McLaren’s Eric Boullier joined Toto Wolff and Yusuke Hasegawa in part one in Austria before handing over to Guenther Steiner, Franz Tost and Beat Zehnder.
Eric Boullier (McLaren), Yusuke Hasegawa (Honda), Toto Wolff (Mercedes)
Q: Hasegawa-san, the spec 3 engine was tested in Baku two weeks ago and it’s being used on both car this weekend, can you tell us what you have seen from it so far?
Yusuke HASEGAWA: First of all, we are happy that we had no issues today, so the car is running no problem, so it is very good. It is very early to say the car performance with just the Friday practice running but so far it looks nice.
Q: Fernando is eighth this afternoon, Stoffel Vandoorne is 12th, there must be improvements; can you give us any insight as to where this power unit is a step forward?
YH: I believe so, but of course car performance is not just coming from the PU, so the chassis is also updated and it also depends on circuit characteristics but yeah, from the data point of view the engine also contributed to some of the lap time improvement so we are very happy about that.
Q: Are you telling us not to read too much into this spec 3 engine or can we now say that Honda are now on the right path with power unit development?
YH: I want to tell so, but still it is too early, but definitely are closing up some gap to the front runner but it is not huge enough to catch up the top runner level so still we need to try more.
Q: And just a quick word about Sauber: you announced in Russia the collaboration going forward in 2018. How is that going? How much progress are you making? Have you had engineers in Hinwil looking towards next year’s car?
YH: Yes, of course we have started discussion but obviously we cannot disclose about the actual detailed situation but I can tell you that we have started collaboration already.
Q: Eric, just to look again if we may at the spec 3 engine. Can you tell us what the drivers have been telling you about it today?
Eric BOULLIER: It’s just an evolution of the engine. Clearly there is more performance coming out of the engine, so we can go faster, we have better power and better use of the engine.
Q: So just to clarify, there is performance coming out of the engine?
EB: Yes, this engine is a performance step compared with the other engines we were using before.
Q: First points of the season for the team in Baku, do you feel that things are starting to come together now for McLaren, do you feel that the team and Honda are making progress together?
EB: So obviously it’s already a three-year project. It started from very far from where we would like to be. A little bit of a setback at the beginning of this season but I think we can see now we are back on the right path of activity to get back to the front, where we want to be.
Q: A left field questions but a personal question for you about Robert Kubica. He rates his chances of making an F1 comeback at 80-90%. You know him better than most, what’s you take on seeing him back in a Formula One car again?
EB: I think everybody knows this us one of the biggest dramas in recent years in Formula One. He is a huge talent. He belongs to the top of the top and if he can come back I am sure he will be very welcome here.
Q: Toto, it was a pretty busy day here yesterday with Lewis and Sebastian. We heard from them and it would be good to get some thoughts from you too on what happened in Baku two weeks ago?
Toto WOLFF: I think they closed it yesterday. It is a matter of the two of them. They race each other. Great drivers and Sebastian clarified it all. There’s nothing more to comment on the topic.
Q: Would you agree that their rivalry adds a little bit of spice to what is already a thrilling world championship battle between yourselves and Ferrari?
TW: Yes, you can see that in the audiences. Live audiences and TV audiences are developing in a positive way and I think that the Vettel-Hamilton rivalry for the world championship, as it looks at the moment, definitely contributes to that.
Q: There was another meeting of the engine manufacturers last week. Can you tell us what progress was made during that meeting?
TW: I think it was a good meeting. There were many parties at the table – current suppliers, interested potentials future suppliers, as well as suppliers to all of us current ones, sub-suppliers, and we had a positive discussion. We redefined the main priorities for the next generation of engines. There is pretty much alignment among everybody about how that should be, in order to make the mistakes that we have done go away, and tackle the important topics, so it was a good meeting.
Q: You say there is alignment among you about the direction we should be taking. Can you shed any light on what that direction is?
