oil that is coming on the surface when it is raining, so we have to pay attention if, in one of the next days, if it will be wet. About the rest, probably the level of grip will increase. We don’t have support events here so obviously the level of rubber we are able to put down on track is less than usual and this is another element they have to consider in strategies and track evolution.
Q: Mario, knowing what you know now, might you have brought softer compounds to this race?
Isola: Maybe yes – but we have data that are very, very old. Ten years ago we had a completely different situation, different tires, different compounds and different cars, so we are looking at this circuit as a new track. We made our simulation considering this circuit as a new track and yes, obviously we had a look at the data from 2011 but I believe they are not very relevant, so maybe yes. We know that Turn 8 is quite severe on the tire. The rest of the circuit is not so heavy, so severe on tires. Knowing the characteristics of the tarmac in advance, yes, maybe it was good to go one step softer.
Q: Mario, staying with you and throwing it two weeks back if I may, what update can you give us regarding the failure on Max Verstappen’s car at Imola?
Isola: We made an investigation on the tire and the part of the tire that we have been able to collect. We found some cuts on the tread and the sidewall, both in inside and outside. We believe that the reason of the failure was damage on the center of the tread that caused the damage on both the belts and the carcass plies. So the belts started to detach following this damage and at a certain point, when the carcass was not able to keep the load, we had the deflation that everybody saw on television. We shared the analysis with the FIA and the team and this is the evidence that we have. Obviously it is difficult to analyze a tire that is in pieces but we sent immediately the tire back from Imola to our laboratories in Milan and we did an investigation as a priority.
Q: Thank you. And going a week earlier, if I may, to Portimão, the Portuguese Grand Prix, what conclusions did you draw from the tire test that you carried out there during FP2, and what changes to the tires can we expect for 2021?
Isola: We have decided to homologate a new front and a new rear construction. The new front is the one with the biggest difference compared to this year, with the different profile, a different construction. We carry over the compounds to next year. Obviously it is impossible in one test to redesign all the range of compounds but we have this new specification. We are going to supply the new specification to all the teams in Bahrain and probably Abu Dhabi. We are discussing this in these days, to give all the teams the possibility to test the final – the homologated – version of this specification. Because in Portimão we supplied different prototypes to different teams, not the same to everybody, so not all the teams have been able to test what we have decided to homologate, so that is the plan for the next events. Obviously, I am talking about the first race in Bahrain on a layout that is well-known by the teams and the race in Abu Dhabi, again on a layout that is very well known.
Q: Toto, Lewis has his first match-point this weekend. Have you seen any sign of nerves from him so far?
Wolff: No. I think the drivers are always under pressure to perform and he’s been coping well with that in the past and no difference in behavior pattern than the previous races.
Q: Now, there’s so much talk and speculation about his future. If he wins title number seven here, does that trigger the start of the negotiations about next year?
Wolff: Yeah. I don’t want to drop a date here because, if I do, everybody’s going to ask at every single race – but this is what we agreed. I think it was important to make sure that we have both titles secured and then have a more relaxed approach to the discussion about the future.
Q: How relaxed can you be – because it’s only 48 days until the start of 2021. Is there any part of you that’s getting nervous or even feeling cornered in your negotiations with Lewis Hamilton?
Wolff: No, not at all Tom. It’s a good dependence on each other. We would like him in the car and I think he wants to drive the Mercedes – because it’s competitive. So, no, I think there is a good balance.
Q: And, from a Constructors’ point of view, obviously you won number seven last time out in Imola. In these COVID times, can you tell us how the team has celebrated. I guess it’s been different to previous successes for you?
Wolff: Yeah. I don’t know. For myself, I can say that this one felt very special. We are not very good in celebrating, we always look forward – but there were moments where I was very proud of what the team has achieved. That was reflected also in the various video calls we had right after the race – but we will certainly find some time and allocate some time when it’s becoming easier with Corona to celebrate that title – because it’s a special title.
