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FIA Friday press conference - Italian GP, Monza

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Team representatives: Giorgio Ascanelli (Toro Rosso), Eric Boullier (Renault), Stefano Domenicali (Ferrari), Tim Goss (McLaren) and Peter Sauber (Sauber).
Q: Eric, first of all, Bruno Senna had a fantastic start in Spa with a great qualifying performance. What has he brought to the team and we will come to the commercial side of that in a moment?
Eric Boullier: Nothing.

Q: But in terms of his presence?
EB: I don’t know. I think his eagerness and freshness is clearly a good asset, a good new value for the team, which we didn’t have during the summer and were struggling a little bit with the development of the car. Now it looks like we are back a little bit and are in a good shape and clearly Bruno brought with him his enthusiasm. He knows the team very well as he was working very closely with the team since January.

Q: Presumably, that presence since January had made him popular and that is why people are pleased to see him in the car?
EB: Yeah, exactly. He has spent a lot of time in the back of the garage, in the trucks, with the engineers and the mechanics and he was very helpful as well for the race drivers as he was clearly committed and dedicated to help and pushing for the team so the team knew him and was pleased to see him doing well in qualifying.

Q: You have four new commercial partnerships, two of which have Brazilian connections. Just talk about those.
EB: Everybody thinks Bruno came with a bunch of money, which is wrong, obviously. The only link was Embratel. Yes, Embratel was a personal sponsor of Bruno and this is clearly linked to Bruno. This is clear, nothing to hide. The two others, or the three others actually, are not related to Bruno. We were talking to them for a long time and the opportunity when we told them Bruno would be racing they just decided to do an ‘mediatic shot’ and use the opportunity to have this ‘mediatisation’ and just go for it.

Q: What are your plans for Romain Grosjean, as there were thoughtshe might be in the car, though may be not from you?
EB: Some people were thinking for me, which is good. I appreciate sometimes, sometimes not. Romain had a job to do to be a GP2 Champion. He is now officially the third driver and we will see what happens to him but there is no plan for him.

Q: So he will come to all the remaining races?
EB: Yep, definitely. As the third driver.

Q: Peter, looking at your team which direction would you like it to go in from now? Is it a financial direction? Where would you like improvement? Financial, technical, resources, where do you see the effort being applied now?
Peter Sauber: Forward.

Q: Just forward?
PS: Just forward. I think the infrastructure is excellent and, of course, with more money we can be faster. In our case it is very easy.

Q: Do you want more staff?
PS: Yes, it is possible to have more. We have about 280 and it is an advantage to have more staff.

Q: Just tell us about the performance today. We saw Kamui Kobayashi pull off right at the end of practice, but up until then the performance was possibly better than you thought it was going to be?
PS: It is better than we expected, yes. Kamui, I think was a transmission problem. But the speed was good today, especially the long runs.

Q: Why did you think you were not going to be particularly good here?
PS: I think our problem is the hot-blowing diffuser, the hot-blowing exhaust. That’s our problem. The system doesn’t work very well and then we stopped the whole development around Barcelona as in this time, not only us, we had the opinion that it will be forbidden from Silverstone onwards.

Q: Talk about the Mexican connection you have with Sergio Pérez and Esteban Gutierrez. How is that coming along?
PS: The relationship with Telmex is excellent. We are very happy with Pérez. Don’t forget he is a rookie and he is a part of the Telmex family. We are also happy with Telmex as they opened the door to different and other companies in this region.

Q: Do you see that going a bit further next year?
PS: Sure.

Q: Further, as in my first question, so you will have the few more staff that you require?
PS: We hope so. Believe me, it’s not easy.

Q: Tim, looking back at the last race, at Spa, what sort of indicators did you get from Spa in terms of the set-up of the car and the specification of the car for this race?.
Tim Goss: The pace of the car has been very good over recent races and we have been pushing Red Bull quite hard. Clearly going to Spa it was a lower downforce and we brought a sort of new breed of rear wing. We have abandoned the concept we were working on. Well not necessarily abandoned it but we have switched to a different concept for the lower downforce wings and we are quite pleased with our pace. Obviously we would have liked to come out of Spa with a better result in the race. We felt that we were very strong during the race and could have challenged for a win. Certainly we were looking good for a podium. Car pace was very good. Had we avoided the mistakes we made in qualifying then Jenson (Button) should have been up there rather than having to do the 20-30 overtakes to get to third place. We have discovered a bit of a sweet spot with the car. Those themes that we know work well with our car we are pushing now and looking forward to taking those further similar developments on this season.

Q: In terms of Spa to here was there much change?
TG: Yeah, I mean it is a lower downforce circuit again so we have brought further developments to this circuit as well as just the Monza specific package so today’s pace looked very good and we are confident that the changes we’ve made have actually brought us that little performance step that we are after.

