TEAM REPRESENTATIVES – Martin WHITMARSH (McLaren), Christian HORNER (Red Bull Racing), Stefano DOMENICALI (Ferrari), Monisha KALTENBORN (Sauber), Ross BRAWN (Mercedes)
Monisha, gentlemen, I’m sure most of my colleagues here would like to hear your views and opinions regarding the tyre test carried out at Barcelona last month. I’m afraid it’s ladies first, Monisha; can we start with you?
Monisha KALTENBORN: First of all, to really have a proper opinion you need to really have all the facts, which clearly we all don’t, as a team, but from what we know, what we read in the media, it appears that it’s not been in line with the rules, what has happened. And from that, of course, we have to consider the possibility: could the team gain an advantage from that. Reasonably, you could imagine that but again, without the facts it’s difficult to completely assess that and there we also would have to look not only at what’s happened this year, or could happen for this year as a benefit, but also for the following year because this is a time when all of us are defining certain parts of our new car and I think it’s important to see if there any benefits could have arisen for the team because that’s something which you really can’t catch up later on as a competitor. But I’m glad it’s gone to the Tribunal and I’m sure they will assess all these aspects properly.
Martin, your views?
Martin WHITMARSH: I think so far we’ve chosen to keep our views to ourselves. As has just been reported it’s gone to theTand I think they are presumably gathering all the facts and they can take a view.
Christian, your feelings?
Christian HORNER: Well our feelings were fairly clear because we raised a protest about it in Monaco. So we believe that it is the responsibility of the entrant to comply with the regulations, so when it came to light that a test with a current car had taken place, our interpretation of the regulations is that that was in clear breach of them and therefore we raised a protest prior to the race for it to be dealt with as an issues by the FIA. It’s really an issue between the team and the FIA. Obviously Pirelli have asked several teams to test, ourselves included but we have declined to do so because we felt that it wasn’t in line with the regulations, certainly with a current car. That’s the situation. It’s gone to the Tribunal and we trust in the FIA to make the appropriate decisions regarding it. I think the important thing is that there needs to be absolute clarity moving forward in terms of what you can do and what you can’t do going forward, you know, what is testing and what isn’t testing. I think that’s more crucial than anything, it is to be fully resolved.
Stefano DOMENICALI: Not a lot to add. There is an enquiry; there is this international Tribunal that will handle the situation. They have all the elements for that. So honestly, nothing to add on what we already discussed and for me it’s important that there have been… we were involved in this because we received a lot of questions by the FIA, they have taken their position, so for us it’s pretty clear. Therefore, we wait and see.
Ross BRAWN: I think, as has been mentioned, the matter has been passed on to the international Tribunal. They will meet presumably in the next few weeks to determine the facts of the case. My personal opinion is that when the facts of the case come out, then people can make a judgment. Obviously we felt we were in a position to be able to do the Pirelli test – it was a Pirelli test, it’s very important to note that – and so the Tribunal will be the time at which all the information will become available. A couple of points I would make: there has been an unfortunate branding of the ‘secret’ test. It was a private test. It wasn’t a secret test. I think anyone who believes you can got to Barcelona and do three days of testing, or 1000km of testing, and not have anyone become aware of it is naïve. It was a private test, not a secret test and sporting integrity is very, very important to us. Very important to Mercedes. And as I say I think when the facts become apparent then people can make a better judgment of the situation.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Ralf Bach – Der Spiegel) Question to Ross. Paul Hembery told us in Monaco, when he had informed the other teams this test had never taken place. Can you just make clear why for you the test is legal?
RB: Well, it’s a little difficult for me because we’ve got this process going on now where it’s in the hands of the Tribunal. And as was mentioned by the other teams, we trust our process. It’s a new process that the FIA have introduced, an independent process and it’s the first time it’s being tested but I think it has a good structure. As I say, we trust in the Tribunal. So I can’t comment, and I don’t want to comment, I don’t want to anticipate the Tribunal. I think when we get to the Tribunal we’ll get the answers to your questions.
Q: (Christian Nimmervoll – Motorsport-total.com) Question to everyone – probably – except Ross, who can of course add anything to it: how much of an advantage do you guys think such a test during the season – 1000km – is, and what is it in particular that you can learn from such a session?
