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2017 Hungarian GP: Friday Press Conference Part 2

PART TWO: TEAM REPRESENTATIVES – Paddy LOWE (Williams), Nick CHESTER (Renault), Paul MONAGHAN (Red Bull)

Q: Nick, if we can start with you, it’s been a difficult day for Jolyon in particular. Incidents in both of those sessions. What state is his car in now? He had the new floor this morning: how much damage this afternoon?

Nick CHESTER: Well, we’ve got a little bit of work to do as you can probably guess from seeing the TV, so we’ll be changing his gearbox anyway because we normally change it on a Friday night, so the rear suspension will get refreshed with that. The floor that was damaged this morning will be repaired and that will go on tomorrow, so he’ll have the news-spec floor. To be honest there’s nothing that we’re not used to repairing. We’ll get it all sorted for tomorrow.

Q: Silverstone a couple of weekends ago was a tremendous weekend for Nico Hülkenberg. The new floor seemed to give a lot of advantages there. Does that translate to even more performance around here? How is the performance of the car?

NC: From what we’ve seen so far today it looks pretty similar. So, we’re seeing a pretty good performance here. I think Nico was seventh in P2. It’s performing like Silverstone really and we’re seeing that performance gain that we did see at Silverstone.

Q: Given the different characteristics of the two circuits, is that very encouraging for you?

NC: It is, yeah, because they’re two circuits that are very far apart, so if you can perform on Silverstone and Hungary, you should be in a reasonable place for the rest of the year.

Q: And final question from me is about the Halo. Obviously it’s been confirmed that it’s going to be introduced in 2018. Do you see it an aero opportunity, as well as obviously the safety benefits. Are there any performance benefits that could come from it?

NC: No, not really. I think Halo, for starters, it’s good to have something there that’s going to give the driver more protection and everyone’s behind that and wants to put it on the car for that reason. But in terms of aero, if anything it’s a detriment and, if anything, you have to work around it being fitted to the car. So, I don’t think they’ll be any huge tricks with it.  I think everyone will just want to put it on the car and make it the best they can for the drivers.

Q: Paddy, you’ve been in this game a long time. Your thoughts on the Halo?

Paddy LOWE: Yeah, there’s obviously a lot being written about it. It seems to be quite controversial, let’s say. I think it’s worth bearing in mind the context. Probably five or six years ago the TRM themselves had identified that the big risk they could see still in the sport was to the driver’s head and there were a number of near-misses, typically one per year that we all saw go by and thought one day that could end in tragedy. So that was the background to developing a solution, and we ended up here with the best option being the Halo. I know it’s not the most attractive device but I do think it’s the right decision to get it on the car. At least then we’re started, we can always make it better in the future. I’m sure we can improve it year on year but at least we’ve put in place that protection that we intended from the start.

Q: Looking at today’s performance, difficult day for the team but in fact it’s been a difficult few races for the team and, if you look at the points this year versus last year, you’re on 41 now, at the same stage in 2016 you had 92 points. Obviously it’s a tougher season but where is the performance lacking this year with the FW40?

PL: Yeah, definitely at the half-term report stage we’re not looking as good as we’d like. We’re very disappointed, the car is quicker than that points table would reflect. I think one of our biggest problems has been that we haven’t been scoring the points we should have done at the track with our speed of car. That’s for a number of different reasons. On top of that, we’ve seen a lot of variation from circuit to circuit. There are places that we significantly under-perform and we really need to have a car that will perform more equally at different destinations, so that’s a big focus for next year.

Q: Have you ascertained why the car underperformed at those tracks?

PL: Some of those things we understand, some of them we don’t. So there’s a lot of work to do. But we’re very much hoping we can have a better second half of the season and put some of that right.

Q: Paul, well a very promising start to the weekend for you guys, particularly with Daniel. Your thoughts on how today’s gone – and what is Daniel saying about the car?