TW: The main direction is that we don’t want to deploy huge budgets again in inventing a new engine, so the basic concept should stay the same, power to weight ratio is an essential number, we’d like to keep a certain hybrid part, it needs to be affordable for all the teams, in the same way it needs to be affordable for the OEMs that produce the engines, we need to tackle the quality of sound – that is something that we definitely need to tackle without losing the hybrid part. And in addition to that we discussed spec parts or standard parts in order to get the costs down and limit competition in other areas of the engine.
Q: Hasegawa-san can we just get your thoughts on future engine regulations and how you felt the meeting went last week?
YH: Yeah, as Toto mentioned, the meeting was very constructive, so we were discussing about the direction of what we should change. From the car manufacturer point of view, the Formula One power unit should be attractive, with a high level of technology but at the same time it shouldn’t be at a high cost and too much complication should be removed. So in that area we almost agreed about that, just we need to find out the exact solution for that.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Kate Walker – Motorsport.com) Hasegawa-san, from the inside, the fact that you are working with Sauber next year, you continue your relationship with McLaren, it looks to me like you have a long-standing commitment to the sport, but obviously there are lots of stories that say otherwise. Could you please just tell me about your long-term plans and show the extent to which you are committed to Formula One?
YH: Yeah, so obviously we are struggling this season. We are frustrated and we make Eric frustrated but that won’t be a reason to pull out from this society so Honda is committing to this stick to this activity very much and we will try everything to recover this situation.
Q: (Peter Farkas – Auto Motor) Gentlemen, all three of you are here, so I can’t avoid the question. Eric, I read a comment you supposedly made in Baku about that it would maybe an alternative for McLaren just to temporarily switch to another engine manufacturer while Honda sorts it out. Do you think it’s a realistic alternative? Hasegawa-san would Honda be open to a solution like that and Toto would Mercedes be open to solution like that?
EB: I think we have a common answer – no. To the comment – out of context. When I was asked they were asking about a discussion, Hasegawa-san… and Honda are the engine McLaren have and obviously when you say there are three options, somebody pick up one, so, no.
YH: Of course it is not our option, so we don’t want to do that.
TW: If it’s not their option, it’s not my option either.
Q: (Dieter Rencken – Racing Lines) Hasegawa-san, you said almost when you answered the question by the moderators, that you are almost aligned with what Toto had said. So where aren’t you aligned? Is it on the technology side, the cost side, where does the difference lie?
YH: As I mentioned, we haven’t discussed the details, so something like standardizing parts. Maybe it is a good idea to reduce costs but we didn’t fix which parts should be standardised, something like that. Almost we are agreed but we confirm exactly.
Q: (Jerome Pugmire – Associated Press) Toto, Lewis was complaining about power issues. Could you put your finger on that? Is there something to worry about this evening?
TW: Not to worry on the power unit. We ran power unit number one today and it is clear that this is coming to the end of its life, so on that side we haven’t got any worries.
Q: (Livio Orrichio – GloboEsporte) You said it is not an option for you but it can be an option for the new owners of McLaren. The society who is owner of the team has a great change recently. The group McLaren is known by this efficiency and Formula One is a business card of the group and it’s not a good image they are passing. Maybe they think about changing the power unit supplier. Are you prepared for that? Do you have a Plan B, considering what you said about Honda having a long future in Formula One?
YH: Of course we are not prepared for that and we want to keep this collaboration and at this moment there is no other story. Of course this is their option, but we are not considering that option. That is my answer. You should ask Eric about that.
Q: (Jurgen Kemmner – Stuttgarter Nachrichten) A question to all three: do you think it is a good way if Formula One goes completely or mostly into pay TV and the second question is how big or how small is your influence into the negotiations of Liberty Media with the TV stations?
TW: We are not the experts. I think Liberty and its management understand TV inside out and the response to that very important topic was that we need a study for each of the countries that are important for Formula One to evaluate how large the penetration of pay TV really is. There will be markets, such as yours, where pay TV penetration is tiny, a couple of percentage, and it’s clear that if you were to move behind the pay wall you would lose a large part of the audiences and I think the way they tackle it is in a very diligent way, an analytical way and they will decide on each of the territories, they will balance reach versus income. Formula One is not the only sport that needs to ask that question. We have seen that the Champions League had moved behind the pay wall and the consequence is that you are losing reach. It is a very difficult topic.
