Fresh from scoring its first-ever World Championship point in last weekend's Japanese Grand Prix, the Etihad Aldar Spyker Formula One Team moves to Shanghai for the Chinese Grand Prix this weekend. After a strong all-round performance in Japan,...
Fresh from scoring its first-ever World Championship point in last weekend's Japanese Grand Prix, the Etihad Aldar Spyker Formula One Team moves to Shanghai for the Chinese Grand Prix this weekend. After a strong all-round performance in Japan, the team will be looking for a further points haul at the 5.451km Shanghai International Circuit on the outskirts of China's largest city.
Twenty-four year old Adrian Sutil drove a storming race at a rain-soaked Fuji Speedway, scything up the field from 20th on the grid to 9th at the flag fall. He was later promoted to 8th after the end of the race when FIA Stewards noted that Vitantonio Liuzzi, who had claimed 8th on track 4.5secs ahead of Adrian, had passed the young German under a yellow flag.
After a difficult start to the season, Adrian and the team were delighted to pick up their first point at round 15 of the 17-event series. Sakon Yamamoto also put in a strong performance in the exceptionally difficult conditions to finish in 12th position, his best-ever finish in F1 and the highest-classified Japanese driver in his home race.
The team will be looking to continue this upturn in form in the Chinese Grand Prix from 5 - 7 October.
Colin Kolles, team principal and managing director:
Q: After 15 tough races for the team, you must be delighted with the outcome of the Japanese Grand Prix.
CK: After Midland failed to score any points in 2006, it was our aim this year to secure at least one point with Spyker. At the start of the championship everyone said it wasn't possible, but now thanks to the hard work and continued determination of the team we have finally got it. It's a great reward to everyone and it will be a good motivating factor going into the winter and next season.
Q: Adrian Sutil drove a very measured race in difficult conditions. How impressive was that performance to you?
CK: A lot of people thought after the mid point of the season that Adrian was quick, but I believe they also thought he was a little too 'enthusiastic'. We always knew that taking a rookie driver on will have these risks, but also knew that he had the potential to be very, very good.
In Turkey he kept calm when he was being put under pressure by the Hondas; in Belgium he showed he could be patient and attack only when the time was right. Now in Japan in difficult conditions he kept it on track and got past a lot of experienced drivers. I think this shows clearly how far he has come and how much he has matured.
Q: Sakon too had a good race.
CK: Yes, in only his fifth race for the team and his 12th ever F1 race, he showed how he could keep it together and bring the car to the finish to get his best result to date. Since he has joined the team he has been hard-working and professional and it's a great result for him, especially in front of his home crowd.
Q: That first point was also a boost for the team as it moved you to 9th in the constructors' championship. How important is that for the team?
CK: Our aim was to finish in the top 10, so to be 9th is beyond our expectations. Financially it will be very important, but for the motivation of all the team members it is a real boost. Of course now we have got it, we will still want more! We've been quicker than the Hondas in the past two races and they have two points, so this is now our target.
Mike Gascoyne, chief technical officer:
Q: How gratifying was it to see the team finally score its first point on only its third race with the new B-spec car?
MG: It's very satisfying and it really exceeds our expectations as a team. We've introduced a new car, we have a 100% finishing record with it and have raced other teams with a much higher budget than ours. To score a point is all we could have asked for and it's a just reward for all the team. Just because we are at the back of the grid, we don't work any less than the teams at the top, so I am very pleased we have got this point and am very proud of everyone involved.
Q: What is your verdict on the weekend as a whole?
MG: Saturday was disappointing, as we didn't show what we were capable of in the wet. In the race we were much more competitive, and we were more competitive on Friday in the dry. Really it was a very good weekend all round. Adrian obviously got the point, but Sakon also did a very good job, he was quick, consistent and got everything right.
Q: The B-spec now seems to be a real force. How pleased are you to see this step in performance?
MG: It is very encouraging. We've now had two cracking races with the B-spec car, and six finishes out of six with it as well. So the team is doing a good job. Teams with far more resources than us have not been as successful or seen such a step forward with the new mods they have introduced, so this result in Japan is very good for the team. Now we've got the wind tunnel up and running, give us six months before next season and people will have to look out.
Q: Are there any more modifications for China?
MG: The cars in China will be the same specification as the ones we raced in Japan. We were very competitive on Friday and in the race so I hope we should continue to do well in this race.
Q: Do you think the B-spec car will suit the Shanghai International Circuit?
MG: In China there are two long straights going into long corners, so the downforce levels will be very important. I think you will see higher levels of downforce here than in Japan but I hope you will see the same level of performance from us as a team.
Q: Again we saw the team out-race two works teams. How far can you go this season with the current package?
MG: If we have a race with mixed conditions, we have already proved that we can get the strategy calls right and, if this happens again, I hope we would be able to score another point and go up another position in the championship. On Sunday there is a chance of another tropical storm, which would make it extremely wet. We'll of course be looking to exploit this.