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Emilia Romagna GP: FIA Team Principals Press Conference


Today's team principals press conference with Franz Tost, Mario Isola, Mattia Binotto, Guenther Steiner, Jost Capito and Mike Krack.

Part 1: Franz Tost, Mario Isola and Mattia Binotto

Q: Mattia, let's talk all things Ferrari first of all. Let's start off-track and just talk a little bit about Carlos Sainz. Why two more years with Carlos?
Mattia Binotto: Why two more years? I think because, at first, we are very happy with him: the way that he has integrated into the team; the way that he's performing. And I think simply that he is matching the expectations. And after that, we start this experience with him, I think we are very, very happy and it was the right moment to look ahead, to look further and I think that by renewing and extending is like giving the right stability to the team as well. We know that our drivers are confirmed to the end of 2024, and we can build on it. I think, as Ferrari, we are really... our main objective is try to really create the foundation for the future. And together with that line-up, I think it's the best we can do.

Q: Focusing on track now, Carlos seems to be having a harder time than Charles, getting used to this car. Can you tell us a little bit about what his issues are?
MB: I don't think that there are issues. Certainly, he needs to adapt by seeing that he has done a couple of mistakes, which are important. But nevertheless, I think that he is improving himself, he is going faster and faster. And if I look yesterday, when he was driving, he was really driving fast. A shame because when he went off, I think it was not the right time to push to the limits. He knows very well. I think that's a matter of managing the pressure. It's maybe the first time in his career that he's got a car which is fast enough to compete for the best positions, and he simply need to get used to that - but he will do it very quickly, because I know how smart and how capable he is to manage the pressure.

Q: And can we talk now about bouncing - porpoising. You appear to have the same issues as many other teams - yet you're still extremely quick. Explain to us how that's possible.
MB: I don't know how that's possible. I don't know why the others are not as quick as we are on porpoising. But it's true that we are still suffering it, since the very start of the winter testing. We put some actions on the car try to mitigate but it's not yet addressed and solved. And it's always a compromise between trying to solve it and give up some performance, while maybe in the meantime, you expect to have some porpoising and get the best of your car. So, we are anyway certainly trying to develop the car in order to address it definitively - because it's not the best ideal situation, certainly for a driver to drive and to attack corners without getting there in braking with such porpoising. We are aware. It's, we believe, a potential of development, or a potential of performance to get. Why the others are suffering more than us, I don't know if it's true or not. I don't know. Is it down to the porpoising or not? I don't know.

Q: You're racing at home. You're leading both World Championships. It's been a while since you've been in that position. Just how good does it feel?
MB: It's certainly feels good. But we are, as well, very aware that it's still a long way. We have had a good start to the season: myself, I said at the launch and reveal of our car that it will take at least five races to have a final assessment of the true potential of the cars. So I think it's still too early to have a final judgement on the competitiveness of the cars today. I think still maybe in Barcelona, we have a better picture. Certainly, some cars and teams will try to address their issues and try to develop further, as we will. So I think it's only by then that we can understand how good is really our package for the season. So, so far happy to lead certainly the Championship, it's a good feeling. But, as I said, we are really conscious that it's only a good start. It's a long way. And I think the balance can change very quickly.

Q: Mario, let's come to you next. Yesterday marks the first extensive wet running for these 18-inch tyres with the 2022 cars. What lessons were learned?
Mario Isola: I believe it was really important for us to get the data in these cold conditions because we didn't have any opportunity to test the tyres in this condition last year. I'm happy with the performance of the Intermediate tyre: we know that this asphalt is quite unique because of the time needed to dry the track. Last year we had cars running on Intermediate tyre for more than 25 laps. The Wet, we have a bit less running on the Wet but we have useful data. And so, for the rest of the weekend, we were expecting dry condition but what we collected yesterday is really important.

Q: Well, very different weather conditions today, and with no dry data, what do you expect from the tyres in the Sprint?
MI: It's more for the teams to make a plan. I believe they have to maximise the time in FP2 because yesterday also the few laps in dry condition during Qualifying were with a track that was not completely representative. It will be not easy. I'm expecting probably most of the people starting on and using the Medium compound for the Sprint this afternoon - but as I said, that they have to get data from FP2.

Q: Final one for me, can we throw it back a couple of weeks to Melbourne and Alex Albon's performance there. He did almost the entire race on the one set of tyres. Were you surprised to see that?
MI: I was surprised of the strategy because in the past we saw in few occasions, drivers pitting at the beginning of the race and changing the tyre and trying to go to the end of the race - like Rosberg in Monte Carlo - but nobody did the opposite strategy. So, it was quite curious. The Hard tyre is a tyre designed to last for the majority of the race with very low degradation. So, I was not surprised of the performance of the Hard tyre in that condition. That was very good. And also, other teams commented the same. Obviously, we have to provide tyres with different level of degradation and different level of wear. That is the reason why we have different strategies. But coming back to Albon, it was curious to see that he decided to pit at the last lap.