EB: Nothing much to add. As Toto said, we are not the experts. We are not in charge of this business, so it’s up to Liberty to decide how they want. I think there is a balance as well between free-to-air and pay-per-view. Like you said, some markets it doesn’t work, some markets it works. It also depends on how you also engage with the fans and how you keep the visibility of Formula One outside and there are some other means.
YH: Same as them. I have no strong opinion, because I am not an expert, but obviously increasing the fans and accelerating this activity is very important for us so we will support anything that Liberty wants to do.
Q: (Graham Harris – Motorsport Monday) Question for Hasegawa-san and also Eric, on team principals. Hasegawa-san, you did your negotiations with Monisha at Sauber – could you perhaps give us some of your thoughts about the fact she’s no longer there. You did all your negotiations with her: would it affect relations between Honda and Sauber and have you met the new management that are in there. And Eric, just a quick follow up, now that Ron and McLaren have reached an agreement and there’s a new structure coming into McLaren, are there any plans to appoint a proper team principle like the other teams or is that something that’s planned for the future or not planned for the future?
YH: First of all, I appreciated Monisha’s start in our collaboration – but this is Sauber and Honda’s collaboration so I don’t think there is any effect that Monisha has gone and I cannot make any comment about the inside of the Sauber organisation.
EB: Ron was the CEO of the McLaren Technology Group, OK? McLaren has several companies, y’know? So I don’t know what you mean by ‘proper team principal’ because I don’t know if I have to be upset or not, or offended. I actually got the licence, the FIA licence as team principal. I think it’s the role today of the team principal, compared with the old days, Frank Williams, Ron Dennis and others, has a little bit changed. In our case, McLaren, there is a split between the sporting and the technical and the commercial parts. Zak Brown is in charge of the commercial part, I’m in charge of the sporting and technical.
Q: (Dieter Rencken – Racing Lines) Toto, very, very quick one before I get on to my main question, we spoke about Robert Kubica just now. I believe he did some simulator work for you, what did that simulator work show? Is he actually ready to come back to Formula One as a proper, fully-fledged Formula One driver?
TW: First of all, what Eric said is very true. We all admire Robert, he was one of the great talents, we know him since 15 years, from his very early formula days, and he deserved the spot in Formula One and, on his trajectory, he had that terrible accident rallying, so we would all love to see him back in Formula One. He has been in our simulator a while ago, so that was not most recently but he has done well in some GT cars and sports cars. I believe that driving the Renault in Valencia went quite well and they give him another chance. I personally would love to see Robert back in Formula One.
Q: (Dieter Rencken – Racing Lines) All three of you were at the engine meeting, or had companies represented at the engine meeting on Tuesday, I believe there was something like 37 people around the table, some of them were sub-suppliers but ultimately there were eight or nine OEMs or motor manufacturers involved – is that not too many? What is the right sort of level of engine suppliers? Is it four, is it six, is it nine? Where does that lie? Because we had that in the 2000s. We had seven and very soon one of the German companies left, one of the Japanese left etcetera.
TW: First of all, normally when you have 37 people on a table, the meeting is not great – but as Hasegawa-san said, it was pretty constructive. There were some great companies on the table that we worked with and some really credible independent power unit suppliers as well as us OEMs. The direction the meeting took was really good, was chaired by Jean and I can’t really tell you what the optimum number is. I think we are pretty good at that stage: we have four suppliers; four great brands in Formula One. Obviously it could have more if companies like Red Bull or Williams would have OEM support that would lift them into the next stage, so I’m pretty open for more.
Hasegawa-san, your thoughts?
YH: It’s a difficult question. Maybe four is a little bit less but ten is a bit much – so something in between four to ten, I think.
Eric, be interesting to get your thoughts too?
