Following the team orders storm which rocked the German Grand Prix, Stefano Domenicali once again faced the world media in the company of Renault’s Eric Boullier, Red Bull’s Christian Horner and HRT’s Colin Kolles.
TEAM PRINCIPALS: Eric BOULLIER (Renault), Stefano DOMENICALI (Ferrari), Christian HORNER (Red Bull), Colin KOLLES (HRT)
Q: First of all, can we have a run-down of how things have gone today. Colin, would you like to start.
Colin KOLLES: Well, we had some technical issues but we managed to go through the programmes. I think that Sakon (Yamamoto) did a good job. He drove almost the same lap time as Bruno (Senna). We will see tomorrow how he will perform. Traditionally on Fridays we are not as competitive as we are during the race or during the qualifying. In qualifying we should be closer and also in the race.
Q: Eric, interesting to see Vitaly Petrov ahead of Robert Kubica. Maybe there is a good reason for it?
Eric BOULLIER: There is a good reason. Today went as we planned and expected. We had a couple of updates to test and we did some back-to-backs to make sure. Vitaly did a very good lap in the second practice today but the conditions were a bit different with Robert’s, so at least now we know exactly where we are and where we are standing.
Stefano DOMENICALI: I think today was pretty intense for us. We had the first session where we needed to test a lot of things also for the future races because of the break that will be effective immediately, starting for us in seven days. Then we did the programme for today and it seems that, apparently, the situation is not too bad. But I have seen Red Bull in great shape and I think that here the situation is that maybe some others were covered in terms of their performance and we discover it tomorrow.
Q: Christian, interesting to see quite a margin really for Sebastian Vettel.
Christian HORNER: First of all congratulations to the Hungaroring on its 25th anniversary. It is obviously quite an achievement. The track has produced some great racing over the years, so congratulations to them. Today was a good day for us. We worked through our programme. We have had no major issues. Both drivers are pretty happy with the car. The circuit has evolved pretty quickly and the times are significantly quicker than 12 months ago, maybe that’s because it is a little cooler here today. But, generally, it has been a good day. Both drivers looked at different set-ups and evaluated different components which has given us a good amount of data to look at tonight.
Q: For the two of you in the front row. There has been a certain amount of controversies recently. Turkey, for example, where two drivers do race together and Hockenheim where they don’t necessarily. You seem to have different ways of managing your two drivers. Is that correct to say? Christian, what is your strategy?
CH: Our strategy in Istanbul, rightly or wrongly, was we let the drivers race. A lot has been made over the last week. Obviously it has not been the most comfortable of weeks for Stefano, but what happened, happened and we will continue to work in a way to try and support the drivers as fairly as we can. Inevitably like we saw in Silverstone sometimes you are going to have a component that you are going to have to make a decision on but we will do our best to try and support both drivers as equally as we can. We have had updates brought here which have gone to both sides of the garage and the team continue to do a fantastic job in ensuring we do treat the drivers as equally as possible.
SD: In that respect I share what Christian has said. The only thing I can say is that in terms of our drivers I just want to say once again it is not a problem of being first and second driver. It is just the fact that we consider Formula One as a team sport with two very strong personalities and this is part of our philosophy. Considering that there was a decision of the stewards and that the situation has to be discussed in the World Council I cannot speak on what has happened last week. We need to move on and we need to be focused on this job here in Hungary.
Q: Eric, would you prefer to have that problem of having two equal drivers or are you very happy with the drivers that you have?
EB: Actually I am very happy with both my drivers as they are very equal.
Q: Even though one is much more experienced than the other?
EB: Of course it makes the situation a little bit easier as I have got one rookie driver and one experienced driver. Sometimes they can maybe be matched together but obviously the most experienced driver is in front of the rookie one which is completely normal.
Q: Colin, what is your driver policy for the rest of the year as you have got three drivers.
CK: We have four. As we always said we have four drivers and we will use all the four drivers.
Q: Do you know what the policy is for the rest of the season?
CK: I know yes, what the policy is.
Q: Are you going to tell us?
Q: So will we see Christian Klien back in the car?
CK: That’s a possibility.
Q: Lots has been said about team orders. Are you in favour of team orders? Do you think the rule should be changed? Do you think it is an out-dated rule? How should it be applied? Colin, would you like to start.
CK: Well, I think that the team’s interest comes first. What I also think is that maybe each team is managing it in its own way, so maybe my way would be different to manage it as it would be some other team is doing it. I don’t think to do it so obvious is the right way.
