Category Archives: Interviews

Newey: Banning DD diffusers won’t help overtaking

Adrian Newey

Adrian Newey

Red Bull aerodynamicist Adrian Newey says that the potential banning of the double-decker diffusers in 2011 will not help overtaking in F1.

Talking at the Watkins Lecture at Autosport International, he said:

“I don’t think [double diffusers] affected the overtaking. It gave us more downforce and made the cars about a second a lap quicker. That doesn’t change whether the car’s going to overtake or not, there’s no difference in the aerodynamic wake which is what affects the ability of the car behind to overtake.”

Also, he believes that the sport should not get back into the habit of “piecemeal modifications” during the 1998-2008 technical era:

“The regulations we had for 2009 were the subject of a lot of research by the Overtaking Working Group. It’s questionable whether they worked or not, but the process, I think, was correct.”

“What’s now happening is we’ve gone back to these piecemeal modifications – banning double diffusers or getting rid of barge boards. For me, it’s very frustrating that it’s not being thought out. [It needs] a clear goal and proper research.”

“So often in Formula 1, things are changed with very little research.”

Also, he has concerns about the banning of refuelling for the 2010 season:

“I think the ban on refuelling is another example of that where… maybe it will be good for the racing, but it was not thought out. Some people thought “we could save a £100,000 here by cutting the cost of flying the refuelling rigs around the world. But if that destroys the spectacle and the racing becomes more boring as a result of that and people start turning their televisions off, then that wasn’t £100,000 well saved.”

Sutil: 2010 a big opportunity

Adrian Sutil

Adrian Sutil

Adrian Sutil, driver for Force India, thinks that 2010 can be a huge opportunity for him and his team.

In an interview with Formula1.com, he says that Force India can now be an established team:

“It feels very good to be a competitive team in Formula One. The 2009 season was one of the most important seasons for us. We were able to make a name for ourselves in F1 with constantly good performances and a few huge surprises. Now it’s important to continue our good work and try to be even more competitive in 2010.”

“What probably was a shortfall in the past is now turning into a big advantage for us right now, as we are used to working within a small budget and with less people. We can fully concentrate on our development, as we used to do over the last few years, without having to shift energy into various downgrades. Other teams need to learn – probably painfully – how to work efficiently with less people and a reduced budget. That could take a little while and so 2010 could be a big opportunity for us.”

Speaking about the new car, the VJM3, he said:

“The whole team is hard at work developing the best car possible and it looks very, very promising right now. For sure the new rules are a big challenge for everybody, so to make a clear statement about how good we have been in interpreting those new regulations we will have to wait until the first test in Jerez, where I will drive the VJM3 for the first time.”

Talking about his schedule before the season begins, he stated:

“The whole team is hard at work developing the best car possible and it looks very, very promising right now. For sure the new rules are a big challenge for everybody, so to make a clear statement about how good we have been in interpreting those new regulations we will have to wait until the first test in Jerez, where I will drive the VJM3 for the first time.”

Horner: Continuity crucial for Red Bull (includes video)

Christian Horner

Christian Horner

Red Bull team prncipal Christian Horner has said that driver, engine and staff continuity is crucial to Red Bull’s charge for the championship this year.

The team is the only one to keep both its drivers for 2010: Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber. The engine will continue to be supplied from Renault, and there are few changes at the staff.

Speaking at the AUTOSPORT International show, he said:

“So we are probably one of the only big teams that has not had a change, and there is always that settling down period, especially with the restricted testing, that drivers who change teams or new drivers coming into teams are going to be under pressure to get up to speed quickly.”

“We have the benefit of continuity, but obviously the other teams are quality teams and world class drivers and I am sure by the time we arrive in Bahrain they will all be in good shape. “

Horner is adamant that the decision to skip the first test session, to give them more development time, will not be a disadvantage.

“Strategically it is something that we looked at, and it is something that you look at when you look at the planning of the car,” he said. “It was something we elected to do in 2009, to give the designers, Adrian [Newey] and his team as much time as possible, to optimise the launch car.”

“Last year it poured with rain for three days at Parc Algarve, and we don’t have good enough weather satellites to say it is going to do the same in Valencia. But it is a strategy we have adopted.”

“We believe it gives us the best preparation for the first race in Bahrain, and the season ahead. It is a long campaign, 19 races this year, so rightly or wrongly that is our decision. It is an aggressive route to take. It has always been part of our strategy and we will hit the ground running at the second test in Jerez.”

Speaking about the team’s decicion to keep Renault engines for this year, he said:

“I don’t think the engine decision made any difference at all to our planning. There was obviously some discussions with Mercedes-Benz during the latter part of the summer, but as soon as it was clear what our engine choice was going to be, it hasn’t compromised anything in any way.”

A video of the full interview is available here:

Massa had quizzed Piquet about Crashgate

Felipe Massa and Nelson Piquet Jr

Felipe Massa and Nelson Piquet Jr

Nelson Piquet's staged crash at Singapore 2008

Nelson Piquet's staged crash at Singapore 2008

Felipe Massa has revealed that he had quizzed Nelson Piquet Jr and Flavio Briatore about the events at the 2008 Singapore GP, even before the scandal had broken out.

