In the first part, Mario Isola (Pirelli), Mattia Binotto (Ferrari) and Andreas Seidl (McLaren) "faced" the press. In the second part they were replaced by Claire Williams (Williams), Toto Wolff (Mercedes), Cyril Abiteboul (Renault).
After Spa poor results, Mattia Binotto explained what happened after the race.
"Sunday we had a long debriefing back from Spa. I think it was only a very few days to analyse because in the meantime we had to prepare Monza, to come here and be somehow ready for the race weekend. I think Spa is a difficult circuit for our car package today. It’s a difficult circuit because of power, how much it is sensitive to power and aero efficiency. So, I think it did not come as a surprise, our bad performance in Spa, knowing where our weaknesses are today. We could have done better, I believe so, I think that we started in a bad position on Friday. I think we didn’t optimise our entire full package there. And when you start behind on the grid the race is certainly a lot more difficult. So, we could have done a better job all through the weekend – but certainly it would have been anyway a difficult race for us around Spa. If I look at the entire season, hopefully the worst one".
About his drivers, he added: "Charles is very fast at the moment and when you are comparing yourself to such a fast driver is never easy, even if you are a four-time World Champion. I think that Seb is struggling a bit with braking stability. He’s not too confident with the car and certainly it’s down to us to help him. We know that he can be very fast, we know that he can be as fast as Charles but at the moment, if we look back at the last races, somehow sometimes yes, he drove well and he could drive as fast as he could – but sometimes it was not the case. There is nothing really specific. It’s really him to find the right confidence with the car all through the weekend, to have a great quali and possibly to start as much ahead as he can".
A lot of criticism is rising against Ferrari and its internal structure: some rumors were adressed by president Andrea Camilleri, but Binotto also spoke about this in the press.
"As we said, in July, we’re restructuring the technical department. Now it’s only a very little time since it happened and I think normally to see the results of a reorganisation it takes some more time. I’m pretty happy, the way I can feel that the people feel responsible, understand the matter of urgency of our situation and are working hard, are committed, united in the way to progress the car and somehow progress our competitiveness. So, I think that that’s great. In terms of new people joining Ferrari in the future. I think in F1 you can never be self-satisfied, so if there is anyone that can bring added-value to the team, it’s our responsibility to look for it and eventually to do it. You mentioned Andy Cowell. As far as I’m aware, he’s still working in Mercedes currently but certainly there are great names in F1. Is there someone very soon joining Ferrari? It’s not the case".
From this GP on, the 'party mode' will no longer be available. Will this change something for Ferrari?
"I don’t think it’s more complicated for us. We always run the same engine modes and same specification on our customer teams so whatever we will do for Ferrari will be applied to them. The Technical Directive has certainly affected all power unit manufacturers but maybe not all of them in the same entity. What we did since then is run our proper simulations, understand what was the optimum engine modes that can be used for the entire quali and race distance, knowing that the engine obviously needs to be used for several races. Eventually you will not use the same engine mode at every single race: there are races like in Monza where you may afford a higher performance mode while in other races you may decide to be more protective because it is less sensitive in terms of power. But we are as well running dyno simulations, reliability homologations at the bench to optimise our engine package towards a single engine mode. For what is Monza-related, I think what will be used here is not too far to what we’re already using in the past in the quali and that will be for the entire race distance, obviously".
Another important matter was the news that Renault might be renamed next year: the Renault Group have announced that Cyril Abiteboul will be heading up the Alpine brand moving forward.
"I need to be a bit more specific - said Cyril - what Renault has announced is really two things. First, as you know, we have a new CEO Luca De Meo come in with clearly a great vision for the group but in particular to move from value driven to a value driven organisation (sic), positioning clearly four brands at the heart of the system. One thing that he has announced is that he has big expectations indeed for Alpine and what he has asked me to do as a mission, on top of what I am currently doing, running the team, is to provide a couple of suggestions in order to build an organisation around that brand. Right now that brand is one car, one model – A110 – but we want do more and that needs an organisation: and engineering department, a product department, a sales and marketing and communication department. So that’s what I’d like to do. That’s what I’ve done for the team: building an infrastructure and a platform. That’s what I will be doing on the top. But that has absolutely no implication on the marketing strategy. It will be up to him to decide what way he wants to market the different brands. I’m just running the team.
"I’m afraid I need to say these questions are not for me, these questions are corporate strategy questions for the CEO, so I can only say that as soon as you have access to him you can ask him. My two cents is that with the new Concorde Agreement we have finally the possibility to have a stable platform in Formula 1, a great marketing platform. Again, the way we want to make use of that platform will be up for the CEO. We have a flexible platform; we have different brands. Probably rationalisation will be one of the things we need to do given the group financial result. We need to optimise the way we do things. But first there is a strategy to define and it’s not up to me to disclose".
A big part of the press was obviously dedicated to the Williams family: Claire Williams will step back as team principal after the italian Grand Prix.
"Obviously sad news to know that the Williams family is not involved any more in Formula 1 in the future - said Andreas Seidl, McLaren team principal - at the same time also positive news that, first of all, the Williams name stays in Formula 1 as far as I understand. For the future in front of us for Formula 1 there is actually interest of investors to join. And last but not least, I think it is very important for the employees as well in the Williams team that they know they have a good future. And then, regarding my personal experience with Williams. It was obviously great for me as a young, and keen engine engineer to learn my way in motorsport in a Williams garage. I always admired this unbelievable commitment and passion all these guys had at Williams in the garage, which was a great education for me. And what was simply inspiring for me was how Frank, as a team principal at this time, was also interacting on the human side with his people. I still remember when he was coming in the garage every morning, saying hello to everyone, calling out the name also, and exactly the same again each evening. That’s something that, yeah, I still admire and was very inspirational for me".