Q: Franz, it wasn't a smooth qualifying session for you yesterday. Can you explain to us what the issues were?
Franz Tost: Not smooth? It was a horrible qualifying session! I must say that the morning, we were quite competitive with Wet tyres, worked well. Then with Intermediates we had a little bit problems the first two laps to bring them on temperature, but then it worked as well good. Then, in the qualifying with the dry tyres, at the beginning we were there. Both cars were always in the front part of the midfield. And then we simply missed at the last minute, to do a push lap, last lap, and therefore some other cars overtook us. And now we are at the back of the field.

Q: Do you believe the performance is in there still. In the car?
FT: Yes, I believe the performance is in the car. At least a better performance. I don't know whether we would have done it into Qualifying Three. I think so. But, for sure, better than we are now.

Q: It's been a difficult opening few races for the team. The performance has fluctuated. Can you just talk us through the start that you've had in 2022?
FT: A difficult start, let me say. I must start with the testing: We had fantastic tests. Barcelona as well as in Bahrain. We did, I think in Barcelona, 1500km and in Bahrain 2000km without any problem. At the end, we had 3500km. We were safe on the reliability side. And then we came to Bahrain, and the car of Pierre Gasly, we saw after a couple of laps, that fire came out from the back because the battery exploded or caught fire. And this was, of course, then not finishing, which was a total surprise for us because we never had any problems at the beginning of this year with the battery. And then we came to Saudi Arabia and we killed two engines on Yuki's car. And this was also a big surprise because, if you know that you have only three engines, it's not only that Yuki had to start from the back in Saudi Arabia, but he will also have a couple of penalties waiting for him for the rest of the season. Now that means from the reliability side, we are by far not there. I expect it but also the performance we have to improve.

Questions From The Floor

Q: (Adam Cooper - For Franz and Mattia. There's a lot of talk with the drivers in here yesterday about this schedule, with the Friday morning media sessions and so on. It's clear they're not happy about it. They've written to the FIA. I think it's fair to say the media are not happy with it either. What are your thoughts on this schedule and has it actually worked? Are your guys able to have an extra night at home before they come to the track?
FT: What the media wants: to have them here on Wednesday, Tuesday, Thursday, whatever, no problem, just let us know. Drivers will be here.

MB: Obviously, when you've got such a change, I think you need to go through the experience and judge it after few appointments, and few events. I think certainly we can try to collect the feedback and together with FIA and F1, F1 Commission, we can certainly try to discuss and try to review if there is anything that we can do to improve. But I think it doesn't mean that implies that we need to change. I think it's only a matter that, at first, we need try to collect information, collect experience. If you look at the overall schedule of the calendar, a number of races, I think it's important still to try to reduce the length of the weekend and that was the attempt. I think that was an important attempt, if I look at the mechanics, certainly they are resting more today. And for us, that's a key element. But certainly, open to discuss.

Q: (Jonathan Noble - To Mattia, the characteristic we've seen all season, of the Red Bull being quicker end of straight, with the top speed, and your advantage being in traction and low-speed corners has continued here this weekend. First of all, how much is that down to levels - or do you think your car's inherently draggy? And secondly, is it an issue you're concerned about or comfortable about? Especially if we go to tracks with longer straights or higher speed? Are you happy with where you're running at?
MB: I'm not sure that's correct. If I look at Jeddah, certainly they were a lot faster. If I look at Bahrain, there the DRS effect was certainly powerful, and the way they were catching us on the speed, on the on the straight, was significant. But then if I look at Australia, I think that they put on some downforce, and the speed was very similar between the two cars. As well, yesterday, on the Wet certainly. Difficult to judge with DRS off. But I think if you look at the rear wings they've got, certainly it increased the level of downforce. And I think when running on similar wings, we are pretty close on the speed as well. So, I don't think there is a big difference in there. We know that we can improve our wings in order to make them more efficient, but I'm not expecting it to be an issue for certain circuits. We as Ferrari, certainly will have new wings for medium-low downforce on the next races when necessary. And then it's only a matter of compromise, and the compromise on what you believe is best in terms of not only qualifying lap time, but race pace, tyre degradations. There have been races where I think our choice was the right one. Maybe in Jeddah, or just for, let me say, for a few laps, their one turn to be the right one. But that, I think, is great: the fact that we may have different solutions, different set-ups, choices, makes only the race more spectacular.