EB: Well, I was not at the meeting but I think there is another aspect as well, which is to make sure the next generation is simpler, cheaper and allow an independent engine manufacturer to join. So, back to your question, to the number of teams.
Q: (Petr Hlawiczka – F1News . cz) It’s pleasing to see Honda making progress. I would like to ask you how confident are you that you can half the gap to Mercedes until the end of the season. Or is it possible to make even bigger progress, considering what you have in the pipeline?
YH: Of course we try to catch-up them – but at this stage it is very difficult to have confidence about that. We will try our best for that. That is the only thing I can tell now.
Q: (Livio Orrichio – GloboEsporte) To Toto. Toto, your main opponent Ferrari split with the most important engineer in the power unit area. If I were competing in Formula One, if I know my main competitor lost a main brain in one of the areas they most developed the project, I would have happy. What about you?
TW: I don’t know the structure very well. I’ve just read what you told me. I cannot comment what that is. Sometimes you split for the very right reasons because individuals have other opportunities, or because within the structure it doesn’t function, so I don’t feel in the right spot to really comment on a completely Ferrari internal option.
In terms of sport?
TW: In terms of sport, we all are trying to seek advantages on track but I don’t know.
Q: (Peter Farkas – Auto Motor) Toto, moving on from the controversy in Baku between Sebastian and Lewis, how do you think what happened will influence their rivalry during the rest of the season. And do you think Lewis will see it as a weakness that Sebastian was so upset and made that mistake, and he will try to exploit it in some way?
TW: I think the two have a mutual respect for each other. This is how the year started. And it’s clear that when you have such an intense rivalry for race victories or championships, it’s going to have ups and downs and the longer it goes, the more intense it becomes. They both wouldn’t be multiple world champions if there would be great weaknesses, so me, from the outside, I don’t think that the event is going to stay in the drivers’ minds beyond this weekend. They move on.
Q: (Silvia Arias – Parabrisas) Mr Hasegawa, I would love to know if, in the future, it will be possible to see a team 100 per cent Honda? And if it depends on the power unit, the work that you are doing on that?
YH: So far we have an idea to get, to have a team – but of course for the future, so that nothing, anything has happened in Formula One. We have an idea, at all.
Q: (Barna Zsoldis – Nemzeti Sport) Toto, I think we all know how desperately Fernando wants winning car next season. Don’t you think you are in a wonderful position in terms of finance, grabbing him. ‘I mean, if you say, OK Fernando, if you want to win, come to us but I won’t pay you.’
TW: You would be a pretty tough team manager! Without any doubt he’s an important personality in Formula One and a great driver and Honda and McLaren appreciate that. With us at the moment we are really happy with the line-up. And I know it’s not the answer you want to hear but stability is an important factor, the dynamics between the drivers is an important factor and we have no reason to complain.
Q: Toto, when can we expect to hear more about Valtteri’s future?
TW: Valtteri is going a good job but I have been here for a while and I don’t think you should be rushed into a driver decision. The market becomes pretty interesting in 2019 and onwards and you just need to plan ahead what’s happening. That doesn’t mean anything speaks against Valtteri because he’s clearly our favourite, the one we want to stay with us a very long time – but we just need to make up out mind.
Q: (Dieter Rencken – Racing Lines) Hasegawa-san, everybody talks about the McLaren-Honda partnership of the ’80s – but they don’t actually talk about the Williams-Honda partnership of the ’80s. Have you had any discussions whatsoever with Williams recently about a future engine supply?
YH: With Williams? No, not at all. Of course. No. Never.
Q: (Silvia Arias – Parabrisas) You just said Toto that the dynamic is very important between two drivers. Does it mean it’s quite difficult or impossible to have two World Champions in the same team?
TW: No, I don’t think it’s a matter of World Champions or not. It is important that the relationship between the two drivers is very important for the dynamic within the team in order to extract the maximum performance out of the car; in order for joint development, collaboration and also on track, respect. There is many components that play into this. The past, current behaviour – and I don’t mean that in a negative way – but everybody is different and we respect that. This is why we’re trying to put the right combination of personalities together.
