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Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Funny Headline

Uhuh, ok whatever Ross Brawn wants to say. No bias, puh-lease. Remember this grilling you had Ross?

Excerpt of Italian GP 2003 Friday Press Conference

Q: Final question, there have obviously been a lot of stories about tyres over the last few weeks. What's your feeling about the situation?

Ross Brawn : I think we touched on earlier that we would all like black and white regulations and depending at which direction you come at a regulation from, you can take a certain interpretation. Obviously our interpretation was not that the tread was constrained by only being measured when new. With the construction of the regulation I can understand how someone may wish to interpret that way but the construction of the regulation was not when it would have said, furthermore, when new, the tread would be no more than 270. It doesn't say that. So we had an interpretation which was obviously different to the Michelin teams. We have a regulatory body..

Patrick Head : Why did you wait for 38 races before raising this point, if you had this view all the time? It seemed an odd time to raise it Ross.

RB: That tyre, as I understand it Patrick, you had at Monaco.

PH: It's exactly the same mould, comes out of exactly the same mould that appeared in 2001 at Imola.

RB: Renault used different tyres to you Patrick. There's a range of Michelins being used in Formula One. We weren't aware of the problem so any suggestion that we had timed it is inaccurate. Bridgestone is an extremely ethical company and they were aware of this problem for some time and didn't raise it to our attention. They were troubled with how to deal with it, and they came to us after the race in Hungary and said how can we deal with this problem, because in our view (Distracting laughing in the audience) Do you have to keep laughing? Thank you. In our view, they brought the photographs of the tyre in Hungary and said to us can you explain this to us and we asked Charlie for an explanation. He said to us he wanted to investigate it because he didn't understand it. He didn't understand what he could see on the tyres and went away, and the consequence was the letter that came out on the Wednesday after Hungary.

PH: I thought the consequence was a meeting at Maranello on the Tuesday, of the president of the FIA and the race director.

RB: As we know, paranoia runs rife in Formula One. Ron, quite rightly, said you need to look at yourself in the morning and ask yourself if you've got integrity. That meeting was set up weeks ago and was a meeting to discuss our business in Formula One. Some of that discussion has been discussed recently about the schedule that we should run in Formula One. It's not uncommon for us to have meetings with the FIA to discuss things. To suggest that meeting was only about the tyres in fact we were asked not to discuss the tyres with Max and Charlie when they came, because they said they were dealing with it. They felt it was inappropriate to discuss the tyres, so I think to suggest that meeting was only held I don't think Max would break his schedule to come over to Italy on a Tuesday after a race for a matter like that. So as I said, there's a huge amount of paranoia in Formula One. We had an interpretation and we asked the ruling body for a clarification and that was the clarification they gave and I think all the suggestions of Machiavellian plots is just the normal paranoia that runs in Formula One. I do hope the championship is I think it is a fantastic championship. I don't think this is going to make a huge difference. It was important to us that we felt we were competing on a level playing field. As I say, I don't think it will make a huge difference and I think we've got a great championship ahead of us. And may the best man win.

Questions from the floor

Q: Ross, a week ago you were quoted in Autosport as follows: "It was an attempt by Michelin to circumnavigate the regulations. It is now clear that a large number of the Michelin teams have been running illegal tyres for a considerable amount of time." For the avoidance of doubt, can you confirm that you did actually make that remark and, if so, do you still stand by it?

RB: I think our opinions about the situation have been expressed. I've given you an explanation here of what happened and we want to try and run the rest of the championship in the best manner and best spirit that we can and I don™?™t want to go back over those comments.

Q: Ross, according to your comments it looks like wider tyres can provide quite an advantage so can you explain why Ferrari and Bridgestone did not take this option of having a bit wider tyres?

RB: You optimise your car, obviously, around the package you have. You optimise it around the tyres and all the other factors. Bridgestone had what they felt was a limit on where they were prepared to go with the wide front tyre from their interpretation of the regulation. And the difference between where they were prepared to go to and what we have is very small, it is not a big difference. So their interpretation of the regulation left not much scope for anything much different to what we have now. So for us it was no advantage. We did try some tyres with slightly different shaped shoulders but as I say Bridgestone felt there was a limit they wanted to keep to and the difference was very small.

Ron Dennis : I think that is somewhat misleading. The simple fact is I am well qualified, having been on Bridgestone tyres for several years, to know that Bridgestone always optimise the performance of their tyres and there is a constant and consistent trend to their belief in front tyre geometry and how it is constructed and what is the optimum width. And, of course, a narrow tyre always gives you a better aerodynamic profile as well. So I think it is misleading of Ross to say it was a regulatory influence that determined the width of the tyre..

