Group 1: Andreas Seidl, Christian Horner and Mike Krack.
Mike, let's start with you, and can we start by talking about Sebastian Vettel, who has announced his retirement at the end of the season. Can you describe the impact he's made on you, both as a driver and as a man?
Mike Krack: How long do we have? Good morning. Obviously I was fortunate to be around when he started his career, when he was very young. And now also, probably when he finishes his career. So yeah, there's that racing driver, where I think, if I'm fair, I think the biggest successes he had in other teams, so I know him only at the beginning. And now, as a man, obviously, this is a bit different. First, there was the youth, at the time, the excitement of being in Formula 1 and being there, and now with this very reflective personality, with a lot of a lot of thoughts that are not so common in our sport.
Now, the sport moves very quickly, what are the plans for drivers going forward?
MK: You mean for us or in general for Formula 1 drivers!
Let's start with you!
MK: Yeah, I mean, it's clear that speculation is now starting, obviously, when Sebastian announces his retirement, so I think this weekend, we should really keep Sebastian in focus, and not speculate about names and bring the names forward. We will take care of that from Monday onwards. And then when we have someone then we will announce it.
Just a quick word on yesterday, it looked like a decent day for the team. Vettel in P7. Are you confident that you can maintain that over the course of the weekend?
MK: Yes, if it's dry, I think we can continue on this path. If it's wet, and how wet, it will always be a little bit of a lottery. So yeah, I think we are on... we have made progress. Not at the rate we want but we have made progress so we think we can deliver good results this weekend if the conditions stay consistent.
Christian, we'll come to you now, can we start by talking about Sebastian? You probably know him best of the panellists today. What were his greatest strengths when he was dominating the sport?
Christian Horner: Sebastian, in his time with us, was incredible. He came as a junior, he wrote a letter to Red Bull to see if they would support him, you know, locally, and, out of that came support from the local market, and then from the group, and then through the junior programmes, through Toro Rosso, and then into Red Bull Racing. I think the thing that stood out about Seb, was from the very beginning, you could see he was a very focused young man, and his work ethic was totally Germanic. He worked hard, he worked late, and he had a great sense of humour, so fitting into a British team, he embraced the culture immediately. He endeared himself across all areas of the business, whether he was turning up with chocolates for secretaries or learning the lingo in the garage - in a slightly different way to Yuki - but his commandment of cockney slang became legendary. His ability to just relate to people and get the best out of people. And he was formidable in the cars that we produced in that period of time. They were, again, halcyon days in Formula 1: massive competitors, big teams that we were up against, and some outstanding successes. He, at that stage, was very focused on achieving, not just success, but achieving and going for records. They meant a lot to him. And the fans as well, a huge amount, just seeing him collect every bit of memorabilia and every gift in Japan that he would then insist on taking home. And some of the objects were slightly weird, but he kept everything, he kept absolutely everything. He was a pleasure for us to have in our team. We achieved some great things together. And I think having just watched him grow from a boy into a young man, and I think he's a very principled guy. He has very strong beliefs. We've seen that in the latter stages of his career, as he's very much standing up for things that he feels passionate about, and rightly so. His family is important to him. He's a very private man. So pleased to see he's become an Instagramer recently. And whilst his Formula 1 career comes to an end, he's got a lot that I'm sure he wants to do in his life. And I'm sure he's going to go on and do some great things. But it'll be sad not to see him around. But I think the timing is right for him. It's not nice to see him running around in the middle of the field, he doesn't deserve to be there. And I think the time is right for him to say, 'now's the time for me to call time on Formula 1'.
You just described him as formidable, which was his most impressive season for you guys?
CH: He just got better and better. I mean, 2009, we were a young team, as well as him. And we made a few mistakes. '10, he was, he was the standout driver that year, had a lot of unreliability and against the odds won the Championship at the end of the year. '11, he built on that, '12, was a super tough year. He'd only won one race before we left Europe. And then won, I think, four on the bounce to go head-to-head with Fernando in that final race in Brazil, but by the time we got to '13, he just absolutely dominated and then nine victories in succession that he achieved, that was that for me was his pinnacle year: he brought everything together and was just truly outstanding that year.
And turning our attention to this weekend. How's the car performing? Do you feel Ferrari have got the advantage?
CH: Ferrari looked pretty quick yesterday. And I think this type of circuit was always going to play to their strengths. We were under no illusions coming here and it's ironic how things are turned around. We used to look forward to coming here and now thinking we've just got to survive the weekend and limit the damage. But, you know, we expected Ferrari to be quick. I think there's some areas on the car that hopefully we've been able to improve overnight and hopefully, I think in the races, we've always tended to race better than we've qualified so let's see how that pans out. And of course there's a bit of weather around as well, which can throw in another curveball.
Andreas coming to you. Let's start with Sebastian. You were working at Sauber when he made his Formula 1 debut back in 2007. What impression did he make on you?
Andreas Seidl: Yeah, so I remember those days, together with Mike, when we tried to get him going for his first test. And then also did the first Formula 1 race together with him in Indianapolis. But I guess straight away, it was clear to see some of the attributes that Christian was describing: obviously at that time it wasn't foreseeable that he kicks off like that, and then he's winning four championships in a row, but in terms of personality, character, yeah, he was always very special from the beginning, and obviously he was a great driver. I guess the sport will miss him. We will miss him. But at the same time, I think the most important thing is that he made a good decision for himself and for his family. And all you can do is wish him all the best and hope you still see him around from time to time.
Let's talk about yesterday. Drivers second and fifth in practice? Is this pace track specific? Or is it a result of you understanding the upgrades you brought to France a little bit better?
AS: It's probably a mix I would say. And again, it was only Friday yesterday. So let's see how the rest of the weekend goes but definitely was one of our strongest Fridays so far this year. The team back home really worked hard together with the race team in the last days in order to see how we can extract even more from the package we brought to Paul Ricard and I guess we made another step there, and yeah, it was good to see yesterday how the car worked on one lap but also in the long runs yesterday. And just hope now, we can carry this momentum forward into today and then tomorrow as well in the race.
Do you welcome the rain?
AS: I will be very happy with dry conditions today. I don't need extra complications!
Questions From The Floor
(Jon Noble - motorsport.com) To Mike, your rear wing design you're running this weekend obviously opens-up a development path that could scupper a lot of the intention the FIA put into the current rear wing designs to disturb airflow and allow closer racing. Are you concerned that could be a move to try and get a supermajority to get rid of it this season? And the other two teams, are you comfortable with the development direction that it opens up? And do you think it should be looked at? If it does prove to scupper the close racing intent?
MK: Throughout the development of... I mean, developing a wing or developing ideas, you normally do not wait until the last moment before you show it. So, we were in touch with the FIA, all along the development, to understand if this is something that will be accepted. And it finally was, so that was for us the moment where we said, 'OK, we go for it'. Now, yeah, I think there is nothing special at the end of the day. It's an interpretation of the rules and we developed a wing, according to that, in conjunction with FIA. And that's it basically. And I'm not concerned about supermajority or anything. If the rules are changing, or these kinds of designs are not allowed, we will cope with it.
CH: I guess if it complies with the regs, that's the main thing. It opens up another avenue that's interesting. And maybe for once will copy something off an Aston Martin rather than the other way around. So, you never know!
MK: You were expecting this, and you were waiting for it, right?
AS: So far, our sole focus was on ourselves this weekend, for sure. We will look into this design, probably next week, and then make our mind up if that's the route we want to follow as well. But then there's rules in place, we trust the FIA to make the right calls here in terms of policing them. So far, so good, I would say.
Check out our Saturday gallery from the Hungaroring here.