Paul MONAGHAN: Today offers a lot of encouragement, doesn’t it? Both our drivers seem competitive and sadly we haven’t got 43 points from Friday afternoon. The bit that remains in our control is our car, so we’ll try to work on it overnight, improve it, get the drivers more settled with their setup choices and so on and so forth, and we’ll deploy ourselves tomorrow, keep it in good order and see what our competitiveness is like in qualifying and then obviously on Sunday in the race. That’s about all we can actually do. The pace of our competitors is down to them, isn’t it?

Q: Is this performance track-specific or are you confident you can go forward and be competitive everywhere now?

PM: Up until Silverstone I think Daniel had five podiums in a row, didn’t he, so we’ve been competitive at tracks where we thought we might be a bit weaker, we might have thought we might have been a bit better. In general our car is adept at dealing with most of the tracks. Some will suit us a bit more than others. That’s inevitable and that’s something true of all the cars in the pitlane. Coming to this one, OK, some of our weaknesses are masked, others are highlighted, but the bit that remains in our control is our car, and let’s see what we can do with it tomorrow.


Q: (Kate Walker – Motorsport . com) For all three of you please, on the halo: in the briefing yesterday, Charlie was saying that while there are aesthetic objections, you guys have got opportunities with fairings and whatnot to make the device slightly more palatable. I was wondering to what extent you’ve already begun looking at improving the aesthetics and the performance of the halo or is 2018 just going to be spec and move on from there?

PM: The fairings were, I believe, agreed around about July 2016 or the extent of them. We will make use of the fairings, as Nick alluded to, to reduce the aerodynamic detriment of the halo and I think, beyond that, the aesthetics of it. Yes, if we can have a fairing which reduces some of the aerodynamic detriment and makes it –  to the eye of the beholder, shall we say, slightly more aesthetic, we’ll take that solution but I think the aesthetics of it, it’s not put on there for that reason, is it? It’s put on there as a safety device. We’ll put the fairings on it, we’ll do the work that Nick’s talking about, to reduce the detriment and that will be on for 2018.

PL: Well, firstly the definition isn’t finally issued yet so we don’t exactly know what opportunities we’ll have but I believe we’ll have the space to minimise the aerodynamic detriment as Nick was saying, and hope within that, generally, we try and find a good aesthetic and these things often go together.

NC: Not much to add. The fairings are allowed; it’s a fairly small fairing and as Paddy has said, not all of the regulations for fairings are finalised yet. We’ll be doing a little bit to reduce the aerodynamic deficit.

Q: (Andrew Benson – BBC Sport) Nick, you’re testing Robert Kubica again on Wednesday. Can I ask you a few questions in one about that? How it initially came about? How long the team had stayed in touch with him? Who contacted who? Why now, after six and a half years? The mental fortitude and struggle it’s taken him to get to this point and what you’ve seen so far about his readiness to return to Formula One? 

NC: OK. Yeah, quite a few questions there. Yeah, to start off, the background… I must admit I don’t fully know the background or how the contact was made but obviously we know Robert, we know him from when he drove in Renault before. He was a super driver. It’s nice to give him the opportunity to get back in a V8, get some mileage, see how he can handle it and then he’ll get another opportunity in current machinery in the test after Hungary and it’s a good opportunity to see what he can do and whether he can come back to Formula One someday.

Q: (Andrew Benson – BBC Sport) From what you’ve seen so far, what would you say about his readiness and his physical limitations and whether they affect him in the car and what changes you’ve had to make to the car to adapt to those?

NC: Yeah, well from what we’ve seen so far his mental fortitude is great, he’s pushed very hard to come back. Physically I think he’s passed all of his fitness tests and we’ve had to do very little to the car so he’s actually managed pretty well in a modern F1 car.

Q: Nick, can you give us any more details about the steering wheel, have you had to make changes to how he changes gear or anything like that? 

NC: We’ve made some little adaptations but nothing too serious.

