Highlights of Team Principals Press Conference: New Drivers, Budget Caps, New Tires

Excerpts from the Team Principal’s Press Conference.  Participants: Jost Capito (Williams), Zak Brown (McLaren), Christian Horner (Red Bull),  Frédéric Vasseur (Alfa Romeo), Guenther Steiner (Haas), Mario Isola (Pirelli)

Question to Jost Capito: “Do you feel (American) Logan (Sargeant) is ready to race in Formula 1?”

Jost Capito: “Yeah, we feel he’s ready to race and, under the condition that he has enough Super Licence points after Abu Dhabi, he will be our second driver next year.”

Question to Christian Horner: “Christian, looks like we’ve got an American driver coming to Formula 1 next year. Can we just get your reaction to that: how important is it for the sport to have an American driver?”

Christian Horner: “I think it’s great news. Congrats to Jost and the Williams team on hopefully achieving that. I think we see the growth in the US, we see the excitement that there is.”  “I think we need an American driver.”

Question to Christian Horner: “The team can win its first Constructors’ Championship in nine years. If, when, it comes, how much satisfaction will that give you?”

Christian Horner:  “The season that we’ve had this year has so far been phenomenal. I mean, we’ve equaled our best ever results in terms of victories, in terms of one-two finishes, in terms of where our drivers currently are in the Drivers’ Championship. So, if we’re able to convert this, it’d be wonderful to do it this weekend. It would be an outstanding achievement for the team.” 

Question to Christian Horner: “Can you give us your thoughts on that process that’s taking place (related to the alleged budget cap overages)?”

Christian Horner: “Well, it’s a new process. I mean, what you have to remember, with these regulations, is that they were introduced, obviously, at a level where the $175 million, it was then reduced by $30 million during the pandemic, it’s a complicated set of regulations. It’s 52 pages. And, of course, we’ve been through that process and 2021 was the first ever year of a set of very complicated financial regulations, which of course, have a varying… interpretations to them from different accounting specialists. So obviously, the findings of the FIA have been made public recently. And we’re now in a voluntary process with the FIA, going through that process with them. And I hope you will be able to conclude it in the near future.” 

Question to Zak Brown: “Can we get your thoughts on the budget cap and some reaction to what Christian has just said?”

Zak Brown: “Well, I think the budget cap is very important for the future of the sport. I think everybody recognises that and that’s why it was put in place.” “But fundamentally, the cost cap is a very important part of Formula 1’s future.”

Question to Zak Brown: “Last week, you wrote a letter outlining your thoughts on any budget cap breaches. Why did you feel the need to write that letter?”

Zak Brown: “I thought it was important from a transparency standpoint, we all sit around the table, there’s a lot of times we discuss things openly and then there’s a lot of back-channelling, and I thought I would just lay it out there – not knowing the facts of the case.” “It’s not for McLaren to decide they have or haven’t, but to put forward now that we understand the ramifications if you go over, what some of those benefits can be and how we should address them.”

Question to Christian Horner:  “Do you concede that you have benefitted by an overspend, and that may in some way have contributed to some of the success that you’ve achieved in 2021, and 2022 so far?” 

Christian Horner:  “)ur view is that our relevant costs are within the cap.” “We had zero benefit from a development perspective or an operational perspective, either for 2021 or for 2022 from the way that we operated it within the cap.”

Question to Christian Horner:  “Christian, just on Zak’s letter. He said that the overspend breach constitutes cheating. So, I just wanted to get your reaction to that and obviously, the accusation of cheating.”

Christian Horner: “Well, obviously, Zak’s letter – which wasn’t copied to us, obviously – we’ve had sight of that letter, and it’s tremendously disappointing. For a fellow competitor to be accusing you of cheating, to accuse you of fraudulent activity, is shocking. It’s absolutely shocking that another competitor, without the facts, without any knowledge of the details, can be making that kind of accusation.”

Question to Zak Brown: “Zak, would you like to comment?”

Zak Brown:  “Look, my letter set out that I think if someone – a team – spends more than the cap, they’re going to get an advantage. And the cap is a rule, no different than the technical rules in the sport. We’re not taking a view whether they did or didn’t. My letter was: if someone has, then here are the things that we think should be addressed.” 

Question to Guenther Steiner: “Now, let’s talk about your second driver for next year. On Thursday, Kevin said that Mick Schumacher deserves another season in Formula 1, what’s your reaction to Kevin’s comments?”

Guenther Steiner: “I heard this comment for the first time. I don’t think… Deserving or not, a lot of people deserve something. I need to look after the whole team and see if Mick is the chosen one. You know, I’m not saying it’s not Mick or anything.”

Question to Mario Isola: “You got to test your development tires, how successful was the program?”

Mario Isola: “It was a good test. It’s the first time that we use this opportunity to test the tires in a dedicated session during a weekend.”  “We have lots of data.” 

Question to Mario Isola: “You say you gathered a lot of data yesterday, what sort of feedback did you get from the drivers?”

Mario Isola: “They were testing a blind specification. So basically, they didn’t know what they were testing. They had the baseline tire versus a prototype. We got good feedback.” “The target is to reduce the understeer that they have in low-speed corners. And for the rest, we have to fine tune some of the compounds in order to have them better spaced across different levels.”

Question to Frédéric Vasseur and Guenther Steiner: “Fred and Guenther, we’ve just spoken to Christian, he’s suggested that if Red Bull can’t agree an acceptable breach agreement with the FIA then this potentially could go on for another nine months: situation of the cost cap. How important is it for everyone that this situation is resolved quickly, so that we can get on with the sport and stop talking about the regulations?”

Frédéric Vasseur: “For sure, at the end, the sooner the better but the most important for me is to have the good level of penalty. It’s not because we are in a rush that we have to do something like this and to take any decision. This is crucial for the F1, for the future for the cost cap and now it’s into the hands of the FIA to find the right level of punishment.”

Guenther Steiner: “We need to move on with this and find the right level of punishment, which is not too lenient.” 

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