Friday's Press Conference - US

Participating: Ron Dennis (McLaren), Nick Fry (BAR), Frank Williams (Williams) and Peter Sauber (Sauber)

Friday's Press Conference - US

Q. We're about to begin. The back row, our right to left, Peter Sauber and Nick Fry. Front row, our right to left, Ron Dennis and Frank Williams. Ron, if you would like to switch off your mobile phones, please.

Ron Dennis: That's what I am doing.

Q. If you would, please, switch off your mobile phones.

Q. Peter, if I might start with you. First of all, we all thought your heart was totally in your racing and your team. So can I ask why do you want to sell your team?

Peter Sauber: It's principally not my intention to sell the team, but I think it's very important to do the right things at the right moment. Is enough for you?

Q. Because I've heard you wanted to safeguard the future of the team to some extent to make sure the future of the team is safe, is stable.

PS: That's normally. I follow two goals. I think it's important to make progress on the sporting side. That has to be the intention for every team. And the other point is it's important to keep the infrastructure and the people in and win.

Q. On another controversial subject, obviously a lot of interest here, Jacques Villeneuve, a former Indy 500 winner. Is his position safe within the team?

PS: I have that in written form, it's easier for me. Since the beginning of the season, there were constantly reports that we would replace Jacques. Fact is that he is still here, as you can see. And there is nothing to add to this.

Q. OK, there will be a question later on for you, for everybody, on the proposals that came out from the FIA on the 2008 rules. So I'll ask you that in just a moment.

Q. If I can now move on to Nick. Nick, Danica Patrick is the big name over here in the States with the possibility of her running in a BAR-Honda, which isn't happening. Is there a possibility of her running in the future in the BAR-Honda?

Nick Fry: We haven't got anything planned at the moment. Clearly she is doing a good job for Honda over here and wants to focus on running the car tomorrow, and in the end just proved totally impractical. Danica had to be in Phoenix, where she is at the moment, and she had a sponsor's obligation. I think, as you saw yesterday, she causes a huge amount of media interest here in the States. So nothing planned at the moment.

Q. Right. Now, you unfortunately received a ban from a couple races earlier on in the season. Looking back now, how did that affect the team morale?

NF: In terms of morale, not much. It's amazing how well the team has pulled together. That's not only just the people within the team but the support we've had from all the sponsors has been frankly absolutely outstanding. That's all of them, from the small ones right through to the owners of the team. So I think with that support, it's been relatively easy for everyone to pull together. But I think these things you just put behind you and get on with it. I think the team has an unbelievable fighting spirit. I think you saw the effort that guys put in to change Takuma's gearbox during the race last week to get him a bit further up. Qualifying was an indication of how good the fighting spirit is. So BAR is a team which has had a few knocks over the years and spent the first few years being extremely unsuccessful. I think that has led to the team being strong. We lost a bit of momentum, which is unfortunate, probably more than we anticipated. Last race wasn't bad and we're hopeful for this weekend.

Q. Thanks, Nick.

Q. Frank, if I can now come to you. How do you see the current performance of the team? Because it seems to be a little bit up and down.

Frank Williams: Well, we're making quite a bit of progress over the last race, we seemed to struggle there, indeed. We did struggle there but probably going to be the same here. But we shall be back in due course with more performance.

Q. And we saw in the European Grand Prix, for example, you were on pole position there.

FW: Well, as you saw, we start quite early in the race, but tactically it did help our car to be quite competitive.

Q. One of the questions that you have been asked many times I'm sure is about BMW, but I'm not going to ask that. Are you actively seeking other engine partners, are you talking to other engine manufacturers?

FW: I can't really talk about that. We're waiting for BMW to provide an answer, which we anticipate will be next week. After that we'll have to think about which direction we want to go in, if we need to think about it.

Q. OK, thank you. Once again, there will be the same question for all of you about the 2008 regulations.

Q. Ron, a race ago, before the Canadian Grand Prix, in theory, if Kimi had won all the races thereafter and Alonso would have come second, Kimi still wouldn't have been champion. Do you think there's a problem with the scoring points? It's ridiculous to say at that stage that situation existed. Do you think there's a problem with the scoring system?

