Monaco GP - Thursday - Press Conference 21 MAY 2009

Monaco GP 2009

TEAM PRINCIPALS: Norbert HAUG (Mercedes), Vijay MALLYA (Force India), Mario THEISSEN (BMW Sauber), Frank WILLIAMS (Williams)


Q: A question to you all. What are your feelings about the new regulations for this year? How they've worked, whether they've worked. Are they good or bad? Have they done what they were supposed to do?

Mario THEISSEN: My personal feeling is that they have not done what they ought to do. From the fans perspective it is certainly an exciting championship. We have a fresh pecking order, unexpectedly. But even more important the field has come very close together, just the opposite of what most people expected with the new regulations. If you look back in Bahrain, (Jarno) Trulli dominated qualifying, in Barcelona he just slipped in as P15 into Q2 with a gap of only 0.7 of a second behind the first, so that means nobody is safe. It is very exciting for the spectator and for us, sometimes too exciting. You see that almost every team goes out on two sets of fresh options even in first qualifying in order to make it into the second run. That is a scenario which no-one expected and which we haven't seen in the past 10 years, so I think that is the upside. On overtaking maybe we had expected a bit more from the new regulations and on cost saving I think it has met about the expectations. The aero restrictions we currently have are not as tight as we thought they would be, so I think we could do more at this end.

Vijay MALLYA: I agree with what Mario said in terms of the racing being a lot more competitive, far more spectator-friendly from that point of view. For the smaller teams we have had a chance to close the gap quite significantly compared to previous years. I saw a couple of drivers who were actually quicker this year than last year which perhaps was not quite the intention. But having said that I think the 2009 regulations provided a good platform and base. As you well know there are further discussions continuing on how to deal with 2010 and beyond.

Norbert HAUG: I think it was fine so far. I think the chances and circumstances have been the same for everybody. Obviously some teams have been more busy towards the end of the year than during the season but this is not an excuse, it just explains a little bit that some cars on the track right now put more effort in but that is fair enough, that is how it is. We all need to play a little bit catch-up and I think lots of people have been surprised by the high level of the competitiveness of the new cars as Mario pointed out already and Vijay as well. The order is mixed. I think there were no presents made. Of course there were a lot of discussions about the diffuser but at the end of the day this is behind us. I think we saw some exciting races. The last one, Barcelona, was never a very interesting race in history. This is how things are. It is a challenging track and very demanding for the cars, especially for the aerodynamic of the cars and a mixture of everything. But it tends to be very boring around there and the last race was very similar, let's say. But generally speaking I think we have seen more overtaking manoeuvres. I saw a statistic, so it is heading in the right direction. In fairness we have to admit that none of the KERS cars is currently in a position to win races and I think if that would be the case, or if you would think about a combination of very good car with very good KERS then that would probably be a different story. I hope obviously that we will be the ones that can move quickly in that direction, but catching up is a difficult process and certainly not achievable in a couple of weeks. It is rather months than weeks, so we need to be patient. Looking now at the results I think this is not a typical race track. We have always been quite good and quite strong around here, won quite a few races in the last years. But this is not a typical race track, so I think the order will be very much the same in the next couple of races. But I would say I like it and I hope that with the political front we can come to a conclusion and then we will go back to the sport and concentrate on the sport and I think we have a great Formula basically.

Frank WILLIAMS: I share the same view as everyone else on this rostrum. The regulations have changed some of the order and KERS has made it easy for some and more difficult for others, nothing wrong with that. I think the two wet races also made a good contribution to the excitement that the television viewers have seen and more of the same please.

Q: A question to you all again. Your feelings about the cost cap that has been imposed? Should it be more, should it be less?

Theissen: For us it is not so much a question of one figure to be put on the table. We think the issue is much more complex and needs good thought. It needs to be thought through well. It is about getting teams who come from very different angles and very different starting positions and getting them together on one cost down slope, give them enough time to arrive finally at the same position without losing either the smallest or the biggest team, so it is quite challenging and what we currently have is a budget cap being linked to a certain set of regulations which makes it even more difficult. I think this has to be sorted out. We are working on that and I hope we can come to a conclusion which satisfies all the stakeholders in Formula One.

Mallya: Every single business perhaps in the world under the current economic circumstances is being re-engineered and restructured and the focus is to reduce costs. Why should Formula One be an exception, so Force India is certainly well in favour in reducing the costs to levels that are affordable and whether it is in the form of a cap, what that cap should be or whether there are progressive initiatives as Mario just mentioned to arrive at an acceptable figure for all teams and the FIA is something we are currently working on. But clearly as far as Force India is concerned, whether you call it a budget cap or call it a targeted amount to be spent, that is very, very essential or else the small independent teams will never be able to compete with those who have, in comparison, extraordinary budgets.