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Malaysia GP - Friday Press Conference

NEWS STORY
18/03/2005

Q: First of all, what have you learned from today and in Australia about the new rules?
Sam Michael: Obviously, they are different, but not as bad as we thought they were going to be in terms of management. I think on the 'aero' side, obviously, the down-force levels have changed, but everyone is working very hard to get them back to where they were last year and that's why I think we'll see a lot of developments in the first three or four races. On the tyre front, I think both tyre companies were quite conservative in Melbourne so the wear rates were pretty low compared to what we may see later on in the year and that is understandable given all the concern pre-season and it won't take long for them to get to the wear rates they intend to reach – and, on the engines, we are only half-way through, so, in Williams case, obviously we split our choice because we changed the engine on Nick's car after Melbourne. So we have to wait until after this race to see how this pans out.

Ross Brawn: I think it is too early to judge. Melbourne is not a typical race and is not the hardest circuit on tyres and we obviously had 'the weather' in qualifying. I think the rules have been successful in slowing the cars down, despite some scepticism from some of your colleagues. They have genuinely slowed them down so they have been successful in that and, remember, without the changes, they would be one or two seconds faster than last year. So, they have slowed down the progress of the tyre companies and on the car and I think it was necessary so it's been successful in that respect. As to the format of the racing, I think we'll have to see how it goes for a while. It is tough, the two-race engine, and not everyone is doing the mileage they might have done. But, I think, as the season goes on, the mileage will build up and there will be more mileage on Friday and Saturday than we are seeing at the moment.

Pat Symonds: Well, yes, it's very early days. Before the season started, I said to my guys that you shouldn't even think that you will understand the tyre thing until Sunday night in Malaysia at best. Melbourne is not a typical circuit and very often has a strange format, as again it had this year, and it's not that hard on tyres and, as Sam said, certainly, we were conservative. I think here we are being slightly conservative, but it is conservatism from ignorance rather than clever conservatism. There's a long way to go yet and we shouldn't make snap judgements and it is very difficult for us, the teams, particularly in terms of tyre choice -- and part of your question is about what we learned today and the answer is 'very little indeed!' With just two sets of tyres to run on, it is really impossible to do any scientific evaluation of them. It's tricky, but the same for everyone. Let's see how it develops over the next few races.

Mike Gascoyne: I agree with the comments everyone else has made. We have to wait and see how it pans out. As everyone said Melbourne was not a normal situation and it is difficult to do all the work in winter testing, when the track temperatures are five degrees, and try to plan for when it is 40 or 50 degrees. But that was inevitable at the start of the year. In terms of the grid, it seems to have closed things up and that is only good for Formula One .As to how all the rules have panned out, we have to wait and see.

Geoffrey Willis: In terms of performance, it is too early to say what we have learned about who is stronger and weaker. In terms of the operation of a car over the weekend, I think we showed last year that we are all pretty good at responding to the changes and learning to work with only two tyres today and try to make some sort of scientific evaluation – and I am sure Pat is actually making a scientific evaluation and not a non-scientific evaluation – but the tricky thing for us is how little we are running and maybe that is something, as Ross says, that as we get more confident through the season, we will get (sic) more running because it is fairly quiet first session. I think very much like last year, we will get better at it. We will understand it and we will find it was not so much of a change as we thought.

Q: What have you done here to cope with the extreme conditions and is it the ultimate test for the rest of the year?
PS: Well, extreme conditions… I guess you mean temperature more than anything. It's not like it was a few years ago when you came to a place like this --and I'm not talking that many years ago -- and there was an element of estimation about cooling and things like that because, again, you had gone through the European winter testing and (it was) very difficult to even do measurements on the system, because of oil pouring and things like this. But it is different now and we have a great deal of confidence in measurements we make on dynamometers in wind tunnels and things and it really doesn't lead us to any great surprises on engine cooling. We tend actually to concentrate on cooling things like electronic boxes and things like that but it is not big surprise. It is all pretty well planned for these days.

RB: Well, we have the benefit of last year's car so in terms of cooling and all that side it is all pretty well taken care of, so we have no surprises there. I think it is the first race where tyre wear can become an issue and so we have been conscious of that. This race last year, we couldn't have done on one set of tyres whereas Melbourne last year was comfortable on one set. So it's the first race we're facing under new rules where we have got to manage that situation and I suspect it could be on Sunday an issue at the end of the race. I am not sure how conservative everyone will be, but it is so difficult to predict on a Friday or a Saturday what wear rates you are going to get on a Sunday. That will depend on lots of variables that you cannot predict or don't have under control. So I think it is going to be an interesting weekend from that aspect and the whole scenario this year of trying to evaluate tyre wear is going to be a big factor for us.

SM: On the engine side, you basically shift from one extreme, in Melbourne, to the other here, in terms of minimum and maximum ambient temperatures for the year. There is only really this place, and sometimes Hungary, and we don't know about Turkey yet, that run up about 36 to 39 degrees. So, it obviously presents a (need for) set of coolings (sic) and exits for the bodywork that are not normally run at other tracks. That's something we evaluate in the wind tunnel and at other tracks. On the tyre front, the same thing; this place, because of the high-speed corners and the surface abrasiveness, is very different to Melbourne.

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