CH: I think that whenever you run the car… when you’re not allowed to test, when you have limited mileage, when the rules are written as they are, when you run a current car of course… for the way that Formula One is, with the way that the amount of technology and with the amount of data analysis there is, you’re always learning. Whether it be reliability, whether it be endurance, whether it be performance. So, of course… even if you’re testing a component for a supplier, you’re learning. I think Formula One has moved an awfully long way over the last few years to ensure fairness and equality to all of the entrants. I think that if a team does carry out 1000km of additional testing with a current car, you’re going to learn something.
MW: Nothing more to add.
Q: (Ian Parkes – Press Association) Ross, part of the debate that’s been going on about this test is whether Mercedes gained permission from the FIA as to whether you could run the current car. Are you in a position to state whether you have cast-iron proof from the FIA that will help your case going forward at the Tribunal?
RB: I think we wouldn’t have done the Pirelli test unless we believed we could do the Pirelli test and I think when we get to the Tribunal, you’ll have your answers.
Q: (Dan Knutson – Auto Action / National Speedsport News) A question for all of you. If there is to be private testing in the future – I stress private, not secret – and even if it is with a two-year old car, would you like it to be announced so we all know about it beforehand?
SD: So far, with out interpretation of the regulation, running with a 2011 car, or two years car, is not testing, as per the Sporting Regulations. So that is pretty clear from our point of view. On that respect, we believe, as you know, we are the ones that were pushing since the old ages, we believe that it is important to test. So therefore if, after this situation, we will be in a situation where we can test again, as we have discussed within the teams, as you know, it is, I think, fundamental and I think it’s the right decision.
CH: I think the lack of transparency is disappointing. That you get to learn these things second hand. I think it is important that there is transparency, of course. If a supplier has issues then it needs to obviously deal with them but when all entrants are supposedly equal, it’s only right and proper that information is made transparently clear.
MW: No, whatever testing happens there should be transparency and the rules should be clear to everyone.
MK: I agree with what’s been said. If you look back at the time the testing was permitted, nobody used to make any big deal out of it: everyone knew that there were test teams out there and you were somewhere in Europe testing.
Q: (Dieter Rencken – The Citizen) Obviously the entire situation arose because of the regulations banning testing. Two days before the protest was lodged, I believe the big four teams met in Monaco with Mr Ecclestone to discuss testing next year, eight or nine days, I believe. How do you people see this working and then for Monisha, specifically, how will this impact on the smaller teams, should it be introduced? And also will this alleviate the Pirelli tyre test situation that they have at the moment?
SD: I think that there was this discussion between six teams in Monte Carlo, because as you know, basically, with nothing to hide, we were the ones that were promoting, in a way, to go back to testing because we feel it’s important. And I have to say that we were discussing, we find the right balance between, let’s say, the request from one side and the need to consider – what was on the table – considering also the issue that the small teams have always presented, and I believe that what was agreed and discussed was a fair, sensible balanced approach that now it’s important that we go through and ratify in the new regulations because that’s now the key point for the future. Now is the moment to ratify what we have discussed and what I believe is the right compromise for all the entrants in the championship now.
RB: I think – as you say quite rightly – there’s been some discussions about testing for next year which will certainly be beneficial for whoever the tyre supplier is in the future but it’s structuring that testing to make sure there is a good commitment to the tyre supplier, to get a proportion of that testing and that is quite a difficult thing to do. If there’s eight days or ten days of testing, how much of that is available to a tyre supplier, because they need testing, they need to feed off something, so I think that’s a point that needs addressing.
MK: Well, I think even as a smaller team per se we are not against testing because it does have a lot of benefits and looking at next year with a new engine coming up, if you look at young drivers, you can give them mileage there or for suppliers when they need to test, so as such it’s nothing we’re against but for us, it’s all linked with the cost, so our ideal would be that if you try to link this to overall cost saving, so you find some other areas where you can bring the cost down, which again brings up discussions about a cost cap or so, that you can do anything within that, that’s something we would be looking for but as such we wouldn’t really be against testing.
Q: (Paolo Ianieri – La Gazzetta dello Sport) Ross, should Mercedes be found guilty, do you think that your position would be weakened because there are rumours that you might be the sacrificial lamb of this situation and that in this case you might have to leave the team or have a different future?