Q: Eric, just to follow-up on that, you have two World Champions for the last few years. How was it at McLaren?
EB: Exactly like Toto said. What you want is to have both your drivers working together, to try to emulate each other, to try to extract the best out of the car. In our case with Jenson and Fernando, they were working very well together.
Guenther Steiner (Haas), Franz Tost (Toro Rosso), Beat Zehnder (Sauber)
Q: Franz, if we could start with you please: this afternoon’s troubles aside, the team seems to be enjoying something of a purple patch at the moment. You’ve scored in six of the eight races this year. Just how do you sum up progress so far in 2017?
Franz TOST: So far we’ve had a successful season, apart from Bahrain and Canada. We scored points in every race, at least with one car. We are currently in sixth position in the Constructors’ championship, only four points behind Williams. Our target is fifth place and I’m convinced that with our package, with a strong car, two good drivers and good engineers and also the team doing a perfect job, that we can fight back for fifth position.
Q: So what is going to be the secret to getting that back? Is it the importance of two car points finishes this year?
FT: Of course, if you are with two cars in the points, this helps but it’s also important to have a reliable car and to make some progress, to come up with upgrades, and I hope that our direct opponents will not develop their cars too fast and that we can keep this level and fight successfully against them.
Q: That’s the battle for this year, but if I can just look ahead to 2018, specifically drivers. Carlos told us yesterday in the press conference that he wants to remain within the Red Bull family but a fourth season with Toro Rosso seems unlikely. Is it unlikely?
FT: First of all, this is not a decision of Carlos Sainz. He has a Red Bull contract and Red Bull decides what he will do in the future and I’m a little bit confused about this discussion at this stage of the year because Red Bull has paid and financed the complete career of Carlos Sainz. They paid his Formula BMW season, Formula Renault, then Formula Three, GP3, 3.5 litre World Series and three years in Formula Three and why Red Bull should give him away to any other opponent when they educated him to quite a high level, and I think sometimes reality – also in Formula One – should play an important game and once more, it’s a decision of Red Bull.
Q: Was Carlos speaking out of turn, yesterday?
FT: I don’t know. Must ask him. For me he was quite normal yesterday when I talked to him.
Q: Guenther, if we can come on to you. Like Toro Rosso, you’ve scored regularly this year but the team has 21 points now, when it had 22 points at the same stage of the season last year. Is the competition more intense this year, or how do you explain that?
Guenther STEINER: Yes, I think the competition this year – the midfield – is more compact. I didn’t expect that coming into the season so therefore everybody is closer together and I think we scored, as well, six of the eight races so just less than Toro Rosso but it’s a big battle in there so I think if you go through the points, last year some people were very well advanced already and some were really behind with no points. Yeah, it’s more competitive and now we have to live with that.
Q: Do you think there have been some missed opportunities this year, for the team?
GS: Absolutely. I mean in Australia we were in seventh place, I think, and we had turbo failure but these things happen, you need to get over it and continue to do what you’re doing, so it would look a little bit different with those points, but sometimes you’re lucky, sometimes you’re unlucky and you cannot change it anyway so just get up and get going again.
Q: Get going and try and stop as well. We’ve heard a lot from Romain Grosjean about brakes in recent races, brake problems. What are the issues and what’s being done to overcome the problem?
GS: The issues are inconsistencies in the braking, coming to the conclusion that he normally overheats them, that’s a consequence of the inconsistency of the brakes. We are having some parts here to cool them better so at least we can try to work a little bit. I don’t know if it is enough. It wasn’t enough today but we have got some more up our sleeve for tomorrow to try to do something and then in Silverstone we plan a switch to a different brake supplier and… We haven’t tested them. The first time on the car will be FP1 on Friday at Silverstone and hopefully it all works how it should and we will see what we have got then.
Q: Beat, hello again. Another point for the team in Baku, good race for the team, but there’s still no news about a team principle. When can we expect an announcement?