RD: Not really. I think it's the same for everybody. It places great emphasis on reliability. I think that is something that is a good thing for Formula One. I did quite enjoy the period of time in which you were able to drop some races so that the odd car not finishing a race wasn't penalizing you too severely. So if I had to solely and exclusively decide to change that element of Formula One, I'd probably leave the points alone and maybe it just be the 15, 16 races, the top 12 or something races count. I always felt that was interesting for the teams, but I recognized it was somewhat confusing for the public and the media reporting to the public. So I could see the wisdom in changing it. But finishing races now has almost gone the other way as Nick's just pointed out. The concept of changing a gearbox during the race in order to affect your qualifying position is really in some ways perverse. In one way we're saying one engine does two races and then another, but you're saying you can do anything else, et cetera, et cetera, and even during the race. It was a strategy well executed because, of course, I think they finished 11th or something with the level of dropouts, and that was well worth the effort.

Q. You also had your own controversy or drama, shall we say, during the race in Canada. Have you changed procedures since then?

RD: Well, you know, I think it was pretty accurately reported as to what happened. But when we were explaining things after the race, we certainly weren't as well informed as we are now because we now categorically know that, you know, there was an obvious concern coming from Juan Pablo that Kimi wouldn't drop his pace if Juan Pablo dropped the pace. And they were instructed to drop the pace and to maintain a five-second gap between them. There was discussion going on, from both drivers. And Juan Pablo was on the radio discussing it, and I stress discussing it, it wasn't an argument. So there needed to be assurances given that if he dropped his pace, that it would be to the detriment of his ability to win. The amount of time that was between the point at which the Safety Car came out and the pit lane entrance, 50 percent of that time, I think, and that's an approximation, but 50 percent of the time he was on transmit, talking, and when he finished talking Davey responded. And it was in that conversation that Davey or Davey and his engineer, they missed the call. And of course, I was pretty mortified at the time, but the fact is that if I had to write my own mistakes down, it's a very, very, very long list. And you know, we are in a pressured situation, mistakes happen. But what was most definitely not taking place, there was no way we were going to influence the outcome of the race to the extent, to the detriment of Juan Pablo. There was absolutely no chance of that. We practice what we preach. So, you know, you carry the frustration of the outcome.

But, as critical or lack of criticism that Juan Pablo has had in our mistakes is reciprocated in the lack of criticism of his, and that's what a team is about. You take your successes and your failures as a team. And it's embarrassing to us because we pride ourselves on our professionalism and at that moment we weren't particularly professional.

Q. Something he stressed in here yesterday I have to say. So if I could go on to this question to all of you about the proposed 2008 regulations, I'm sure most of you will say that it's a starting point for negotiation. But there must be bits that you like and bits that you don't like, so I would be very interested to hear on that your comments.

Q. Peter, would you start?

PS: I read the proposals and proposals over the last, I don't know, couple of years. And I'm honest, I didn't read the new one completely.

Q. Completely?

PS: Yeah. I think the direction is clear to save money, but that's the directions since many years. And when we change something, Formula One gets more expensive and not cheaper, maybe except the engine for two weekends. But all the other things, all the rule changes we had, Formula One get more expensive.

Q. Are you planning to read it when you get back to Europe?

S: Yeah, sure. I think it's important to read it, yeah.

Q. You just haven't for the moment, OK.

Q. Nick?

NF: Since Montreal, myself and Geoffrey have been occupied doing other things. We've read it, haven't digested it. I think generally anything that improves the excitement of the racing for the fans is to be applauded. Whether these are the right things or the wrong things, I think is simply too early to say at this stage. We haven't had a chance to go through it properly. So when we have time to do so, I'm sure we'll respond probably collectively, I'm sure there will be some discussion between the teams, and I'm sure there's some very good bits and probably not so good bits, but I think it would be premature to say anything definitive at this stage.

Q. Frank?

FW: I think Nick said exactly what I was going to say.