In Singapore 2008, Nelson Piquet crashed 2 laps after Fernando Alonso had pitted, and brought out the safety car. This gave a huge advantage to Alonso, who went on to win the race. Massa, who had been leading and dominating the race, pitted when the safety car was over, but a disasterous pit stop meant he finished last. Felipe later lost the championship to Lewis Hamilton by a single point.

However, Massa says that he had always been skeptical about Piquet’s crash, even before the scandal broke out this year. At a Ferrari media event, he said:

“I spoke to him, yeah. I spoke to him before [it became public],” said Massa. “We were going together to drive go-karts in Italy and I asked him about Singapore – I wanted to hear the right story because I was thinking that the combination [of events] was so perfect [for Renault], what happened in that race.”

“And he was laughing, he didn’t want to say the truth. I said ‘okay, you’re laughing, but I understood. Maybe one day we’ll speak again’. And after one month or less, the story came back in the press.”

“I even spoke to Flavio about that in Bahrain last year. I asked Flavio about Singapore and he said ‘no, no, it’s impossible’ and he was even trying to laugh sometimes.”

However, even though he probably lost the championship because of it, he does not wish to revisit the incident.

“But if I spoke to them after I knew? It didn’t change anything,” said Massa. “Why should I go there and speak? We will not go back to the past. We need to think about the present and the future. The past is the past.”

“Everybody knows what happened in 2008. I don’t think we’re going to win anything by going back through all these problems. For sure it was very frustrating what was happening in that race, and it changed many things around the championship.”

“But anyway, we need to think forward. I hope these things don’t happen anymore – for the sport, not just the business. I hope we’ll go back to fighting for the championship and I hope I can be a champion one day. That’s the way I’m thinking.”

Vettel not concerned about testing absence

Sebastian Vettel has said that he is not concerned about Red Bull missing the first F1 2010 test, in Valencia. On the contrary, he believes that the extra time spent in the wind tunnel will pay off in the long run.

In an interview with the Formula1.com website, he said:

“Sure it’s disappointing. But we will have 12 days of testing for the new car, which is plenty of time. It’s much better to spend time in the windtunnel and on the design of the new car, so I am perfectly happy with this.”

Regardless of this absence from the first test, Vettel is still aiming for a world championship this year.

“It’s my target to win the championship as soon as possible,” he said. “It is why I am here and, as always, I will give my best and fight until the very end. It’s very difficult to predict anything before testing has even started, but after the first race in Bahrain we will know more. I want to be the best of all. 2009 was a good year for me, and now I am working very hard to make this new season even better.”

He appears to have lost none of his competitive nature, adding:

“Out on the circuit everybody is your ‘enemy’, it doesn’t matter who it is. In the end you have to beat them all.”

Coulthard: Schumacher will still be ruthless

David Coulthard at the Autosport International

David Coulthard at the Autosport International

David Coulthard has warned the younger generation of Formula 1 that Michael Schumacher’s ruthlessness may surprise them this year.

The Scotsman has had several infamous clashes with the German, such as in Belgium 1998. He believes that Michael’s tough tactics may be an eye-opener for the younger drivers.

Speaking at the Autosport International Show in Birmingham, he said:

“Well, Michael is an incredible champion in F1. He has won 90-odd grands prix and seven world championships. So I would be surprised if he is surprised that F1 is difficult.”

“I actually think it will be more the other way. I think the young generation will be surprised just how ruthless Michael can be to achieve his goals. That is the thing I am curious to see – does he still have that last little killer instinct that made Michael such a dominant force in F1 before?”

Also, Coulthard admits he is fascinated to see how he gets on, after spending 3 years on the sidelines. He had previously said he never expected him to return, after 2006.

“I am surprised,” he explained. “Three years out of F1. He has been off doing motorbikes and all sorts of other things, but to come back and sign a three-year contract to comeback at 41 years old – that is tremendously exciting for motorsport in general.”

“He is a great champion, seven world championships, and he is a generation ago. Now he is coming back and mixing with all these young guys in their young twenties. I think it is fulfilling for guys like Lewis Hamilton who never had the chance to go wheel-to-wheel with Michael.”

“And however tough Michael has been in the past, there is nothing quite like trying to argue over the apex with Schumacher because he defined the whole new era of motor racing.”

“So I am curious to know will he be as aggressive and ultimately as quick as he was in the main part of his first career.”

Domenicali: Alonso can beat Schumacher

Stefano Domenicali

Stefano Domenicali

Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali (he’s popular today isn’t he?) has claimed that Fernando Alonso can beat Michael Schumacher, provided Ferrari can give him the car that he needs.

After the Schumacher domination years of 2000-2004, Alonso broke the German’s streak with back-to-back championship wins, which included the titanic battle between the two in 2006. Michael retired at the end of 2006, but he is finally back, and will put the challenge to Alonso.