Q: (Roksana Cwik – SwiatWyscigow) Mr Lowe, we saw in the second practice that Felipe had a lot of problems in turns four and five. He also asked for the car to be checked. Can you say something more about those problems?

PL: Yeah, Felipe did have a couple of spins in P2 which took him by surprise so we are still trying to understand and analyse those. At this point, we haven’t understood it. It was interesting that in that session, a lot of cars were going off at corner entry with very unstable balance so we don’t know whether it might be something to do with the tyres, some general characteristic or not or something to do with our car.

Q: (Istvan Simon – Auto Magazin) Mr Chester, we have seen a pretty bad accident by Jolyon in free practice when he basically crashed the undertray of the car or the diffuser of the car. Do you know the reason? Was it a driver failure or a failure of the kerbs or anything else? 

NC: Yeah, I think you’re probably referring to the free practice one accident. Yeah, he ran wide over the kerbs and just… there is a little drop on the outside of the kerbs and that’s enough to bounce the chassis and the floor and the front wing so yeah, it was just enough to rip the front wing off.

Q: (Istvan Simon – Auto Magazin) Is it the same as we had last year?

NC: The kerbs are slightly different so there was a single row last year, there’s now a double row so they are different and really the intention is the drivers shouldn’t be going right over the second set of kerbs.

Q: (Istvan Simon – Auto Magazin) Do you have a spare part for this? 

NC: Yeah, we do, fortunately. We’ve got a reasonably good stock of front wings and we’re repairing floors for him so we will be in good shape from tomorrow.

Q: (Peter Farkas – Auto Motor) This is primarily for Paul but all three of you please… Even in P1 we saw a spectacular time from Daniel. He was only a couple of hundredths from the lap record, set in 2004 so was it a surprise that the track was so quick, even in P1? But in P2, there didn’t seem to be such a huge track evolution. I mean he only went a little bit better so do you have an explanation for that, did it surprise you that it was already so quick in P1 and why it wasn’t so much quicker in P2? 

PM: OK. Hungary, as we used to come here years ago, you would see the plumes of dust behind the cars in P1 and there was a huge track evolution. I think to all of our benefits, the track is now superbly cleaned before we start running and as such on the slightly cooler track, if that suits your car and tyres a little bit better, then P1 is an opportunity to operate the car near its limits without being grip limited by dust and so on and exploiting track evolution. Therefore, as the track warms up, it’s not always possible to then have the evolution you typically see from some of the other tracks in P2 and I’m not surprised we didn’t see big steps for the second practice, to be perfectly honest. As for the actual lap time, when you do a simulation, you can obviously factor in an amount of grip on the track; we put in what we think is the aero model, what we think is the engine model, verification actually happens at the track so… Everybody can have a go at their simulation and then we’ll all say yes, we’re on it, or no we’re not or we’re quicker, we’re slower. It doesn’t actually matter. We don’t race the simulation tool. That helps the preparation, it helps everybody and now it’s down to Saturday and Sunday for the competition.

Q: Paul, can you give us a guesstimate of what you think pole position might be tomorrow? What time?

PM: I’m not going to do that, no. I’m going to duck that issue on the basis I can’t tell you how fast our competitors’ cars could be and nor am I going to tell you how fast our one can be.

Q: From Paddy and Nick: any thoughts on the grip level available in FP1 and the track evolution or not?

PL: Only to say, as Paul was saying, one of the tricky things in modern Formula One is tracking the evolution of the track but what was the track temperatures, these tyres are very sensitive to track temperature. It’s one of the challenges we face and you know that today was no better example.

NC: Yeah, very similar. I think the cars are very sensitive to tyre temperature. The track temperature came up for the second session and it was a little bit windier as well so I think that made it a bit tougher for some of the drivers.

About Ritesh K Bhana

Ritesh likes to think he is a true Tifosi, but he still remains fair to other teams. He supports two other teams which are not Red Bull and McLaren. Follow Ritesh on twitter @Humanshield_1

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