Q. How convenient. Ron?

RD: The first thing to remember is that we're talking about 2008, and we're halfway through 2005. Clearly, that gives us the opportunity to have very considered views about change. There is no one, there's no team principal. there is no chief executive of a manufacturer who does not embrace the concept of making Formula One better. And if it can be made less expensive at the same time, that is a huge bonus. But as Peter has pointed out, most of the changes have effectively cost money and you could even argue that the tire regulation and the engine regulation, it has most definitely saved for some teams money but it has moved costs. In the instance of tires, it saved the tire companies money, in our opinion, and increased the teams' costs because there is very extensive testing that you have to do.

On the engine side, a lot more work has to be done on the test beds, and we have to run engines to prove them out on the circuits. So our testing costs have gone up. If you don't have to do that, your costs are going to go down. So perhaps it's a little bit of a Robin Hood-type of regulation where the teams who have enjoyed a little bit more of a financial cushion to the smaller teams and a bit more money, they are doing the lion's share of the work and, therefore, the smaller teams are saving money. But whether it saves Formula One money, that's very much an open issue. The regulations, I tend to have to admit that I've only seen them for the first time today. They primarily went to the manufacturers first for their comments. As I would echo some of Nick's words, the first thing is we need to understand as individuals, either as teams or manufacturers, what our own views are and then try and come to a collective position which hopefully allows us to see those things that we think are positive and perhaps are already contained in our own ideas, are easy to adopt and those things that we feel aren't so that we have the opportunity to discuss them. But no one is against change. We just want to learn from the past, and we don't want change that costs us money or change that doesn't benefit Formula One. So we've got the time and we should use it wisely. I think the important thing is no single entity should be pressuring the situation unfairly. I mean, and that is a criticism that I think we could levy at everybody involved at one stage or another, is increase the pressure and we should be balanced and discuss these issues and negotiate these issues behind closed doors. And we've got the time to do it thoroughly, and we should do it thoroughly.

Q. Are there bits, things in there that you like?

RD: I think that to cherry-pick out of it would be dangerous. I think everybody's got a common objective and, you know, in the right environment, I'm sure we can improve Formula One and reduce some of the costs. But there are those people that are definitely going to resist some of the easy wins on cost reduction, which is number of races, controlled testing. You know, these things are very easy wins and there is a list of easy cost wins, where everybody knows there is a real saving there but for some political reason are fighting against it.

Q. OK, thanks.

Q. Question for Peter. Can you confirm the BMW deal for the engine supply will be announced before the end of the month or not?

PS: I can't confirm, but I hope because we need an engine for the next season, and I hope we can do it before the end of June.

Q. A question to all of you about feelings of fear of Formula One. The new proposal says same engine, V8, same angle, internal of the gearbox is the same. What else? ECU is the same. Brakes are the same. Is it the future of Formula One, is it like GP2 and now maybe called GP1 and everybody the same? Why should the manufacturer stay into Formula One if everything is the same?

RD: As far as I'm concerned, the temptation is to have a discussion about it. But I think that the right place to have the discussion is behind closed doors. But I mean, I think you've made some valid points, but we most definitely will consider everything but behind closed doors and then come hopefully to a common position.

FW: There's just one comment I'd like to make and that is how does Max (Mosley) truly define an independent team? Is an independent team a team with no money or is it the opposite, namely are we owned by a billionaire with lots of money with only one mission and that is to win every championship he can get his hands on? That, too, is an independent team.

Are we an independent team? We certainly are. We've managed to get through merit a freebie engine, but next year maybe have to pay engines. It doesn't suit me to want to have to fire 500 or under 500-plus people next year. But much more importantly, if you want to field a perfect field of 10 independent 30-man teams, would Formula One still be Formula One and still have the world's third-largest sporting TV global footprint?

NF: I think it's just as a general principle, we've said nothing a number of the other teams have said several times. We want to see Formula One at the so-called pinnacle of motorsports, and I think we need to define what that is. As Ron says, cherry-picking from the list put forward at this stage is probably inappropriate, but I think most of the companies have made it clear that they want to see Formula One at that apex. But I think that's as far as we should go on that at the moment.

PS: I follow what Ron said.

Q. Question for all of you. We haven't heard much from the group of manufacturers recently. Is there anything more you can tell us about behind-scenes negotiations or what your latest position is?

