Tuscan GP: Friday Press Conference - Part 2


Today's press conference with Franz Tost, Christian Horner and Frederic Vasseur.

Press Conference

Franz, we're at Ferrari's 1000th race this weekend, can we start with you giving us some of your best memories of watching Ferrari as a Formula 1 fan?
Franz Tost: When Niki Lauda won in Jarama, I remember quite well. There were also many other special events. I remember when Jacky Ickx was second behind Jochen Rindt at the Hockenheimring, I prayed to God that he stayed behind. Of course, Ferrari is the most well known brand in Formula 1. It is in Formula 1 since the very beginning and had very successful periods when they won races and won championships. The last very successful period was with Michael Schumacher and this was a fantastic time. Also I was a little bit involved there as I was working with Weber management. I can only congratulate Ferrari for this 1000th grand prix and wish them another 1000 races.

Christian, same question to you. Your memories of watching Ferrari as a Formula 1 fan?
Christian Horner: I'm not quite as old as Franz, so I don't go back to the '60s and '70s but look, Ferrari are an iconic team. Those red cars, whenever you saw them... I remember the V12s when Nigel Mansell and Gerhard Berger were at Silverstone. The noise of the engines was just amazing. There has always been this mystique about Ferrari and everything they've achieved over the years. And then obviously competing against them. Obviously in our early days there were doing the dominating with Michael and the incredible job they did during that period and then the time with Alonso. They're tough competitors and a great, great race team, with so much history. Ferrari are synonymous with Formula 1.

And Fred, your thoughts please?
Frederic Vasseur: Well, I'm the youngest one...

CH: Are you?

FV: No, no. But it's last year with Charles in Spa for me. It was a great one, even if the weekend is tough. But for sure that if you look at every single decade they were always there, performing, winning races and it's like an honour for us to race with them today. We can be all proud of this and the story of the build-up over the last 50 years in F1, it's magic.

Franz, what a race for your team last weekend in Monza. Now that you have had a few days to reflect on it, how proud are you of what Pierre and the team did at Monza?
FT: I must say that Pierre and the team did really a fantastic job because Pierre controlled the race, it was not just a lucky punch and a few laps. OK, we had some luck because of the red flag and the Hamilton penalty, which helped us a lot obviously, but after the second start, once he overtook Stroll, he was controlling the race and how he controlled it, how maturely he drove, this was really something exciting to observe on the pit wall. When Carlos came a little bit closer he immediately reacted. We were very fast in sector two. We had a little bit more downforce than the McLaren and therefore he deserved this victory and it was really a fantastic drive from his side.

How have you celebrated this week?
FT: We didn't have time for a celebration. As you know it's a back-to-back race. The race team in Monza had to dismantle everything, disassemble the cars, bring everything here to Mugello. And on Wednesday in the factory, Daniil and Pierre visited us and then we went from department to department, because we have quite strong rules regarding COVID-19, and each employee got a glass of Champagne and they made photos together with the drivers, always five people only. It took a while but the employees were very happy about this and this was everything on our celebration.

And on an emotional level, how did that win compare with Sebastian Vettel's victory back in 2008?
FT: A victory always is something very emotional. We all were very happy, but you know, a few hours and the job goes on. The next target is in front of us and this is Mugello, to have a good race here, and that's important. Monza is past tense.

Christian, what was the root of your problems in Monza and were you surprised by them?
CH: Well, the car was never particularly happy in a very low downforce configuration, so qualifying fifth we felt with Max we still had a chance in the race, Alex in P9. It wasn't the best first lap. We lost quite a lot of performance at the start because the car overheated and it did likewise at the second start and then unfortunately we had the retirement. So on a day when Mercedes didn't, for once, dominate proceedings, we were unable to capitalise on that, which was frustrating. But in the event that we were unable to, it was great to see AlphaTauri, Franz and Pierre get that victory. Monza for us felt like an opportunity lost.

Are all your bogey tracks behind you now?
CH: I don't know! I hope so! Mercedes are so strong at all the circuits. But I think this track plays a bit more to our strengths than Monza. There are still some good circuits coming up. It's great to be here. I raced here in 1997. It's just a phenomenal track. Other tracks we're going to - Imola, Portimao, we're going back to Istanbul this year, this improvised calendar has got some great race tracks on it this year.

Well, it's been a great start to the weekend with Max P2 in the first practice session. How confident are you of challenging Mercedes?
CH: They're so complete at the moment. They have been truly dominant. So we are working hard, we're continuing to develop the car as hard as we can in order to understand some of the issues that we have had with the car and I think we're starting to get on top of that now. Hopefully we can get a little bit closer this weekend but it's going to be a tough grand prix here.

