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German GP: Friday Press Conference

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20/07/2018

Today's press conference with Robert Bell (Renault), Andrew Green (Force India), Paddy Lowe (Williams) and Pierre Wache (Red Bull).

Bob, can we start with you please. Hot off the back of FP1 here at Hockenheim. New front wing, one of the things you have been trying out. How different is it and is it performing as you were expecting?
Bob Bell: Yeah, it's a reasonably different concept for the front wing. We successfully tested it OK this morning and thankfully we did it on Nico's car, because Carlos lost track time. We still have to go through the data on it to understand what exactly it is doing. Driver feeling is positive, but we need to go to through the data to be absolutely sure it's doing what we expected it to do, everywhere.

And did it survive the trip through the gravel as well?
BB: Yes, it did, thankfully.

Just on the subject of FP1, I think there was a coolant seal issue on Carlos' car. Are you confident he is going to be out for FP2 later.
BB: yeah, to be honest we could probably could just have got him out for that bash at the end of the session, but it wasn't worth it. It was a very minor leak but buried deep inside the car so it wasn't quick to fix, but yeah he'll be fine for this afternoon.

Now, Bob, you've said in the past that it takes a team five years to get to the top from coming into Formula 1. This is now year three for you guys. Can you give us a progress report as to how things are going and what the target is for both the end of this season and for 2019?
BB: My quotation of five years was based in on historic evidence with what happened when Red Bull took over Jaguar, Mercedes took over Brawn, when Renault came in after taking over Benetton, and of course those were in different eras. Formula 1 is significantly more complex, the teams involved are significantly bigger now than back then, so I would say now that five years is a minimum. In terms of being of progress, we're reasonably on track. We had very much hoped to secure fourth place in the championship this year. We're in the fight for that. It's going to be close, but we're still confident that we can get the job done. So that's good. We're on target in terms of where we hoped to be on track, we're on target in terms of where we hoped to be with development of the organisation - that's rejuvenation of facilities, recruitment of staff, methodology, process, all those good things. And looking slightly further ahead, then I think next year again, realistically, if we can secure fourth place, close down the gap to the top three teams, then I think we will be in reasonably good shape.

Thank you. Andrew, if I could come on to you now, because Bob has just said he wants P4 this year. I guess that's definitely a position you guys are going for. Cehco told us yesterday in the FIA press conference that he thinks it's still achievable. Just how much harder is it for you guys to get that P4 this year?
Andrew Green: It's quite obviously a bit trickier than last year, we secured fourth with a few races to go. That probably won't be the case this year. But no, we still believe we're in the hunt. We're still pushing hard. It is very close. There are a few teams in that portion of the grid who seem to be just swapping places and alternating the scoring of points. It could take one extraordinary race to push someone out of reach or another team into contention. It's that sort of level of competition at the moment. But we are still there and for as long as it's mathematically possible to do it, we're still going to be pushing.

Has your development rate this had to be faster than previous seasons, just to stay where you are?
AG: Yeah, the development rate is at least as great as it was last year, that's for sure. There is performance coming out of the current set of regulations at at least the same rate as we have had for the last 24 months. It's still an arms race. If you bring new bits to the car and your make it go quicker you move forward. If you don't bring new bits to the car you go backwards, because everybody is. Bob is an example; they've just brought a new front wing. We haven't. So it's going to be a tough race for us.

On the subject of wings, can we just throw it forward to 2019 with the new regulations that are coming in. Can you just give us an update on where Force India is with progress on those new regulations?
AG: Yeah, I think those regulations were officially defined a few weeks. We have been working on the basis of those regulations for a couple of months, mainly in the virtual world, in CFD. We've made some progress. We'll be testing some parts in the week after Hungary, to confirm the direction that we are going in and the changes to the car that these regulations make. The front wing is key to everything that gets set up further down the car, so changing that is a big step, so we want to make sure we are developing in the right direction, so we are bringing parts after Hungary just to confirm that. It's an interesting set of regulations that's for sure. I'm not sure that it's a pretty set of regulations, but it is interesting.

Can you give us any numbers as to how much less downforce they will provide?
AG: It is a significant chunk, yeah. We hope to battle our way out of it by the time we get to the beginning of next season, but yeah, it is a significant change.

Thank you. Paddy, let's talk front wings. It seems to be what we do! You brought something new here. Has it done what you were expecting?
Paddy Lowe: Yeah, very similar to Bob, although we were testing it on both cars. So we have got two new front wings and we are able to run them effectively in anti-phase across the garage. So we had a perfectly executed programme to learn what we needed to learn, gathered a lot of data. You saw we had a lot of rakes. I think we managed to cover the entire car in flo-vis at the end. So yeah, a lot of analyse, but the feedback so far is pretty good, so an encouraging start.

