Today's press conference with Toyoharu Tanabe, Mario Isola, Andreas Seidl, Andrew Green and Paul Monaghan.
Mario, if we could start with you please, you had a meeting this morning with the 10 team principals. Please can you explain what that meeting was about and what conclusions were drawn?
Mario Isola: It was mainly to understand if there is anything we can do to improve the show. We know the dominance for Mercedes is not helping the show at the moment and we had a discussion of the opportunity to reintroduce the 2018 tyres but after analysing the positive side and the negative side the conclusion was that we want to stay on the current... well, there was a vote from the teams and the decision is to stay on the current tyres. The meeting was quite productive; there were new ideas, new proposals for maybe the end of the season. Obviously we have to analyse that. At the moment they are just ideas. Let's see. We will continue the discussion in the next days and maybe we come with a proposal for Silverstone or something like that. I don't know yet because it was discussed two hours ago.
Q: Thank you. Can you also tell us what the plan is for next week's tyre test here at the Red Bull Ring?
MI: We continue our development for 2020. As I already said, the main target is to have a wider working window for next year's compounds. So, both in Austria and after Silverstone we will test new compounds, new philosophy, new types of compounds in order to achieve this target, in order to finalise the new construction for next year - because the current cars are really faster and faster, so that means they are putting more energy into the tyres and we have to cope with this energy and all the modification of the construction is to make them work better, and the compounds to have a wider working range and no issues with the aero map, and no blisters and overheating. Obviously the target is always to reduce overheating because it's something the tyres don't like, so I would say the two main targets are keeping that... safety is a target that is always there, we cannot consider a tyre that is not safe for Formula One. The targets are to have a wider working range and less overheating for next year.
Q: Andreas, if we could come onto you. Welcome, your first FIA press conference. You've been team principal of McLaren for a couple of months. Can you just tell us how it's going and what you found when you arrived at the MTC?
Andreas Seidl: Well, what did I find? Still early days, to be honest. It's a big organisation. I got a very warm welcome from the team from the beginning. It also helped to get started that, compared to last year, the team has made a huge step forwards with the car. So all the changes that have been initiated last year already are paying off. I'm still in the period of really analysing in detail what's going on inside the team, to find the strong and the weak points inside the team in order to then work out a clear plan how I want to, let's say, approach the future with the team. Obviously Zak and the shareholders gave me the clear task to work out, as quickly as possible any deficits I see, also on the infrastructure side. So, I was very happy to announce last week that we got this positive decision on the wind tunnel, which was a quite obvious deficit compared to the top teams. So, very happy, it's good to see that we are making steps, race by race now at the moment. It's important for me to keep this positive journey going.
Q: As you say, McLaren is a team on the up at the minute. What is the mood in the camp?
AS: It's obviously very, very positive. As I said before, results help; it's good to see that the car is reacting to developments, different to last year. We are still bringing bits also for the next races, so we better and better understand the car. Also, we have a great working environment also together with the drivers. They perform very well on track. They have a great interation in terms of car development, also with the team at the track and the guys at home. All pretty positive. At the same time, the battle in the midfield is very, very tight - so it's also no reason to get over-excited. It's just important now to keep our heads down and keep pushing day and night.
Q: You have a great result in France last weekend, sixth and ninth - but how concerned are you about a repeat of the hydraulics issue on one of your cars this weekend?
AS: We obviously disassembled the car afterwards and found an issue on a single part. We think we have identified the root cause of the issue and hopefully it was a one-off.
Q: Paul, can we start by talking about this year's RB15. What were your expectations coming into the 2019 season and has the car met them?
Paul Monaghan: I suppose form a team point of view, no we're not walking off into the distance and winning every race, so there's an element of frustration rather than disappointment. Don't forget, we were the ones that changed power unit and then picked up the bodywork changes, so we probably took more on in the winter than some of the others. These cars don't stand still. They're prototypes, aren't they? So every race it's changing, sometimes by larger amounts, other times by smaller amounts. Our friends at Honda are upgrading as and when they can. So, as a package we're trying to move forward. The target is clear and yeah, it's improving all the time and the rate of improvement relative to our opposition that will see whether we can catch them?
Q: Well, how do you rate your chances of catching the two teams ahead of you? Do you think it's possible within the current season to do that?