Q: Guenther, a few stresses getting one of your drivers to the racetrack in time this weekend. How did he break the news to you – Romain Grosjean we’re talking about – that he’d missed his flight.
Steiner: The team-manager had told me that he’d missed his flight, and he’s coming on Thursday morning, so it wasn’t a big panic anyway. It sounded more dramatic than it was. He was here on Thursday morning, I saw him about 0900-0930, so no big drama to me.
Q: In your history in Formula 1, have you ever had another driver who’s missed flights? Caused you any grief?
Q: Can you tell us any names?
Steiner: Kevin Magnussen! He missed his first flight. To a meeting – maybe it wasn’t to a race but to a meeting with Gene Haas. He told me: “I’m sitting in Frankfurt, I missed my connection.” Good for you, you know! He was going to California. I’m pretty used to it. I’m calm about it. He missed a flight and then immediately arranged something else and we knew that he was coming the next day, so there was no panic, you know?
Q: And while we’re talking about drivers, how close are you to announcing your line-up for 2021?
Steiner: I copy Toto here. I don’t want to tell you a date because then you keep on asking me. So, I learn from the best, giving answers. I don’t know when we announce it. We are getting closer. We’re getting close, put it this way.
Q: (Dieter Rencken) Question to Guenther and Toto please. On the Monday after Portimão, there were discussions on banning wind tunnels from 2030 etc., On the one side, Guenther, you don’t have one within your team, and on the other side Toto, you’ve probably got the best, if not amongst the best wind tunnel. How do you feel about this and can CFD really replace wind tunnel testing?
Steiner: I think everything is possible and technology gets better, as we all know. Technology is advancing in big steps, so I think we don’t need to decide now, but going in that direction I think would maybe be the right thing to do. I think it’s too early to come to a complete conclusion but, if it is like this, if everybody is the same, this is what we are going do, I will support it.
Wolff: Yes, I think there was broad agreement that over the long term this would happen but it’s such a massive regulatory change that also involves certain safety aspects. We must not forget that these cars are the fastest on the planet with the most downforce and we don’t want to experiment live with drivers in the car based on CFD. As for our tunnel, it’s the same generation as a few others in the paddock. We’ve worked on the tunnel over the last years as has everybody else, and people tend to say there is a silver bullet, that the tunnel is very good or the tire analysis is very good, or the engine is very good but it’s always the combination of everything. Therefore, I think setting a target like 2030 banning wind tunnels is a path that works for everybody and is going to help us make the sport more sustainable from the financial side.
Q: (Andrew Benson – BBC) Question for Toto and Mario. I believe that Mercedes also had tire problems in Imola with vibrations which obviously can be a precursor to a failure. I wondered if the two entities, Mercedes and Pirelli, had investigated that and discovered whether there was a significant problem. And Mario, just for you, what characteristics are you trying to achieve with this new tire for next year?
Wolff: So, it started with a little vibration and we decided to pit the car also in order to not take any risks. It was something that isn’t yet understood. The tire remained intact and was sent to Milan for analysis and we’re waiting for the results.
Isola: Yes, I can confirm that we are analysing the tire together with the team, so the findings will be shared with the team. As Toto said, there was no loss of pressure, just vibration increasing during the run. We are investigating the construction. Obviously in this case it is possible to investigate the tire because it is available. For the second question, the target of the new construction was mainly to increase the level of integrity. What we can see from telemetry data, that we receive after each race, is that obviously the level of performance – that means the level of load – that these cars are putting on tires, is growing every weekend and therefore we usually develop new tires every year in order to increase the level of integrity and on the other side to limit the increase in pressure that obviously is leading to other… not issues but consequences like overheating, for example, or higher degradation. Last year it was not possible. We homologated the 2019 product also for 2020 but we had no plans to carry over the 2020 tires also for 2021, so what we agreed with the teams was to have this possibility to test in FP2 and it is what we did with tires that are designed not to increase the level of performance – that was not the target – but to increase the level of integrity. The prototype we selected is giving this feedback on our indoor testing and when it was tested in Portimão, the feedback was quite positive – or at least in line with the current specification – and this is what we have done.