EB: I agree with Colin. We have to work for the team’s interests first. It is very clear that the team has to come first. It can happen when both your drivers are first row or clearly fighting for the lead of the race. I don’t think there is a need to have a clear team order as normally common sense should be predominant on the situation and that’s it. Nothing else to say.
Q: Stefano, is the rule out of date?
SD: You understand what I said before. The team is a very important thing. That is all I can say at the moment.
Q: Do you feel that the rule should be changed?
SD: It is a matter for discussion. If I may say, we do not need to be cosmetic. If this is the point, then for sure there is something that has to be addressed.
CH: It is a difficult question as what constitutes a team order at the end of the day? I think the regulations as they currently sit are relatively clear, rightly or wrongly. Hence the situation Ferrari find themselves in which is an issue between them and the FIA. But a discussion inevitably will need to take place. The regulation was introduced for a reason. If it is say a rule that cannot be policed then the effectiveness of that rule has to be questioned. Today that rule exists and it is very much an issue for the governing body.
Q: Another slightly contentious thing at the moment are flexible front wings. What is your view on those.
CK: We don’t have them.
Q: But you wish you did?
CK: I wish.
EB: I think the FIA has already cleared the answer by let’s say by giving the go-ahead of the legality about the suspicious…about any flexible wings. I think we have to work in a different way to understand what the front row here is doing to clear ourselves as a technical point on this.
SD: For me, it is not a matter of opinion. We need to rely on the governing body that is doing all the checks that they want. They did, at least I can say on our car, so it is a matter of respecting the regulations and really that’s it.
Q: What do you understand what you can or cannot do?
SD: There are certain tests that you have to do with the front wing as you can do with other parts of the car and you have to respect the loads and the tests that are connected to that part specifically and if you pass that, then that’s done.
Q: There was a front wing analysis on television this morning by an FOM cameraman. It was very interesting for us to see how much movement there was in certain front wings. Christian, your view?
CH: I endorse everything that Stefano has said. There are compliance tests which are pretty stringent that all components have to meet. It is interesting where the emphasis moves. So far this year we have had active ride height, we have had suspension, we have had diffusers looked at. We have had front wings. As always there is never a silver bullet. The performance of any car comes down to how design philosophy and a combination of components work as opposed to any one particular component. There are stringent tests. I am happy that our car complies with all the regulations and take it as a compliment to our engineers when a fuss like this is sometimes made by rival teams.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Ralf Bach R & B) A question for all four. In your opinion what is more important, to follow the team interests or to respect existing regulations?
CH: That is a very good question.
SD: On my side, I think both.
CH: At the end of the day the team should be bigger than any individual. Everybody works for the team, everybody works for the interests of the team. Drivers, all members whether that is technicians, mechanics, engineers, team principals, technical directors, no one individual should be bigger than the team.
Q: But my question was about the regulations.
CH: It is an interesting question as sometimes you have a conflict of interest where perhaps the team’s interest is different to the driver’s interests. But each team will address that differently. The regulations are clear and, like it or not, they are the regulations that we abide by.
EB: You can have a different interpretation but at the end of the day you need to make it clear and be in line with the governing body. Basically you need to stick to the rules and then think about the team’s interests.
CK: Well, you can compare it to with the flexible wings. There are flexible wings that comply with the regulations. You can make team orders which comply also maybe with the regulations.
Q: (Michael Trawniczek Rally & More) I have a question for Mr Domenicali. I have a friend who likes to bet a lot of money and he is a big fan of Felipe Massa. He thinks he can win this grand prix, so can I phone him and tell him he can bet a lot of money on Felipe?
SD: I think you can tell him, because I never bet, it is up to him to bet his money. He doesn’t ask to me what he has to do.
Q: (Joe Saward Grand Prix Special) Gentlemen, Christian just described the team orders’ issue as being between Ferrari and the FIA. Surely it’s between all the Formula One teams and the fans. What do you have to say about that?
SD: If I may start with this, I think that we are in Formula One for a long time. We don’t have to have short memories. We need to be realistic and put the facts as they are. That’s what I would say about that. Sometimes it seems that we apply more pressure, as I said before, on cosmetics rather than other subjects. I think that it’s a matter of principle. We believe that it’s a team sport and this is the fundamental point, to be honest with you. Then all the other voices, as I said, in my view there’s no reason to discuss.
CH: I’m sure everybody’s got an opinion, but at the end of the day, the FIA are the regulator, they have all of the facts, they have facts that probably aren’t in the public domain, so that’s why you have to rely on the governing body, that’s their job and I’m sure they will deal with the issue as they see fit. It’s irrelevant for us, it doesn’t involve my team or any of the other teams. It’s an issue between the FIA and Ferrari.
