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Bahrain GP: Friday Press Conference

NEWS STORY
17/04/2015

Toto, we'll start with you. Great race here obviously 12 months ago between your two drivers. This year, though, it seems you've got Ferrari breathing down your neck. How much of a restriction is that on your freedom to let your drivers do the race they want to do?
Toto Wolff: First of all, it's true, we have great memories of the race last year. But this year the equation changed, because clearly looking at the first three races Ferrari's back and they they looked very strong this afternoon in the long runs. We will still follow the principle of letting Lewis and Nico race but there could be a situation where you just need to be aware that there is a new competitor, it's not as easy, we don't have the gap anymore like last year and this needs to be considered.

Can you just drill down a little bit more into what we saw today? You mentioned, obviously you were quickest with the two cars in Free Practice 2, but looking at the long runs, at times it even looked, if anything, that the Ferrari was a shade faster.
TW: Yeah. The Ferrari looked the quickest car out there in Free Practice 2. Very stable quick tyres, lap times. That was a Freudian [slip], tyres. We just need to get our act together and analyse it. This is Friday, Sunday's going to be the important time.

Thank you. Rob, if I can come to you: what's the state of play this weekend with engines for your four drivers that are using your engine this weekend?
Rob White: Clearly we had a bad day at the office in China and the consequences of that bear very heavily, individually and collectively, on everybody at Viry. It's never good to cause trouble for the teams or the drivers. So the state of play is that we've put a huge amount of energy into understanding where we were after China. That was a big logistical battle. Just the mucky detail of it is that the only legal way to get the engines out of China was for them to travel with the freight to Bahrain as expected. To get them to France to be stripped down and inspected would have been Wednesday or Thursday. So we didn't do that. We had a welcoming committee. We had some specialists from France who made the trip in the other direction. We dismantled the engines in the garage during the week so that we could put a finger on exactly what went wrong in China. The situation is that we understand what happened to the two engines that failed during the race. One of the incidents, the one that happened to Kvyat, was an incident that we know about, which we were aware of a vulnerability for, and for which we have what we believe is a good counter-measure. We don't expect to be vulnerable to that going forward. Unfortunately the failure that ended Max's race was not of that type. We were absolutely not expecting such a thing at such a low mileage, so a real shame to end the race for him in that way. The time is such that the best we have for this week is engines of a similar spec, that we must look after during the Friday, Saturday and of course Sunday running, but we are vulnerable to that failure still. Looking forward of course the task back at the factory is to create a solution to that for the races ahead. We're not out of the woods yet on that one.

You've obviously pushed very hard on development, to try to close the gap. Have you pushed too hard and come unstuck or is it more complicated than that?
RW: It's true to say that we are paying the price for a late change of tack, a late arrival of the spec for the start of the season, taking account of some of the things in the environment that moved on - we all know the story about tokens that moved on just before Christmas. That's part of it, not the whole story. We must keep our head down and deliver the solutions to the issues that were encountered earlier on but honestly a lot of the direct consequence is to do with the lateness of the arrival of the spec. We're still on track delivering the solutions to the earlier problems. We'll continue those. Obviously in Australia the big word was driveability and I think we've eliminated that from our vocabulary and now we're hoping to be in a proper situation for Monaco, where of course it's very important. We've got performance improvements in the pipeline for delivery later in the season, again taking into account the token situation. And the game now is to fold into the plan the consequences of the failures, which clearly puts the whole supply chain under a lot of pressure. So that's the way the land lies going forward.

John, coming to you: double finish last time out in Shanghai. What are the steps along the pathway now and when do you get your 2015 car?
John Booth: That's the big question Ted.

James
JB: You both look alike! Yes, a double finish last time out in China. That was a major step forward for us. That was a major step forward for us. We ran every session on plan. Operationally we're working as we were last year. So that step has been achieved. As for the 2015 car, our aim has always been for the August break, as with arriving in Australia it is a very aggressive target and will take a lot of achieving. But when we get back from these first four flyaway races we just really need to sit down and see if we can bring all the areas together that need bringing together to achieve that in that time frame.

Well you're here and you're racing. What are the prospects for attracting fresh investment?
JB: I'm sure there are prospects but we have a commercial plan that we're comfortable is sustainable for our model and we're confident in the investors we have now or the owner we have now to take us forward over the next few years.

Thank you for that. Same question to you in a way Monisha, what does riding high in fourth place in the Constructors' Championship, as you are at this stage, what does that mean for the prospect of attracting new income, new investors to the team?
Monisha Kaltenborn: Well, it's definitely a better position than we were in last year! But we've seen that… let's say like in 2012, that even if you have good performance it does not automatically mean that you have sponsors lining up after the race weekend. So it's important that we keep this up as well as we can, that we make the most of the opportunities we get, try to develop according to what's possible for us and just make sure that we have the stability in the team.

Well, as we said, you're riding high at the moment in fourth. You finished behind Marussia last year and this year you're ahead, at this stage, of Red Bull and McLaren. Have you had to revise your targets of where you want to finish at the end of this year?
MK: I think we're very mindful of the situation. We're at the start of the season, there are a lot more races to go. We know it's going to be very tough. We don't dream about positions at the moment. For us it's important that we stick to the plan we have, the development plan, and make sure that we just make the most of it.

Eric, coming to you. Obviously from the outside it looks like a rather demoralizing start to the season but from the inside do you, as the leader, see the team channeling together, getting behind everybody and pushing in the same direction? Do you see all the positive signs you want to see?
Eric Boullier: Yeah, I think obviously for the outside world, it's a bit frustrating to be where we are, definitely where we don't want to be. But from the inside we know what we are doing, we know what we want to achieve and we also know what's coming along. There is some process to go through and I think, as you can see from the outside, the team itself, the atmosphere is good, everybody is working, everybody is concentrating and focused on what they have to do and we will get there eventually.

And do you still maintain your view that you had before the season started that you will be competitive by the end of the season?
EB: Yeah, I think so. Still. Obviously before the summer or from the European [season] onwards you will see a lot of development coming, both chassis and engine, so we may expect to be more competitive definitely by the end of the season.

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