RD: I think it's for them to voice the current status of their discussions. But certainly we perhaps -- perhaps is a little -- I think the teams are the catalyst to the momentum in the process and as such, you know, these back-to-back races, especially these ones that see us out of Europe for a period of time, tend to mean that we, you know, it is hard for us to build into our week the capacity to address these issues. So the momentum does tend to go up and down but that shouldn't reflect as a lack of commitment from anybody.

Q. Does anybody have any further comment on that?

RD: I think actually it reflects also in the timing in the issuing of the document. If you get my drift.

Q. A question to all four gentlemen. You're all signatories to the test cap. How does the test cap affect the requirement to test cost for next year's engine regulations or obviously the costs are different to those you have this year? Has the committee or the group thought of that? What decision have you reached on that?

RD: It's not documented, but I'm led to believe that everybody agrees that the V8 running should be part of the existing testing agreement. That's been circulated and agreed, but it is undocumented at the moment.

Q. Is there not a case to be made then to stop development on a car that's not competitive at this stage and concentrate on next year's car?

RD: One is free to do that. But I think you'll find that engines are still at the very beginning of their development curve and engines for cars are going to come out probably over the course of the next three months. But anybody's free to do what they want and perhaps that's why the teams in recognizing that point said let's keep it under the umbrella of our existing testing agreement. You can't profess to have a desire to keep costs down and then act in a different way. I mean, it's the -- it is the strength in unity of the teams. All those teams are part of that testing agreement which is somewhat unusual and, of course, for someone that's uncompetitive to be faced with being restricted against those people who don't wish to be part of this testing agreement, that's even more difficult.

NF: I think the thing you probably have seen happen is that, as Ron says, we've all stuck together over this. We all kind of by e-mail sort of loosely agreed that we'd contain the V8 testing within the present restrictions. But probably what you have seen, I think everyone is working like (unheard) to maximize the benefits of every single day. So the test mileages, I think, of all the top teams have gone up dramatically, unfortunately taken the costs with it. So to some extent, you know, we've just used it more efficiently, but obviously miles mean money at the end of the day because lots of the parts for the car have a finite life.

Q. Question for Ron Dennis. To what extent is it an advantage to run a third car on a Friday? You know, can it win you the championship?

RD: Well, to be honest, it certainly gives us the ability to verify tire choice but, I mean, whether it's a huge advantage or not is constantly debated within our own organization. The fact is that there's a degree of official and unofficial sharing of information out of the Michelin organization, and we're very comfortable with that. So I think everybody benefits. Does Michelin mind us running a third car? I don't think it's unique to us. But it is an advantage, but, of course, it puts pressure on the logistical side of Grand Prix racing, it increases those pressures. But I wouldn't say it's a huge advantage.

NF: From a team that had it and lost it, I'd say very big. (Laughter)

Q. And do you benefit from the Michelin side or do you know that you benefit?

NF: I think there's a reasonable exchange. Michelin are tremendous to work with in many ways, and there's a lot of Chinese walls there, so obviously we don't get information which is specific but obviously they use the information they get generically to give gentle guidance. But I think we've noticed quite a big difference. There's a lot of things you can do with that additional car on Friday which you lose, and certainly we've noticed it hurts a bit. It's not the end of the world, but it's an advantage.

Q. Same for you, Frank?

FW: We've not had the opportunity to run a third car. We're all a bit jealous of Ron this year in a way.

Q. Peter, still no chance of you running a third car?

PS: No. Makes no sense. It is too expensive.

Q. Question for Nick. Nick, at your launch in February, you said that you're seeking clarification regarding tobacco from the British government in particular and that you felt that would be forthcoming fairly soon. You have got three race dates left after this one where you can run tobacco. Have you had clarification? What is the status on that?

NF: In our absence over here, and maybe Ron will have some information for his sponsors, my understanding is that the question was asked in the house and to Mr. Hoon with a fairly positive response that the so-called issue of extra-territoriality was not intended, it was not intended to mean that pictures shown abroad transmitted back to the UK would result in any kind of penalty. Now, that was a verbal response in the house. Our lawyers are currently looking at that to decide whether it has a material benefit. So it's still a little bit up in the air. But at the latest I heard, once I've been out here, was that was a positive sign.

