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Chinese GP: Friday Press Conference

NEWS STORY
10/04/2015

If I may start with you Arai-san: How would you characterise the past three months and also how tough has the start of this new F1 adventure for Honda been?
Yasuhisa Arai: First of all, it has been very tough, but invigorating. We are always [ready for a] challenge, the challenge being that we are always looking for our progress and [to] succeed, so it has been a very good first three months.

Can you quantify the progress that has been made over the past couple of months and especially since Australia? How much closer are you now to the performance goals you set out for this year?
YA: So, as you know, we did not run so much in the winter tests but as you know we already progressed race by race, step by step. In Australia we ran 56 laps and also in Malaysia the gap was less than two seconds and today there is much progress and I hope that [continues] race by race and step by step for the future.

Moving to you James Allison: how important has the win in Malaysia been for Ferrari, not just in terms of a short-term boost in confidence but also in validating the package and the engineering route you are taking?
James Allison: I think the main thing it does… well, it makes everybody happy of course, but the main effect it does have is boosting everyone's confidence. The team has had a difficult period over the past couple of years and to score a win was tremendously enjoyable and helps pump everyone up and makes it easier to work the hours that they need to work before we can close up and be properly competitive in every race.

And the engineering?
JA: Well, the stopwatch always tells you what you need to know engineering-wise and of course to finish at the front in a race is a great thing but it doesn't tell you much about what's going to happen in the future.

Yesterday Sebastian said that “for here and for the next races it's important to know what we want to achieve”. What is the level that Ferrari can achieve? Is fighting for the title something achievable or are you just going back to these two or three wins that Maurizio Arrivabene set at the beginning of the season?
JA: I think that we're up against a car, in Mercedes, and others too, that are strong competition. But Mercedes in particular, they have a bit more horsepower than us and a bit more downforce than us and until we've closed those two gaps it's not realistic to talk about title challenges. Our objectives were set out at the beginning of the year, we thought it was realistic to score a couple of wins and of course we'll take whatever comes our way and we'll do our best to make our car close up as much as we can and who knows what after that during the course of the year, but I think that sticking with the objectives we stated at the beginning of this year is still realistic.

Thank you very much. Coming you Paul: history shows that Red Bulls cars have progressed relative to the competition throughout every specific season. Is what we're seeing now another example of that or are there deeper problems at the moment?
Paul Monaghan: If you look back in the short term, [in the] Australia race we had a few stumbles but one car finished; Malaysia wasn't our finest hour, we made a couple of small mistakes that cost us dearly. Here we'll correct those and start to see where we sit in the pecking order. As James has alluded to, we've all got a development race to have. The bar is set and we've all got to try to reach that bar, so we'll develop as quickly as we can, work as hard as we can and see where we get to.

What are the major areas the team is focusing on with the chassis at the moment?
PM: The team is focusing on what it perceives as its weakness, you'll have to ask the others what they perceive as their weaknesses. As James has alluded to, we probably lack a little bit of downforce compared to some of the others, so we'll chase the aerodynamic performance of the car but how we chase that is our business.

Thank you very much. Moving onto James Key this time. We've spoken about Ferrari's progress this year, but also Toro Rosso has made an impressive start to the season. Is this something that is a specific development, has any particular development allowed that, or is it just a continuation of what we saw last year from Toro Rosso.
James Key: It's a mix of both really. We've had a kind of three-year plan really of trying to get the team from A to B, and A was where it was a couple of years back, which is not where we wanted it to be, and B is next year I suppose, so we're in the middle of that process and we'll have to see how we go, but through that, in the background, we've been doing a lot of work in how we go about the design process, building the team up and improving the facilities and so on and I think that probably this car is the first one that has been designed in the way I hoped we could design at STR and develop. Some of that was in last year's car for sure but not everything. It takes a while to get these things sorted out, so we're beginning to see a little bit of the fruits of our labours, but it's not finished yet. We made a good step on the aero side I have to say over the winter, a really good step, the guys did a good job and there's plenty more to do. So it's work in progress still I think.

How impressed have you been by the two drivers, the so-called inexperienced [drivers]?
JK: Yeah, you wouldn't know it, looking at some of what they've done actually. They've done really well. I think it's a very exciting driver line-up for us. Again, it shows how much strength there is in the Red Bull programme to have the guys we have in Max and Carlos. They're both doing a very good job. For Carlos to do two stops… Max was the headline in a way, because he did a lot of the action on the track for us, but for Carlos to do two stops last weekend in those hot conditions was the mark of someone who you wouldn't think is in their second race. And for Max to do what he did after issues the day before was also extremely good. I think for them their preparation has been good, we gave them as many miles as we could in winter testing and so far we've been extremely happy with them.

We've heard a lot about the introduction of a 'B-spec' car for Austria - what exactly does that mean in comparison to the upgrades you would bring on a race-by-race basis?
Andrew Green: Yeah, there's been a lot of talk about that. In reality, we knew the beginning of the season was going to be quite difficult. It's well known we moved to a new tunnel testing facility at the beginning of the year and we're in the process now of re-correlating and understanding where we stand relative to the tunnel testing. In the background there's an awful lot going on and the guys back at the factory are working very hard at putting together new packages to bring to the circuit. They will come along when they're ready. There's a lot of hoops that have to be jumped through and a lot of green lights have to be set for those parts to come to the track. It's difficult for me to sit here now and say when and what is going to turn up. Those are the sort of decisions that we make internally and we'll discuss those internally. They'll turn up when they're ready. They won't turn up a day earlier than that.

Alongside an upgrade of major significance, is there also a plan of bringing smaller updates in the interim?
AG: Absolutely. And we've done that since we started. There were updates here, there were updates at the last race. That will continue. Our process of learning never stops, so yeah, that's the normal process that we - and everyone else - goes through.

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