Q and A with Mike Gascoyne
Chief technical officer of the Spyker Formula One team, Mike Gascoyne has reviewed the recent Belgian Grand Prix where the team’s driver Adrian Sutil put in the drive of his life. He also looks ahead to the upcoming fifteenth round at the newly revamped Fuji circuit where he expects the updated car to perform even better.
Were you satisfied with the results of the Belgian GP?
The whole team was certainly buoyed by the progress in Spa. In Qualifying we were stronger, and without a small error on his quickest lap Adrian could have finished even higher up the order. We then converted that on race day into a good performance. Adrian in particular had a fantastic race, with the only disappointment not being able to get past Coulthard on his one-stop strategy, which cost us a couple of places.
Qualifying pace in particular was better than in previous races, with Adrian just missing out on Q2 by less than half a second.
I think we still need to work on it, but there was a definite improvement. Adrian is undoubtedly getting more comfortable with the car and almost getting the most out of it in Qualifying and Sakon getting more used to the car. People forget that we still have two very inexperienced drivers mostly going to circuits for the first time, but in Japan we should have an advantage as both drivers have a lot of experience of the circuit. The other drivers don't have any experience of the track so the playing field should be more level.
This is the first time that the team has been to Fuji Speedway though. From an engineering point of view, how do you prepare for circuits you have never visited before?
Obviously we don't have historical data to refer to, but we are able to perform a lot of simulation work back in the factory. The most difficult aspect is knowing which curbs you can run and not run over, so it is difficult to be totally prepared. This undoubtedly means more work on the Friday and you will see people doing more laps than they usually do.
Do you have any new updates on the car for the Japanese Grand Prix?
Yes, we do. We have new aero parts coming through for Japan. As we stated at the launch of the new B-spec car, the debut was only the start of the process. We have new rear wings, amendments on the front wing and now there will be new parts from at every race until the end of the season.
The weather in Japan could be very changeable. The team has shown in previous races it isn't afraid to take a chance. Do you think this could be an opportunity for the team?
I don't think we have taken any risky strategies, we've just chosen the right ones and made the right calls when it mattered. We proved that we can think on our feet, and we will be trying to do that in coming races. If the weather does prove to be changeable, we know as a team that we can take advantage.
Fuji is almost a circuit of two halves; the longest straight of the season at 1.5km and then a tight technical section. Is this going to be a challenge for the team?
Fuji is a very long circuit with a long straight, but the rest of the lap requires more downforce so set-up will always be a compromise. However we know that the B-spec has significantly less drag than the old car and we know that this will help us in Fuji, plus China and Brazil. In Spa we had good straight-line speed and were one of the fastest cars, which enabled us to take so many people on the opening lap, so if we get the set-up right, we could be in the same position.
What are your aims for this race?
I think we need to be racing the group with the updates we have got. We want to be competitively racing and if the circumstances come about when we can steal a point that would be a fitting end to the season and a reward for everyone's hard work. I think we can be really confident going into next year.