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Styrian GP: Friday Press Conference: Part 1


Today's press conference with Toyoharu Tanabe, Guenther Steiner and Frederic Vasseur.

Q: Question to all three of you: we've had calendar announcements this morning with races confirmed at Mugello and Sochi in September. I would love to get your thoughts on that first of all. Fred, perhaps we could start with you?
Frederic Vasseur: I think it is good news. We are going in the right direction, to add more and more races. Thanks to Formula 1 to take care of this. I think it's a great job and, step-by-step, we are building-up a nice calendar.

Q: Guenther?
Guenther Steiner: Yeah, the same as Fred. It's fantastic the job is done because it must be very difficult to get events organised at the moment. I think they do a great job, so at least we get a substantial calendar together, what it seems to be like. Now they've got a few more and then we should have a nice season. It's very good for us. It's very good for the fans and for Formula 1 in general. So, very good and I hope they keep on pushing to have a few more and then we should be good.

Q: Tanabe-san?
Toyoharu Tanabe: Yes, I agree with them. Yes it's good for all Formula 1 fans and then manufacturers and teams. I would like to say thank you for the people working very hard to establish this schedule and I hope we can go there to have a Formula 1 race.

Video Conference

Q: (Luke Smith - Autosport) Question for Tanabe-san. We saw both Red Bull cars were hit with power unit problems during the race last weekend. Could you expand a bit of what the issue was? Was it an issue on the Red Bull side or the Honda side. Are there any concerns of it emerging again this weekend? We know Austria's quite a difficult race for the cars in terms of cooling in particular.
TT: The two incidents were not related. On the Max car we had a mechanical trouble problem which led to an electronic problem on the PU but that's not related to the PU in the end. On Alex's car we saw some unusual data after he ran over the gravel and then it accelerated and then exceeded our limit, so we stopped the car. We had a very short period between the last race and today. We applied very simple and basic, primitive counter-measure. We changed all related electronic parts on the car, on the PU. We are still investigating the very detail but it looks, the various reasons, related to this problem. From the P1 running, the car runs OK. We will keep watching and then monitor. During the long run and also the race.

Q: (Erik van Haren - De Telegraaf) Do you think Honda is able to match the power of the Mercedes engine this year? And what's the difference between the upgraded Honda engine in Austria and the first one in testing?
TT: I think it's a little bit difficult to tell the difference between PU power in the four PU manufacturers. Many functions related to the speed and lap time. We think we need to work a little bit more hard to catch up the top runner. The difference between Australia and here, the first race this year, mainly we cannot work on the big change because of the shutdown. Mainly reliability and minor changes. We had time to apply some things, even limited time. So, how can I say? Kind of housekeeping work. That's it.

Q: (Laurence Edmondson - ESPN) Another power unit question but to Guenther and Fred. We saw that all the Ferrari-powered cars seemed to be a little bit slower on the straight than their rivals. Is that something that you noticed, and have you had an explanation from Ferrari as to why the power has gone down compared to last year?
GS: Obviously it became apparent that there is a speed-deficit on the straights and we are slower than last year. All Ferrari-powered cars, I think we can say that openly. I think people are working hard to find out what it is, as Tanabe-san said, it's very difficult to judge other people's performance of the engine, you know? Because you don't have any data, you've got just speed data but the speed of the car eventually, a drag level and so on. For sure we're working hard to find out why, in qualifying, here in Austria, we were faster, and for sure the same as Fred is doing - not that I need to speak for Fred because he can do that himself. In the race I think it was less prominent, the difference. We didn't have a good race, obviously, but I think there still needs to be work going into it and do see what is what here actually. And then we can find a conclusion and move on and sort out if there is a problem.

Q: Fred, let's get your thoughts?
FV: I'm OK with Guenther. The situation is known and now we have to work on all sides. I trust Ferrari to be able to be able to recover as much as possible. My job - and it's not in my hands, our job is to push on the chassis side and on the driver and to do a good job. The race pace was decent but we were able to match the cars in front of us. The deficit was a bit more important in quali.

