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70th Anniversary GP: Friday Press Conference - Part 2

NEWS STORY
07/08/2020

Today's press conference with Claire Williams, Zak Brown and Mattia Binotto.

We are celebrating 70 years of Formula 1 this weekend, so I'd like to kick this session off discussing that? Mattia, what makes Formula 1 fascinating for you?
Mattia Binotto: First, it's a great sport, it's something on which we are passionate. As Scuderia Ferrari, we are very much linked to F1. We have been there since the very start. We are the most successful team in terms of victories and championships, so I think in the end celebrating the 70th is somehow an honour and I'm very happy to be here.

Zak, what's your first F1 memory?
Zak Brown: I can - the 1981 Long Beach Grand Prix. Williams won. I think it was a 1-2 if I'm not mistaken. I was about that big and went with my family and I remember meeting Eddie Cheever and the cars used to be displayed in this aquarium and all the fans had access to them. That was my first Formula 1 race and I've loved Formula 1 ever since.

Thanks. Claire, what does Formula 1 mean to you?
Claire Williams: My God, where do I start? It means everything. Everybody knows Williams' history in this sport. We've been racing for 44 years now and that's an awfully long time. It's a big part of our family - it is our family. We feel incredibly privileged to have raced in this sport for so long and we feel incredibly privileged that we have been so successful in this sport for so long. It's the pinnacle isn't it? We all know how privileged we are to work in it, to be surrounded by such incredibly bright people that design these extraordinary race cars. Every time I'm in the garage I look at them and think, "how do these people know how these things work?" It's an extraordinary sport. The drivers are superheroes. The fact that they get in these cars every weekend and do what they do blows my mind every time I see them. Away from the track as well, everything that goes on behind the scenes. It consumes you. Formula 1 is all-consuming and it's a wonderful sport to be a part of.

(Andrew Benson - BBC) Can I ask all of you for your comments please on a verdict that came out that this morning that declared that the design process for a component to be in breach of regulations, declared that those components were run in breach of regulations, that they would continue to be in breach of regulations if they continue to be run, but allows them to be continued to be run for the rest of the season?
MB: Obviously it's a 14 pages verdict and I think we need to go through it very carefully, pay attention on what has been written. One thing that is important is that it has somehow been clarified that there has been a breach of regulation. I think that is the starting point. Obviously that is relative to the braking ducts but as you said there is an entire concept behind, which is about copying: are we allowed to copy or not, an entire concept. But the two things need to be split. But on the braking duct there is a breach of regulation, that is a fact and it has been clarified. Is the penalty sufficient or not? Again, I think we need to go through carefully the 14 pages. There are 24 hours eventually for an intention of appeal. I think as Ferrari we will be very careful in understanding and deciding what is the next step.

Zak?
ZB: I'll give you my initial reactions, because like Mattia we are still reviewing the 14-page document. My initial reactions are that Racing Point has been found guilty and I am concerned that they still have those... what were deemed illegal in Austria on the race car now. I think that is confusing for the fans, how something that is not legal in Austria is still on the car. Around this whole copying, obviously they claimed that they had coped the car via photography. It's clear from reading the document that is BS and therefore you have to question anything else around that car. I think this is, potentially, the top of the iceberg, the starting point of looking at what's happened here, because I don't think it's healthy for the sport. The constructor gets the penalty, but the drivers don't. As teams we all compete with each other, but then all the drivers compete with each other and they're able to keep their points when driver drivers are fighting for the Drivers' Championship. So, I think it's thrown up a lot more questions than answers and there's new evidence that we've now been able to see and it's something we are going to review quickly and understand the appeal process and whether that's something that we potentially want to participate in.

And Claire?
CW: I agree with everything that Mattia and Zak have said so far. I think for us at Williams we've always made of position around this kind of circumstance pretty clear. We've always been protective and proud of our status as an independent, true constructor that designs and manufactures our parts ourselves and then takes them to race track and races them. And then the results come thereafter. Obviously it is a very long document that the FIA have sent out and it is within the FIA's jurisdiction power to determine what penalties are imposed for any breach of sporting or technical regulations and they have done that. Whether I agree personally, or the team, that the reprimand is appropriate or the sanctions that they put in place are appropriate I'll bite my tongue on that. I think we all need a little bit of time to fully compute the outcome of it and to determine whether or to decide whether we take it any further forwards.

