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Spain GP: Friday Press Conference

NEWS STORY
11/05/2007

A question to the two team principals: you're both involved in promoting young drivers, you've had varying amounts of success with young drivers, but third drivers seem no longer part of your programmes at Grands Prix, no third drivers on Fridays. What are your feelings about that, has it been that the way that everyone else has tackled it has meant that you've got to tackle it the same way and just use your race drivers?
Mario Theissen: It's not so much about doing things as the others do, it has been a careful evaluation after we had Sebastian in the car in the first races on Friday mornings. We sat down with the engineers a week ago and had a look at what we achieved and I have to say that especially in Malaysia where we were not well sorted on Friday, we came to the conclusion that it would have been more beneficial to have the race driver in the car for the entire day. It was really a tough decision for me to take because with this year's test restrictions, you can hardly bring a young driver up to Formula One any more. There is just not enough opportunity. You have the Friday but then only a few days testing and those days only with one car, so there is really no comparison and we normally have a big programme at a test. So I think it would be good for next season to re-think the test restrictions and do something for young drivers.

Christian Horner: I agree fundamentally with Mario's comments. I think that track time is at a premium now for the race drivers in the way that the test agreement with the single car and reduced days has obviously gone. The moving away from running a third car on a Friday and obviously with the Friday running that we currently have - again being limited track time - you want to put your race drivers in to optimise the amount of time they're on circuit and in the car developing it. I think we need to think carefully about testing regulations going forward because for sure, it is losing the ability to put youngsters in the car, from a team point of view. It's something that does need careful consideration and again, how we go about things with Friday practice.

So it's something to be considered, basically, for next year but nothing you can do particularly for this year.
CH: Fundamentally, yes. I think it's going to be very tough for youngsters under the current regulations and testing agreement to actually break into running in the car because track time is at an absolute premium and I can't see us putting youngsters in the car before the end of the season.

Christian, quite a lot has been written about the fact that you have two of the older drivers and it has even been suggested by your owner, Mr Mateschitz, that the ideal partnership would be an older driver and a younger driver; what are your feelings about that?
CH: I think that age is largely irrelevant. I think it all depends on performance at the end of the day. We're totally happy with the driver line-up we have and yes, as I say, it's all about what happens in the car. It doesn't matter whether you're 26 or 36 at the end of the day. We're interested in drivers performing and delivering. The line-up that we have brings a lot of experience to the team. Both drivers are obviously highly competitive, highly motivated and obviously a lot has been made of comments about David's age and whilst he's motivated and delivering, why shouldn't he continue? I think there are drivers who have been older than him that have won World Championships at the end of the day so I, and certainly the team is not too worried about age at the end of the day.

Can you give us an update about the legal developments regarding customer cars?
CH: Obviously there's a debate going on regarding next year's Concorde Agreement, regarding the situation for this year. We firmly believe that the structure that we have is clear and concise and complies with sporting technical regulations and the Concorde Agreement and I think it's reasonably straightforward and obviously a lot has been discussed and talked about.

And finally can you tell us about the developments on the car here which have come out of your wind tunnel. Was it true that the wind tunnel wasn't well-calibrated and there was a problem with its findings?
CH: We've had a few issues with the Bedford wind tunnel, with the calibration of that tunnel. We've learned a lot during the first part of the year. Having conducted runway testing as well has given us the opportunity to analyse what results the tunnel is giving and we've pushed the boundaries of CFD (computational fluid dynamics), so the upgrades that have come onto the car subsequent to Bahrain have been a mixture of areas that we've worked on within the tunnel and CFD and basically we've got a reasonable upgrade here, aerodynamically, and mechanically we've got a step forward with the transmission for this weekend.

Mario, can you tell us about the developments on your car for this Grand Prix?
MT: Well, due to the long gap between the last race and this race, obviously we have lots of things on the car, primarily on the aero side, but also suspension, chassis. As far as the power train is concerned we have optimised the gear shifting and the mapping of the engine/shift operation.

How do you feel about other changes to the rules, which we haven't covered, have worked?
MT: The primary issue has certainly been the standard spec tyre, and it looks to me that the field has come closer together. The tyre is still an issue but it's not the predominant factor any more, it is one of several engineering factors and I think that has been very good and only this has allowed us to cut back testing in the way we have. So other than that, we have the homologation engine which obviously didn't cause big concerns to anybody, because everything is based on last year's engine. We feel that engine development is scaled down after we came up with the homologated engine, so that will save money, as long as we stick with this engine format. So those are the two major issues.

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