EB: If I understand your question, it’s related to the fans’ reaction compared with some possible team orders?
Q: (Joe Saward Grand Prix Special) Should the Formula One teams listen to what the fans are saying? It depends a little bit on which country but the predominant reaction is not positive for what was done. Should Formula One be worried about that rather than worrying about the question of Ferrari and the FIA sorting it out? Should Formula One as a whole be thinking what do the fans want to see?’
EB: I think F1 already discussed many times the fans by doing some surveys which I guess the first meaning of this act is to listen to some fans and fans’ wishes, so yes to your question. We should listen to the fans and make sure that the fans are happy.
CK: Cycling is alsoâ€¦ the Tour de France is also a team sport and there are some fans who like cycling. I think team orders are fine with me as long as they are according to the regulations. I think the team is the number one and then come the other interests. Obviously there are regulations, and if somebody feels that the regulations have been breached, then this is not for us to decide. This is the point. If a fan would understand that team orders are allowed, you have it in cycling, you have it also maybe in other sports. This is my point of view.
Q: (Livio Oricchio O Estado de Sao Paulo) Question is to Domenicali: on one side you have Alonso overtaking Felipe and you get seven points more for Alonso. On the other side you have the country of Felipe, Brazil, and this country has Fiat, Shell, Santander where they have maybe one of the strongest markets for them. And this country has millions of people suggesting that they will never buy Fiat cars any more, Shell fuel and use a bank account. Which solution do you prefer? The seven points more for Alonso, or to face the situation in the country?
SD: As I said, we need to be cool when we discuss these things. We don’t have to bring it to an emotional point. In my view, I would say that no one can say that Ferrariâ€¦ no one more than Ferrari has supported Felipe, every time, all the time. As I said, we go back to short memories. A couple of races ago, a lot of people in this room were pushing us to say what’s it all about, what is happening and we always said, no, no, Felipe’s a great driver, he’s a great man, for sure he wants to win because it’s what we want and we want to see him as part of the team because we are feeling for him. So no one can say Ferrari has done anything to Felipe. We always support him, we feel a lot for him. I don’t want to follow this because I don’t think it is correct and I don’t want that people have short memories, because that is wrong, in life and in sport.
Q: (Fredrik Af Petersens) You are all talking about how you see Formula One as a team sport; in 2002 I asked Michael (Schumacher) and Rubens (Barrichello), why do we have an individual World Championship for Drivers? They didn’t give me an answer. Perhaps you four can give me an answer: why do we have a Drivers’ championship?
CH: I think we’ve made it very clear that we let both of our drivers compete for that championship, so rightly or wrongly, we’ve let our drivers race. We will continue to employ that strategy, but you do have two championships and Drivers’ and Teams’ both carry the same significance, I would say.
EB: If I may there is a Constructors’ championship, so it’s up to us to back the best of our drivers to win both the Drivers’ and the Constructors’ championship.
SD: Yes, the same.
CK: The same. I think the Constructors’ championship is a very crucial one, to be honest with you. It’s very important from a financial point of view. You don’t gain anything out of the Drivers’ championship. You gain, of course, a lot of reputation and maybe indirect sponsorship or whatever but the fact is that the Constructors’ championship is more valuable for a team than the Drivers’ championship.
Q: (Fulvio Solms Corriere dello Sport) Stefano, may you sincerely explain to us this double speed of Ferrari: slow and defensive with the international media and fast and aggressive on the tracks and in the interpretation of technical and sporting regulations?
SD: I don’t know if it’s slow on one side and fast on the other. For sure our main objective is to try, at least, to be fast on the track and this is the most important thing. This year is a tough championship, no doubt. I think that, as I said before, if you divide all the races that we have done up to now, we suffered by not gaining the points that we should have taken, for many reasons, and I think that we found ourselves in a situation where in terms of developing, we were slowing down a little bit, where we were expecting something more, mainly connected to the F-duct development. Then after that I think that when we realised that we were focusing more on the other technical developments related to the other parts of the car, so we gained performance. But I would say, going back to the short memories, to stay cool. Every race is different. We have seen that how, if you look back at the last couple of races, how things can change very quickly. So the only thing that we have to do is really to make sure that we push hard in all areas, because the competition is very, very strong but with these kind of points, everything can happen because if you have a problem and then you are able to be there and take the points, then everything is possible. The other way to do it is to be very pushy in all areas.
Q: (Byron Young The Daily Mirror) Stefano, is there any concernâ€¦ you lost Rubens Barrichello because he felt that he’d been treated as a second class driver, a number two driver in your team. Is there any concern now that Felipe Massa might feel the same way and you might lose a very talented driver over the next couple of years?
