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Austrian GP: Friday Press Conference

NEWS STORY
29/06/2018

Today's press conference with Christian Horner, Franz Tost, Toyoharu Tanabe and Toto Wolff.

Tanabe-san, we'll start with you. Your sitting between your current team partner and you future partner. Just tell us, why Red Bull from next season?
Toyoharu Tanabe: I'm not involved very much in contractual discussions, so I'm not sure how many options we had for our future PU supply. But in reality we will be in a good position, because Toro Rosso and Red Bull are already linked, centralised in Red Bull Technology. That works very well for us, I believe, because we don't need to discuss Team A or Team B individually. So we centralize our discussion into the Red Bull group. I hope it will help our task for next year.

You say it's a good position for Honda, but Red Bull has been winning races this year, so isn't it a lot of pressure on Honda next year?
TT: Yes, it is. But we already have a lot of pressure and stress supplying PUs in the Formula 1 series. We are working very closely with Toro Rosso and of course we have pressure. Then, Red Bull and I respect their success in the Formula 1 series so we have another pressure but we supply same spec of course, that is the regulation, and I would like to work very efficiently with these teams.

Thank you. Christian, it's a lot of pressure on Honda but is it also pressure on Red Bull, returning to a works partnership deal?
Christian Horner: It's a positive. We had the option to change or the option to stay where we were and having looked at the progress that Honda have been making over recent months, having had the benefit of looking at the progress of Toro Rosso and how Toro Rosso have worked with Honda. It's been really very, very encouraging and for us we see it as extremely low risk and of course the upside is what we're interested in, in terms of what is the potential and I think the commitment, the resource, the facilities that Honda have available to them is really exciting for us. And to be the focal point of attention with the two teams is a fantastic position for Red Bull to be in. We're certainly very excited about what the future holds and very much looking forward to working with our colleagues from Honda.

We saw you last week in the press conference, just after the news had been announced, but what's next? What's part of the immediate process of working with Honda?
CH: Well, as has been explained we've got this construction where we have Red Bull Technology, which is the engineering centre effectively and which will have a large amount of interface with Honda. Red Bull Technology already supplies transmission components to Toro Rosso. It's at an embryonic stage. Obviously discussions are already starting to focus on 2019, but we have been extremely encouraged and impressed by the collaborative nature that we're finding. That's certainly refreshing and we're looking forward to a new era for Red Bull Racing. We've had 12 years with our current partner and we've enjoyed an awful lot of success. We've had highs and lows but the time was right to make this move. I think it's an exciting time for the team and for Red Bull.

Thank you very much. Franz, you've had works status this year with Toro Rosso and Honda. Is the news of the Red Bull partnership for next year good news or bad news for your team?
Franz Tost: Fantastic news. We are very much looking forward about this. I think a company like Honda, which is so well know overall, has to win races and with Toro Rosso that's difficult as we don't have the infrastructure for winning races in Formula 1 and therefore Red Bull Racing is absolutely the correct partner. Toro Rosso will profit out of this because the synergies between Red Bull Technology will increase. We will have next year the complete rear end from Red Bull Technology. Therefore, I am convinced about this, we will also improve our performance. Currently we are very much involved in all the bench tests and everything. Although we are very low, limited with resources and so on, it's really a lot of work on our side and in future this is being done by Red Bull Technology, which means we have resources for other performance differentiators, which is quite important for Toro Rosso. In the end I think all three partners will get the most out of it and will profit from this co-operation.

Toro Rosso have enjoyed really some strong races this season - namely in Bahrain and Monaco - but you've also has some tricky races at times too, so what are your expectations for this weekend's race here in Austria?
FT: After some races, which were not so good, especially the last ones where we were involved in crashes and so on, I hope that here in Austria we are coming back to the successful part and I am positive about here in Austria and the next few race. We brought some new upgrades on the aerodynamic side. As it looks it works quite well and as we know Honda brought the new upgrade already in Canada and therefore I think that we have quite a competitive package. And looking to FP1 I think that we are able to be at least with one car in Qualifying 3.

Thank you. Toto, a similar question to you. Mercedes has really dominated at this circuit in the V6 era. A strong start in FP1 as well, with first and second. Is that form you are expecting to see continue for the rest of the weekend?
Toto Wolff: The Friday has been giving little indication as to how the weekend goes in the last few races. It is more a learning process. Team have introduced either new upgrades on the power unit or upgrades on the chassis side and therefore it's about mileage and understanding and working on various set-ups. I'm happy how it went. Austria was a kind track on us in the past. Lots of power up the hill. But you can see that the new reality is there are three teams capable of putting the car on the front and winning races and just a few hundredths or tenths between us and I have no doubt that tomorrow in qualifying that story will continue.