Beat ZEHNDER: I cannot tell you because we’re still in talks with several candidates and as soon as we have something to announce we will.
Q: How is the vacuum at the top affecting the day-to-day running of the team?
BZ: We have to be realistic, it’s only two weeks since Monisha is not with us any more so everything is still under control.
GS: Beat is there! How do you know it cannot be in control, you know?
BZ: It’s not a big deal for the moment, really. A decision will have to be taken.
Q: Looking further ahead to next year, does that vacuum I’ve just referred to, does it somehow affect the development of next year’s car? Are decisions able to be made without Monisha there?
BZ: Not at the moment. If we haven’t got a team principle in the next half year then it might be a problem but at the moment everything is running smoothly, everything is in order, no problem at all.
Q: And a quick update on progress here at the Red Bull Ring; how was today’s practice session?
BZ: Not very good one, disappointing. We had too many problems, starting with a suspension problem on Marcus’s car which required the gearbox to be removed and fixed. And we had some electric management problems on both cars today and then we are not happy with the tyre temperatures – as always.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Graham Harris – Motorsport Week, Motorsport Monday) Guenther, they say hindsight is 20-20; you’ve now been in Formula One for a year and a half. Looking back at things, the way you set the team up,, would you have done anything differently had you known then what you know now?
GS: You always do. As you say, hindsight is 20-20 and also you always do but there is nothing which we would have done – or I would have done – completely differently. I think our plan is working or as good as it can. It’s never good enough until you win everything but knowing what happened, for sure you would do things differently but I could not tell you any specific part of that. You just know more now than you did then, but all in all, I think we’re pretty happy how it’s going, how we set it up, our business plan, how we wanted to do it and of the last teams which started from zero, the new teams started in this millenium, we are the youngest one but we are also the only one still alive, so we are pretty happy with that. All the other ones left so I think it’s working
Q: (Dieter Rencken – Racing Lines) Guenther, getting back to the brake issue that Romain seems to have all the time, we know the way you structured your team with listed parts and Ferrari as your main supplier etc. Is the brake system exactly the same as Ferrari, in other words, were he to be driving a Ferrari, would he have exactly the same problem, which would then imply it’s actually a driver or driving style issue? Where does the problem lie?
GS: The brake system, the mechanical parts are… I don’t know what Ferrari uses but they obviously very similar. I don’t know which spec of material they use but where there is a difference is in the aero, obviously, because we have to develop our own, and it seems that we have more overheating issues than them. But I think it’s a mix; part of it is the aero problem that we have, maybe less air to the brakes, because we have got a different front wing, and part of it is how Romain brakes as well. He brakes at the last moment and then turns, while the other ones are smoother with the braking. We need to make sure that he gets a car that he can apply his braking style (to). I think it’s a mix of things here, but in general the brakes are the same supplier. I don’t know exactly which material they use, if they use a different one but the design is the same.
Q: (Kate Walker – New York Times) Beat, this is a two parter, I’m afraid. First off, after Monisha’s departure we’ve also seen Robert leave the team. I was wondering what kind of long term assurances you can give to your current crew about their stability. And I was also wondering if you could respond to rumours that the current culture at Sauber is actually quite hostile to female employees?
BZ: (Laughs) Ok, first one: guarantee for employees. I think it’s just fair to say that if you have a new owner and he has a different view of how to operate an organisation then one or the other has to realise that he might not be the right person for the job. So this can happen not only in a Formula One team, this happens everywhere. And concerning being hostile against women: I really don’t know what you’re referring to. Monisha was a woman, of course. This has nothing to do with her being a woman or a man. As Mr Picci, the owner, said, they had different views how to operate the team and this was it. Full stop.
Q: (Sue-Anne Bellemont – Nextgen-Auto) To all three of you: we heard last year Franz saying that he was worried for the number of overtaking with the 2017 cars. Do you think the situation is finally acceptable?