RB: I didn't actually say that..

Ron Dennis : was extremely misleading. It was not regulatory driven, it was performance driven. He knows that very well.

RB: I didn't say that. What I said is that when they tried a tyre that they felt was at the limit it was very little different to what we have now. They do have a tyre that is wider than we have now, but it is not as wide as the Michelin because they didn't interpret the regulations that way. So the difference between the tyre they were able to go to and the tyre we have now offered no benefit.

Q: Patrick, of all the people in this room you have the longest experience in a senior technical position in a Grand Prix team and from your memory have you ever known the FIA to clarify or interpret a regulation not in favour of Ferrari. And does that lead to a broader problem in the government of the sport?

RB: Can I interrupt, sorry, but what about all the changes that were made over the winter? Perhaps he (the journalist) can enlighten us on the changes that were made over the winter, how they were in favour of Ferrari..

Q: In terms of the image of Formula One, Ron was saying that we have had all the facts on which to judge things. That is not quite true because we haven't had the facts on what the actual widths were on the Michelin tyres at the end of races and what they were doing and how the Michelin tyre was working, that is one element of the picture that we haven't had to base our judgements on. But given what has been said over the last ten days, if Montoya wins the championship the platform for it was built on the 56 points he scored between Monaco and Hungary and if he wins the championship is it inevitable that we can only judge that it was a tainted championship?

RB: I think that, as Ron said, let's put water on the fire. I don't believe for a minute that Michelin were trying to bypass the regulations. They obviously had an interpretation of what they felt was acceptable for the tyre and they are not a company that are going to do something that they knowingly know to be in breach of the regulations and that is down to interpretation. So I do accept that Michelin would not have done that knowingly but we have lots of instances in the past where people have found to have a problem with their car, or whatever it is, not knowingly. It is still a problem even though there is no intent. I think there is an important difference there. I don't think that Michelin intentionally tried to bypass the regulations but if faced with a situation where there is a problem it is still a problem even whether there is intent or not. It is a very technical sport and occasionally you do find things that you didn't expect to happen. I mean, cars have problems and often not intentionally. We have had problems with our cars, Ron had a front wing that was a bit low a few years ago. He didn't do it intentionally, but it happens. So I think there is an important distinction there, something I would like to..

RD: Similar to your bargeboards actually.

RB: Yes. It is an interesting thing, the bargeboards, in that Ferrari as a company admitted that they asked the FIA for a clarification. I don't think to this day McLaren have ever admitted that McLaren were the ones who told the FIA about our bargeboards.

Q: Two questions to Ross. There are rumours around the pitlane that Ferrari might exercise Article 179b of the Sporting Code, the right of review, retrospective judgement of a result based on new information that has come to hand. Can you confirm for the good of the championship that that is not going to happen and secondly can you explain to us exactly what happened on Friday in Austria when Michael's car was found to be under the weight limit?
RB: There are these rumours. I don't think Ferrari has made its position clear and I think that decision is above me to make. I guess Ferrari will make its position clear in the future so that is not something I can clarify for you here. (On the second question) We weren't found underweight because if we had been underweight we would have been excluded from qualifying and we weren't excluded so by definition we were not underweight.

Q: What were you when Michael was first weighed?
RB: I can't recall, but the car was put to one side along with another car I believe and it was checked and then they were happy.

Q: Well, Charlie Whiting said that it was under the weight limit at that point and then re-checked about 20 minutes later.
RB: Well, obviously they had a reason for believing it was okay the second time.

Q: Ross, we understand you didn't really like the old spec Michelin front tyres, what is your interpretation of the new spec?
RB: I don't know. To me the tread is definable and I know we are going to disagree on this but to me you can define what the tread is. And if you make a statement to the FIA that this is your tread then you need to respect the fact that you have made a statement that that is your tread. For those of you who care to take the trouble, the Michelin website on tyres tells you what a tread is, it is the part of the tyre that is in contact with the ground. They stipulate what the tread is. So I think it is quite clear what you can and can't do. Of course, we choose to disagree on that, but I think understanding the clarification or looking at the press release the FIA put out it is quite clear what they are expecting in the future so I am sure Michelin and their teams are going to respect that enforcement of the regulation.

Q: Does the FIA have the equipment to check the width after the race?
RB: I think it is a rule. It is not a particularly complex piece of equipment. They have callipers, I know, that they can check it with, so I don't think it is a problem.

Q: Ross, under what circumstances would you protest the earlier results?
RB: It is not really for me to get into that discussion, I am afraid. It is for the board of Ferrari to decide whether they want to do that.

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