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Formula 1: United States Grand Prix

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Open Wheel Racing Topics:  United States Grand Prix

Formula 1: United States Grand Prix

Flavio Briatore
Christian Horner
Aguri Suzuki
Frank Williams
June 30, 2006


THE MODERATOR: The press conference with the team principals is about to start. The back row, our right to left, Christian Horner and Aguri Suzuki. Front row, Pat Symonds, representing Flavio Briatore, who has been unavoidably detained, and Frank Williams.
Thank you, indeed, gentlemen, for coming.
Aguri, if I could ask, there have been various comments about the importance of Formula One in the USA. We'll give Pat time to formulate his answer on this one. Various comments about Formula One in the USA, the importance of it. Perhaps without going into the why's and wherefore's of the original quote, we can come up with how important Formula One is in the USA. How important the USA is to Formula One?
AGURI SUZUKI: I think Formula One is worldwide game. Of course, in the United States, is very important in Grand Prix, but here last year and this year. But I want to continue in Grand Prix here. Especially I have factory here near. Is many my employees coming here. I want to continue Grand Prix especially here, yeah.
But last year, a little bit problem in the Grand Prix. But I hope in this year, is a good Grand Prix here also.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Aguri.
Christian, I guess it's pretty important for your parent company.
CHRISTIAN HORNER: Absolutely, for Red Bull it's an important event. You know, it's obviously their single biggest market. For us to have a Grand Prix in the US is important for us. Red Bull have invested in the US driver's search, which Scott Speed is obviously a product of. I think it's positive for Formula One to have, you know, a good young rookie in the sport as well.
You know, I hope this weekend that we can put on a good show and good some way for making up for the embarrassment of last year.
PAT SYMONDS: Well, as Renault, we don't actually sell cars in North America, but nevertheless it's a World Championship. I think that North America is a very important part of the world. Our audience is worldwide, no matter where we're racing. But I think if we want to call it a true World Championship, North America is a very important part of that world.
FRANK WILLIAMS: It's the same as everyone has said so far. The world's largest economy by an enormous amount. Money is required very much in Formula One. Three of our main sponsors are from the USA, and we very much need presence here.
Anyone up for two Grand Prixs in the USA?
FRANK WILLIAMS: I think Bernie is the only man that can tell you what will possibly happen or not. It's been pointed out to me by some people much more clever than me, any real chance it needs to be what the Americans call a destination resort area.
Now some individual questions for you. Aguri, the new car announced coming to the German Grand Prix, can you tell us just one car, how many cars, how much testing beforehand, et cetera?
AGURI SUZUKI: No, is normally if I bring a new car, it's basically two car I bring in Grand Prix. But is normal plan, so we bring in French Grand Prix, next Grand Prix. But three weeks ago our wind tunnel is broken, one week delay in schedule, because our new car is in Germany. But if we bring new car, I'm sure two car bringing in Grand Prix.
THE MODERATOR: How much of it is new?
AGURI SUZUKI: It's very difficult to say. Yeah, aerodynamics, suspension and everything.
THE MODERATOR: Everything, chassis?
AGURI SUZUKI: Yeah, new concept car.
THE MODERATOR: How much testing beforehand?
AGURI SUZUKI: Yeah, it's very -- yeah, everybody knows, our team's still very small team, only 120 people working. Is one year to make new car, it's very difficult. But, anyway, two times before the Grand Prix, I want test.
THE MODERATOR: Obviously, Frank Montagny seems to be -- I don't know if he's a permanent second driver now for the rest of the season. He doesn't seem to know.
AGURI SUZUKI: His basic contract is until this race. But I'm very happy to use Frank. And Frank give lot of information. He have lot of experience. I'm quite happy to continue use him, yeah.
THE MODERATOR: So we'll see him at the French Grand Prix?
AGURI SUZUKI: Yes, is very difficult say now. But our team staff, is everybody happy to using Frank I'm sure.
THE MODERATOR: Okay, thanks, Aguri.
Christian, next year, top chassis designer, obviously with Adrian Newey; top engine, which one we don't know, I'm sure you'll have a top engine. Winning driver?
CHRISTIAN HORNER: Obviously the driver situation, our team, both drivers' contracts are up for renewal at the end of the year. We're pretty relaxed about the situation at the moment. We're in a situation where we can afford to wait a little. There's a lot of interest in the market to drive a Red Bull car next year. We're obviously looking very closely at the three guys that we have, you know, competing for us over a Grand Prix weekend.
Yeah, we're very relaxed about the situation, aren't in any particular rush.
THE MODERATOR: British journalists fairly eager to know whether DC will be included in your plans. How much are the plans linked with Toro Rosso being under the same manager?
CHRISTIAN HORNER: First of all, if I deal with the David question, you know, whilst David remains competitive and motivated, you know, he's one of the top drivers out there on a Sunday afternoon. And I think that, you know, we've seen that not only last weekend in Montréal where he drove from the back of the grid to take a point, but also in Monte-Carlo. You know, he's still hungry and still motivated. Obviously we're taking that fully into consideration.
Regarding Toro Rosso, they obviously are a separate team that we share the same parent. They've got two very good youngsters there. But it's not absolutely necessary we look inward. As I say, there's a lot of drivers out there that are keen to drive a Red Bull car next year. We're in a situation that we can afford to wait.
THE MODERATOR: Thanks very much, Christian.
Pat, hurriedly thinking of different questions for you rather than Flavio. From an engineering point of view, possible tire change for the team next year - 'probable' tire change probably that should be. How difficult is that going to be for you as a team?
PAT SYMONDS: It's not easy. I think we've enjoyed the level of support we've had from Michelin over the last few years. But it's a lot easier than it used to be. We have a lot more knowledge of tires these days. We can model tires a lot better these days. And I think because we're not talking about changing to a different tire company and going into a tire war, where the pace of development can be such that it's hard to keep standing on your feet, I don't think it will be as difficult as it may have been.
I'm not underestimating it, but I expect that there will be a relatively simplistic approach to the tires next year. I really hope that, you know, if we start testing with them in December, start to learn a little bit about the characteristics, there's other things you can't model, there's only sort of things you learn from experience, I hope that our learning curve is largely completed by the time we go to the first race.
THE MODERATOR: At the beginning of the season, you talked about pace of development. We talked about pace of development. Have you actually -- you've obviously done a fantastic job because you've managed to stay ahead of all the competition. Have you actually upped the pace of development or has it pretty much been to a program?
PAT SYMONDS: It's reasonably to a program. You set targets in some areas. For example, in the wind tunnel, we set ourselves targets. We set realistic targets. Pretty well we've achieved them. We had a little hiccup earlier in the season, like Aguri, the change we made to our wind tunnel, which took a little bit longer than we expected. We're well back on course now. In fact, caught up with that.
Chassis, tire stuff, you know, it's not quite so programmed. You can't schedule invention, you can only schedule trial. So it's perhaps incorrect to say we have targets in the same way we do with aerodynamics.
But if I look at the overall performance improvements we've made engine, chassis and aerodynamics, we're certainly well on schedule with last year. Last year, I think it was quite reasonable. Might have had a little dip in the middle of the summer, but we pulled out of that. I think we're on those sort of targets again.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you very much.
Frank, sorry to keep you waiting. This year I think we can call you a customer or paying partner - Cosworth is a paying partner or a customer -- you're a customer of theirs. What would be your ideal engine situation?
FRANK WILLIAMS: The answer, if we won in a partnership with a manufacturer, that's clear.
THE MODERATOR: Is that likely in the future?
FRANK WILLIAMS: I couldn't tell you.
THE MODERATOR: Does that mean it hasn't been decided?
FRANK WILLIAMS: I can't say any more.
THE MODERATOR: Overall, are you happy with the direction F1 is going at the moment?
FRANK WILLIAMS: I think Max is absolutely right to force a number of cost-saving measures through. The present cost of racing at the front certainly must be close to being unstainable in the long-term. One or two of his ideas maybe won't work or might be more expensive to introduce than he thinks, but I support him quite strongly.
I know the engine (aboligation?) issue is a major issue with a capital I. Could be trouble over that, but we're keeping below the power. We're not a manufacturer ourselves.
THE MODERATOR: Only three days to go on that, isn't there that, or is it four?
FRANK WILLIAMS: (No response.).
THE MODERATOR: Not saying anything.
In terms of reliability, you've had one or two problems this year. Is it just fighting fires or is it one particular thing?
FRANK WILLIAMS: It's really been very challenging. We've had lots of problems this year, not one or two. I certainly (indiscernible) inflicted as we learn a bit more. We've chosen to introduce rather late in the day a fairly advanced form of transmission. Paid a bit of a price to do so. Poor delivery, if you like, but it's worth it. We're learning as we go. We hope at least for next year, if not the second half of this year, we'll be more reliable and faster.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Frank.
Some questions from the floor, please.