Is this the most dominant that Mercedes have been in the turbo-hybrid era?
CH: I think it's right up there. Their first year they were incredibly dominant but they didn't quite show their full hand because they had such a power advantage. Collectively, power unit and chassis, they are very, very strong at the moment. But we have shown they can be beaten, at Silverstone, and so that's what we have to focus on, extracting and working to our strengths and getting more out of our car to take that fight to them on a more consistent basis.

Fred, can we start by talking about the effect of Sebastian Vettel's switch to Aston Martin next year. It means of course that Checo Perez is on the market. How interested are you in him?
FV: I think that Checo is interested in all the seats on the grid, available at least. I won't move, I told you last week or the week before, in the course of September we will have the discussion with our drivers about next year and then we will decide together what we have to do. For sure now we have plenty of drivers available on the list.

How long is the list of drivers that you've got talking to you?
FV: You made the list before me...

But with the Ferrari juniors as well, Fred?
FV: Yeah, but you have some Ferrari drivers junior drivers, but you have Kimi first for us, to know what he wants to do and what we want to do with him and then we will see with the other ones.

Now, Fred, if Kimi Räikkönen wants to stay in Formula 1 next year, will you have him?
FV: Yeah, sure, but if we are all interested to collaborate and the collaboration is good, it will make sense to continue.

And if you have an experienced guy like Kimi in one car, would you go for someone with less experience? Would you go for a Ferrari junior?
FV: I won't find someone more experienced than Kimi. It's the advantage, that for sure the team-mate will be less experienced than Kimi.

Final question, let's talk about this weekend: what are your hopes?
FV: That we are targeting to put the two cars in Q2, that we made some steps forwards over the last weekend but we have to continue in that direction but we know that it's not easy, it's quite tight, it's even more tight here in Mugello than somewhere else and Q1 will be difficult with the traffic but I think that we can target to have the two cars in Q2.

Check out our Friday gallery from Mugello, here.

(Christian Nimmervoll - Motorsport.com) Christian, at the Friday press conference at Silverstone, Toto Wolff said 'one of our main competitors was scanning our cars with a 3D camera last year, in the garage and outside the garage.' The (phrase) main competitor meant Ferrari or Red Bull and Mattia just told us it was not Ferrari. Do you feel addressed by Toto's words?
CH: Well, looking at the similarity between the Racing Point and Toto's car this year I can only assume it must have been Racing Point. I don't know what Toto's referring to there but yeah, no idea I'm afraid, certainly not us.

(Scott Mitchell - The Race) Fred, with the project that the team's been involved with Alfa Romeo there have been high points but this year the results aren't quite what you want them to be. What do you see as the next logical step for this collaboration and would you consider moving beyond the Ferrari family to make use of the new era coming in 2022?
FV: No, no. We are discussing with Ferrari to extend the collaboration and then we are quite close to sign the deal and with Alfa Romeo the same.

(Luke Smith - Autosport) Christian, since Pierre Gasly's victory at Monza last weekend obviously a lot of talk about him potentially returning to the Red Bull in the future. Pierre himself has said he would be ready but he understands the position is fully out of his hands. Would you consider bringing Gasly back to Red Bull for next year and when do you expect a decision to be made on Red Bull's 2021 line-up?
CH: Well, look, I think Pierre has done a fantastic job. I think taking a step back into what was Toro Rosso, now AlphaTauri he's found his confidence, he's driving incredibly well and AlphaTauri are doing a great job with him, I think it's good to see, it's really good to see that that's working out for him and I think that as far as Red Bull Racing's seats are concerned we are focused on Alex Albon, we want to try and give him the best opportunity to retain that seat. We've got some issues that we are working on with the car and I think that it wouldn't make sense to switch the drivers back. AlphaTauri is now a sister team rather than a Junior team. I think that Franz is happy, I believe, with Pierre, so there's no... the final decision will be made later in the year but there's no push from our side to reverse the situation. We want to address some of the issue that we have with RB16 which I think we're starting to understand and get on top of and then go from there.

Christian, would you ever look outside of the Red Bull family when it comes to drivers? Checo Perez, for example?
CH: I think our preference has always been to nurture talent and whether that's Sebastian Vettel, whether that's Daniel Ricciardo, whether that's Max Verstappen, they've all come through the junior programme. They've been schooled by Franz and then they've obviously delivered very well in Red Bull Racing seats, so our preference is always in that home ground talent but if the pool isn't big enough, then of course occasionally you have to look outside of it but our intention is absolutely to work with the talent pool that we have.