PM: Yes, I think you have to, otherwise you sort-of say ‘we're going to look at next year's'. We'll try and learn and move on at every stage we can and if the closer we get to them, the better off we are for next year, if we catch them, great. It's really a case of making our own progress. The only thing that's within our control is the performance of our car. We can't influence the others, they'll do what they're going to do and it's heads down and get on with it really, isn't it?
Q: And can we talk about drivers. We've seen tremendous consistency from Max Verstappen this year - but it's been a bit up and down for Pierre Gasly, although he appeared to have a good morning this morning. What have been Pierre's issues with the car?
PM: Pierre finds it a little bit more difficult to drive in certain sections of the corners - I think - than Max from his comments but he's a quick, young driver. Let's not forget that. And he's up against a very strong team-mate. He's much happier this weekend, straight away. He's on the pace, so his confidence is on the up again. He's part of our team. We'll support him as best we can with every bit of energy we've got and I think he'll come good.
Q: Tanabe-san, Paul says that you're bringing upgrades as fast as you can and three of your cars run the new spec-3 power unit in France. All four cars are running it here. Did it perform at Paul Ricard as you expected?
Toyoharu Tanabe: Basically yes. We could see some improvement in the data when we ran the lastest spec at the track. And then, we compared to the dyno data and we see improvement trackside as well. But, on the other hand, the improvement is not significant, so as I mentioned before, when we introduced spec-3, there was a reliability and then a performance improvement - but the performance is not huge, which means we still keep pushing to perform well.
Q: You talk about pushing to perform well. It's quite early in the season to have introduced your third upgrade. Will there be another new spec this season and, if that's the case, can you tell us when that might be?
TT: Yes, so as you are thinking, just before halfway in the season, we already apply third PU and we are planning to introduce another spec sometime this season - but I don't tell you exactly when and how much improvement we will have. We will announce later.
Q: You've said development of this spec-3 involved working closely with Honda's jet division. Can you just tell us how that worked?
TT: So, we have a Honda R&D, so the one division is Honda Sakura R&D which takes care of the Formula One racing project. Then we have a big technical centre including many types of technology. The we use that resource and collaborate very closely. Not only jet engines but also other parts. As a result, we introduce at the last race the new turbocharger using... from the collaboration between Honda Racing technology and jet engine technology. So, we tried to make performance better, not only from the small Racing group but also the all the resources of Honda R&D.
Q: Andy, very tight midfield this year. Checo was 12th for the third consecutive race last weekend. Can you tell us about the performance of your car, the RP19, its idiosyncrasies and where do you see your main opportunities in the next couple of months.
Andrew Green: Yeah, you're absolutely right, the midfield is incredibly tight. It only takes very small margins to move you from one end of the field to the other. The car has got some balance issues that we started the season with and really I think that's a bit of a legacy of where we finished off last year and where we were as a company, position-wise. We've got a lot of changes coming ahead in the next few races and beyond, after the break as well. So, I think we're making progress and, as Paul alluded to, it's all a relative game really: we've got to make more progress than our competition - which is hard to do. It's very hard to do. We've got a lot of work to do but the atmosphere in the team is incredibly buoyant. The team's future is incredibly bright. We're looking a long way forward with the team now, that we've never been able to do before, and so the fact that we're in a bit of a tight scrap at the moment is not distracting now from things that we're looking at much further down the road - so it is an exciting time for the team, it really is, like I've never seen before. So, we're really looking forward to not just fighting this season but, from what we can do and what we can achieve going forward as well into the season beyond. It's an exciting time.
Q: And what about Lance Stroll? He's raced well this year - three points finishes - but he's been struggling in qualifying. What have been his issues and how can his engineers help him find a solution?
AG: Yeah, there's no denying his Saturday afternoon performance, he'd say the same, he struggles on a Saturday afternoon but we have to put it in perspective. He's in a very early part of his career and he's up against a very mature, experienced driver on the other side of the garage and he's learning a lot. In each race and in each session we give him targets and what to look for and how to improve and it's small margins every time - but he understands it. He's an incredibly talented driver. We've seen that numerous times - and it's a case of just getting the experience. And once he gets the experience and gets the confidence, we'll see him close the gap to Checo and potentially take a leap ahead of him. So, we've got every confidence he can do it - it just takes a bit of time.