Q: (Scott Mitchell – The Race) Toto, F1 has made it clear that hybrid engines and the combustion engine are going to be a part of F1 for the long term. At the moment the next gen engine is going to be in 2026 and there has obviously been talk about whether than can be brought forward and how it needs to be made simpler and cheaper to attract more manufacturers. Do you think moving the new engine forward from 2026 is possible and do you think sustainable fuels could be a way of doing that so by introducing a 100% sustainable fuel or by simplifying the hybrid element or something like that?
Wolff: Nice beard! So the discussion was very good – one of the positives. It’s interesting where the auto industry goes because everything develops in the direction of electric mobility but there is also a new look at the internal combustion engine and the combination with electric drive. I believe we should look at the costs. Developing a completely new power unit is not somewhere we should go. We know that we made that mistake in 2011 and 2012 when we made a highly sophisticated and also very efficient power unit but it got very complex. As things stand I think we need to have a combination of what we have today – an internal combustion engine and add hybrid energy and power in order to have a better ratio between sustainable energy propulsion and conventional ICE engines. I don’t think it’s about simplifying, it’s just about trying to not have escalating costs and apart from the more electric component with potentially larger or more powerful battery pack, sustainable fuels are definitely the future. In 2025 we should have a 100% sustainable fuel, whether it’s synthetic fuels or biofuels, but it should come with a big step for 2025 and not with a gradual increase over the next years because again that would make the power unit development more expensive.
Q: (Christian Menath) Toto, when people talk about Lewis and his achievements many people think about just the raw talent of Lewis but he is a professional athlete and I think during the years her became a more professional athlete from year to year. Did you see this development as well and what you think was the impact of the defeat against Nico in 2016?
Wolff: I think what I realised over the last years is his permanent self-analysis, how to get better, he has become really good at identifying points of weakness and then tackling them, and he has progressed over the years as a racing driver in the car and as a personality outside the car. And that is something that you see very rarely with people, that they are critical enough, while not beating themselves up, in order to progress. Many others in Formula 1 and outside Formula 1, you’re not really good at identifying your own shortcomings and therefore you stagnate in your development and it’s a thinking pattern that with him simply doesn’t exist. He is constantly seeking perfection.
Q: And the impact of Nico Rosberg’s championship in 2016?
Wolff: I don’t think that played any role. I think that annoyed him back at the time and I think he moved. I don’t think there was a particular thing to learn in that year. Nico was strong. Lewis had some DNFs leading races and in the end it is what it is.
Q: (Ronald Fording) Toto, you’ve talked about the years as a team principal taking its toll and probably moving into another role within Mercedes. Does the timing of that move only depend on your successor and when he or she is ready, or do you have any doubts about stopping as a team principal yourself?
Wolff: I believe that each of us has a certain shelf life as a team principal. It’s simply not sustainable to do a few hundred races and be the best you that started on the journey. It is a job that involves being in an airplane on 20 or so races and coming back on Monday you have an office job. I did 250 hotel nights last year and 500 hours of flying. It is certainly not something I want to do for the rest of my life. But I take enjoyment in what I do and I certainly don’t want to step away from the Mercedes team. I’m co-owner with Mercedes and this is something I am very proud of but it has become quite a large company. Our engineering arm, Applied Science, is growing strongly and I believe that I should hand over the baton as team principal to somebody that will start his journey with the same motivation and energy that I had when I started. That is a natural progression that we have done on technical level over the many years and I would be very proud seeing somebody performing better than I do and I will be watching that from a different, more senior role.
Q: Have you already identified that person.
Wolff: Hmmm. Maybe.
Q: (Edd Straw – The Race) For Toto. There are a couple of triple headers on next year’s calendar but when F1 had a triple-header a few years ago it wasn’t that popular and there was a desire to limit them and perhaps only use them for flyaways, but we have a European one next year. Obviously they were necessary this year but do you think it’s a necessary for triple-headers to be a fact of life in F1 or do you think there should be push to move away from them just to avoid overloading personnel etc?
