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United States GP: FIA Team Representatives Press Conference


Today's team representatives press conference with Jost Capito, Zak Brown, Christian Horner, Frederic Vasseur, Guenther Steiner and Mario Isola.

Part One: Jost Capito, Zak Brown and Christian Horner.

Q: Jost, can we start with you please, and let's start by talking about Logan Sargeant who made his FP1 debut with the team yesterday. First up, tell us about the job he did for you.
Jost Capito: I think he did the job that was expected. And he did exactly what he was told to do. For him, it was a bit tricky: first time in an FP1 to get used to the car and the brakes. He was overwhelmed by the brakes especially. So... yeah... he did what he should do and we were quite OK.

Q: Now, news has just broken that he's going to do two more FP1 sessions for the team. Next week in Mexico and in Abu Dhabi. Do you feel Logan is ready to race in Formula 1?
JC: Yeah, we feel he's ready to race and, under the condition that he has enough Super Licence points after Abu Dhabi, he will be our second driver next year.

Q: Breaking news. Tell us, what will you expect from him, if he has the requisite Super Licence points. What will you expect from him next year?
JC: I think with every rookie who comes in, and he had one season in Formula 2, and I'm a fan as getting young drivers as quick through as possible into Formula 1 because the series , the cars, compared to Formula 1 cars, lack tracks, so get him in as soon as possible and find out if he's capable to stay in Formula 1 long-term - which we believe he is. His first year in F2, and he won races, and he has been qualifying very strong, all the years in his career, so we believe he's absolutely ready to get into Formula 1.

Q: Tell us about the combination that gives you for next year then: Alex Albon and Logan Sargeant?
JC: We can have a rookie because, with Alex, who's still young but also already a very experienced driver, he established so well in the team, he gave fantastic results, he's working well with the team, so we can put a rookie alongside him.

Q: Christian, looks like we've got an American driver coming to Formula 1 next year. Can we just get your reaction to that: how important is it for the sport to have an American driver?
Christian Horner: I think it's great news. Congrats to Jost and the Williams team on hopefully achieving that - obviously still subject to the Super Licence - which I think is another topic that we perhaps need to have a look at. But I think we see the growth in the US, we see the excitement that there is. I came from Vegas earlier in the week and seeing the plans there for that race as well, which looks to be an epic event, you can see the American public are really engaged in Formula 1, and I think we need an American driver. Not only just a driver, we need a successful driver in there competing as well. It shouldn't just be Brad Pitt. So I think that, it's exciting for Formula 1, it's exciting times and the sport's growing and developing. And I think we'll see more American talent developing and emerging. Certainly we've got some interesting candidates on our Junior Programme that we're investing in.

Q: Christian, let's bring it on to this weekend. The team can win its first Constructors' Championship in nine years. If, when, it comes, how much satisfaction will that give you?
CH: Well, you know, there's still a bit of work to do to achieve that, depending on results this weekend. But I think when you think of the journey that we've been on, since... 2013 was the last time we achieved that. We came into the hybrid era and one team and one engine manufacturer has dominated that period and won every single one of those Constructors' Championships, but we've never lost sight of what that target was. And we've never stopped believing, we've never stopped pushing, looking to extract the most out of the car, the team and in all areas. And the season that we've had this year has so far been phenomenal. I mean, we've equalled our best ever results in terms of victories, in terms of one-two finishes, in terms of where our drivers currently are in the Drivers' Championship. So, if we're able to convert this, it'd be wonderful to do it this weekend. It would be an outstanding achievement for the team. And I think it just demonstrates again that if you believe in something, and you really want it, then anything is anything is possible. Because there were times that looked like there was no hope of being able to even challenge the dominance that we've seen in in recent years but we've managed to turn that around and demonstrate that an independent team can do that, and can hopefully take the big prize, which for us is this year, as well as defending the Drivers' Championship where Max has been unbelievable, if we can convert the Constructors' as well, that will rank right up there with our best ever achievements.

Q: We last spoke to you in Singapore, about the budget cap. What is the latest on that please?
CH: The latest on that is that we are in a process with the FIA. We're hoping to get closure on that. And at that point in time, then all the facts will be laid on the table and we'll be able to talk very openly about the cap, and why we feel that our relevant costs are fully in-line. We're in the process, we're working with the FIA . They're diligently trying to do their job and hopefully, in the near future, will have a resolution.

