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Spanish GP: Friday Press Conference

NEWS STORY
08/05/2015

Nick, can we start with you? First of all, a little insight into what happened with Romain Grosjean's engine cover and what the explanation was?
Nick Chester: OK, yeah, we've had a little bit of an eventful day so far. On Romain's car we just lost some fixings on the bodywork. That just pulled the top of the engine cover and broke the rest of the fixings and blew it with it.

Thank you for that. Obviously you've got a much faster car this but that has not, so far, translated into the points you perhaps might have expected. What's your feeling on that?
NC: I think we've had a couple of races that haven't gone our way, when we've looked like we'd get both drivers in the points. The good thing is that the pace of the car is there and we're expecting that we'll get both cars up into Q3 and start scoring points with both drivers every race.

Thank you. Moving on to you Giampaolo: obviously, faced with all the problems that you had over the winter and at the start of the year, what was the key to your relatively strong start do you think?
Giampaolo Dall'Ara: I wouldn't pinpoint a single key. Obviously we were coming from a season where we were nowhere near where we feel we belong. We've been working throughout last year, throughout the winter and coming with a new car, or a new power unit, everything was working OK. On the reliability side of things, since winter testing we were pretty much sorted so it was only a matter of our performance, so that was it - a bit from the power unit, a bit from the car… let me add a bit from the tyres as well. The whole package came together. The drivers did a good job and that was it.

Clearly, as you say, you have a much more powerful power unit. What does that allow you to do from a chassis and strategy point of view?
GD: Well, not much different from anyone else can. We felt like… I mean, again going back one year we felt back then we were pretty much limited, so I would turn your question the other way around: last year whatever we were wanting to do, it didn't change the race result. This year, basically, in one word, it allows us to compete. Basically, we are belonging to the midfield and we have competition that race by race we can challenge - sometimes this turns into points, sometimes it doesn't, but for us it's important to actually be there.

Thank you for that. Coming to you Paddy, the speed with which Ferrari has closed up the gap, does that reflect also that you've been perhaps a little bit conservative from last year to this, focusing on reliability rather than chasing performance at the start of this year?
Paddy Lowe: No, not at all. We put in a very aggressive programme over the winter, both on the engine and on aerodynamics and other parts of the car. So, no, not a bit of it. We expected a very tough season as the second iteration of this new formula and we weren't going to get through that without a lot of development on the performance of the car. No, I think credit to Ferrari, they've done a good job over the winter to make a big step to approach and even exceed our performance from time to time, so that's set the place for a very tough competition through the year.

What about your two drivers then? Nico obviously is yet to match Lewis, is that just that he's not done a good a job or is there a technical story behind that?
PL: No, I think Lewis is performing, really, at the top of his game. I've worked with Lewis actually throughout his Formula One career and I would say at the moment he's really at his peak - the best he's been driving so far. That's a tough prospect for any driver to compete with. Nico's doing a great job. I was particularly pleased with how he performed in Bahrain. We let him down at the last minute, which is why he lost the second place, but you saw he did some fantastic driving, some great overtaking, which showed that he had great race craft. I think Nico is doing a good job, it's just tough to beat Lewis. The season is still young and there's plenty in prospect for a good battle between them.

Paul, coming to you: obviously more power unit problems today. Can you tell us about what happened with Daniel's car in particular and was this race supposed to be the turnaround away from all of that?
Paul Monaghan: I think you would have to ask Renault directly what their expectations for the weekend and the future are. We had a fluid leak on Daniel's car. We took the choice that fixing it was going to be longer than putting the next power unit in, so we said "right let's put the next power unit in, get him out in P2, let him have a run in the car and we'll deal with the consequences this evening".

What about the new short nose? I understand it's good to go. When are you hoping to use it and can you tell us a bit about the thinking on that?
PM: Well, if you look up and down the pit lane there are a number of people pursuing that topic; we're not alone. We're going to put as much chassis performance on as we possible can. That's one of the aspects we've looked at. Best you look long and hard at the footage and see if you can find it.

Right-oh. Thank you for that. Jonathan, what appears to be a very good step today, with Jenson up solidly in the top 10. Where is that step coming from and does it get harder to make the big steps the further you go on?
Jonathan Neale: Well, it certainly never gets easier! I think we've had a reasonable day today. I wouldn't read too much into a Friday. We all like to convince ourselves that if you're quick on a Friday you'll be quick through the weekend but Friday's are notoriously fickle. We don't know what everybody else is doing, so we'll see tomorrow just where we've got to. But the reality is we've been pushing on all areas of the car. We have aerodynamic upgrades here this weekend, we have some engine, reliability upgrades, there's a huge amount of work still to do on our systems package - much of our performance we're getting from systems integration work. And importantly Exxon Mobil have delivered us a fuel upgrade here as well, so in all areas, pretty much, as Paddy suggested.

There's been a lot of change in the McLaren technical department - new faces arriving, returning faces like Peter Prodromou. How much change has been effected in the engineering ideology, the 'McLaren Way' if you like? Is that changing fundamentally?
JN: Yeah, I think it is. I think there are some things about McLaren that have stood the test of time over 50 years and there are other things about it that need constantly reinventing. No business stands still, no market stands still. The sport's constantly changing and what it takes to stay at the top requires constantly to reassess everything that's going on. I think the changes that we made during the course of the last 18 months have had a very positive impact, I think it's ventilated the organisation a bit. I think there's a bit more work to do and Eric [Boullier] and I are hell-bent on making sure that's the case.

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