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GP Week : Issue 44
So the concept of the budget cap. There’s a lot of discussion over it but are you in favour of it in principal? Completely in favour. Formula 1 is all about manufacturer teams as well as independent teams. If this was a pure manufacturers championship and the independent teams disappeared I think Formula 1 would be hurt. I think it’s a mix of both that keeps it as exciting as it is now. And I think that now people also root for the underdogs. I have seen it back in India. Vettel winning a race for Red Bull and being so competitive against the big teams has gone down extremely well and people really said “wow, this is now fun to watch.” In the last few years it’s almost been like a procession, you know? Every race you could predict the first four on the grid without having to understand the game. It was either a McLaren or a Ferrari, nobody else had a chance. But now you see a guy like Vettel winning races and that stimulates a lot of interest. So yes there should be a budget cap because indefinitely we cannot compete with those who have unlimited spending power. Certainly I will spend what I think is reasonable to run a Formula 1 team competitively but I am not willing to spend an unlimited sum of money. It doesn’t make business sense. Let’s talk drivers. Giancarlo and Adrian are doing a good job but the car does look competitive and there’s been talk you might be looking at a change of drivers at some point, potentially at mid-season. I don’t know who has given you this idea, but stability is very important. Adrian I have always believed has huge talent and he is getting better every race. Giancarlo and his experience of having driven in over 200 grands prix, shows through in so many ways, particularly his feedback which allows the engineers to improve the car. I am not intending to do anything for 2009, and when it comes to 2010 I think it’s a little premature now to be thinking about it. Maybe later in the year I will have to start thinking about it. But right now the focus is on getting the Barcelona upgrade on the car and ready to race. Then we have another upgrade in Monaco and then in Germany we will introduce KERS, because the car is KERS enabled and we have a contract with Mercedes for the KERS. By that time the KERS will have been sorted out, McLaren will use their experience and the KERS system will have been debugged if there were any bugs. 32 So yeah, we’re in pretty good shape. And I think that, at the end of the day, I think it is important that we are respectable. We’re not just some minnows sitting at the back of the grid following everybody else around. We’re racing. And the gap between the top and the bottom is what used to be the gap between first and fourth. Absolutely, so if we are able to keep pace with that there is every reason to be proud of what this team has done with the resources that we have. Sticking with the subject of drivers for a minute, you’ve got the phenomenally quick Tonio Liuzzi as your test driver and there’s been talk in the press that you’re interested in Bruno Senna and Karun Chandhok for 2010. You see, I have made only one statement about drivers and I have said that in 2009 I do not intend to make any change, but when it comes to beyond 2009 what do I look at? Do I look at drivers from other teams? No. I look at who are the performers in GP2 who are going to come up, and what I said was, and I’d like to clarify this in relation to Bruno Senna, I made the point that there were not too many drivers coming out of GP2. I mean literally from last season who would you say? There was Senna, there was di Grassi, Pantano… that was it. It wasn’t like you had a whole menu card to choose from. And then Buemi got to F1 which was a shock… With the greatest of respect, I had never even heard of Buemi!. I was looking at GP2 and I said to the journalist, “look there are not that many coming up from GP2. You have a few like Bruno Senna,” and then of course it was turned around and suddenly I am signing him. Obviously I’ll have to look at this for next year sooner or later. I’ve got many considerations. If we are going to use KERS and KERS is successful and if it is going to be used next year, because as part of this budget cap I don’t know what the FIA will say about KERS, if it will be a standard system , mandatory for teams that don’t accept the budget cap, but then when you start using KERS you immediately have to look at driver weight, because that affects the car. So there are a lot of things that are still unclear. Let’s talk cricket. How’s it going? Not too good. Flintoff got injured for Chennai Super Kings and has gone back to England. Kevin [Pietersen] hasn’t been getting too many runs, and so… well what can you say?