“Everyone will look at Michael as very strong of course,” said Domenicali during Ferrari’s traditional winter ski event. “As Michael decided to address this challenge he is convinced he will have a car which can give him the possibility to show once again the driver that he is.

“Last year when we tackled the issue of substituting Felipe [Massa] we thought about him because we are convinced that Michael is an extraordinary, very strong driver. From this point of view, Fernando has all that is necessary to defeat him.

“But a driver can be the best in the world but without the best tools, even the best in the world will have problems winning. It will be up to us to give him the right car.”

Regarding the battle between team-mates Alonso and Felipe Massa, he said:

“If by explosive you mean a couple of drivers that are strong, aggressive, competitive and have the ambition to win, this is the minimum goal that Ferrari must have together with its drivers,” said Domenicali when asked about the potential for intra-team fireworks.

“Let’s not forget that our characteristic has always been putting the interest of the team at the core of everything, both Felipe and Fernando know what our context is, how they have to move and the rules of our team.

“When you have strong drivers you have to manage them, this is true, but what is most important is to give them a car which may be a winning car or a competitive car from the start, and they will be able as professional as they are to take it to the end of races in the best possible position.

“I tackle things calmly. The rules are very clear: whoever comes to Ferrari knows where they are working and they appreciate how we work.

“In the case of Felipe and Kimi [Raikkonen], in one year one driver was ahead of the other, in the second year the opposite happened, and so there was a form of respect.

“To be the fastest doesn’t only depend on oneself, it depends on the context, on races which come out in a specific way which allow you to tackle the championship or lead you to help your team-mate to win the championship. This is something that from the outside people try to generate competition within our team and to attack us on this front, but it is more rational and calm that what might appear from abroad and the outside.”

He believes the atmosphere has already improved within the team, saying: “It’s a sparkling environment. It’s like a gush of fresh air which brings new stimuli.” This may be construed as a shot against former driver Kimi Raikkonen.

Campos insists he will make it to the grid

Adrian Campos

Adrian Campos

The boss of the new team Campos Meta 1, Adrian Campos, has denied speculation concerning his team’s finances, and insists his team will make the grid in Bahrain.

In an interview with BBC Sport, he said that, while he was looking for more money, he would make it to the first race. Sources indicate that A1GP boss Tony Teixeira is interested in buying a stake in the team.

The Italian car constructor, Dallara, also confirmed that Campos was up to date with its payments.

“It is not true, not from our side at least [that Campos are behind on payments],” said Dallara chief executive officer Andrea Pontremoli. “We are still proceeding to build the car and it has passed its crash tests.”

Campos has also talked about his second driver decicion. The team appears to be expecting funds from this new driver, which indicates that they want a pay-driver. Two names that Campos admit they are in talks with are Vitaly Petrov and Pastor Maldonado. There appears to be a third driver in the mix, but Adrian would not say who he was.

The idea of Zoran Stefanovich buying out the team, to rename it Stefan GP, appears to have also been ruled out, with Campos saying:

“I don’t want to sell my part of the team and I will remain the team principal – the condition to be a shareholder is to accept all the existing contracts.”

Domenicali hints at further 2010 rule changes

Stefano Domenicali

Stefano Domenicali

Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali has hinted at further changes to the F1 2010 rules, and possibly thr new points system.

Apart from this, he wants a cheaper KERS to return by 2011, downforce to be reduced once again, and possible compulsory pit stops.

He also believes the strongest teams in 2010 will be Mercedes, Red Bull, McLaren and Ferarri. Below is the full interview:

A statement from Ferrari afterwards reads as follows:

“As far as the changes regarding the rules are concerned Domenicali said that the F1 Commission will meet on 1 February, ahead of the foreseen agenda, to give the world of F1 the time to assimilate the novelties, which will be discussed and made official. There will be further modifications of how the points in the Championship will be assigned and possible changes regarding the show’s improvement on the agenda. Asked about the safety level on the track with cars filled with petrol Stefano replied: “I don’t think that more petrol on board will be dangerous, but it will be the different number of pit stops and the consequential congestion of the pit lane, which will make the difference.”

Rosberg expects equality with Schumacher

Nico Rosberg

Nico Rosberg

Nico Rosberg is confident that him and Michael Schumacher will be on “equal footing” in the Mercedes team next year.

Schumacher has a history of being favoured over his team-mate, most notably with Rubens Barrichello in Ferrari from 2000 to 2005. However, Nico does not believe such an occurence will happen in Mercedes. In an interview with Fox Sports, he said:

“We are on an equal footing, it’s always been like that at Mercedes – that’s their philosophy.”

“Your team-mate is the driver you always compare yourself to because he has the same car. That’s why my aim is to be in front of him as often as possible.”

However, he is certainly in a fighting mood, when he talked to Salzburger Nachrichten. He said: “Of course I want to beat any teammate, that’s the direct confrontation, the driver has the same equipment. A little egotism is involved here.”

Rosberg has yet to win a race, but has shown fine form in a sometimes poor Williams over the years. He was one of the first drivers to announce that he would be at the first test in Valencia.

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