Wolff: I think the teams are the beneficiaries of growing revenue and growing income. The teams still take a large chunk of the EBITDA and in that respect we all need to support for the business to grow. On the other side a couple of triple-headers will take a toll on the people. I think there is an Asian triple-header that will mean we are more than three weeks away from home and that is certainly not something that is great. You must not forget that the hardest working people are the ones that set up the garages and take them down and the mechanics that will have overnighters if something goes wrong [and they will] suffer, no doubt about that. You need to question how long that is sustainable and whether you implement a different system by having a second crew that can take over these toughest roles and this is something we are looking at at the moment.
Q: Guenther, could we get your thoughts on triple-headers next year?
Steiner: Yeah, it will take a toll on the people but I think especially in the times we are in now we need to do it but then FOM needs to look into it; if it is something we want to do for the long term or it’s just a one year off; if this many races are sustainable and if there is no saturation coming in by the spectators, if it actually is beneficial or not and on the people side of it we need to come up with plans that we don’t overwork them. We overwork them anyway, but we need to be clear that we cannot demand that all the time. That is part of our job. If it gives us more revenue we need to come up with ideas where we make it sustainable for ourselves, where we don’t need to wait until we are told to do that. It’s part of where Formula 1 is going. We will just find out in a few years if it is the right or not, if more races is the right way. We need to try it and try to find some solution where our people do not get worn out. That they can keep on working and that there are enough people wanting to do this job. I think there are enough people out there wanting to work in Formula 1 so I think we are still in a good place, so I think we just wait a little bit.
Q: (Alan Baldwin – Reuters) Going back to Lewis and seven championships. Comparisons are inevitably going to be made to the likes of Roger Federer winning grand slams, Jack Nicklaus, six Masters, multiple winners of the Tour de France. It is an individual championship. I know Formula 1 is a team sport. People say it’s the car, put anyone in the Mercedes and they will win. Do you think Lewis Hamilton, as a seven-times world champion, will get the respect and his just dues and how do you see Lewis in relation to those other champions?
Wolff: In any sport, and also in motor racing, there were people that stood out. In motor racing it was Fangio, it was Senna, Michael of course, Sebastian in the 2010s, and now Lewis. I don’t think you can compare them really because every time had different competitors and needed different skill sets. But certainly among them his sheer record stands out and he is on a par with Michael today, who for me personally was the greatest driver in Formula 1 and Lewis is still in his career and he can maybe achieve more in terms of the sheer record. Into the other sports, it’s the same case. There are some very, very outstanding people that have really stood out and Roger, for me, is not only an amazing tennis player but he is also a great personality. Within that generation you will have Roger and Nadal and yeah, that’s pretty much it I think. You will have the same in golf and soccer and American football, you have these outstanding guys that have just natural ability, social intelligence and hard working skills.
TEAM REPRESENTATIVES PART 2 – Franz TOST (AlphaTauri), Frederic VASSEUR (Alfa Romeo), Marcin BUDKOWSKI (Renault)
Q: Fred can we start with you? First impressions of Istanbul Park. What conclusions can we draw after FP1?
Fredéric VASSEUR: It was a good session on the ice! It was a very tricky one for everybody. I think it was almost difficult to keep the car on track, but it will improve during the weekend and it will be more a question of the weather forecast and something else for tomorrow.
Q: What about the feedback from the drivers? Were they enjoying the fact that it was an ice rink?
Vasseur: I don’t know if enjoy is the right word, because it was too slippery this morning but at least the layout of the track, and the track is a very good one… I remember the race 10 years ago, it was always good events and I am pleased to be back in Istanbul.
Q: Sauber are celebrating 500 races this weekend. You’ve run your own teams in the junior categories, you’ve worked for Renault in the UK – what makes Sauber different?