SD: No, no, I don’t think so. No, I don’t think so because Felipe, as I said, we have always been very happy about Felipe. We were helping on the personal side, on the professional side, we are proud of him and we don’t change our view. I think that the philosophy of his life is really part of our spirit and we respect that and I think that he respects (that) too. At this moment, when you are surrounded by a lot of people that are pushing you, friends, real friends, friends that are not real friends, people that are saying to you something and when you turn your back they say the opposite. It’s normal that you react with this kind of energy. It’s important that this energy has to be not negative but it has to be positive, positive for him, because that’s part of the game, very positive for him once again, as I said, but also positive for the team, because that was also on his statement, so honestly I don’t think so.
Q: (Byron Young The Daily Mirror) Just following up on that, why would Felipe Massa want to help you win the World Championship when you don’t want to help him win the World Championship?
SD: I think that once again, short memories, because I think that if you remember, our philosophy was really to try to make sure that our drivers would have the right chance at the right moment and I think that you can remember what has happened in the past, so that’s it.
Q: (Peter Farkas Auto Motor) Actually this is a follow-up, I know it’s getting boring but I still have to ask it. We’ve heard the question that maybe the teams should listen to the fans a bit more but can we ask it the other way round? Maybe the fans should listen to the teams a bit more, because obviously there is a view that Formula One was always a team sport basically but people really don’t seem to understand it. Do you think that really the teams together should make a bit more effort to convince people that it’s a team sport, because there have been team orders before they were banned and there are team orders since they are banned, so there’s no real point in them being in the regulations. It’s really the fact that team orders are unpopular, so even if they do it, they will not always openly admit to it, so?
SD: Otherwise I speak alone. We do a press conference…
CH: It’s a good question. You have to listen to the fans. The fans do want to see wheel-to-wheel racing but a lot again comes down to the regulations and explaining the regulations and the practicality of those regulations. So I think it’s something that the teams, together with the governing body, need to really learn from the events of last weekend and come up with perhaps a revision or clarity, moving forwards.
Q: (Peter Farkas Auto Motor) Will it change anything because team orders will still be used and will be unpopular?
CH: As I said earlier, I think it depends on what constitutes a team order at the end of the day.
Q: (Jonathan Legard BBC Sport) Just on that, Christian, is there a case then for just saying team orders are legal? Because there seems to be a contradiction because you’ve all said, and everyone has said pretty much, that team orders are part of the fabric of Formula One and yet they are banned. You have your own unwritten law and yet there is the law in the Formula One rule book.
CH: We have got a slight contradiction here in that if you look across the different decades of Formula One, whether it was Stirling Moss, Niki Lauda coming through to the more recent eras, Formula One has been a team sport. This regulation was introduced for a purpose to try and avoid obviously what happened in 2002. Generally it’s been pretty effective but obviously situations still exist and I think it’s an issue that does need to be revisited. It has perhaps been tested more fully recently but it’s an important issue for Formula One and clarity also for the teams moving forward as to what the future of team orders is. Do they belong in Formula One or don’t they and if they don’t then obviously the rules need absolutely clearly deal with that.
CK: I agreeâ€¦
Q: (Alessandro Berbic Fox TV Serbia) Mr Horner, now in Istanbul and in Silverstone your seat seemed to be the hottest seat of all on the pit wall. Now do you feel relieved or happy or maybe lucky that now you’re not in the position you used to be in?
SD: Let’s wait.
CH: When you’re competitive and running at the front, inevitably the spotlight is on you. We had our issues and people are very quick to form opinions about those issues. The Ferrari guys touched each other at Silverstone two weeks earlier but because they were running fifth or sixth or whatever, it wasn’t particularly interesting. So inevitably it will move round and I think it’s McLaren’s turn really to take that spotlight in the next few races!
Q: (Alessandro Berbic Fox TV Serbia) Now here is the second one for Mr Domenicali: since you’ve been at the helm of Ferrari, and since you’ve been leading the team, there have been some criticisms and maybe hard times for either lack of performance or lack of drivers’ performance or whatever but do you feel that this time, for the last five or six days, has been the hardest since you’re the boss of the Ferrari Formula One team, for you, personally?
SD: For me personally? For sure during these days it is really not good to see that after such a fantastic weekend, all the pressure is on that side, but honestly, as I said, it really depends from which side you’re taking your view, because I know that the reaction from the situation in Hockenheim was totally different if you speak with different people, or different countries. For sure it’s something that, as I said, in life, everything has to bring something to anyone. That’s for sure. But in our job, it moves on every day. You never know what is happening tomorrow and we will see.