After two races in Europe, the FIA Formula One World Championship now heads away for two more 'flyaway' events. This time, the series travels to North America, making a stop in Montreal and the 4.361km Circuit de Gilles Villeneuve for the Canadian...
After two races in Europe, the FIA Formula One World Championship now heads away for two more 'flyaway' events. This time, the series travels to North America, making a stop in Montreal and the 4.361km Circuit de Gilles Villeneuve for the Canadian Grand Prix from 8 - 10 June and just one week later to the USA and the famous Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Despite a frustrating Monaco race, the Etihad Aldar Spyker Formula One Team came away from the weekend pleased with its overall improvement in pace relative to the rest of the field. It now looks to continue to improve over the next two races before returning to Europe for the French and British Grands Prix.
Colin Kolles, team principal and managing director:
Q: Monaco was difficult for the team, but there are some positives to take away from the weekend?
CK: Of course! The race speed was very good. We lapped at a similar pace to the cars right up to the top 10 and Adrian drove well to keep the Aguri and the Toyota behind him. At the end of the race Christijan too was doing the same lap times as the cars in front. Very positively, Adrian put in a brilliant lap at the end of Saturday practice to go top of the timesheets, a position he completely deserved. The timing was right, the car was perfect and Adrian was on top of his form. Other cars were on track at the time, including Raikkonen, and they actually crossed the line after him and didn't go quicker. He's a real talent and just because we are at the back of the grid, we shouldn't rule him out of springing a surprise.
Q: Ultimately though, the team didn't finish, you said after Malaysia that this was unacceptable.
CK: Nobody in any team is ever going to be satisfied if two cars don't make it to the chequered flag, especially now we have completed 25% of the season. I am not going to make excuses for this or say that I am happy about it, but you have to move on and be realistic about situations. Monaco is a circuit that if the circumstances work with you, you can do very well, or make a tiny mistake and you're out - it can be that close. Adrian is one of those cases; he missed a braking point by just a metre or so and touched the barrier. Under normal circumstances, this would not have put him out of the race.
Q: Is the team still focussed on getting a top 10 finish in the Constructors' Championship this year?
CK: That has to be the goal. We have to focus on getting the cars to the finish, staying out of trouble and being there should any of the other cars have problems. It's still achievable I think.
Q: Another story to come from the Monaco Grand Prix weekend were reports about Spyker Cars being in financial difficulty. How does this reflect on the Formula 1 team?
CK: The Formula 1 team's security is not based on the profits, losses or financial security of Spyker Cars NV in any way. Spyker Formula One is financed through its own consortium of investors, partners and suppliers and we are not reliant on input from the road car division. We have the full support of Spyker Cars and likewise we take a more than active interest in their success, but observers should not be predicting the fall of the F1 team any time soon. We have set goals and objectives and we will not be happy until we achieve them.
Mike Gascoyne, chief technical officer:
Q: Aside from the final result, Monaco was not too bad a weekend for the team overall.
MG: I think it was a very positive weekend. It was the first time this year where we have genuinely outqualified some people on pace and we would have finished ahead of some teams on pace. It wasn't just by default or them not finishing. Having a good race pace is obviously a step forward and with Adrian we could have finished in front of people. It's a shame that Christijan's problem in Qualifying ultimately influenced his race - we went for an aggressive strategy that meant a safety car had to be called for him to get anything out of it. It's disappointing not to have got both cars to the finish, but things are looking up.
Q: Do you think the performance of the F8-VII cars in Monaco was due to the fact that the cars are more suited to the low-speed, high downforce circuits?
MG: I don't think it's necessarily anything to do with the nature of the Monte Carlo circuit, I think we are seeing the true level of performance of the car now. Some people did struggle, and this was probably due to the circuit, but I think our pace is just a sign of the progress the team is making. It's not just the high downforce circuits - we had a good test in low downforce configuration at Paul Ricard too. I hope we will see a similar relative speed in Canada and Indy.
Q: Do you consider that this relative improvement is due to the controlled amount of testing - you're not at a disadvantage now compared to the others?
MG: For Spain and Monaco we had tested for the events before and I think the level of performance in Monaco was representative of this, whereas it was not the case for the first three events. Some of the bigger outfits with large test teams are able to test ad infinitum, whereas we don't have the resources or the personnel to do so. Controlled testing allows us to have the same amount of access and testing as everyone else, so it does level things out.
Q: Canada is twinned with Indianapolis, just one week later. How does this long-haul double-header event affect preparations?
MG:Now the season is up and running we are very used to packing up and travelling away. It's been a tough start to the season with five flyaways in the first seven events, but we now we have a decent supply of parts and, provided there are not too many accidents in Canada, there shouldn't be any problems.
Q: The wind tunnel facility in Brackley is nearing completion now. How will that help the team's programme going to future races?
MG: The wind tunnel will switch on in the next week or so and then the commissioning process will start soon after. By the end of June it will be up and running and within a couple of months of that will go to 24 hour running, which will be a big boost for the team. It might have taken a little bit longer than expected to get the modifications through, but certainly once we've got it up and running it will have a big influence on our performance next year as it is where biggest gains will be found.
Q: How will the Brackley tunnel slot into the Aerolab programme?
MG:We are working very closely with Aerolab and, at present, with Lola until our own tunnel is up and running so we are used to integrating two programmes. This will just continue as we run in our own tunnel. At the moment we will focus on aero development, but certainly for next year and the future we will also look to expand other departments, which we will need to do to match the flow of parts that will come from the wind tunnel.
Etihad Aldar Spyker Formula One Team chief engineer, Dominic Harlow, discusses the challenges of the Canadian Grand Prix:
"The Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve is a street circuit set on an island in the Saint Lawrence sea-way. It's a spectacular venue, just next to the rowing venue from the Montreal Olympics of 1976."
"For the second consecutive race, there are concrete walls close by and mistakes can be very costly: the so-called `World Champions` wall has ended many driver`s laps within sight of the finish line as they exit the quick final chicane."
"The overriding character of the circuit is hard braking into slow first and second gear chicanes and hairpins, which make it the most testing circuit of the year for brakes. Other considerations for the set-up are based around the traction because you've got quite a high maximum speed, and a low minimum speed, so there's a lot of braking and a lot of accelerating in first, second and third gears from the chicanes. You end up with a set-up that's obviously biased towards stability under braking, but usually that gives you some understeer, so it's a trade-off between those two for the best set-up."
"The generally slow, short corners and numerous traction and braking events can make it hard to warm-up the front tyres if the weather is on the cooler side. Usually the grip starts low but there is quite a lot of circuit improvement during the weekend. The track is, because of the harsh Canadian winters, quite bumpy despite fairly regular maintenance."
"Tyre compounds are as soft as Monaco, and during last year`s race rubber 'marbles' worn off the tyres by understeer and wheelspin made it almost impossible to drive off-line. Overtaking is anyway quite difficult, with only two real opportunities where you have any real chance of passing being the two quickest straights, into the hairpin and back up to the final chicane. We tend to start with a slightly higher wing level when the track is green and try to decrease it as the grip goes up, trimming it out for the maximum possible top end for the race."
"It's quite often a race of attrition with accidents, engine problems and brake issues that often cause retirements and, as with Monaco, a safety car period in the race is likely due to the close proximity of the walls. In addition, at certain parts of the track, the difficulty of clearing cars - for example, after T7 there is a sheer drop alongside the circuit down into the sea where you run a risk of being mowed down by the huge tankers and freighters that come and go within sight of the circuit!'"