Vasseur: It’s in Switzerland, first, that’s a big difference! Seriously, it’s an important milestone for the company. I’m not a big fan of numbers and statistics and so on, but if you have a look back, to do 500 races, for a company it’s a huge achievement. It was not always easy, it was sometimes very difficult, sometimes successful, but at least the company did very well over the last 25 years in F1, 27, and 50 years in motor racing. It’s a great feeling for the company today.
Q: What about for you? Are you proud to have the responsibility of leading a team with so much heritage?
Vasseur: Yeah, but you know it’s a picture of today. I’m more… very happy for Peter. He launched the company 50 years ago and it’s more an achievement for him than for myself.
Q: Franz, let’s start with your impressions of Istanbul Park?
Franz TOST: First of all we are happy to be back at this fantastic race track. Of course today the cars didn’t have so much grip out there but it was also exciting to see Formula 1 cars sliding around. It was a result of the new surface and the low temperatures, therefore it is difficult to get temperature into the tires but in the last 20-25 minutes of FP1 the cars looked quite stable and I think in FP2 and tomorrow and also for Sunday everything will work in the way as we expect.
Q: Now Franz, if I could take you back to last week where F2 star Yuki Tsunoda tested one of your cars at Imola. Could you just give us a resume of how he got on?
Tost: He got on very well. He was immediately familiar with the car, with the brakes, with the G-forces, with the steering. He gave good technical feedback, good co-operation with the engineers, no crash, no spin. He did a really good job.
Q: Was he quick?
Tost: He was also quick, yes. Otherwise he wouldn’t have driven.
Q: Now, looking ahead to this weekend and the rest of the season, the battle in Constructors championship – can you catch Ferrari in sixth place or was Gasly’s retirement at Imola a hammer blow for you guys?
Tost: Of course, the retirement of Pierre at Imola was a big disadvantage but nevertheless there are another four races to go and we will score as many points as possible and if it’s more than Ferrari, if we can overtake them it’s fantastic but it’s not our main goal. We want to finish the races in the points and to score as many points as possible.
Q: Can we say, on recent performances, whether you think you have the third fastest car?
Tost: This, I would doubt. If everything is working together I think that Racing Point’s car is a little faster, also the Renault is very fast. But we are close to all these teams, also to McLaren and then it depends on the different race specs, on the track layout whether we get together from the set-up and how we can get the tire under control but I’m quite confident for here and for the rest of the season.
Q: Marcin, so, who has the third fastest car in Formula 1? You guys are involved in a tremendous battle for P3 in the Constructors’ championship.
Marcin BUDKOWSKI: I think it’s difficult to say. I think, as Franz was saying, it depends a little bit on the weekend and on the conditions. Certainly it’s a very very tight fight for P3. Renault are one point ahead of Racing Point and McLaren so it’s difficult to imagine a tighter battle. We’ve lost valuable points to reliability the last few races which is something we’re not happy about and we are working very hard to get that back under control because that could be the deciding the factor. It’s good to have a fast car but you need to have a reliable car to score the points. I think, here it’s been… just judging by this morning, we’ve had a particularly difficult start this morning on the very low grip track, it’s a bit like Portimão to the power of ten so it’s going to be an interesting afternoon session for us to try to recover the control over the tires and therefore a decent pace.
Q: You talk about reliable car, quick car; can I just ask you: what has been the key to unlocking the potential of this year’s RS20, because since Spa, really, the car has flown? What was the trigger point?
Budkowski: I think it’s a combination. I think the car is clearly a better car than we had last year. We addressed some of the major weaknesses we had on last year’s car. We’ve made good progress during the season, we’ve made good upgrades and that’s obviously pushed us forward in the pecking order, but we’ve also understood the car better and I wouldn’t call it a breakthrough but it was progressive learning and understanding of the car and therefore in parallel, you understand the car better and you improve it and when all these things come together you start to perform better and we’re in such a tight group, the differences are so small in the midfield cars that by being in the front of the group, you’re taking the opportunities such as podiums as we’ve seen such as the big points.
Q: And Daniel, in particular, is flying at the moment. How much will you miss him in 2021?
