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Austrian GP: Friday Press Conference Part 1

NEWS STORY
07/07/2017

Q: Hasegawa-san, the spec 3 engine was tested in Baku two weeks ago and it's being used on both car this weekend, can you tell us what you have seen from it so far?

Yusuke Hasegawa: First of all, we are happy that we had no issues today, so the car is running no problem, so it is very good. It is very early to say the car performance with just the Friday practice running but so far it looks nice.

Q: Fernando is eighth this afternoon, Stoffel Vandoorne is 12th, there must be improvements; can you give us any insight as to where this power unit is a step forward?
YH: I believe so, but of course car performance is not just coming from the PU, so the chassis is also updated and it also depends on circuit characteristics but yeah, from the data point of view the engine also contributed to some of the lap time improvement so we are very happy about that.

Q: Are you telling us not to read too much into this spec 3 engine or can we now say that Honda are now on the right path with power unit development?
YH: I want to tell so, but still it is too early, but definitely are closing up some gap to the front runner but it is not huge enough to catch up the top runner level so still we need to try more.

Q: And just a quick word about Sauber: you announced in Russia the collaboration going forward in 2018. How is that going? How much progress are you making? Have you had engineers in Hinwil looking towards next year's car?
YH: Yes, of course we have started discussion but obviously we cannot disclose about the actual detailed situation but I can tell you that we have started collaboration already.

Q: Eric, just to look again if we may at the spec 3 engine. Can you tell us what the drivers have been telling you about it today?
Eric Boullier: It's just an evolution of the engine. Clearly there is more performance coming out of the engine, so we can go faster, we have better power and better use of the engine.

Q: So just to clarify, there is performance coming out of the engine?
EB: Yes, this engine is a performance step compared with the other engines we were using before.

Q: First points of the season for the team in Baku, do you feel that things are starting to come together now for McLaren, do you feel that the team and Honda are making progress together?
EB: So obviously it's already a three-year project. It started from very far from where we would like to be. A little bit of a setback at the beginning of this season but I think we can see now we are back on the right path of activity to get back to the front, where we want to be.

Q: A left field questions but a personal question for you about Robert Kubica. He rates his chances of making an F1 comeback at 80-90%. You know him better than most, what's you take on seeing him back in a Formula One car again?
EB: I think everybody knows this us one of the biggest dramas in recent years in Formula One. He is a huge talent. He belongs to the top of the top and if he can come back I am sure he will be very welcome here.

Q: Toto, it was a pretty busy day here yesterday with Lewis and Sebastian. We heard from them and it would be good to get some thoughts from you too on what happened in Baku two weeks ago?
Toto Wolff: I think they closed it yesterday. It is a matter of the two of them. They race each other. Great drivers and Sebastian clarified it all. There's nothing more to comment on the topic.

Q: Would you agree that their rivalry adds a little bit of spice to what is already a thrilling world championship battle between yourselves and Ferrari?
TW: Yes, you can see that in the audiences. Live audiences and TV audiences are developing in a positive way and I think that the Vettel-Hamilton rivalry for the world championship, as it looks at the moment, definitely contributes to that.

Q: There was another meeting of the engine manufacturers last week. Can you tell us what progress was made during that meeting?
TW: I think it was a good meeting. There were many parties at the table - current suppliers, interested potentials future suppliers, as well as suppliers to all of us current ones, sub-suppliers, and we had a positive discussion. We redefined the main priorities for the next generation of engines. There is pretty much alignment among everybody about how that should be, in order to make the mistakes that we have done go away, and tackle the important topics, so it was a good meeting.

Q: You say there is alignment among you about the direction we should be taking. Can you shed any light on what that direction is?
TW: The main direction is that we don't want to deploy huge budgets again in inventing a new engine, so the basic concept should stay the same, power to weight ratio is an essential number, we'd like to keep a certain hybrid part, it needs to be affordable for all the teams, in the same way it needs to be affordable for the OEMs that produce the engines, we need to tackle the quality of sound - that is something that we definitely need to tackle without losing the hybrid part. And in addition to that we discussed spec parts or standard parts in order to get the costs down and limit competition in other areas of the engine.

Q: Hasegawa-san can we just get your thoughts on future engine regulations and how you felt the meeting went last week?
YH: Yeah, as Toto mentioned, the meeting was very constructive, so we were discussing about the direction of what we should change. From the car manufacturer point of view, the Formula One power unit should be attractive, with a high level of technology but at the same time it shouldn't be at a high cost and too much complication should be removed. So in that area we almost agreed about that, just we need to find out the exact solution for that.

Questions From The Floor

Q: (Kate Walker - Motorsport.com) Hasegawa-san, from the inside, the fact that you are working with Sauber next year, you continue your relationship with McLaren, it looks to me like you have a long-standing commitment to the sport, but obviously there are lots of stories that say otherwise. Could you please just tell me about your long-term plans and show the extent to which you are committed to Formula One?
YH: Yeah, so obviously we are struggling this season. We are frustrated and we make Eric frustrated but that won't be a reason to pull out from this society so Honda is committing to this stick to this activity very much and we will try everything to recover this situation.

Q: (Peter Farkas - Auto Motor) Gentlemen, all three of you are here, so I can't avoid the question. Eric, I read a comment you supposedly made in Baku about that it would maybe an alternative for McLaren just to temporarily switch to another engine manufacturer while Honda sorts it out. Do you think it's a realistic alternative? Hasegawa-san would Honda be open to a solution like that and Toto would Mercedes be open to solution like that?
EB: I think we have a common answer - no. To the comment - out of context. When I was asked they were asking about a discussion, Hasegawa-san… and Honda are the engine McLaren have and obviously when you say there are three options, somebody pick up one, so, no.

YH: Of course it is not our option, so we don't want to do that.

TW: If it's not their option, it's not my option either.

Q: (Dieter Rencken - Racing Lines) Hasegawa-san, you said almost when you answered the question by the moderators, that you are almost aligned with what Toto had said. So where aren't you aligned? Is it on the technology side, the cost side, where does the difference lie?
YH: As I mentioned, we haven't discussed the details, so something like standardizing parts. Maybe it is a good idea to reduce costs but we didn't fix which parts should be standardised, something like that. Almost we are agreed but we confirm exactly.

Q: (Jerome Pugmire - Associated Press) Toto, Lewis was complaining about power issues. Could you put your finger on that? Is there something to worry about this evening?
TW: Not to worry on the power unit. We ran power unit number one today and it is clear that this is coming to the end of its life, so on that side we haven't got any worries.

Q: (Livio Orrichio - GloboEsporte) You said it is not an option for you but it can be an option for the new owners of McLaren. The society who is owner of the team has a great change recently. The group McLaren is known by this efficiency and Formula One is a business card of the group and it's not a good image they are passing. Maybe they think about changing the power unit supplier. Are you prepared for that? Do you have a Plan B, considering what you said about Honda having a long future in Formula One?
YH: Of course we are not prepared for that and we want to keep this collaboration and at this moment there is no other story. Of course this is their option, but we are not considering that option. That is my answer. You should ask Eric about that.

Check out our Friday gallery from Spielberg, here.

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