Q. Williams F1 have confirmed a return to Renault engines. How many years is the initial partnership for and what can you tell us about the terms of the agreement?
AP: This partnership is for the long-term. It will see Renault provide Williams with its championship-winning RS27 V8 engines for 2012 and 2013. Meanwhile we are already working on an extension for the new engine formula which arrives in 2014.
Q. Why did Williams F1 choose Renault?
AP: Renault is serious about success and so are we. They compete in Formula One because it’s at the cutting edge of developing technologies and because it is the pinnacle of motorsport. This is also why we compete in the sport and together we believe we can return AT&T Williams to our former competitiveness.
Q. How did the deal with Renault come about and what does this mean for Williams F1 as a business?
AP: For Williams, it has been a strategic priority to align ourselves with world-class automotive companies. Just two months ago we announced our partnership with Jaguar to create the C-X75 supercar together – a project that we both expect will lead onto a more general collaboration on high-performance road vehicles. Today, we have announced a partnership with Renault: they are not only making a Championship-winning engine, but they are independent, totally committed to Formula One and, of course, there is a resonance and heritage to Williams-Renault that creates a real buzz for both of us. So, in a short period we have signed two critical partnerships which will (literally and figuratively) power us forwards in coming years.
Q. How will the Renault announcement affect the development of the FW34?
AP: Of course, changing engines requires extra work, but with relatively stable regulations for 2012, the change gives us an extra opportunity for development. We have a very capable Design Office led by Ed Wood and they will be working with Renault’s technicians, who are some of the finest in the world. Development of the FW34 is progressing well and the timing is not going to be an issue for the team. This announcement also coincides well with the recruitment of Mike Coughlan, Jason Somerville and Mark Gillan to the technical team. Together with Ed Wood, we believe we have now the right technical leadership and engine to help us take the next step.
Q. AT&T Williams will be the fourth team that Renault supplies engines to. Is this a problem?
AP: Not at all. Given the massive investment that Renault has made in its V8 and will make in the V6, they need a decent group of teams to supply – remember that they do not have their own team and so linking up with a number of successful chassis makers is essential. In addition, the number of engines now used each season is very small. From over 200 per team a decade ago we are now down to about a tenth of that. From 2014 it may well drop by half again. Also with limited, single-car testing four teams gives Renault much more data for reliability and whatever development will be allowed in the future. Renault has always shown total integrity in offering parity to its partners and that is another essential factor for all of us.
Q. This new partnership means you will be ending your relationship with Cosworth. How will this affect the relationship with Cosworth for the remainder of the 2011 season?
AP: We had an understanding with Cosworth that continuing beyond this year was dependent on the longer-term prospects with the new engine. So, this was foreseen. Having said that, Cosworth is an excellent engine partner. We are enormously grateful to them for all the hard work they have put into our partnership and we know that they will continue to work tirelessly for the remainder of this year. Whilst the end of the season will be the end of our on-track relationship with Cosworth, we are looking forward to working closely with them on our Jaguar project and continuing our partnership in this way.
Q. The last Williams-Renault partnership (1989 – 1997) was one of the most successful periods in the team’s history. Therefore there is a lot of expectation following its revival. Does this put more pressure on the team to improve its performance on the racetrack?
AP: We constantly put pressure on ourselves to improve our performance regardless of expectations. We’re not satisfied with just finishing races or picking up a few points, our aim is to win and we want to put ourselves back in a position to do so. Clearly our performance at the moment is not where would like it to be, but we are doing all we can to rectify that and this partnership is another step in that process. This partnership is about the future. In a sense, it is about earning the right to inherit the past.
Q. Williams F1 has projects with Porsche, Jaguar Land Rover and now has a deal with Renault. Are there any plans to make a road car with Renault?
AP: Today’s announcement is about a Formula One engine partnership. Our venture with Jaguar is to produce a supercar but it does not preclude us from entering into arrangements that do not compete with the C-X75. Let’s see…
Q. Will this deal benefit the team sponsorship-wise?
AP: Absolutely. It will bring technical and commercial benefits for Williams and for those interested in being part of this amazing project. Who would not want to be part of it?