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70th Anniversary GP: Friday Press Conference - Part 1

NEWS STORY
07/08/2020

Today's press conference with Cyril Abiteboul, Toto Wolff and Frederic Vasseur.

We're celebrating 70 years of Formula 1 this weekend so I'd like to start talking about that. Toto, perhaps we could start with you. What makes Formula 1 so fascinating for you?
Toto Wolff: There's many aspects. Formula 1 has grown over these 70 years to a true global sport with technical appeal, sporting appeal and then all the things that Bernie Ecclestone created around it. It is always a pool of content and narrative, there is controversy on track and off track. There is personalities that are competing against each other and it's almost like, for me, it's the racing side but also it is a big reality show around it that happens live and all this provides content and I think that's the integral part of this sport.

Cyril, can you describe the moment when you fell in love with Formula 1?
Cyril Abiteboul: Still waiting for the love to come back! I love Formula 1 but Formula 1 doesn't love me. No, I think there has been great moments in my childhood. It's a recollection of probably, when you have the underdogs winning - and I'm sure we will be talking later on about underdogs - but winning the Monaco Grand Prix where no-one was expecting Panis to win - when was it? It doesn't mean... It's this constant man and machine fight with the machine evolving, the man evolving and it's a constant search for absolute performance and the drive for results, the drive for performance that is so fascinating. And, as Toto is saying, what's happening, both on track and off track, even though if we prefer the focus to be a bit more on track to see a bit more of the man - specifically the drivers rather than the technical directors to fight. But yeah, I think there is fantastic moments to come also in the future for Formula 1. As the technology is evolving there is so much value that has been created around and in Formula 1 that I'm sure despite all the technological change, the change in society, Formula 1 will be able to keep up with all of those changes.

Fred, coming to you. What does Formula 1 mean to you?
Frederic Vasseur: I think it's a very good mix between the human performance, show and technology. But on every single aspect of the sport we are pushing to the limit and I think that today, with all the discussion into the paddock, we are reaching perhaps the limit on some topics. But it's another story. The combination of this is a very unique - and perhaps you have the same in MotoGP - but it's one of the only shows where you can have this kind of combination.

Video Conference

(Dieter Rencken - Racing Lines) Question for Toto. In the last three or four hours you've obviously read the verdict from the stewards that emphatically found Racing Point to be in breach and also found that your team had cooperated with them on the 6th of January this year as well as sharing CAD data at least 10 times. Could you explain how Mercedes got to a point of being so complicitly involved please?
TW: Well, we're not involved Dieter, and we feel 100 per cent comfortable with our position. We've read the rules over and over again. The verdict that came out today is extremely complicated. It comes up with an interpretation that is new. New to all of us. We have provided certain data in 2019 which was totally within the rules. The 6th of January that you refer to has no material effect on any of the action because the whole thing was delivered much earlier and all the CAD drawings and designers were delivered much earlier. And Racing Point and ourselves are still of the opinion that is within the regulations. We are prepared to have a discussion on the philosophy - and this is what Cyril and I have discussed last week - whether we want cars to be very similar to other cars; whether we want the cooperation. I see some benefits. I think we have a team that is competing amongst the front running teams now. This was very much the aim. And on the other side, it provides a great source of income for us as a big team. We are able to monetise some of the technologies that otherwise couldn't, wouldn't be monetised, and I think it's a win-win situation. I also get the opinion - and I respect the opinion - of the other side that cars shouldn't look like some other cars. Now, none of the regulations prohibits that. This special situation arose because a non-listed part became a listed part, so while it was a non-listed part things were supplied. We can have that legal discussion endlessly - but at the end, to be honest, there is zero worry on our side. And when I say zero, I mean zero, that we were in any breach. Nor do I think that Racing Point was in breach. And I believe that if that would go to the ICA, it would be probably a complex matter, because it's very technical - but I doubt there would be any outcome.

