Paddy Lowe: “What’s great about Formula One is the spectrum of spectator we have”

paddy lowe 2015

Paddy: “What’s great about Formula One is the spectrum of spectator we have”

Well, we have to start with your afternoon. Fastest for Lewis Hamilton, but then a big jump over the kerbs half way through the session and he ended it nose first in the barriers in what looked like an aquaplaning incident. Could you tell us a bit about the afternoon, why he went out and how much damage there is?

PL: Today didn’t quite end the way we wanted it to. The simple reason is we went out to do some practice race starts. That’s a normal part of our P2 programme. Because the programme was very condensed in the short window of dry weather that we had, we chose not to do those practice starts in the dry period but then to go out before it became very, very wet indeed and try and get two or three race starts done. Unfortunately the conditions worsened quicker than we had anticipated and the conditions caught Lewis out in an unfortunate manner. But we’ll get it sorted for tomorrow and it should be all fine.

It was noticeable that the car was swinging around quite considerably when it was on the crane. Were there any concerns as you were watching that and was there any additional damage sustained?

PL: We were worried watching that, actually. I think there’s some minor damage to the rear end which came from the crane handling but nothing serious.

Going back to the last race – have you had to change anything in terms of the protocols, the procedures from the pitwall and the decision-making processes in light of what happened at the end of the Monaco Grand Prix?

PL: There was a mistake made and we always look at all errors and decide what to learn from them and how that carries across to other aspects of what we do. There were some problems with the software so we’ve fixed some bugs that were in that, changed some of our communications and freed up some of the people involved so they have a bit more capacity. So there are changes. While I have the opportunity, I want to point out that there’s been a bit of a story that I thought this wasn’t really a big deal. Of course it was a big deal. I think the point I was trying to make was that it was a single error, a small error which had, of course, a big consequence. But I really need to stand up for my team of guys who’ve made very few errors over the last couple of years and put that in context. Formula One is a complex business with a lot of things to get right and most of
the time we do that.

We’re potentially looking at a new tyre manufacturer to come into the sport within a couple of years and there seems to be a general consensus to go to with much larger diameter wheels. How soon are you going to need to know about that design decision and whether you can fill the larger wheels with bigger brakes or bigger ducts?

PL: There is a new tyre contract out for 2017 onwards and the subject of bigger wheels has actually been raised over the last five or eight years. But actually I would correct you – I think the broad consensus is that going to bigger wheels is not a good direction. Certainly from a grip point of view it’s not positive. Like for like, such tyres will have a lower grip and the weight will go up considerably, so it’s not an attractive direction performance-wise. I think generally we would intend to stick with the 13 inch wheels.

In recent weeks, we’ve seen the GPDA launch a fan survey and already responses have come in from over 200,000 people in nearly 200 countries. Have been any discussions about how we can mobilise this global support in a time when Formula One access is becoming increasingly complicated and expensive, to ensure the long term health. And, do you have any interest in the data therein?

PL: What’s great about Formula One is the spectrum of spectator we have – from the casual viewer through to the enthusiast who has a great hunger to understand all the technicalities. I think that’s what makes the sport extremely rich and why it’s been popular for so long. I think the thing we’ve got to make sure of is that we keep giving the information to those people who want to understand the technicalities so they can feel involved, which is certainly something we can work harder on.


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