Q. Have you heard anything, Ron?

RD: No, I haven't, to be honest. One of those rare occasions where Nick is better informed than me. (Laughter)

NF: It's the age that does it, Ron. You've been around longer.

Q. I'd just like to canvas a few opinions on the single tire because some say the effect of the tire on the overall package is disproportionate, and therefore there is a case for regulating the tire, that it makes racing more interesting and it would also obviously if it was a single tire, cut your budgets by a considerable amount. Where do you stand on that? Do you agree or not?

NF: I think it comes back to what I said earlier about the pinnacle of motorsports. We all want it to remain there at the top. I think a rhetorical question is, is restricting one particular thing compatible with that? And the answer is I think that's part of the whole discussion process. Why pick on that one thing? So I think it's just part of the mix that we have to discuss as we review what we do post-Concorde agreement.

PS: The same opinion.

RD: Well, I've got mixed emotions. If we go back to the beginning of the season, I would say in the cost discussion issues, I think everybody accepted that there would be significant cost reduction as a result of a single-tire format. We struggled -- we are, in fact, spending more money at the moment on tires, primarily because the cost has moved from the tire companies to the teams because the teams have to run them for greater distances and the evaluation process is just longer and more mileage oriented.. So those are the sort of negatives.

I think the positive, and I don't know if it was by design or by accident, is that clearly the racing becomes very, very interesting in the latter parts of a Grand Prix as those cars that do not have particularly good balance suffer more and more with tire wear and the imbalance that was shrouded by the opportunity of changing tires through the race. And, you know, it's an area, as always in motor racing, if you have anything that you think gives you a slight edge, you're very reluctant to give it up. At the moment we feel pretty sure that in most races the phenomena that comes from high tire wear and an imbalance is more -- is felt more by our competitors than ourselves. So it certainly played, it plays to our strengths, as it were. Does it make motor racing more interesting? Well, I think actually some latter part of the races have been really great this year.

FW: Well, I remember the good old days when they supplied Formula One uniquely. For many years racing was arguably just as good as it is now. I must say if cost-cutting is king, then you have to have one tire only. But two tires availability means a better spread of performance. Because if you go back to let's say a Bridgestone, they were the only supplier, one was always jealous and worried about the top two teams who did all the testing. But they were inadvertently driving development in their direction.. So there's always been plenty of room for complaint.

Q. It's a question to all of you. The business aspect of Formula One is increasingly important now, and how difficult is it for you to find the sporting side of it? Or are you just feeling pretty objective about it? Can you separate the two quite easily?

RD: Mine's easy. If there wasn't a sport in Formula One, I wouldn't be in it. Simple answer. But it's a fact. I love Formula One because of the sport, not because of the financial aspects. You have to be a competent businessman to succeed, but it's too demanding on your time and your life for it to just be a way to make money.

FW: Raising money is very competitive. That, too, can be very much fun if you're successful.

NF: I think there's much easier ways to make money than this. It's extremely tough, and this is kind of my first full year. The amount of travel we have to do and even in between races is very, very significant. If you didn't enjoy the fun of the sporting side, then frankly there are better things to do. So at the end of the day, I think it's all about racing, and the rest is just there to support it. Frankly, the sooner we get some of the question marks out of the other side of it, the better, and then we can concentrate on having fun racing and making the whole racing more entertaining which I think has been fairly successful this year so far, albeit with a bit of controversy, but I think that's what we need to all focus on.

PS: I think the sport is very important for me. I'm a racer, and I like Formula One. But unfortunately we need a lot of money to do it properly.

Q. A question for Ron about what you said before, we have to discuss in a closed-door between us. Do you mean 19 or also the red one team?

RD: There's going to be an inevidentability that everyone has to sit and discuss and agree. But I think if you have a situation where there are groups of people that can agree about it, you should try and get to a situation where there's a majority view, and then obviously if that majority needs to temper its position to get unanimous view, then that's what has to happen. But some of the discussions in the past have been very difficult to have because of the total intransigence of some people and that's, I think, was the driving force that saw the majority of teams sit down and say we want to see if we can agree. But we don't accept that that's going to be an automatic given. But it's more constructive to have discussions with like-minded people.