Q: The actual challenge of this circuit seems remarkable. Obviously, you have got to go for low drag, low drag, low drag and yet at the same time you have got the kerbs and everything else. Then at the same time you have now got this business of DRS, which you can use for something like 74 per cent of the circuit but during the race itself you have only got two DRS zones. How do you tune the car?
TG: Yeah, it is a very complex optimisation exercise. Clearly you have got DRS all the time in qualifying but then in the race you have only got it when you are behind another car. We are looking for the best compromise of both raw speed in terms of lap time and tactical advantage to either defend or overtake other cars. I think you will see out there that there are a variety of solutions. We have put an awful lot of simulation effort into trying to pitch ours about right and I think we have got it right. Sunday will tell us whether we have or not but it is more than just chasing end of straight speed these days. It is about other things. As I said, tactical advantage, protecting tyres and qualifying pace, so it is a difficult job. We think we have got it right but Sunday will tell us one way or another.

Q: Stefano, it is a very important race for you. Tell us about how the cars went today and the performance of the cars. Were you happy with them today?
Stefano Domenicali: Well, when we come to Monza you know that for us that this is a very important race, but I don’t want to really put more pressure on top of the normal one as that is part of the game. In terms of performance this morning we were struggling. We did a lot of different tests, also in the afternoon, of different components but we were struggling to find the right grip and to find the right balance with the car. The situation improved this afternoon. There are a lot of things still to do and I am sure the night will be a long night for the engineers to make sure that all what Tim was saying before about the right balance between the speed and downforce will be considered appropriately. One thing is the qualifying but the most important thing is the race. We may have two different scenario where you really need to make sure that you fine tune to make sure to be fast in qualifying but much stronger during the race.

Q: There was a difference of 22 degrees track temperature between the start of FP1 and FP2 when it was 41 degrees; did that manifest itself in the performance of the car, because you’ve had so many problems with track temperatures?
SD: I think that yes, it’s a factor that helped us to improve at least at the beginning of the first run; we were the only ones to improve our lap time. For sure it’s a factor. I don’t think that’s the only one but for sure an important one.

Q: If you had a magic wand what would you change at Ferrari?
SD: Let’s keep that for other stuff. There are more important things around the world.

Q: Is there one particular thing that you would like to change though?
SD: Yes, but I will keep it for myself.

Q: Giorgio, sorry to keep you waiting…
Giorgio Ascanelli: “dulcis in fundo”

Q: Sorry?
GA: It’s Latin, it means: The sweetest at the last moment!

Q: We’ve heard that the team has invested quite a lot over the year and there is a three year development plan now. How has that manifested itself for you; a huge rise in staff it would seem?
GA: Yeah, I have to say that since the new Concorde Agreement, that imposed on us to become manufacturers and adjusted the rules, we had a nice riddle which was how to find a wind tunnel, how to calibrate it, how to buy a cfd cluster, how to hire sixty engineers in four months. I think we’ve been lucky because something has happened. Now we are learning to use our tools and I have to say we are a happy team.

Q: Now Spa was your best qualifying – not the best race of course – but you could see that there had been a lot of progress for that…
GA: Ah, it’s overrated. I think Spa was a good result but at the end of the day, I have to be objective and recognise that Fernando, Jenson, Adrian, Paul, Michael would have been ahead of us if they didn’t have a sort of misunderstanding either within their teams or within the circuit, so at the end of the day we were sixth and eleventh. I think that we would have been happy to be eleventh and twelfth and that’s probably our value, which is much better than seventeenth and eighteenth as we had been in the past and it’s probably better than how we’re going to end up here.

Q: So could you see that progress continuing for the rest of the season, or are you now winding… what’s the balance now?
GA: We have now stopped the development of the concept of the STR6 and we are focusing on STR7 but as we are a small team, we will introduce something new in the next Grands Prix because there’s something in the pipeline. I would say the strongest part of a Formula One team nowadays is the time to market, and the strongest guys have got a very small, a very short time to market. We’re not that clever yet but we’re trying. This has the consequences that probably we will feed something in the latter part of the season, because we have not been able to do as much as to translate into facts the concepts and ideas of our studies.

Q: (Andrea Cremonesi - La Gazzetta dello Sport) Stefano, yesterday Fernando and Felipe talked a lot about the extra motivation for the team to be here in Monza in front of your tifosi. Could you explain to us exactly how the situation is and if you can give us some more ideas how you approach this race?
SD: From my side, I always keep people with their feet on the ground to make sure that they work hard and stay concentrated, but for sure it’s great to see the enthusiasm that is around the track for our cars, for our drivers so that’s the feeling that everyone is enjoying when they are here but this is giving you extra pressure that has to be managed, as I said before. This is why I never said anything over the lines because I know that by saying something like that it gives more expectation that is already high. I know that when you are here… I remember last year when it was a fantastic emotion to share with all the tifosi when we won the race and that would really be a fantastic opportunity if this would happen again, but as I said, no more than that.

Q: (Giorgio Pasini - Tuttosport) Stefano, it seems that there is a battle on the track with Red Bull but also in the media over the last days between you and Christian Horner.
SD: Me?