"If I think of Williams I cannot forget all the challenges we have as Scuderia Ferrari - said Mattia Binotto - our history, Williams is part of the history, always a very fair battle, a very fair challenge. I think that Williams has contributed to the F1 of today. Williams certainly is an important name, an important family for our sport so somehow it’s maybe sad but it’s also important and great to know that the Williams name will remain in F1 for the future because I think, as I said, it’s really part of the history and as Ferrari we can only remember the great challenge we had with them".
"I remember Maldonado’s victory in 2012. It was our second year in Formula 1 - said Mario Isola, Pirelli - obviously I have a lot of fond memories as a Formula 1 fan but my direct involvement with them was since 2011. It’s great that the new owner wants to keep the same name. I hope they can keep the same passion. I read what Claire said yesterday to guarantee a bright future of the team. It is hopefully the right decision and I wish them all the best because they deserve a better future than the last couple of years".
"The family have been the founders of this team and I will always hold the team high up - said Toto Wolff - it was the start of my own journey in Formula 1. I remember the first sentence that Frank Williams told me when I went there in 2009 and that was “somebody told me that you can help repay my mortgage”. This is how he is and he is super straightforward and I ended up with a shareholding in the team. I met Claire and without it meaning it in any way patronising, I thought it was very important that Claire was on the board and I’m impressed on how she grew there and what she has achieved, together with her father. I will never forget our last win in 2012 with Pastor, which was an incredible moment, also because your mum was there, and probably one of my best moments in Formula 1".
"Obviously it’s an emotional moment, because as you say, the legacy that the team is carrying today under the Renault name has had its greatest moment, also as an engine supplier, particularly as an engine supplier of Williams - said Abiteboul - they were instrumental to building Renault’s reputation in the world ( in the world of Formula 1 but also in the automotive world as a large OEM ) so it’s been great sporting moments but also great business moments. We have for instance the Clio Williams, that is still a very fancy car the people love. It has clearly been a milestone of the sport but also on the road. Myself, I fell personally in love with Formula 1 during this period. Myself, one of my best memories is when I announced in Viry that we had done an engine deal again with Williams. That win of Pastor was actually not with a Mercedes engine but with a Renault engine. That was an amazing moment also for us. It’s good that the name I understand it staying but also a bit sad when the people that are carrying the name are leaving. But it’s good that the name stays and that there is a way forward for the Williams name and also the factory and the group of people".
Claire's words were also very emotional.
"I would like to say an enormous thank you for all the support that we have received since making the announcement and I think we felt quite overwhelmed by it. Williams has obviously contributed a huge amount to Formula 1. Certainly I think the legacy that Frank and Patrick have left behind is nothing short of extraordinary, what they have achieved. Not just the support we have received in the paddock, which we’re enormously grateful for, but also the support we have received from our fans. We have some of the best fans out there and yesterday they were contacting us in their thousands and it was lovely to see and we thank them enormously for all of their support.
I think you can probably imaging how much I will miss Formula 1 and how much the family will miss Formula 1. We have been in this sport for more than four decades and we have given it our all. I think we have all felt enormously privileged for the fact that we have had the time we have had in this sport, that we haver even been in this sport. I know certainly from my perspective, I’ve always felt incredibly lucky that I was born into the Williams family, that I have grown up in this magical world that we all get to live in and work in every day; that I got to grow up around Williams and the incredible people that we have had there past and present. I will miss the people the most. It’s quite emotional for us. This has been our life for so many years. It’s what has defined us and it is who we are. But this is the start of a new chapter, not just for Williams but for our family as well".
Claire will step back as team principal right after the Italian Grand Prix, but her work is not over: she will help the transition with new owner, Dorillon.
"There were a lot of rumours swirling around in Spa about my tenure within the team and Dorilton, I would like to make it clear, wanted me to stay. This was my decision. I felt that it was the right choice for me to step away. I’ve forgotten the rest of the question! Yes, there will be a period of transition. Sorry Chris. I’m going to be working… this is obviously going to be my last race weekend but I am going to be working a few days a week over the course of the next few weeks in order to hand over in order to talk to Dorilton about the team, the inner workings of the team and the expertise that they need to come in. Obviously they’re in the business already, they’re doing their due diligence, they’re reviewing the capabilities and they are looking at what they can do in order to invest into the business and I will be helping them with that to advise them over the coming weeks".
"We have had an extraordinary time in this sport - she lastly said - we have loved every minute of it. We’ve obviously had some amazing highs. We’ve equally had an awful lot of lows. I feel a bit that our family has given a huge amount to this sport. I think Frank… what he has achieved I will forever be in awe of and I know that there are probably many fans around the world as well. I hope that those fans continue to support our team like they’ve done over the four decades that we’ve been in Formula 1. We thank them enormously but we equally thank everybody that we’ve met along the way that have been so supportive of us. We thank everybody in the paddock that we’ve had such a wonderful time getting to know and working alongside. There are so many people I could thank but the list would be endless and we’d be here all afternoon and we’ve got practice to get to but I most of all wish our team well. This is obviously incredibly emotional. It’s a very sad weekend for us but as I said, it feels the right time so leave but we will always wish our team well. We wish the new owners well and we will always follow this sport, this sport that has given us so much, a sport that we have been in for the pure love of it and for no other reason and we wish everybody in this sport great success in the future and we will all be watching".