Q. Frank, as you were talking about money early on, in the event of BMW going elsewhere, what proportion of the sponsors of your team are, shall we say, Williams sponsors and what portion are BMW sponsors, and are you confident you can retain most of those sponsors?

FW: Well, that's a business question, and I'd rather not answer it. But in simple in the event of a switch, it means we're still solidly in business.

Q. Question to Ron. Ron, last year at Spa when it became evident that you could qualify for a third car, you said you thought the rule may be changed. What does it take to change that rule? Because as things stand now, there's a certain competitor running an opposition tire lying fifth in the championship and therefore could qualify for a third car next year. What does it take to change the rule?

RD: I think to change the sporting regulations, which does not require unanimous agreement up to a specific point, and when that point was reached -- I'm trying to think of the date. Pat will probably know.

FW: 31st of October.

RD: 31st of October, up to that point it doesn't have to be unanimous and after that it has to be. When I was speaking about my view that maybe it would change, it was prior to 31st October.

Q. Another general question. There's been some talk that the calendar might shrink next year from 19 races. Do you think that's desirable? If so, do you have any guidance on whether the calendar will decrease next year?

Q. Peter, would you like to start?

PS: About the 19 races? I hope to have less, 17 is enough. Especially all this back-to-back races, it's too much for the team. And it could be worse next season because there is, I believe next season is the Soccer World Championship or something and maybe we have more back-to-back races than this year.

NF: I do wonder whether four races in five weeks that's coming up is simply too much for the customers. I think when they're that close, just how willing people are to give up their Sunday afternoons or, you know, will they be allowed to give up their Sunday afternoons to watch motorsports four out of five times. To me that's a question mark. I don't know the answer to that, so I support Peter. I think forget our side, I think we should be the entertainers, but I think the public needs to tell us whether they want that many races. For me, I don't know the answer, but I think spreading them out a little bit is probably a better move. If that means reducing it a little bit, then so be it.

FW: Well, I remember something Ron said recently at a recent team meeting that he said, the more races there are, the richer Bernie gets and the poorer the teams get. That's about right, Bernie makes the money. It costs us a great deal of money to go to extra races.

RD: Well, I mean, I've always had the view that we need a balanced championship. Obviously it costs us money to go motor racing, otherwise we wouldn't need people to invest in us by way of sponsorship, which I always hate the word because what we sell is media exposure. But putting that aside, if I had any reservations about these back-to-back races, they were definitely removed last weekend because I decided to wait until Kimi's car was released from the parc ferme, and that was delayed because of the issue of the gearbox change in Nick's car. So I was there, I think, until nearly eight o'clock. That was three really hot days. I walked up and down and watched the guys working and I tell you, they -- to do what they had to do and to disassemble and assemble, you could see everybody was extremely tired and not everyone had the motivation of a positive result. So you've got the psychology of not getting the result that you wanted blended with three hot days. And they're all back at work effectively Tuesday lunchtime. It's too much, it's too much. The impact, also, is dramatic on the families. Because you would think, of course, that they go back and have a rest, but there is no rest. They get back, and within two or three days they're working preparing the cars for the French Grand Prix. So it's just too intense at the moment. It really is.

Q. We used to sort of start the season in Argentina or Brazil or wherever in January and I think finish in Australia sometimes in November. Is there any reason we can't extend the envelope of the season or does it have to be in the windows for car-build reasons and things like that?

NF: I kind of like the idea of expanding it a bit regardless of the number of -- having done world rally for the last three years, it seems to work quite well there. You know, you don't have the time obviously to do so much testing. Obviously in rallying, usually you're not doing a new car every year. If you tie it in with some of the other proposals, maybe spreading it out a little bit and giving people a bit more time between races, not only on the provider side, on our side, as Ron says it's very intense for every team member at the moment but also for the public point of view, maybe there's some merit in that. The rally side starting the third week of January in Monte Carlo seems to work quite nicely. Just means you can't spend all that time running around in circles in Barcelona or Jerez, which may be positive.

