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German GP: Friday Press Conference


Today's press conference with Jock Clear, Pat Fry, Paddy Lowe, Paul Monaghan, Matt Morris and Otmar Szafnauer.

First question to all you gentlemen, it was confirmed yesterday that we will introduce head protection in 2018, not 2017, your thoughts on that please. Pat, why don't you start?
Pat Fry: Well, I think a lot of research has gone into it over the years. I think we started looking at it in 2013 or something like that, but I think you have got to find the right solution and I think it is just that little bit too early isn't it to try to rush something through this year.

Paul, you've tested the system, your thoughts?
Paul Monaghan: It's close, but it's not yet a thorough solution and I think if the sport is to do a thorough job then the Halo, or any other derivative thereof, needs a little bit more research, a little bit more work. Yes, we've run it at one track, one lap, with our test driver and I wouldn't have said that's really the mechanism by which we should introduce such devices and I think it's the right call to defer it.

Matt, your thoughts?
Matt Morris: Yeah, nothing much more to add really. We're all focused on keeping the car safe and I think we all agree that we need to do something but yeah, it's just not quite ready yet and it needs a bit more work from the teams and the FIA.

Paddy, your thoughts on the impact on designs and how far you'd got down the road with designs already?
Paddy Lowe: Yeah, I think if we had another 12 months we can clearly do a better job of it. There are things that are not 100% satisfactory. I think the key thing is to make the best of these next 12 months and make something that ticks all the boxes and meets all the requirements of safety and otherwise in the sport and then we take it from there.

Otmar the feeling seems to be that it needs extensive additional track testing for the drivers?
Otmar Szafnauer: Well, yeah, the more we test, the more we learn and the better the solution is going to be. Like everyone said in 12 months' time we'll be that much further down the road and the solution will be more robust, so it's probably the right decision.

Final thoughts on the topic, Jock?
Jock Clear: I echo everybody else's thoughts. Obviously the one thing we want to try to do is use those 12 months. As Paddy says, 12 months down the line we'll know a lot more, but we don't want to ease off, we don't want to say 'OK, so we don't have to worry about this until August next year'. I think the teams will be responsible with it and I know Charlie will and we'll use those 12 months and get the job done properly.

Staying with you Jock, obviously we have to address the James Allison situation. You have a new Chief Technical Officer, Mattia Binotto, at Ferrari. What difference will it make?
JC: Difficult to say in the immediate aftermath. Obviously you're not going to find losing someone like James Allison - someone of his calibre is not going to go unnoticed. So the team is going to have to work pretty hard to support everybody and cover those gaps. In that respect Mattia is going to need help from everybody. We're going to have to pull together. I don't think there is any suggestion that Mattia is going to immediately step into the kind of role James was doing - very different background. But the fact is Ferrari has to move forward and we have to make the most of this situation as it is, and I know everybody is committed to pulling together and covering any of those areas where James was very, very strong, and he will be missed, but that's the challenge for us.

Pat, Manor has gone from racing on its own at the back of the grid to being in a competition now. So how do you make the next step?
PF: It's quite a large charge from surviving through to competing and that affects the whole organisation, all the way from what we are doing at the factory - from the wind tunnel to the design office, all the reliability side of things - all the way through to the track really. It has knock-on necessities where we need to improve absolutely everywhere through the organisation. There's a plan for us to grow in a sensible, controlled way but we need to address all those areas - everything from pit stop speed, which we were... to put it a polite way, it was challenging at the beginning of the year, with the same guys and modifying everything - it's all the detail work that you need to do and it just takes time. The same thing with putting the processes in place so that you can keep a reliable car reliable. There's a huge task but everyone's interested. We're still quite small at the moment. We're growing quite quickly but we're still only, whatever... 170 people or something of that order and our next competitor is the thick end of 500 people. There's a lot to do and we just have to have a sensible plan to grow the organisation to compete sensibly.

Thank you. Paddy, in the press conference after the grand prix last Sunday we clearly saw the tensions between your drivers, over the yellow flags in particular. How do you stop that affecting the two sides of the garage?
PL: I think you just have to try and remain objective with it. The way I see it, with yellow flags, as with any other rule, there is an interpretation that applies and we always work to the limit of that interpretation and if you're not doing that you're not racing. We saw even very recently the precedent on that with Hulkenberg in Austria and the amount of speed that was sufficient to satisfy the stewards. We instructed our drivers to take that as guidance and I think Nico did a great job to work to that limit and set the time he needed to in qualifying. I have absolutely no problem with what Nico did and neither did the stewards. I think that was a satisfactory ruling. If at the same time everybody believes that the limit needs to be set at a different level with more margin for marshals and so on, then that's fine, let's have that debate and move the line to a different place. I think the important thing is to have that debate away from the immediacy of a particular qualifying lap or a particular racing event.