Now you said recently that what you are going through at Williams now is the toughest challenge of your career. I just wanted to ask you about that. Why is it tougher than what's come before?
PL: Well, in the end you are solving problems, not only problems about a car but about an organisation and trying to understand how to effectively tune it up to be more competitive and to get back to the front of the grid and those are very, very difficult problems to solve and that is very taxing on me and my colleagues. As you know, Formula 1 is a very impatient sport and very visible, so when things are not going well it's very clear for all to see, it's on TV. You see, for example, what happened in Silverstone, we had two cars starting from the pit lane, which is certainly a new experience for me and probably everyone else in the team. That came as a result, ironically, of trying to push the boundaries from where we are. We need to keep learning and learning very fast. We do a lot development days on Fridays, that's a test day. We had a test that we ran and frankly it wasn't ready to race. We had committed to it too far in advance. These sort of things happen when you are trying to push yourself really hard. But you do that and it's a very public problem, at your home grand prix. That certainly makes it tough.

Can you put a timescale on when you expect Williams to be back where they belong? In terms of sorting out the issues with the current car, is it 2018 or are you already looking at 2019 now?
PL: I was somewhat comforted by Bob's perspective of ‘this is a minimum five-year programme'. He's very right. Formula One is a very, very competitive sport these days. All the teams, incredibly professional, operating at an extremely high level, so I can tell you that, even though we are at the back, in an absolute sense, we are not doing a bad job. It is very, very difficult to produce even a car that is coming last. Takes a huge amount of effort and commitment from everyone concerned and a high level of technology. So, it's not easy. We would like to recover ourselves off the back, very definitely. If we can do something within this season, that would be great. Clearly with the rule change for next year, that's a fresh challenge - but also an opportunity. So, we see that as a good chance to make a bigger step that we might do across a normal winter, so a lot of focus on that.

Would a more experienced driver line-up have helped you this season?
PL: Well, the better driver, the better. Everybody would love to have a championship-winning driver in their car but that's not possible. You have to work your way up to that on merit. The merit that they would want to drive for you and the merit that you can afford to pay their salaries, so, we can't all have championship-winning drivers. We have a driver line-up, we're very happy with the two young guys, they're very talented and yes, their feedback doesn't come from such a great level of experience as championship winners would provide but I don't think they're the problem we have at the moment. The car isn't quick enough; there's a lot of things to do to get a much better platform to work with, and that's what we're doing.

Pierre, you're technical director. The structure at Red Bull, Adrian Newey has been chief technical officer for a long time - but there was not technical director prior to your arrival. Just why the need for one now?
Pierre Wache: As you know, Adrian is still involved in the Formula One project. This year's car and next year's car - hopefully - with his talent. But, as you know also, he is splitting his time with a supercar in the Red Bull Advanced Technology programme. Then, the team requested a technical leadership in a different organisation to compensate his split time, and a reorganisation to put a technical director in place. That's the main reason, I would say.

Confirmation came through this morning that Daniel Ricciardo has engine penalties this weekend. Is that a tactical move? A strategic move by the team to leave you in the best possible shape for the Hungaroring next weekend?
PW: Yes. We were not forced to take the engine penalty. Even if we don't take a full engine penalty; we are mainly MGU-K and Controller and Battery penalty here. We don't want to take this penalty in Budapest for sure. We have to take it at one point before shutdown to go through the race weekends. Then yeah, it's part of the tactical aspect.

Exciting times for the team. Of course, Honda coming on board next year. Can you just shed some light on how you're ramping-up to their arrival? For example, have you got some Red Bull Racing engineers down with Toro Rosso in Italy? Or have you got some guys over in Sakura in japan? How's the integration with Honda going?
PW: First of all, it's a very short-term relationship we are trying to build now. It's not a long time ago that the announcement was done. Then Toro Rosso are experiencing some relationship with them. Us, we're just starting. We don't have yet some people in Toro Rosso to learn how it works. We create this relationship. As you know, with now 12 years we are in a relationship with one manufacturer, Renault, creating some great links. Then we have to rebuild that. It takes a very long time. On top of that, as other people mentioned, the new regs are coming and the integration of the engine is on top of the new regs development. It's a massive challenge for the team. I hope the Honda and Red Bull relationship will be a success.

Check out our Friday gallery from Hockenheim, here.

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