Friday, 11 May 2012 09:27
Page 1 of 2FIA Formula One press conference from the circuit at Montmelo.
TEAM REPRESENTATIVES: Pierre WACHE (Sauber F1), Paui HEMBERY (Pirelli), Mark SMITH (Caterham F1), Giorgio ASCANELLI (Scuderia Toro Rosso), Adrian NEWEY (Red Bull Racing), Sam MICHAEL (McLaren).
Pierre, welcome, you’re Head of Vehicle Performance at Sauber. First of all, give us some indication of Mugello testing. Were your findings confirmed here? Were you satisfied with the test?
Pierre WACHE: Thank you for the welcome. We evaluated a new package and we were happy to do this test for sure in the middle of the season to evaluate the new aero package. We did it again today and confirmed what we found in Mugello.
Your drivers have seemed easier on the tyres in the first couple of Grands Prix this year. How did they extract that performance in the first couple of races but not in the next couple?
PW: All the races are different, all the layouts are different and the last circuit maybe suited our car less than the other ones.
That’s the only reason?
PW: I think so, yes.
And when it comes to this race?
PW: I hope it will be OK. We will see tomorrow.
It’s an interesting new partnership with Chelsea Football Club. Does that include more resources. It there a possibility for expansion in terms of resources?
PW: I don’t know. I’m not really the right person to give this answer. I think you will have to ask Peter Sauber for that.
Paul, a different range of tyres this year in terms of specification. How much has the game changed this year in terms of that specification change?
Paul HEMBERY: Predominantly the compound choices have been a little bit more aggressive. If I take the scaling, the Supersoft tyre stays the same, the Soft tyre this year is derived from the Supersoft, and the Medium tyre this year is actually a close relation in terms of compounding to the Soft tyre of last year. So, there are some similarities to last year but the Hard tyre in particular is very much different.
If we think about last year when we were here, the harder tyre in particular created quite a few struggles for the teams to get working. There were probably only two drivers in that race that got it working. So, yes there have been some changes.
We’ve heard a lot about tyre temperature recently, degradation, wear etcetra. Can you just explain to us, because I think the media need an explanation, about what the difference is and how they affect the cars?
PH: Degradation is a thermal performance loss, that’s from the tyres overheating essentially, taken to extremes in terms of lap time. Wear is the physical wear of the tyre which is probably easier for people to understand. The two are linked, though not necessarily in a parallel manner, but they are linked. The temperature, well, working range is something people hear a lot about.
Last year we were finding that the Soft tyre, if we take that as a good example, had a working range from 20 degrees all the way through to the late 30s. This season we’ve seen that when the temperature dropped dramatically in Shanghai that caused quite a dramatic change in tyre performance when it went below 20 degrees.
So there’s probably some sensitivity there, and depending on the cars we were looking at we could see that the actual temperature of the tyres was less, so we have to imagine there’s less energy going into the tyre. At the other end because we've taken a more aggressive approach to compounding you’ll find that when it gets to the other extremes of temperature, with abrasion or certainly wheel spin then we will go into an overheating mode.
We’ve closed down the range of compounds and the cars have obviously changed as well, and you put that combination together and you have a start to the season pretty much as we saw last year, some question marks that tend to get ironed out as the season goes on and the teams get to understand better the cars, the tyres how to get the best out of them all. I think you’ll see over the next few races that that will be the case.
How concerned are you about the drop in temperature we’re expecting on Sunday? We saw 44 degrees today but apparently it will be at least 10 less on Sunday.
PH: No. As I mentioned it’s more likely when you go below 20 degrees, when it’s cooler. It’ll probably be in Germany or at Silverstone where we’ll get more of an issue with that.
Mark, welcome to you here. Maybe we were wrong but we perhaps expected more from Caterham this year. What can be done to improve it? What did you find in Mugello? Has it improved since Mugello?
Mark SMITH: It’s perhaps not unreasonable to have expected more us as a team. I think we’re all a little bit disappointed with where we are. We want to perform better. I feel we’ve made progress since last year. You have to look and measure your performance relative to the teams you’re competitive with and I think we have made some progress but it’s clearly not enough, it’s not where we want to be.
I think it’s part of being a relatively immature team, even though there are many people in the team with experience. To make the team gel and to provide the tools to actually take the team forward takes a little bit of time. I genuinely think we are on the road to putting those tools in place, whether it’s personnel or hardware or software, that’s what we’re working hard on at the moment.