(Christian Nimmervoll - Motorsport.com) To all three: in the earlier part of the press conference, Toto explained how teams use spy photography and 3D cameras to copy parts from other teams, to have a detailed look at them. From your experience, is it possible, by the use of such methods, to copy a complete F1 car to the extent that Racing Point did with last year's Mercedes?
MB: I think it's very difficult or likely impossible. You see that has never happened in 70 years of Formula 1, it means that it's not an idea that someone simply thought about today but simply because we believe that it's not possible to simply copy and understand the full concept behind the car. So there is something on which, again, because we sent a letter to the FIA, we really argued the entire process and entire concept. We believe the regulations are clear enough. We believe that there may be a breach of regulations in what is that process but probably at the moment, looking ahead and looking forward, it's something on which we need to clarify. I don't think that the verdict of today is sufficient because again it's only relative, eventually, to the brake ducts but not the entire concept so as Zak said, I think it's only the... it's like an iceberg, at the moment it's only the tip of the iceberg. There is much to discuss further. But back to your question, again, I think that if it has never happened so far, in all the history of F1, you know it means that somehow it's almost impossible to do.

ZB: I agree with what Mattia has said. If it was that easy it would have been done before. The sport's been around a long time. The engineers and designers do take inspiration, if you like, from the things they say on the car, to be able to replicate a car as they've done. Everything that I've been told by people who are much smarter than me on this topic say there's no way you do it with a degree of accuracy that they can so I think the brake ducts and the... revealing that they had information beyond photography just begs and question of what else wasn't done by photography?

CW: I'm not sure I can add a whole lot more. I certainly don't believe that you can reverse engineer a car or a complicated element which a brake duct is from a photo, so no, I would disagree. As Mattia and Zak have both said, if you could, then everyone would have been doing it and we would have had a much closer field than we do now, which at times has been separated by four seconds, so no, I don't believe that this is the case.

(Christian Menath - Motorsport-magazin.com) I understand that you're a bit confused at the penalty that Racing Point received for the break of regulations, but don't you think in the end that it's a wise decision, because what else could you do? If you ban the brake ducts, you probably ban Racing Point from racing the whole year. If you don't penalise them, you open the door for further copying, so don't you think that in the end it was a wise decision for Formula 1, in the interests of the sport and Formula 1 should just accept it and move on from now and verify a few points?
CW: Again, it's well above my pay grade to tell the FIA what they should have done or shouldn't have done. As I said earlier, I think the one confusing element is this discrepancy between the sporting and technical in that you can run what has effectively been deemed an illegal part, that shouldn't have been put on a race car because it was, in effect, copied from another team, to a degree. And to me, that isn't right. I think, as Zak said, it's confusing for the fans to have that, to see now that a car that has been in breach of regulations, to still be allowed to run those parts doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me anyway. But I also think that there are wider implications on this. If the car is in breach but still allowed to race with those parts and not to have to... you know, whenever we take our car and the FIA come to us and say that part's not quite right, you've got two races or whatever to rectify it, then that should be the case in the circumstances, that the very fact they are allowed to continue to race has much broader implications on teams further down the grid, when it comes to prize fund money, when it comes to the order of the championship, but I'm not sure that I agree with that.

ZB: Yeah, I think a) it still early days in reviewing the document. I've got a lot of confidence. The FIA is looking into this matter. Nikolas Tombazis made a statement earlier that they're going to continue to look into this and modify some rules in '21 and beyond. I think ten very intelligent teams that are all pushing the envelope and I think there's a difference between what they've been found guilty of in pushing the envelope in a sporting design, interpretation of rules way. And I think, as I mentioned earlier, the drivers, the constructors, the sponsors, the fans... I don't think running the car with the part that has been deemed illegal... I just don't see how that makes sense, I don't see how that's fair for the sport and as I said, I think the FIA will look into it further because we now know the brake ducts are illegal but how do we know the balance of the car isn't?

Check out our Friday gallery from Silverstone, here.

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