FT: Yes, I think we’ve had some fantastic races this year. It’s right that last year I was a little bit worried because I said that the cars would be quite fast in the corners which means it’s difficult to follow the front car very closely because of the dirty air and because of the wider tyres, and because of more downforce, the braking zones are much shorter and therefore it’s difficult to overtake. Fortunately we have so far seen this year very very interesting races with a lot of overtaking manoeuvres and just remembering back to the race in Baku which was quite entertaining and also seeing that Ferrari has caught and is fighting quite successfully against Mercedes, therefore I see a very interesting Formula One season and I hope that the second part of the season will be as interesting.
GS: I mean, very similar to Franz. We were all a little bit – I wouldn’t say afraid but sceptical how the overtaking would look but this season has produced quite exciting racing. You cannot ask for more so I hope that it stays like this and we produce the same show for the rest of the season and the next years. So I think it was a good decision to go in this direction with the regulations because the cars look nice, they create a good show and I think the fans are pretty happy.
BZ: I think in pure numbers we have fewer overtakings than last year but we have pure overtaking. Last year, every now and then you could just pass the guy in front of you. What’s obviously adding to the show is that Ferrari is close to Mercedes and there is a fight at the front, and there are several fights in the midfield so the sport is definitely more thrilling than it was last year.
Q: (Dieter Rencken – Racing Lines) Franz, Toro Rosso exists as a driver development or development-type team as opposed to the main team. If you continue to keep Carlos, he’s actually going for his fourth year which is way beyond the development stage. You’re also blocking other drivers coming through. What do you do in a situation like that? Yes, I take your point that he’s a Red Bull driver under contract. Do you place him somewhere else, possibly? What do you do to overcome this bottleneck?
FT: First of all, a driver always develops himself in Formula One. You learn something new every year. Secondly, he’s a young driver, he’s still has a lot of time. Another point is you never know what happens at Red Bull Racing; there could be an accident or something like this. And why Red Bull Racing should have invested a lot of money just to lose a driver for such a special situation and therefore I think that Red Bull is currently in a fantastic situation to have four really good drivers with Ricciardo, Verstappen, Kvyat and Sainz. I think that during the season, at the end of the season, Red Bull will make a decision who will be the drivers for next year. Regarding the young drivers, currently there’s only Gasly in a situation to drive a Formula One car. The other Red Bull Junior drivers are simply too young; they’re in Formula Renault, GP3 and it takes time and once a driver is coming up and Red Bull is convinced he’s very highly skilled, that he will have a good future, then Red Bull will decide what will happen.
Q: Would Red Bull consider loaning a driver to another team?
FT: I don’t know yet. We will see.
Q: (Jurgen Kemmner – Stuttgarter Nachrichten) To all three of you about the TV negotiations: do you think that is the good way, the right way if Formula One goes completely or mostly into pay TV? And secondly, how big or small is your influence into these negotiations between Liberty Media and the TV stations
GS: The second question first: we have no influence in it, no direct influence because they are the commercial rights holders so they can do what they want, but for sure they’re doing the best for us as well because what they get in revenue, we get some of it so we hope they do good fees. If it is a good thing or not? I’m not an expert in TV to be honest. They are pretty good; Sean Bratches comes from ESPN, he knows the TV market and they need to make a decision what the future looks like in TV. Is it pay-per-view, is it on-line TV, is it whatever? Again, we have no influence anyway and we trust these people to make the right decisions, so we have got as many spectators as possible and as big as possible revenue. So in the end, we are just sitting in the bandwagon, we are not steering the bandwagon.
FT: Liberty Media is coming from this business and they’re very experienced there and as Guenther says, I’m also convinced about this, that they are very experienced and they will make the correct decision. I will be… the future of TV, is it going more to the internet side or is it pay TV, is it any other channel? We will see. I think it will be a combination and once more, I trust 100 percent Liberty Media because they is certainly nobody with more experience than them and they will for sure find the best decision for Formula One.
BZ: Yeah same, same. We have to trust them. They know the business better than anyone else and whether it’s going to be pay TV or public or whatever, they know the best way to go and of course, the number of spectators is very important to the show for sponsors as well but we have to trust them.