Q: (Giorgio Pasini - Tuttosport) Yeah, he’s not very happy about your interview today.
SD: That’s the first time that I hear that.

Q: (Giorgio Pasini - Tuttosport) Because today he said that it’s…
SD: That’s a new one. I will speak with him, without speaking to journalists. I want to see what he’s saying. I don’t know, honestly. I don’t have to verify anything. If he has a quarrel with me, he has to verify, I have nothing to verify.

Q: (Andrea Cremonesi - La Gazzetta dello Sport) There was an interview in Germany where you said that Vettel is not a leader as Michael or as Fernando, that’s what…
SD: I said that in my view… well, I know what I said so... I said that speaking about the drivers, to be a leader you need to have experience, points, championships, leadership and a relationship with the people and so on. So I said that in my view at the moment, the ones that I said – Fernando and Michael - were already doing it and Sebastian is on the right route to do it. With this year’s win, he will be there very very soon so I don’t think that I’ve said something strange. I think that’s a fact, but it’s interesting to see Christian’s reaction. Maybe he will have something to say to me. He knows my telephone number.

Q: (Giorgio Pasini - Tuttosport) And the question to Mr Ascanelli: can you say something about the rumours of the movement of your team to Abu Dhabi?
GA: Germans. The movement of my team to Abu Dhabi? Do they make good pasta in Abu Dhabi?

Q: (Giorgio Pasini - Tuttosport) And in Italy, is there space in Formula One in Italy in motor sport that is not Ferrari?
GA: Well, first of all, we have three sponsors - we have acquired three new sponsors this season in the last few days, they arrived in the last moment, it appears on the rear wing, it doesn’t appear yet on my shirt although my shirt is very wide and probably would guarantee more exposure than the rear wing! They are three different sponsors which we deal with separately. I don’t think there is any discussion about the fact that the ownership pertains and remains in the hands of Mr Mateschitz so far. I have never been bothered about what’s going to happen in the future in any team I have occurred to work with in the last 28 years. I’ve always tried to do my best; sometimes my best has not been enough and sometimes it has been enough. I’m relaxed about the matter. It is good to have a little bit more money to do some more things. Mr Sauber just highlighted just how large an issue that might be. What I can say is that Mr Mateschitz and Red Bull since two years have promoted the expansion of Toro Rosso in Faenza and a new facility will be ready in the next two years. Then, if we have to move everything to Abu Dhabi, well, we will see.
If there is space in Italy for another team like Ferrari? I think one of the difficulties which I experienced personally when I worked at Ferrari and one of the experiences which I am experiencing here in Toro Rosso is the fact that the market is not as alive as it is in England. Now if our wind tunnel is in Bicester, it is a deliberate choice although it is more difficult than most people think to make a car by fax. Nowadays it’s easier because you’ve got satellite transmission and connection but having a melting pot of technicians in 150 miles is a large advantage, so I think there is more space for Formula One in Italy, and I would be welcome to see it.

Q: (Sarah Holt - BBC Sport) Hallo. A question to Stefano: I don’t know what Ferrari’s chances of victory are on Sunday after what Sebastian has somewhat surprisingly done today, but would a win here in Monza be enough to appease you after now seeing the championship become almost impossible for you?
SD: I don’t think so. Sorry. I think that for sure if you win in Monza, it’s an important result for the team and for everyone that is feeling that Monza is a particular race but that’s it. For sure, this championship is not really the best one, even if I think we could have won more races this year, to be honest, and the situation would have been different in terms of the championship, in terms of the situation. I can easily remember a couple of them. So we need to take the situation as it is without crying and be sure that the extra races that are from here to the end are very important, because, as I said to all the guys, we need to maximise the points because we are fighting for something, in any case, positions and other stuff and use that to also make sure that we can anticipate some work that can be used for the 2012 project. So, that’s what I feel.

Q: (Fabrizio Corniati - Mr Domenicali, correct me if I’m wrong but it seems that in this race you are again using the old suspension which you were using again in Spa and not the new one which you used at Silverstone for example and which seemed to reduce the problems of getting tyres up to temperature, which had been a problem for you throughout the season. Could you explain the reasons for this choice?
SD: It’s true, we are also not using that new… well, that different suspension but the reason is different. For sure our engineers believed that with these track conditions, that kind of suspension is not helping to improve the car otherwise we would be stupid not to use it, so that’s the reason why we chose the other solution.


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2012 Race Drivers

Sebastian Vettel
Mark Webber
Lewis Hamilton
Jenson Button
Fernando Alonso
Felipe Massa
Michael Schumacher
Nico Rosberg
Kimi Räikkönen
Romain Grosjean
Paul di Resta
Nico Hulkenberg
Kamui Kobayashi
Sergio Perez
Daniel Ricciardo
Jean-Eric Vergne
Pastor Maldonado
Bruno Senna
Heikki Kovalainen
Vitaly Petrov
Pedro de la Rosa
Narain Karthikeyan
Timo Glock
Charles Pic

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