Cyril, can we get your reaction please, to the outcome of the protest?
CA: Well, I would agree that it's a complex matter, it's a matter that actually features two elements in it: there is a very specific and targeted discussion and protest in relation to one part of the car - brake ducts, front, rear - and in relation to that we are satisfied with the fact that the FIA and the stewards confirmed that some of these parts were in breach of the sporting regulation. It's the sporting regulation but it really is a technical matter that ends up being placed in the sporting regulation - but it is a technical matter. So, we're satisfied with that conclusion. I think that the question of sanction is open for debate, and as Toto was saying, for another matter, could be discussed endlessly. We will consider that matter, bearing in mind the advantage that was obviously obtained will keep on going for all the season and it's a very material advantage. Just to put things in perspective, any teams will be spending 20 per cent of its ATR time, of its aerodynamic time, into developing those parts - so it's not a small part. The second element that's part of it, as Toto was mentioning, it's a wide topic of copying a car. I think, again, in that respect, we need to recognise that what Racing Point has done, based on a car that has such an advantage, against anyone else on the grid, has been a shock in the system, has been a disruption, and I think there has been other disruptions in Formula 1 before, like there has been other disruptions in industries before. We need to see how we deal with it. I think yes, copying has been part of the story of Formula 1 but technology has evolved so much that it's now possible to do things that were not possible to do before. So, our doctrines, our thinking, or regulatory framework needs to evolve with the technologies that allows you to do some stuff that was not possible before, with a level of accuracy that was not possible before. We've been pleased with the statement from Nikolas Tombazis this morning, in parallel to the decision of the stewards about his willingness to tackle that matter and to tackle it strongly, without waiting, for next year - but we need to understand exactly what's behind that statement. That's why again, we'll take a little bit of time before deciding what's our course of action from that point onward.

Toto, have you got anything to add?
TW: Yeah, I think I agree with Cyril that Racing Point, there performance has somehow disrupted the pecking order. I don't know how much ATR is really used for brake ducts but I don't think the brake ducts are the reason that they suddenly compete for the first six positions. I think it's a splendid engineering team there that has extracted the most from the regulations. I think we can have the debate of 'do we want this going forward?' in terms of having copies of whole cars. In our belief there was nothing that was against the regulations because, as Cyril pointed out, the technology exists, and we saw last year on a few occasions, one of our main competitors with the 3D camera - that is quite a thing, you need to have it on your shoulders - scanning our cars. In the garage and outside of the garage. And when you know the technology - it wasn't you!

Who was it?
TW: I can't say - but it's pretty obviously who it was - scanning the whole car. And when you plug that into a computer, it gives you all the shapes. So this technology exists, there is nothing that prohibits that, everybody has spy photographers sitting on the roofs of the opposite building, zooming into the smallest detail on every car. If we don't want this to happen then we need to close that avenue. I'm also, as Cyril says, happy with Nikolas coming out very strong this morning and saying 'OK, maybe we need to adapt the rules, maybe we need to somehow prevent this Spy photography that has existed in Formula 1 since God knows when, and yeah, I don't know how to do it but maybe they ban all photographers from every position where they can take a picture of a car but I have all the trust and confidence in the FIA and Nikolas to come with a regulation that is clear - because until now there wasn't any.

(Andrew Benson - BBC) Can I ask your opinion please on a ruling that declares that cars that were designed in non-conformity with the regulations, were run in non-conformity with the regulations, declares that they will continue to be in non-conformity with the regulations but allows that team to continue to use them for the rest of the year?
CA: Frankly I don't think that I can comment. I am obviously an interested party into that, so my answer would only be biased. It's a position of the stewards. Obviously we can only refer to previous cases. Not going very far, ourselves we were found in breach of the sporting regulations last year and we've been immediately disqualified from the event and had to remove the contentious device. It was a sporting regulation, not a technical regulation so there is a question of consistency. That's why, as I said, we are reserving our opposition. But, as I was saying previously, it's a complex matter but we should not lose sight, despite the complexity, despite indeed the copying that is currently not addressed by the regulatory framework, that there is a black and white situation and judgement and decision on the legality of a part. That's what we're going to focus on in the next 22 hours we have left now.

Check out our Friday gallery from Silverstone, here.

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