(Adam Cooper - motorsport.com) To all three: have you looked into the downforce cuts for 2021 and how big a change will it be, especially given the desire to cut costs?
FV: It's a bit early stage for us because got the final regulation last week or the week before but for sure it will have a big impact on the downforce. I don't want to speak about points but it will be huge and it's also probably necessary for the tyres that if we are still developing the car and we want to keep the same tyres we put the responsibility of this on Pirelli; at the end we will do a choice and I think it was the right move from the FIA.

CH: I think it's a bit of a tickie one. I think the teams will get back all the downforce that it perhaps takes off. Maybe more could have been done because the rate of progress in Formula 1 is such that if there is concerns about the load of the tyre then yeah, maybe more should have been looked at but of course whenever you change something, it does introduce cost because whatever you change creates differences so it's finding that balance.

FT: We are just studying this new regulation and of course we will lose a lot of downforce but as I know, the development speed in Formula One I would not be surprised if at the beginning of next year or maybe a little bit later, the downforce level will be the same. Regarding the costs, nothing will change. There were a lot, the current diffuser and floor, or another one, at the end it's just the same.

(Dieter Rencken - Racing Lines) Primarily for Christian; the financial regulations provide a mechanism for a soft landing for those larger teams who need retrench staff and this goes through to June next year. Would you need to avail yourself of this particular one? And then to the other team principals present: do you see this mechanism as providing any form of advantage for the top three or four teams?
CH: I think the mechanism you're talking about was primarily to accommodate Ferrari, in particular, with their employment laws but I think what we're seeing as we inevitably delve deeper in these regulations and of course they have a much bigger effect on the top three teams than they will for the teams that are already operating below the cap but you know what's been exciting for us is to look at projects that will soon be announced that we've won with external clients where we will be taking on different work and different work streams in different categories. We have obviously designed the Valkyrie car over the last four years and we're looking at other options where we can utilise the skill set and talent that we've acquired in Formula 1 in other projects. Obviously those regulations do have a fundamental impact on the teams and of course that cushion, as it were, for 2021 does offer a soft landing, particularly for Ferrari who pushed so hard for it.

Franz, do you feel that soft landing is an advantage to the top teams?
FT: Of course it's a small advantage for the top teams because they can keep people longer, but we must not forget but the three top teams built up a fantastic infrastructure in the last years and now because of the cost cap they have to change many processes in there and therefore I think it's a very fair compromise and I am a fan of this.

FV: Yeah, the cost cut and the financial regulation will have a huge impact on the top teams and I think we don't have to be focused on the first six months and what will happen in the first six months because the regulation will be in place for at least the next five years. It will be a mistake to just focus on what could happen in January or February. I think it's a huge impact for them. They've made a big effort, also on this point and I think it's a normal situation.

(Erik van Haren - De Telegraaf) Christian, in Monza, Max Verstappen said both the car and the engine this year are not good enough. Do you agree with him?
CH: Well, I think, certainly in Monza, we were nowhere near the competitiveness that we wanted to be in and of course we've had some issues with this car this year. We had high expectations coming into the year and despite being second in the World Championship and having won one race so far plus the other five podiums we've achieved it's never enough. The whole of the team is working very hard to get on top of these issues because of course this is the fundamental elements of the car that are in place for next year as well. I think we're starting to understand some of the issues that we've had and the whole team, as I say, is working very, very hard to ensure that we are on top of them for the second half of the season.

(Andrew Benson - BBC Sport) Christian, I just wanted to pick you up on your remark about the change of status of AlphaTauri from Junior team to sister team. Can you explain the thinking behind that and how much is it to do with the fact that as you described it, the talent pool is limited or whatever the phrase was that you used?
CH: Obviously AlphaTauri is a rebranded team for this year. I think that their aspirations are beyond where Toro Rosso's were and I think we obviously have a synergy project within the regulations that we're allowed so for example, the sharing of the wind tunnel will happen for the first time next year, which makes complete sense from a financial perspective. That's what I was referring to and I think that, from a talent pool, Red Bull has invested in so many young drivers over the years and we've got some good young talent coming through. You can see in Formula 2, Formula 3 the talent that we have and will continue.

Franz, can I just pick this up with you? Do you see AlphaTauri as more of a sister team now than it was a junior team?
FT: I think that the team has grown up in the last years, that we show better performance, the cars are more reliable, the co-operation with Red Bull Technology is very positive and all the synergy process brings us a lot of advantages, everything within the regulations. And we have AlphaTauri now, we are the brand ambassador for AlphaTauri and therefore we have to show a good performance, we have to be there because otherwise it doesn't make sense for AlphaTauri to be in Formula 1. This is what Christian meant, that we have to improve the performance, we have become better and the victory in Monza showed that we are able to do it.