Budkowski: He’s at the top of his form, he’s driving exceptionally well and that shows in the team results but also in his personal results so of course we will miss him but we will also miss the character. He’s a smiley, engaging character which is a pleasure to work with him. Daniel walks in the room and suddenly the mood in the room picks up because his smile and his enthusiasm is infectious.
Q: (Luke Smith – Autosport) Marcin, about Fernando Alonso and his plans for next year. Obviously he’s got a test coming up in Abu Dhabi – it’s been announced by the team. I just want to know how you saw the simulation has been going, what kind of feedback has he been giving you so far and I guess what more plans do you have for him in terms of getting up to speed between now and the end of the season?
Budkowski: So yeah, Fernando drove two days the 2018 car in Bahrain and he will do another two days on the 2018 car again in Abu Dhabi over the weekend. He’s also done a filming day on the 2020 car so he’s taking every opportunity to drive. We had tests planned for young drivers, for the academy, with the ’18 so we just added some days to get Fernando to drive, so that was a good opportunity. He wants more days in the car, he wants more days in the car to get used to the team, to get used to the systems, the procedures, to fine tune his seating position, the steering wheel, everything. But also he hasn’t driven the car for two years and they are bloody fast cars – sorry for the wording – and then he needs to get back in shape, get back in the rhythm so he’s taking any opportunity he can to drive. In terms of his enthusiasm, in terms of his determination, he’s been at the factory, obviously, to do some seat fittings and it was an opportunity… I took him round the factory to show him how things had changed since he was there in Enstone a number of years ago and obviously a lot has changed since then and his motivation is incredible, he’s really asking everybody, pushing and you spend a few minutes with him and you’re straightaway… you’re more motivated so it’s great for the staff to be exposed to someone like this who is not only a great champion but also is so motivated for next year and the next years to come.
Q: And Marcin, what has impressed you the most about Fernando Alonso?
Budkowski: It’s this, the determination, his curiosity. He’s asking about anything. We were in the wind tunnel and he said ‘so, you can’t run the ’22 at the moment?’ And we said no, we can’t do it, because of the regulations. ‘So when can you start developing?’ And we said first of January. ‘OK, are you running on the first of January?’ And we said normally we don’t but this year we might because it’s New Year, you know? And he said ‘yeah, OK, we have to run on the first of January. I will come here and help you on the first of January.’ So this is the level of motivation of Fernando at the moment.
Q: (Scott Mitchell – The Race) Follow-up question to Marcin on Fernando: obviously he’s got more running in the 2018 car and try to run him as much as possible but what can he actually learn driving the 2018 car? What are the limitations and just generally how impressive has it been how he seeks every last little bit of detail he can get from anything he throws himself into as he prepares for his comeback?
Budkowski: As I said, partly it is him wanting to get back in shape and get back in the rhythm of driving a car but it’s an opportunity to drive… to work with him on things like the steering wheel, his favourite button position, how he wants to be able to activate all the differences in the car, practise our procedures. It seems simple but the more we practise these things, the more we have to do during the winter testing. We only have three days of running for our two drivers in winter testing next year so practising FIA procedures, all the various things that he will need to have under his belt, but maybe different from what he experienced before and also getting accustomed to the team but the car is different, it’s our 2018 car, we’ve improved quite a lot since ’18 but it’s the same DNA of the car, the ’20 car is a better car but at the end of the day, getting him used to a Renault car, even if it’s a two year old car, is beneficial.
Q: (Mario Luini – Revue Automobil) Fred, at Imola Romain Grosjean revealed that the Haas has been suffering all season with overheating rear suspension, relating to the power unit and it’s affecting the behaviour of the car. Do you have a similar problem on the C39?
Vasseur: Absolutely not. Sorry.
Q: (Dieter Rencken) To all three: on the Monday after Portimao, there were discussions about potentially banning wind tunnels from 2030 onwards. Some of you have got state-of-the-art facilities, some of you are rebuilding and Marcin, I believe that your speciality is aerodynamics. How do you feel about this? Is it possible? Could one actually do away with wind tunnels entirely and rely only on CFD?