Both of your drivers were praising your power unit that you introduced a week ago in the battle among those top three teams and Lewis said yesterday there was an upgrade on the chassis side as well. Can you just explain, aerodynamically, what work you have been doing on the car?
TW: Yes, we were supposed to introduce the new power unit in Montréal and we weren't quite sure whether it matched our reliability standards and you could see that once everybody introduced their upgrade we fell behind. A track that suited us, suddenly we weren't good enough anymore. Then we brought the next step to Le Castellet and directly the drivers felt the difference between an engine that was in there for seven races and a brand new one. The same applies now to the chassis side. We have tried to compress what we had in terms of aero development and bring it at once, so the whole concept... there is this little change in concept in our aero development and so far the drivers seem to be happy with it. It is a necessary step. Red Bull and Ferrari are not going to rest on their laurels. We keep pushing each other from race to race, from upgrade to upgrade and even if you can put on another 50 milliseconds for the race you will do it, because that might be the difference between pole position and P3.

Questions From The Floor

Q: (Scott Mitchell - Autosport) Toto, based on what you have seen from Honda's recovery from their time with McLaren and the prospect of what they could bring to Formula 1 as a race-winning engine manufacturer, what are your thought on that, and how important is it for Formula 1?
TW: First of all, as a Formula 1 fan, we all remember the glorious years of Honda in the sport and I have no doubt that they can come back to that situation. For us, as Mercedes, it is extremely important that we have top brands in Formula 1, be it OEMs that have joined the sport as engine suppliers or be it multinational and global brands such as Red Bull, and the more we can attract the better for all of us and the better for the sport. I have also no doubt that they will be competitive. Franz mentioned it before, the collaboration will make another step between Toro Rosso, Honda and Red Bull for next year. And with Red Bull's technical capabilities and resource they will certainly be of great assistance to make the power unit progress. This is certainly the right step forward, looking from the outside, for all parties. It was important for Red Bull to have a works status. Long term probably the best chance to win a championship. Maybe short term, more work to do. But long terms, from where I sit, absolutely the right decision. Looking forward to tougher fights and tougher battles with Red Bull Honda.

Q: (Dieter Rencken - Racing Lines, Racefans.net) Christian, I believe internally the conundrum at the moment is SOS - Spielberg or Silverstone. When do you Danny's contract extension? What are the chances here and what are the chances in Silverstone?
CH: Well, things are progressing well with Daniel. I expect things to be concluded prior to the summer break. But our priority had been firstly to get the engine situation sorted and now things are progressing with Daniel. Our intention is to retain both drivers and I'm sure during the next couple of weeks we'll be entering into the finishing straight to get things concluded prior to the summer break.

Q: (Ralf Woodall - l'Equipe) Question for all of you. We're in the middle of a triple-header. I'd like to know how challenging it is for you to have these three grands prix back-to-back and how are you organising yourselves?
FT: That's a real big challenge, because going from the South of France to Austria and then to England is a big challenge, especially from the logistics side, because as we know, we are now in holiday time. That means there is a lot of traffic out there and we have a lot of problems on the borders because of the checks which they make over there. I hope they will not lose too much time, the trucks over there, and I am worried about coming in time to England. I was not worried from France to Austria because here we have everything under control - but once it's going to Belgium, to England, then it's a little bit difficult. If, for example a truck strike or something like this. I think this is at the absolute limit and I hope this will not be the case any more in the future because people are really working day and night in this three weeks.

Christian, your thoughts on the triple-header.
CH: It's certainly expensive, for moving cars, parts, people in such short succession. You'll see here we have a different hospitality facility. The usual Energy Station just simply wouldn't have been possible for it to complete the triple headers, so, of course, there's cost associated with that. There's a drain on resource because obviously an awful lot of components going backwards and forwards to the UK. We're fortunate that the final race of the triple header for us is where the team is obviously based. Obviously harder for teams not based in the UK - but it's certainly tough. On the upside, it's three home races in three weeks. Our engine had its home race last weekend, it's obviously the team's home race this weekend and obviously next weekend it's our local race up the road in Silverstone. So, yeah, it's pretty insane how busy it is.

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