Q: (Scott Mitchell - The Race) Question for Tanabe-san. Can you just talk through exactly what you're able to do between races to identify faults like you had least weekend? There isn't much time, so how do you action staff in the UK and Japan to perform your analysis?
TT: As soon as we got the logging data, we analysed the data at the track, and then later we checked the car, and then, especially for Alex's car, we removed the parts from the PU and there's some shipped to Sakura R&D in Japan and some shipped to Milton Keynes and then we run those parts from the suspect PU, run on dyno and recreate very similar conditions as race. Then we analyse that data again.

Q: (Abhishek Takle - Mid-Day) Question to all three, mostly to Guenther and Fred. There's been a lot of talk about the biosphere and the bubble and Charles having gone back to Monaco and Valtteri having gone back also to Monaco. Do you know exactly what you are and aren't allowed to do in maintaining this biosphere? And Tanabe-san, you've got, as an engine supplier, you've got staff working across different teams. How do you make sure you keep the bubble and biosphere intact?
FV: The rule is clear, we were allowed to go back to the factory for serious reasons. I don't want to comment for the Charles story or Valtteri but the rule is clear that you have to perform the test again before going back to the track. I did one, two days ago, and another one this morning. I think it's the safest place in the world. Everybody did tonnes of tests and I think that the rule is respected by everybody.

Q: Guenther, your take on it?
GS: Yeah, as Fred said, it's a very safe place here, you know? There is clear rules that when you come in here, you need to be tested, so I don't know what happened with Charles and Valtteri but maybe it's a story on social media - but if they get checked in the beginning I think that's OK and it's quite clear what you have to do and what not to do here. So, we all know that and what I've seen, all the people working in F1 are very disciplined. I think we try our best. For sure mistakes happen - always - but nobody's trying to undermine the issue intentionally or try to be smart about it. I feel very safe here. If any of us get it here, I will be very surprised.

Q: Tanabe-san, is it complicated by you supplying multiple teams?
TT: Yes. It is a little bit difficult for us to work separately but for our members to be safe, also teams safe, we completely follow the FIA direction, also team direction. Maybe the same as this conference, we use web meeting as much as we can and then we communicate between the two teams' members. So far it's worked well but definitely we keep working on our safety. That's very important for us and then Formula 1.

Q: (Luke Smith - Autosport) Question for Fred. I just wanted to know if there are any future plans for Robert Kubica in terms of his practice outings this year? We saw him make his first appearance of the season today. What more is he going to be doing in terms of FP1 sessions through this season?
FV: We plan to do four or five sessions during the season but the issue with the new calendar is that we have also to reschedule everything. He is racing in DTM also, it means we have to find solutions but we will do it. I think it's a great added value for the team in terms of understanding of the car and he's bringing a nice contribution.

Q: (Dieter Rencken - Racing Lines) Good-day Gentleman. Obviously the budget cap has been reduced substantially now to $145million but given that a driver is a performance differentiator, or is accepted as being one, would you like to see driver salaries, either capped and/or included in the budget cap? That's to the two team principals.
GS: I have nothing against a driver cap or a driver salary cap, whatever you want to call it. I don't see a problem for us in it because we are so far off it, whatever it will be. So, I'm not pushing it or anything but I think at some stage it will be a good idea to put it in the budget cap, because, as you said, it's a performance differentiator. So for sure if you spend a lot of money on a driver then you cannot do other things. That should level the playing field even more and I think the salaries would adjust by themselves and they would end up lower than they are now. So, I think, I'm not faced with the problem, to be high in salaries because we are not even at the budget cap, so in the end, any of these proposals, I will be OK with it, so long as the amount is within some reason.

FV: I'm OK with Guenther. The only point is that it would be a bit strange to exclude the highest salary of the team and not to include the drivers. If we are taking this direction we have to include everybody into the cost cap.

Check out our Friday gallery from Spielberg, here.


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