Budkowski: It’s not a new topic, it’s been talked about for a little while. I think the key on this kind of significant technical infrastructure is to do it with enough anticipation. Today, wind tunnels are an essential part of the development of a Formula 1 car and the risk by doing everything with CFD so in numerical simulation is that you get to the first race and the car behaves completely differently from what you expect and you have a hard time actually getting back on track so the risk is that people just lose the corelation with the track and a tunnel is an important element of this. Now, Formula 1 loves a challenge and I think if you tell us that in ten years’ time we’re going to move away from something that’s an essential part of the development, because we’re going to have to ramp up the simulation part of it, I think it’s do-able. Every time the topic came up before it was ‘let’s ban them in two years’, ‘let’s ban them in three years and that just wasn’t realistic so as an objective for ten years’ time, which is in line with the sustainability message that we’re building around Formula 1, I think it’s a realistic prospect. It’s still, over that period of time, it’s a challenge and it will change a lot in the way we develop cars.
Vasseur: I think, as Marcin said, it’s very challenging for us. We’ve discussed this topic a couple of times. The conclusion now is that we could imagine to do it for 2030 but even like this, to develop the car, full based on the cfd project, it’s very ambitious. Marcin spoke about the safety and so on and it’s true that it’s a characteristic of the corelation that to launch the car on the track at the beginning of February or March without doing any development in the wind tunnel or corelation in the wind tunnel could be a bit tricky but we also spoke that we could imagine to have a wind tunnel time that a short period of development on the wind tunnel, 1-to-1 scale for example. For sure it’s a challenge but I think the F1 is focused on the challenge and it makes sense to imagine something like this, if it’s sufficiently anticipated in ten years’ time is a good lead time for this kind of project, I think. So yes, why not? It could be ambitious for F1 but it makes sense.
Tost: Yes. Until 2030 there’s a long anticipation time and cfd will develop quite rapidly. You can see it or you could see it in the last years and A from harder side and B from the softer side, that means in part, nine to ten years, I expect that this technology has reached such a high level that you don’t need any more a wind tunnel.
Q: (Dieter Rencken) Franz, what is your situation with engines? Has there been any development whatsoever for 2022 onwards? Are you hopeful of getting the Honda IP? Are you going to Renault? What are your plans at this stage please?
Tost: Still everything is under discussion and nothing has been decided yet and as soon as we know more, we will, of course, publish it.
Q: (Edd Straw – The Race) To all three: there are a couple of triple-headers on next year’s calendar but when we had a triple-header a few years ago there was a feeling that it wasn’t a great idea, it wasn’t very popular, although they’ve been necessary for this year, it does seem that the fact that they are on next year’s calendar suggests that they are going to be a fact of life for Formula 1. Do you think that’s a good thing, how much of a challenge is it in terms of overloading personnel and do you think that perhaps F1 should find a way to cut back on the triple-headers and not make them normal in the long term?
Tost: I went through, with our team manager, on the calendar and we analysed everything. It’s possible but it’s on the limit because we must not forget that people are out sometimes for three weeks and that’s really a long period and I think what’s currently in the calendar is the absolute limit and should not be extended.
Vasseur: Yeah, I think the main issue is that if you want to put 23 races in eight months that you have no other option. I’m a bit more concerned about the second one with Sochi, Singapore and Japan also because it’s close to the end of the season. It’s a flyaway and for the mechanics, for the team and also for the stock of spare parts it won’t be an easy one but I think that we have no other option if we want to do 23 races per year.
Budkowski: I think not much to add. One triple-header is painful for the staff, two triple-headers, one after the other is even more difficult. My understanding, from some of the discussions that took place with Formula 1 is that it was intentional to back-load the calendar if you want to have more races, concentrated at the back of the season for the obvious COVID situation and therefore less risks taken on the early races so hopefully, again, that’s a consequence of the current situation and an extension of the 2021 changes that were made and that’s not a constant feature. Equally, we’ve preserved the summer shutdown which I think is essential, especially for the travelling staff.