Mercedes’ Trackside Engineering Director Andrew Shovlin attended the Monaco Grand Prix Saturday Press Conference. Here is the full transcript.
Q: Andrew coming to you, seemed like a game of two halves for you guys yesterday, George happier with his car than Lewis, what were the issues?
Andrew SHOVLIN: In the first session, it was Lewis, who was a bit happier with his car. And then that balance seemed to switch a bit, going into FP2. But we were we were trying to make fairly big changes in terms of set-up to understand the important factors around this track, and then hopefully be doing more of the fine-tuning into FP3 today. So, we can pick the bones out of that: hopefully, we’ll have two of them, finding the car a bit easier. But the main thing we’ve been struggling with here has just been the ride over the kerbs and on some of the bumps. The circuit is a bit bumpy, but it seems to be tripping us up more than the others. So that’s been another of the big areas that we’ve just been focused on, over the last few hours.
Q: And in layman’s terms, why aren’t we seeing the gains that you made in Barcelona last weekend, here?
AS: Most of what you look at yesterday is actually the single-lap pace. And Barcelona, we weren’t on the pace of Ferrari in particular, but not on the pace of Red Bull. So, if you look at the single lap picture, it’s an area we know that needs work. And that was the case yesterday, if you look at the long runs, though, they were more consistent in terms of what the tyres are doing for us; they all looked to be in a good window. We’re not suffering much degradation. So it’s a similar picture. The only problem is in Barcelona, you can do something with that long run pace. And, as we know, Monaco, you need to sort the single lap. So that will be a big focus this morning.
Q: And Andrew, last one from me, can we talk about the drivers? They’re 3-3 in qualifying so far this year. Tell us about how they’re extracting the performance from the car? Do they do things very differently?
AS: We’re all working to try and understand the car, and get it in a good window. And this is not as easy as some of the cars that we’ve had in the past. So, I’ve not really been tracking where they are in terms of qualifying, but they are trying different things – but very much working with the team and the engineers to explore different directions. And they’ve both been really good in that regard. And they know that if the direction that they go with doesn’t turn out to be correct, it can cost them on a Saturday or a Sunday. But, as I said, we’ve got some more things to try this morning. But it has been really good to see the way that they’re working together. They’re both much more focused on trying to get the car further up the grid, than they are worried about whether one’s just a bit ahead of the other or not. And we just need to keep that working relationship going.
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QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Jon Noble – Motorsport.com) On the budget cap, while a majority of teams are in favour of increasing, it’s not unanimous, and there’s a danger that it doesn’t move up. What happens if the budget cap isn’t increased in its scope? Do you have to miss races, as Christian suggested? Do you lay off staff, or do you just bust the limit and hope sanctions aren’t too much?
AS: Early on, we had a plan to land on the budget cap and work within it, as I’m sure everybody did. And then as costs like the freight were coming in, at being multiples of that, or energy, and just the effect of inflation. That’s gone from being looking at ways to peg it back, to stay within, to a point where the challenge becomes insurmountable. And you have got levers that we’ve touched on, that you can push and pull your spending with. But the impact of those is not immediate. And the effect of them is not all-powerful. And that’s the situation we’re getting in now. Which is why I know Toto is very well-aligned with Christian and Mattia on this, is that everyone’s facing a position where, even with the with the best will in In the world, it’s almost impossible to bring the teams in. And people have talked about development budget. But development budget also goes to provide the parts that you’re racing with. So, it’s not this, this huge stash of money that you’re only spending on wind tunnel parts, or go-faster bits. We as a team, and I’m sure we’re no different, we’re racing parts that are more worn out, we’re carrying a lot fewer spares than we used to do. Every weekend, we’re in situations where serious incidents could see as being either unable to field the car, or you’re really cobbling together a car. And if we, if we’re not constantly replacing parts with faster ones, we’d just be spending a considerable amount of money on the same parts. So, you know, when you look at it, the challenge that our team faces, and we’re not the only one, as you know, it’s probably the majority, is a very difficult challenge. And there are one or two, who if you were if you were targeting to be below, things have fallen in your favour. But it’s an area where everyone’s working together, and hopefully, we will find a solution.
Q: (Dieter Rencken – Racing News 365) Again on the budget cap topic, but with a bit of a twist. In terms of driver and key personnel salaries going forward, given that capping those either directly through an amount or indirectly through an allowance, where do you stand on these, given the fact that it would save your teams and company owners money?
AS: I think in general, there’s no doubt that a well thought out cap can benefit the sport. And those are all areas that we’re looking at to be brought into it in the future and they’ve got to be workable. But then if you look at the situation we’ve got right now, the chassis-side cap came in, and it isn’t… At the moment it’s very difficult to see how that’s going to be workable in the in the current climate. So while they’re very useful topics and on the agendas for very good reason, it is the immediate problem that is the one that… We need to prove that we can have a cap that works for the teams for the sport. And from my point of view, that would be the priority.