Q. What would you feel about that, Peter? Starting earlier perhaps?

PS: I don't know. I think we need the time during the winter to build the new car and to develop the new car. We have not had a lot of test. We started in the end of November, two tests in December and some tests in January and February. It's not a lot. And when we reduce the tests during the season, I think the tests over the winter are necessary. And it's too complicated to do that together with races, especially for us because we have a small test team and we do all the tests with only one car.

RD: It's pretty complicated. It's not as simple as you first think. If you look at the simple mathematics, we all strongly want a three-week break in August. That's a very important break for all of us, especially when we say no testing in that break. If you have races every two weeks, we think that we can take that in our stride. So if you reduce the number of races down to 16 or 17, then the calendar does not require back-to-backs and you can have a reasonably close season. And I think everybody looks forward to the beginning of the Grand Prix season. If we could run year-round, I think it would be detrimental to Formula One. I think you do need a break, you need people to say, OK, that was that World Championship, forget everything that went the previous year and embark on a new one. The key is just reduce the number of races to avoid the back-to-backs. And in support of Bernie, you've really got to look at the reason why certain races happen at certain times of the year. It's climatic, it's national holidays, it's all sorts of things. We like to steer around World Cup soccer and Olympic Games. It is not quite as easy as you would imagine. But the simple mathematics are less races. That will remove some of the back-to-back races, and they are the ones that are really hard to accommodate.

FW: I've done lots of both and would rather have what we have now than starting in January.

Q. Quick question for all of you. Given there's a fair likelihood this championship could go to the wire and some things may have to in some way or other implement team orders to win a World Championship, do you think F1 is better served by banning team orders and having you guys play dumb and perhaps not admit that you are perhaps manipulating the results so the public would know what the true results were?

RD: I can give you an easy understanding. I believe that the drivers in our team, if one was faced with a mathematical impossibility of winning the championship and the other one could, I would be surprised and disappointed if by choice the drivers didn't drive in an appropriate manner. And I think one driver permitting another driver to overtake because it's in the interest of the team and his teammate does not constitute an instruction by the team. It's called having honor and integrity.

Q. Frank, would you agree with that?

FW: Yeah, I do. Ron is always talking about Max has the notion at least banned team orders, but even he recognizes the team has certain requirements as long as any maneuvering doesn't grotesquely offend the public. The guys here are clever enough to make sure there's none of that.

NF: When we get in that position, I'll let you know. (Laughter)

PS: I don't understand your question about team order.

Q. Is it more honest to hide the team orders and admit they're not happening or have them --

PS: I don't understand it. Sorry. It's too complicated for me.

Q. We'll make this the last question because of the noise outside.

Q. It's a good last question maybe. It's coming down to some human aspects. Ron, it's a question for you. I saw Kimi walking a dog in the paddock lately and just saw Juan Pablo playing with his newly born son on the back side of the pits. How do you like this new image of McLaren being a family place? (Laughter) Have you had discussions about it? Tell us a little bit how these discussions progressed, please.

RD: If wearing a Ronald McDonald uniform personally made the drivers go quicker or do get better results, I'd be the first one into it. (Laughter). The simple fact is that if these things, if I see something and I feel it's positive to the performance of the drivers, I'm completely comfortable. If I felt it was negative, I'd say something about it. And at the moment, you know, for different reasons, I think the two things that you've pointed out happen to be positive in the sense that the dog incident had some humor behind it which was not known. And I consider Juan Pablo's wife an extremely positive influence on Juan Pablo. So if the price the team has to pay to have Connie around is to bring the baby, too, then absolutely fine by me. And if it appears to be an uncharacteristically human aspect of McLaren, then, as I've said so often, you need to be in the team to understand the team. That's the way we always are, is just the circumstances in the past haven't led us to embrace the concept of prams and woofers. (Laughter)

Q. What an excellent way to end the press conference.

FW: Do you have the dog in the motorhome?

RD: No way. Actually, it was in there. (Laughter)

Q. We'll leave it there. Thank you very much indeed, gentlemen.

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