Q: Can you give us your thoughts on that process that's taking place?
CH: Well, it's a new process. I mean, what you have to remember, with these regulations, is that they were introduced, obviously, at a level where the $175 million, it was then reduced by $30 million during the pandemic, it's a complicated set of regulations. It's 52 pages. And of course we've been through that process and 2021 was the first ever year of a set of very complicated financial regulations, which of course, have a varying... interpretations to them from different accounting specialists. So obviously, the findings of the FIA have been made public recently. And we're now in a voluntary process with the FIA, going through that process with them. And I hope you will be able to conclude it in the near future. But that's where we currently are.

Q: Zak, coming to you now. Can we get your thoughts on the budget cap and some reaction to what Christian has just said?
Zak Brown: Well, I think the budget cap is very important for the future of the sport. I think everybody recognises that and that's why it was put in place. It is complicated, it is new, I think none of us know any details. So, I think we need to wait for the FIA and Red Bull to finish up the process that they're in. And I think just even like on the Super Licence, it was a shame not to get Colton Herta into the sport. I think he too would have been an excellent addition to the grid. And I think with this being a new process, what we need to do is come out of the backside of this, and learn from it and see what we need to do - as we need to do with other regulations - modify them from time-to-time. I think we all have opinions but we need to kind of see it through and then - as the teams, the FIA and Formula 1 do - sit around a table and say this probably isn't perfect. I don't think anyone thought it would be perfect. And then go: 'What should we do to modify it moving forward?' But fundamentally, the cost cap is a very important part of Formula 1's future.

Q: Zak, you say 'we all have opinions'. Last week, you wrote a letter outlining your thoughts on any budget cap breaches. Why did you feel the need to write that letter?
ZB: Because all the teams have opinions, and some speak about it vocally, others don't necessarily always bring forward some specific views. So, I thought it was important from a transparency standpoint, we all sit around the table, there's a lot of times we discuss things openly and then there's a lot of back-channelling, and I thought I would just lay it out there - not knowing the facts of the case. So, it was more of a response of 'if these types of things have happened'. It's not for McLaren to decide they have or haven't, but to put forward now that we understand the ramifications if you go over, what some of those benefits can be and how we should address them. So, it's the same conversation, I think, we would have had when we came up with the cap, we just never really spoke about what would be some of the potential consequences and, like all the teams do, suggest to the FIA some solutions for them to take onboard - but ultimately for them to decide.

Questions From The Floor

Q: (Scott Mitchell-Malm - The Race) Christian, please, you talked about being in the process. I just wondered, when it comes to the differences in interpretations, were there any opportunities prior to this for anything to be flagged up to you? You know, points in the process before this, where there's dialogue between the FIA, anything like that that could have prevented this being something that happens in advance, basically? If there are differences in interpretations, could you've got the answer sooner?
CH: Well, I think that, as Zak said, it's a process, it's a new process. We made an interim submission in 2021. There was no feedback or suggestion that we were doing anything that was contrary to any regulations. And then, of course, the submission was made in March. Again, we didn't hear anything from that submission in March until the latter part of September. So, it's a significant period of time that there was... and, of course, there's also duty within the regulations for the FIA to guide, to have effective compliance.

Q: (David Croft - Sky Sports F1) Question to Christian. Tricky one this: we're all conduits to the fans who want to understand what is happening with the cost cap, and there's been lots of views put on social media and discussions by the fans. But as far as I see it, Red Bull are the only team that have been accused of overspending. However that overspend has happened, however innocently that might have happened - and I'm not accusing Red Bull of cheating here - a figure of $1.8million has been quoted and the team haven't denied this. So, however much, however innocent, that overspend has been, you've still benefited - am I right? - from an extra $1.8 million that could have gone into car development that you shouldn't have had under a cost cap. So, do you concede that you have benefitted by an overspend, and that may in some way have contributed to some of the success that you've achieved in 2021, and 2022 so far?
CH: No. Look, absolutely not. I mean, what you got to look at is what are the relevant costs? And what are the relevant costs within the cap and what's outside of the cap? And that's where the interpretation comes from. And our view is that our relevant costs are within the cap. Now, obviously, we are in discussion with the FIA about what those costs are, and what are mitigating potential circumstances, you know, etcetera. So, we had zero benefit from a development perspective or an operational perspective, either for 2021 or for 2022 from the way that we operated it within the cap. Our submission was significantly below the cap. We expected certain things to be potentially challenged or clarified, as is the process in a brand new set of regulations, but based on external, professional accounting third parties, the interpretation of those rules, of a 52-page document to police this, were very clear from our side. So, we absolutely and categorically don't feel that we've had any advantage either in 2021, or 2022, or '23 or '24 or some team's even talked about '26, is totally fictitious.

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