Q: (Dieter Rencken - Racing News 365) Primarily to Mattia but also Franz, if you'd like to answer, please do. Mattia, you're a very experienced engine engineer, you also sit in the WMSC on behalf of the teams etc. VW Group recently delayed their decision again, allegedly because they said the engine regulations aren't set yet. How far are we from that process? And what still has to be done?
MB: I don't think that we delayed. I think that in December, a framework for 2026 has been voted, which is clear. And I think from the framework, obviously we need to translate that into proper regulations, which is the work that FIA is doing in collaboration with the manufacturers. That's on the power unit and then there will be as well the chassis, because on the chassis, there is much to do as well, and it's a process which are started. And the objectives, try to vote them by... or to finalise the regulation by June. Certainly, the time is going, June is very close. Are we close to the final regulations? Maybe not: there is still much to do - but I'm pretty sure that we are getting all together and we will put the right priorities. We can certainly try to achieve them. It is important for us to have those regulations defined, as it is important maybe for Volkswagen Group, but not only. I think as well for the current manufacturers, because we need to decide on what we need to develop and what are the boundary conditions. So, I think is in the interest of the sport, the F1, FIA all the manufacturers, try to get there. There are open points, no doubt, because I think that's part of the discussions. We've got an F1 Commission next Tuesday, where it's in the agenda at least to discuss the Power Unit 2026. I'm pretty sure that all the open points will be raised and the proper working groups will be set up in order to progress.

FT: Nothing to add from my side.

Q: (Jon Noble - To Franz and Mattia: before the start of season everyone was talking about this year being one of massive development, a huge upgrade war. But actually the start of the year has been quite quiet in terms of upgrades and changes. Is that something you expect to change as we move into the second half of the season? Has it been just down to the cost cap and the way the calendar has shaken out that's held back a lot of upgrades?
FT: I can only talk about our team. Of course, engineers are always coming with some new ideas, some upgrades, but we have every weekend use a meeting from the financial side, where we discuss what we can afford for the cost cap and not. And it was quite clear that we cannot bring all the upgrades that maybe the engineers want to bring because it's not within our cost cap. And we simply can't afford it. That means it has a big impact the cost cap to the development processes.

MB: We are only at race four and if I look at the past seasons as well, I don't think that at race four there were much developments brought to cars. If I look at our competitors at least, they already brought some developments. Some of them in testing. Some of them even here in Imola and some maybe small developments from race one to race four so I don't I don't think that so far it has changed much compared to the past. On top of that the budget cap certainly, we need to pay attention to it. And we cannot simply drop developments at each single race. And on top of it, I think there is the fact that the regulations the way it is. It's somehow prescribed. And we always said it's quite a prescriptive regulation. So I think there is quite a lot of freedom in choosing the overall concept or architecture. And that's the reason why we can see quite different cars. But by the time that you have chosen it, how much you can chase on the front wing, on the rear wing, on the bodywork, it's very little so. So I think that as teams because we've got a budget cap in place we are simply trying to make sure that by the time we are bringing a package, it's a proper one. And maybe to do that it simply takes a bit more races.

Q: (Scott Mitchell - The Race) It's a question for Mattia, please. Mattia, there have been some stories in Italy that after validating the reliability of the 2022 power unit, Ferrari has been a bit more confident to run it slightly more aggressively, and just increase the performance slightly. Is this correct? And how do you assess the performance and reliability of your engine so far?
MB: This is not correct. I think that we redesigned completely our power unit from last year, especially on the combustion side, we got a new fuel. On the hybrid, we introduced some developments last year that we have somehow kept in terms of concept for the current season. But through the winter, we try to focus ourselves on the best performance and to get from that the right reliability and what we've got at the start of the season is our package and now it's frozen for the rest of the season and the next years. But there is not really in terms of revs or mapping anything. We always went for the maximum performance and try to get reliability from it.

Q: (Dieter Rencken - Racing News 365) Again, a question for Mario. Mario, the way that I understand your present contract, it was originally supposed to expire at the end of 2023. And then came COVID. So it was extended to '24, which would have taken you in line with the current regulation, which will now probably be delayed another year to end of '25. So where do you stand on this? Do you ask for another extension? Or is there a chance we could have another tyre supply for one year?
MI: That's a difficult question, because obviously it's not in our hands at the decision and in general we are happy with our experience in Formula 1 and we want to continue but we had already an extension for 2024, you know that this contract is subject to a tender process and it's up to the FIA to decide how to manage the situation together with Formula 1.