Q. Frank, have you decided about your driver lineup for next year, particularly are you keeping Mark Webber?
FRANK WILLIAMS: We have an option on Mark until the end of July. We'll make our decision before that time.

Q. You haven't made up your mind yet?
FRANK WILLIAMS: If I had, I couldn't possibly tell you, could I, without telling everybody else at the same time?

Q. We could always get lucky, couldn't we?
FRANK WILLIAMS: (No response.)

Q. Pat, you've obviously had a chance to look at the tires. Any concerns at all?
PAT SYMONDS: No, not really. A chance to look at the tires. We obviously only had a chance to look at them externally. They do look in good shape. On our cars, we've had no problems whatsoever in the laps we've done this afternoon. The guys who have been running third cars will have their tires cut up today, as we do at every weekend.
But I'm not expecting trouble. You know, we got a big lesson last year. Unfortunately, after the event we fully understood the circumstances that led to the problems of last year. We introduced an awful lot of measures, changes to the tire construction, additional analysis to the car data, new forms of understanding, new test streaks, all sorts of things. So really not anticipating a problem this year.

Q. Christian, how do you balance looking for your drivers next year? One, you have your whole Red Bull driver search program and the drivers in the Red Bull program, but you also maybe want somebody from outside. How do you balance having your Red Bull guys against maybe somebody that's quicker from the outside?
CHRISTIAN HORNER: Quite simply, ultimately we want the best drivers in the car. If the junior program can provide that, then excellent. It's still quite a young program. And obviously Christian Antonio, Scott Peters are the first products of that program.
You know, it's not written in stone that we only have to look at drivers on that program. The way that the current driver market is, you know, we're in a reasonable position that we can really sit back and see how things unfold during the next couple of weeks, make our decisions accordingly.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you very much for coming.

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