Check out our Friday gallery from Mugello, here.

(Julien Billiotte - AutoHebdo) Fred, don't take it the wrong way but you are an experienced figure in the French racing scene. I believe you founded your first team in 1996; what did Pierre Gasly's win in Monza meant to you and motor sport in France?
FV: I think it's important for everybody in France in motorsport. It's a great achievement for Pierre and AlphaTauri also. They did very well, Pierre did a fantastic event, but he is improving and it was... I don't want to say that it was abuse because that he was quali in P9 or something like this but at the end of the day, over the last couple of events he has was improving and he was not miles away from a good event. And then, for sure, if you're in this situation and you want to win, you need to have a chaotic race but as Franz said before, when he was in front he was able to manage the situation, to have a very clean race and he did a very good job. It's also good motivation for all the young teams in France, doing go-karts and junior series, that's the way is there and let's continue like this.

(Julianne Cerasoli - UOL Esporte) To all three: are you planning to keep any changes you've made due to COVID, both regarding sanitary measures and things which had to be changed due to the pandemic and which are actually working better?
FV: Tough one. No, I don't know that it's... for sure I think the world will change also and we will to... COVID is not behind us and we will see what happens in the next few months. I think the world will change, due to the situation and a way of life will evolve also, and I don't know if we will change something in the future or not. It's some constraint but it was the price to pay for everybody if we wanted to continue to race. It was a great achievement for everybody. If you have a look at other sports - if you have a look at football for example, it's quite a disaster with tons of players positive and so far we did very well. Altogether it's an achievement but I think that at some stage we will have to be focused on the future.

CH: I think that what we've seen during this period is technology moved and so conferencing and teams meeting and Zoom and all these different technologies and so I think there are elements of that where efficiency can be improved. Obviously Formula 1 is a remote working environment when you're back at the factory and I think there have been some interesting developments with technology there with speed and processing and so on, and so I think they will be the elements. I think obviously press conferences in future should all be done by video conference and so on, but I'm looking forward to getting rid of the mask. Hopefully we can get rid of the mask relatively soon.

FT: AlphaTauri have quite strict guidelines regarding COVID-19. We always do permanent tests; every employee in the morning has to do a temperature test. As I mentioned before, when the drivers were there, we didn't allow all the people coming together. We split into smaller groups. We need to pay attention to this because the virus is still here and I just hope that now, during the winter months, it will not become worse. I also hope that from the medicine side they will find a solution, vaccine or whatever and that next year we will have a season without this stupid mask here and that we can come back to our normal life.

(Scott Mitchell - The Race) To all three, picking up on sister teams and the opportunities going forward. I just want to know from Christian and Franz's perspective, how have you seen that sort of relationship evolve and what do you see as the advantages going into the new era of having the sister teams rather than senior and junior team and for Fred, do you see yourself becoming more of a sister team to Ferrari, for example, or is it more of a straightforward customer relationship even in the new era?
FV: The relationship with Ferrari is like it is and they are supplying parts, engine, gearbox and some other parts and the collaboration on this one is a good one but we are not sharing the same wind tunnel, for example, as some other teams are doing and for sure I think it will probably be an advantage in the future and to have a larger collaboration.

CH: Well, obviously the regulations have been clarified very recently as to what is permitted and what isn't and it doesn't fundamentally change anything that we've been doing with AlphaTauri apart from the fact that we start co-sharing the wind tunnel which makes a great deal of sense. So the tools that we're using, within the models, the model size, AlphaTauri will be utilising the same equipment, the same tunnel and of course , hopefully that will be helpful for them in their development, particularly with the 2022 car being such a significant regulation change. So I think the regulations are now clear, the grey zones have been taken out in terms of what is and isn't allowed and hopefully AlphaTauri will certainly benefit from that.

FT: Not much to add. I just want to explain, regarding the wind tunnel, because we are the only team using the 50 per cent wind tunnel and then of course Bedford is 60 per cent there which will obviously bring us an advantage because you can make much more valid measurements and the rest is not a synergy process, we did it already in the last years quite successfully, it was saving money and improving the performance, because Red Bull Technology at a very high level from a technical standard and therefore I don't see anything special.

Check out our Friday gallery from Mugello, here.

Article from Pitpass (http://www.pitpass.com):

Published: 11/09/2020
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