Q: (Claire Cottingham - A question for Mattia. Mattia, is the Russian driver Robert Shwartzman going to have to outings practice outing sessions as he was meant to this year and if not who instead will take his place?
MB: Who is our...? So our Russian driver... Robert. No, no, no, it's... I need to wake up! I didn't have my coffee yet! Robert. Robert is born in Israel. He's got an Israeli passport. In terms of licence, it's not a Russian one. And he was in agreement as well with Russian companies that somehow he interrupted his, let me say, any agreement he got with those companies. So at the moment he is still our test driver and he will remain as that. And if we will have in the future any opportunities to let him drive, we will probably let him drive.

Q: (Adam Cooper - For Franz and Mattia: as the budget cap gets tighter, are you confident that it's being efficiently policed by the FIA? Or do you have any concerns that are still there are still some grey areas that some teams might be able to exploit?
FT: No, I trust the work the FIA is doing. And therefore, I don't think that any team will get an advantage, which they shouldn't. And I'm convinced that FIA will police everything in the best possible way.

MB: As Franz said, I fully trust FIA, but no doubt that it's a brand new regulation and as all the regulations, there is always a competitive advantage if you can try to read them in the proper ways. It doesn't mean that there are grey areas, but it's the way that teams may understand or read or interpret the regulations themselves. So I think there is the need of a big effort from FIA to try to police. I think that in order in order to do that they need to reinforce the internal staff. And the number of people that somehow are auditing and policing, because it's a key element. I think it is as important as the technical and as the sporting regulations because as a matter of fact it is a proper regulation, or maybe today the CFOs are as important as technical directors. So I think at the end, it's important that FIA put really the maximum effort into trying to understand the different assets of the different companies and teams, how they spend the money, how they justify the way they're spending it. And I think in that respect, it's a huge and difficult task. But we are trusting them. I'm pretty sure that they will organise themselves to do it. But I think that further effort is required.

Q: Mario, can I just ask you about Miami? Excitement is building. What can you tell us about tyre choice for that race and anything about the asphalt, corner speeds?
MI: Yeah, we got some information from the organiser, to understand which type of asphalt we are going to find in Miami and together with the simulations provided by the teams, we decided to nominated the C2, C3 and C4. It's a conservative choice, obviously, but we believe is the best option for Miami. It's a bit of an unknown for everybody. It's street circuit, so with the characteristics of a track that are usually different from any other track, and I'm quite excited to go there and see what happens.

Q: (Dieter Rencken - Racing News 365) Mario again. Regarding the tender the contract etc. You said you you're quite comfortable with your Formula 1 Campaign. I believe that the tender would have to open at the end of this year to give two years' notice, the way that the timing currently stands. I mean, is your board willing to continue?
MI: Usually the tender is released not at the end of this year, but mid of next year, because it's the same process we had in the past. That means that the decision is for the end of next year, to give one year's time to the winner of the tender to prepare for the season. And yeah, we are hoping to discuss with Formula 1 for the future. Clearly, as I said already, it's a lot going on. And we have to discuss more in detail about that. But it is a tender. So at the end is up to the offer and the characteristics and the elements that are included in the tender.

Q: (Jon Noble- Looking forward to Miami: the sponsor interest and sponsor activation and corporate buzz around Miami seems as big as anything we've seen in Formula 1 before. How important a race is this? And do you sense it's moving something forward in Formula 1 we've not seen before.
MB: Generally speaking, I think that the F1 business is going very well. And it's not only Miami. Miami is one example, but it's all what's happening around us in terms of sponsorship interest, in terms of new track coming onto the calendar. So I think it's a great moment. I think it's thanks to the show that F1 is showing. It's thanks to... Certainly during the COVID I think we had at least we have been great, and F1, FIA has been great to organise still calendars with 17 races in 2020. And, and last year as well, several races more than 20. So overall, I think it's very positive. And you can see Netflix, the digital communications, the broadcast, it's all good and positive. And as we're looking at the race track when you're coming to see so many people now being there. And it's fun. And I think the business is going really very well. And we can see as a team as well, the interest of sponsors has increased, which is great. And Miami as you said, it's a fantastic example. In the Americas things are going very well. And we can only be happy with that.

MI: Miami is important for us because the United States is a very good market for Pirelli. And we are planning to activate these events with the local market, probably more than what we have done in the past. So happy to go to Miami. And that's a good boost for Formula 1 in the United States.

FT: I'm very much looking forward to go to Miami. I think it's a fantastic venue over there. And I'm looking forward to all the events which we have, because Scuderia AlphaTauri nearly have every day something, also Red Bull is activating a lot of topics over there. And therefore I think it will become a fantastic race weekend and it's good that the interest in Formula 1 is increasing so much. Also from the sponsor side from the fan side. And that's positive for business.

Q: (Carlo Platella - Formula Passion) A question for Franz: AlphaTauri brought some upgrades here in Imola. Did they behave as expected?
FT: The upgrades behaved as expected. Yes.

Check out our Sprint gallery from Imola, here.


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