Toto: “Ferrari are really pushing us – and that’s good. It’s how competition should be”
Toto, in the next couple of weeks there have got to be some decisions made on the future shape of Formula One - the chassis regulations for 2017 and engine regulations for 2018. Is that a situation that suits you - that there might be some variation in how the regulations suit the teams?
TW: Well, every variation challenges your organisation and I think we are well positioned to take up the challenge. Definitely, making the cars look different, putting emphasis on new bits or innovation is interesting. Whether those rules can provide more interesting racing is another question. We’ve voted on these regs already, so we will see next if it works out. But I’m looking forward to finding out.
What about the guaranteed engine supply that is being talked about for 2018? Is that something that you are comfortable with? Is it deliverable?
TW: It is a complex agreement. We have been given the task of coming up with solutions so that no team is left without an engine. I think all the engine manufacturers have acknowledged that, so we will try to cover that. There is an aspect of price reduction, which is important to most of the teams, and we have tried to cover that in the framework agreement. Obviously, it’s very difficult to make everybody happy. But we need to come up with a solution by the end of April. We need to ratify those regulations and at the moment everybody is working very hard to at least find the smallest common denominator.
Maurizio Arrivabene has dubbed your team "The best in ten years" - what would you say to that? Also, Nico is performing very well at the moment. How have you seen him change? Not just over the winter - but if you look back to him in 2014-2015 - do you think he came into this season with a different attitude? Is he a different driver?
TW: Before answering the question I’d like to give the flowers back. They [Ferrari] are pushing us very hard. You have seen today that they have raw performance - and we have seen that performance in the last couple of races. They made a big step from ’15 to ’16 - similar to the step of ’14 to ’15. To have the package rolled out properly and reliable isn’t an easy task. But, in terms of sheer performance, they are really pushing us. That it good - it's how the competition should be. In terms of Nico, he’s in a great place. I don’t see him oscillating a lot. People keep asking when Lewis had his winning streak last year: "Is that going to knock Nico down?" And then, when he started winning after the Championship was decided: "Is it going to pull him up?" These guys perform on a very high level and it doesn’t particularly effect them whether they’ve had a good weekend or not. They’ve been in the job – or in motor racing – for 20 years or more, so the Nico I see today is developing as a personality, developing as a racing driver and learning. But that’s not different to how I’ve known him the last couple of years.
During the last round of big regulation changes we heard that people like Ross Brawn were quoting downforce figures in the meeting to guide everyone on how we should set the chassis rules. Presumably, that sort of the discussion is present again in the strategy group? Can you give us a rough range of how much more downforce next year’s proposed car would have on the chassis side? Is it one third, or 20 points, or similar?
TW: Interesting one! Around 80 per cent! No, the numbers vary - and they vary because of different interests. So, it ranges from teams saying that it’s not a lot more than it is today all the way up to 30-35%. It could have quite a big effect on downforce - which is in one sense good because the cars will be more difficult to drive and will deploy much more G-Force on the driver like they did in the past. But, equally, G-Force isn’t visible for the spectator. The risk might be that overtaking could be more difficult and it will put additional stress on the tyres. All of this is still being debated - but we have chosen the way forward. To come back to the question - that is the bit of the bandwidth I would say lies between zero and thirty percent.