Bruno Famin, Mike Krack, Alessandro Alunni Bravi and Christian Horner.
Bruno, if we could start with you please. News has just come through of some management changes at Alpine. Perhaps you could talk us through what's going on?
Bruno Famin: Yes, good afternoon everyone. At Alpine we have a fascinating project, Alpine as a brand. Two weeks we launched phase two of that project with a very ambitious plan for new road cars, for expansion and so on. What is really super-interesting for all of us is that project is based on motorsport, motorsport programmes. The key one, of course, is Formula One, not only but that's it. It's really a great challenge to be part of this project. So, after the phase two of the brand, we are going to the phase two of the Formula 1 project. We have ambition as well, and we have decided to make some changes in order to go faster in reaching the level of performance we are aiming for.
Can you explain the decision to part ways with, first of all, Otmar Szafnauer?
BF: I think with Otmar and with Alan - it's the same with Alan Permane, it's the same that means they are great people, we really thank them for all what they brought to the team, for a very long time for Alan, 34 years in Enstone. More recently with Otmar but he secured the fourth place on the Championship last year which was a good achievement, but we were not on the same line on how... on the timeline to recover the level... or to reach the level of performance we are aiming for. Mutually we agreed to split our ways, and that's it.
And you have taken over the interim role but for a permanent team principal, are you going to promote from within, or are you going to promote from elsewhere.
BF: I've just been appointed two weeks ago as a vice president, motorsport at Alpine. Of course, we have been discussing that topic with the top management for weeks and now I will really assess with the whole teams, what is the real situation and what will be the plan then. I will take the necessary time to do this assessment and we will decide later on.
Can we get your assessment of the season so far for the team?
BF: The season so far, the season do not match our expectation, clearly. We were fourth last year, we know that the top three is very strong, but we were aiming to keep that fourth place and maybe fight a little bit for the third. We are not where we wanted and we work hard with all the teams, with the Enstone guys, with the Viry-Chatillon guys in order to extract the best possible performance of our car.
Mike, if I could come to you now please...
Mike Krack: No such big changes!
After such a strong start to the season, six podiums in eight races your competitiveness has dropped away in the last three, how do you explain it?
MK: We have made developments to the car lately and it is true what you say, we have dropped. We have dropped in the pecking order. We have lost ground a little bit to the fastest cars but also, we have seen that other competitor cars have slipped in-between and that made us drop back slightly. Now, we have gone through a big cycle of analysis over the last races because you have different tracks that we have now in terms of characteristics. We had the Hungaroring, we had Silverstone, we had Barcelona than also the outlier in Canada where we were very competitive, and it takes you a little bit of time to understand all of that. To understand what's going on and understand what problems you have and what you might have introduced and might not have introduced, so we're quite confident that we've found what the main problems are. Now it is about making the correct changes to get them solved.
You know what the next question is: what conclusions did you reach? What are the problems?
MK: Well, you know, when you develop your car... these cars are very complex. So, it is not any more than you just add downforce, downforce, downforce, downforce. Very often you introduce characteristic changes on your car, or you create other effects - and maybe this is what happened. Again, we have to now iron-out these issues that we have introduced. The next question will be when? As quick as possible.
Do you agree with Fernando Alonso's assessment that it is now the fifth-fastest car in Formula 1.
OK. And do you think you can pull it back to the second-fastest car in the second half of the season?
MK: Yeah. I mean under normal circumstances, you would say to gain three positions in such a field, over the short time of 11 events, it's very hard and very ambitious. On the other hand, the gaps are very small. We have seen how much we have lost, and I think the most important is to recover that and try to recover a little bit more.
Alessandro, and incredible Qualifying performance by Alfa Romeo in Hungary. First time you've had both drivers in Q3 this season. How much of a boost was it for the team?
Alessandro Alunni Bravi: Of course, it was a boost, but as I said on Saturday, immediately after the Qualifying session, we need to complete our work during the race. It doesn't matter to be fast in qualifying, and then to not score points in the race. So, we didn't execute the race as it was necessary to do, and we know we cannot afford to miss such kind of opportunities. Our car this year is not consistently performing at that level, so when we have an opportunity like that, we need to execute perfectly the race. This was not the case. Of course, we have analysed what happened. We had, I would say, a brake system problem on Zhou's car - so it was not the drivers' fault. This for me is important. It was some elements that we didn't fix correctly on the car, so the start... it was a problem with the start, and this jeopardised also the race of Valtteri because he was blocked, and he lost three positions at the first corner and he was not positioned the car in the right way for the second corner and the third corner. So, we place ourselves in P12 and P18 after three corners, and of course this completely destroyed our race. This is a good learning from the team. The weekend finished after the chequered flag on Sunday, not after the Qualifying session. So, it was a good boost, but we need to have a proper weekend and to score points.
Can we look at the positives of last weekend though? Can you explain to us why the car was so effective over one lap?
AAB: We have seen this during the Championship so far, that in a low-efficiency track, our car is performing much better. When the level of grip is higher and the hot temperature, we are able to extract more performance from the car. All those elements were there in Budapest, and this has allowed us to enter into Q3. There was also the Alternative Tyre Allocation during that weekend that introduced an element of jeopardy, of course. And we have prepared all the weekend to be focussed and ready in Q1. For instance, in FP3, we have been using the Hard tyres compound. We are the only team, together with Stroll and the AlphaTauri, to have the Hard tyres in FP3, and I think that we were ready in the Q1 to get out the most of our car, and this helped the drivers in terms of confidence and ourselves to then access Q2. And then we build up on this all the Qualifying session. So, there were these elements that played a role for our performance.
The driver silly season. Can we talk about that now. It is in full-swing. We know that Valtteri has a contract for next year. When can we expect news about who's going to be driving your other car?
AAB: Of course, we always said that stability for us is important. We are a team that is in a transformation process, and we try to be as much stable as possible in all areas. Of course, we are looking for improvement and opportunities. There will be time after the summer shutdown to sit down with Zhou and look at what will be the best solution for both of us. Our target is to keep both drivers in our team next year but, of course, there must be all the elements in place to have a win-win situation.
Christian, thank you for waiting. Now, what a season it has been for Red Bull Racing. 11 races, 11 wins, breaking a 35-year-old record in the process. Did you take time to pause and celebrate this week?
Christian Horner: Not really. I mean, we go the whole team together, obviously as we usually do after a race on a Monday, and it was a very special debrief. I mean, to have achieved that kind of milestone, to have won all 11 races this year, 12 in a row since Abu Dhabi last year. 19 out of the last 20, is frankly something unprecedented, and I think that it's just testimony to the hard work, the effort, the commitment that goes on behind the scenes. Because it's not so much what you see trackside, it's what you see behind the scenes, in the factory, throughout all the different departments, each having to go that extra yard. And all the men and women back in Milton Keynes are doing an outstanding job and to have achieved this 35-year record, the first time since 1988, is something that we're all incredibly proud of.
Tell us a little bit more about what's going on behind the scenes. As the leader of the group, how different are the challenges for you during a season like this?
CH: The challenges are always different because, when you're the hunter, you've got everybody focussed on the target ahead of you; when you suddenly become the hunted, it's a different type of pressure. And, of course, we have numerous approaches from all these guys, chasing all our staff, sponsors, you name it. And I think getting there is one thing, staying there is another. But I think the spirit, the culture that we have within the team is something that we've got great strength in depth and have enjoyed great continuity over a long period of time, which again is so important in this business.
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