In terms of Mugello, it was useful for further developments that we’re making in the aero world. I think it’s fairly obvious that’s the area we need to make significant improvement in. In terms of what we took there and why it’s not here, in reality we had to commit to something because of the timing of the Mugello test that we hadn't fully developed in CFD or the wind tunnel environment.
What about the performance of the drivers? It’s interesting that Heikki has out-qualified his team-mate four to one, but Vitaly has out-raced his team-mate four to zero.
MS: I think that as a team we’re very happy with both drivers. Vitaly joining the team has been a breath of fresh air for all of us. We’ve got two drivers who are both very motivated and give of their best at all times and at all locations. We’re totally happy with them.
Giorgio, welcome again. I mentioned the other day the pace of development. The factory as a whole has expanded, you have more space for development, more space for people. Is that the case? Is there more development coming from the team now?
Giorgio ASCANELLI: It is the case indeed. The straight answer is, do we get more bits? Yes, we do. Are they good bits? Sometimes.
So what did you learn in Mugello?
GA: Half the things we brought to Mugello worked, half didn’t. We have to keep looking at it. We couldn’t react on the parts that weren’t working for here. I think we’ll have another stab at it Canada because Monaco is no place to do this kind of work.
Interesting that the consistency hasn't always been there. We saw a remarkable performance from Daniel Ricciardo, who put in his best ever qualifying in Bahrain but it didn’t seem to continue in the race itself.
GA: I would say we have been consistently slow apart from the qualifying in Bahrain, which was really a flower. So, what do you make of it. Not much. First race, since I’m Toro Rosso we’ve always scored points [there]. No matter what. No matter whether we have the previous year’s car or we’ve made out own car, it means we are trying to come prepared to the first race and maybe someone else doesn’t.
Second race was a rolling dice. Third race we were extremely happy. No, in China we had a technical problem that we fought for the whole weekend and in Bahrain we were extremely happy with qualifying and not so happy after the race.
Adrian and Sam, interesting to see both your teams today seeming to do a lot more work on the car, seeming to do perhaps more than usual. Was this a continuation today of the Mugello test? Were you still working on test parts?
Adrian NEWEY: I wouldn’t say this weekend has been any different to the first four races from how we’ve approached the weekend and so forth.
Sam MICHAEL: It’s pretty similar for us as well. We’ve had a pretty intensive Friday programme of bringing upgrades and taking lots of measurements throughout P1 and P2 and we had a few bits that we carried over from Mugello to finish off but we would have had a very similar programme whether we went to Mugello or not. All the teams are geared up to not have testing, to not having test teams and that means we’re equipped and do our planning to do all of that work on Friday. So, it wasn’t any different for us here.
How important to both of you was that Mugello test? For instance, Sam, your race drivers didn’t take part in it, whereas Adrian, your race drivers did. How important was it?
SM: From our point of view it was interesting because we used it to get correlation. All of our testing is to do with correlation now. It’s not to dial in the last little bit of the set-up. And by running our two test drivers there we get a straight back to back with the guys that do the majority of the running in our simulator. So, that’s quite important for us to verify all of our models.
I think the test itself, personally, I think you could do without it. I think it’s a lot of energy and expense during the season that we probably don’t need. Of course McLaren will gain a lot out of that test but Formula One is all relative, so all we really did was spend a load of money. And did we really shift relative to Red Bull or Ferrari or Mercedes and the people who we’re competing against? I don’t think so.
Adrian, do you feel the same way?
AN: I think we learnt the pasta in Italy is still the best in the world and that’s about it really. I’d agree with what Sam says. To me, yes you go to the test because it’s available. We didn’t learn anything, relatively speaking. I think Sam’s point is valid. We all spent money but the value of in-season testing has to be questionable.
Adrian, in terms of driver performance this year, how much has changed do you think? Do you think anything has changed between Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber in the first four Grands Prix of this year?
AN: No, obviously Sebastian’s confidence is high and Mark is very talented and keeps working so I think you know, generally Sebastian’s had slightly better results but it’s been close and I’m very happy with both of them.
Sam, it’s a little bit of a mystery that when you were at Williams you were technical director there and now you’re sporting director, could you explain how your duties have changed?
SM: Sure. I work for the senior management group, which means that I work with all the engineering and technical directors at McLaren. My main responsibility is the race track and the drivers but I work within that group in the factory to make McLaren a faster car and a better place.
Very often the sporting director is seen almost as a team manager.
SM: I think if you look in different teams, everyone has different titles, it doesn’t really mean, it doesn’t necessarily related to what they do within that team.