RB: I think there’s been some rumours before and nothing’s happened. I think we should say let’s wait and see what the Tribunal find and then we can go from there. It was my decision to do the test so that’s a fact and let’s see what occurs at Tribunal and we go from there.
Q: (Kate Walker – GP Week) Ross, I have two questions for you: first, I was wondering if you could explain why you chose to use your race drivers rather than your test driver in the car, given that it was a test? And secondly, one of the rumours that we have heard going round is that you’re in position of an e-mail from Charlie Whiting confirming that you did have permission to do the test. Could you confirm whether or not that e-mail exists?
RB: The e-mail, I don’t want to comment on any matters of that sort that relate to what’s going to come through in the Tribunal. In terms of running the race drivers, in any form of testing, apart from the young drivers’ test, there’s no control or limitation on the type of driver you have in the car, so it was natural for us to use the drivers we have. We wanted the most representative conditions we could for the Pirelli test, it was as simple as that.
Q: (Daniel Ortelli – AFP) Ross, you said the test was your decision. Was it connected in any way to the fact that you were disappointed by the result of the race on the previous Sunday, or was it related to the fact you had a guarantee it was tyres for 2014, or both? Was that part of your decision-making?
RB: I can certainly say that the decision was based in no way on the track performance that we had. I think everyone in Formula One is concerned about some of the delamination that we’ve seen, so I think that’s a worthy objective. Certainly nothing to do with the performance of the car, because nothing was aimed at addressing that.
Q: (Ralf Bach – Der Spiegel) Ross, did you inform Niki Lauda and Toto Wolff before the test?
RB: That’s not something I want to comment on. I’m sorry to keep repeating this, but you’ll get all the facts when we get to the Tribunal.
Q: (Ian Parkes – Press Association) Ross, I just wanted to know how you’re feeling generally. You’ve been accused of being underhand, you’ve been accused of a lack of transparency. Do you feel saddened, frustrated – cornered, even – by all these accusations and by what’s happened?
RB: I won’t pretend it’s very pleasant at the moment. Again, I’m confident that once we get to the Tribunal the facts will become apparent, and you’ll be able to make a better judgement. We’re trying to focus on the racing. We had a great result in Monaco; a little frustrated that we lost second place with Lewis, as it would have been an even better result, and we’ve got a race here to focus on. We’re going to try and stay aligned with the things we enjoy, like the racing, and we’ll try and keep that in the distance. It’s not very pleasant, but that’s motor racing. I’ve been in it a long time, and I’ve been through these periods before.
Q: (JC Coté – TSN 9.90 in Montreal) Ross, has it been difficult keeping the team and everybody focused on this weekend and last weekend in Monaco given everything that’s going on around the circumstances of this test?
RB: You try and bear the load as best you can for the team to make sure that they don’t become distracted. There are one or two people in the team – apart from myself – who are involved in this, in terms of preparing now for the Tribunal. But we’re making sure that everybody is else is left alone to get on and do the best job they can at the race weekend. You can’t deny that it’s a distraction, but we’ll manage it as best we can. Ninety-nine percent of our people are focused on trying to do the best job they can over the race weekend, and there’s one percent of people – including me – that’s got to deal with the after-effects of the Pirelli test.
Q: (Dieter Rencken – The Citizen) To the four excluding Ross, please: Formula One is entering virgin territory with this Tribunal, we’ve never been there before. I believe the process allows interested parties or affected parties to make representations. Will any of the four of you make a representation in the Tribunal at all? In other words, providing your own evidence or input?
SD: As you know, at the beginning of this process we were involved; first they wanted to understand the situation so we presented our documentation. The case has been closed on our side, so we added already our comments.
CH: Obviously it is a new process but again we’ve been asked questions by the FIA, as have others. I think it’s an information-gathering exercise so that the panel of judges can make an informed decision. I think that over the coming days obviously further information may possibly be required. It is a new process, so I think the most important thing is that it’s dealt with quickly and we achieve clarity in terms of what’s possible moving forward. Are we allowed to test out 2014 engine from our third-party supplier next week? There’s certain things that need clarification.
MW: We’ve responded to the questions from the FIA, but we don’t intend to make separate representation in the hearing.
Q: And Ross?
RB: We’ll be there!
Q: Of course, apologies. Monisha?
MK: Like the other teams we received questions which we answered. At the moment we don’t plan to submit anything on our own to the judicial body, but if the judges want further information we’ll comply.