Paul, coming to you, obviously Red Bull went to Hungary full of optimism that you could race against Mercedes, but it just didn't happen. Why is that and does it look now that the race this year is just with Ferrari? How do you calibrate your goals now?
PM: I think we did race with Mercedes, just not necessarily as closely as we hoped to. It doesn't really change our goal. Our goal is to get the most out of the car, the drivers and the team at every race - that never changes. It would be nice to take our relative pace from Monaco and move it to Hungary but it remains a competition, we are making prototypes, they evolve, they change, they get better, and Mercedes did a good job and turned up in Hungary with a car that was quicker than ours and they beat us. OK, our race, you may see it as being with Ferrari, yes we would love to beat Ferrari, we will race them and if the opportunity presents we will race Mercedes. Clearly we are looking at the balance of '16 to '17 and there's nothing to stop us learning lessons on this car for next year and beyond. How we deploy our resources is our choice and our balance for next year and some of the bigger projects are going to be on a case-by-case basis. It's as simple as that.

Matt, has the corner been turned now, and what can you take from what you've learned and what you're learning at the moment through to next year?
MM: I think in terms of our performance, if you look back at the last 18 months, we've been gradually improving against pretty much all our competitors. Obviously in the last few races we've been genuine top 10 contenders and therefore the limelight has been on us a little bit more. We have some further plans for upgrades this year, so we hope that those continue our progression and then sort of decide after the break in terms of how much resource we keep on this year's car and move to next year's car. The team, both Woking and Sakura are working well together and that's shown in our recent results.

Otmar, you're in a championship battle chasing after Williams. Your car though seems to be one of the most sensitive to different circuits, some good and some less so. Why is that and what can you do about it?
OS: It's a little bit to do with the entire package that we have, as well as how we treat the tyres. We're working hard on making sure that we're competitive at all circuits and hopefully in the latter half of this year it won't be so circuit dependent.

Can you let us in on what areas you're working on?
OS: Well, all the upgrades that we're going to produce have come now, so it's just a matter of understanding and tweaking what we have in order to get the most our of the car. We have specific areas that we know we need to work on and we will and can.

Questions From The Floor

(Sandor Meszaros - Autosport ES Formula Magazin) Jock, you've spent most of your career fighting Ferrari and now you're a Ferrari engineer, so can you please sum up the first half of this year at the team?
JC: It would be true to say... obviously I started in January and this half of the season has been, as you see now, dominated by tragic events in March and that affected all of us - affected us emotionally, affected us practically. So I certainly don't think I've seen Ferrari in the most enjoyable light, if you see what I mean, with that shadow hanging over us. But what I have seen is a very motivated group of guys, a very motivated team, a very passionate team, and an unbelievable will to win. As I've said recently, that passion can sometimes be our Achilles heel, it can sometimes be something that holds us back, but overall that passion is what is going to get us over the finish line, that passion is what drives people in Ferrari day by day. However tough things are we rely on that and that's the biggest factor for me, that's the biggest eye opener for me, just the sheer passion running all the way through the company, it's fantastic.

(Kate Walker - I've got a question for everyone except Jock please. I asked your colleagues last week about the advantages and disadvantages of warm weather tyre testing, given the dramatic changes that we've got to both tyres, downforce levels etc., next year. Could I please have all of your opinions.
PM: I suppose it depends what the teams and what the tyre supplier is really seeking to achieve. If you would like to validate your tyres at the two hardest circuits, which, in my opinion, would be Silverstone and Suzuka, then you're not necessarily too fussed about the ambient conditions. If you are most worried about the highest temperatures you may encounter, then going somewhere with the track temperature at 50-or-so Celsius is the prudent choice. So, we will learn wherever we go, and in this instance you will learn most about the higher temperature performance of the tyre: how we will treat it; how we look after it; what we do with it; how we do out-laps; how you make it work on a long run. All of that knowledge will be gathered by ourselves and all the teams that ultimately involve themselves. That would be how I judge the conditions of testing.

PL: Firstly, I think the construction of the tyres should be developed in the lab and validated using lab machinery and I think that's what happens. So the track testing is all about the compounds really. With the mule car testing that is planned with three teams during this autumn and winter, that culminates in a test in Abu Dhabi which will be a final test: all three mule cars will be there. I guess that's Pirelli's tick in the box for the range of compounds in those hot conditions. I think Pirelli seem happy with that, as an approval process for their 2017 designs. So if they're happy, then I think that's fine with us.

OS: A lot like Paddy says, I think there's some mule car testing that's going to happen in Abu Dhabi which traditionally has been hot. And as long as... we're not a team that are going to participate but as long as Pirelli share all the data equally with everyone and it's a level playing field we're happy for that to happen and I'm sure we'll do a good job and the tyres will be fine for the start of the winter testing and the start of the season.

MM: I don't have much to add. Echoing Paddy's comments, we obviously look at Pirelli to supply us with a tyre that's durable and I think this tyre testing that we'll do is just sort of validation work really. Not much more to add.

PF: We're not participating in the tyre testing either. Similar to Otmar. I think it's important that you do test as much as you can. I'm sure Pirelli want to know what the information is at the hardest possible tracks really and how the compounds behave. You can only learn so much in the lab. I'm sure Pirelli will learn a lot; I'm sure the teams doing the testing will learn a lot. As long as Pirelli share the information I think it's going to the beneficial to everyone really. We'll know the product's sensible and safe.

Check out our Friday gallery from Hockenheim, here.


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