This week's Hungarian Grand Prix will mark the start of the Etihad Aldar Spyker Formula One Team's new driver line-up of Adrian Sutil and Sakon Yamamoto. Twenty-five year-old Sakon, from Toyohashi, Japan, made his Formula 1 debut at his home...
This week's Hungarian Grand Prix will mark the start of the Etihad Aldar Spyker Formula One Team's new driver line-up of Adrian Sutil and Sakon Yamamoto.
Twenty-five year-old Sakon, from Toyohashi, Japan, made his Formula 1 debut at his home Grand Prix in Suzuka with Spyker's predecessors, Jordan, in 2005. This season Sakon has been racing in the GP2 series with BCN Competition, but steps up to Spyker with a considerable amount of F1 experience after making his race debut at the 2006 German Grand Prix with Super Aguri.
Colin Kolles, team principal and managing director
Q: A new driver line-up for the second Grand Prix in a row! What made you go for Sakon?
CK: Sakon is a very good all-round package. We were very clear that the driver we chose needed to bring a certain financial benefit, but needed to have good, relevant experience too. Sakon has both covered. He has driven on all of the circuits we are going to in the second half of the season, except for Spa, which will be an advantage to the team as we move forward.
Q: Will Sakon race in all the races this year?
CK: Yes, Sakon has a permanent place in the team from now until the end of the season. As a team we are permitted four driver changes over the course of a season, and we have run four drivers, including Sakon, now.
Q: Do you think Adrian Sutil and Sakon be a strong pairing?
CK: Yes, I would like to think so. Adrian has experience of the car and is very well-integrated in the team, while Sakon has experience of the circuits we go to now. On a personal level, they are also both eager to do well and demonstrate they can race at the highest level of motorsport. This kind of hunger and enthusiasm can only be good for us as this is when a driver gets the most out of the car.
Q: How would you react to claims that two driver changes in as many races destabilises the team?
CK: I don't think it has. Anyone who came to the Nurburgring saw the impact Markus had - we had more TV and press coverage than we have had. And we led the race - for the first time ever - so clearly it has had no impact on the race track. I think with Sakon it will be the same, although we are not expecting to lead again - those were very exceptional circumstances.
Q: How did it feel to see the Spyker up there in P1?
CK: Of course it was a good feeling. We might have been lucky with the weather, but we got the strategy exactly right, which was not down to luck, and Markus had a very controlled drive. It shows that when all things are difficult, we can be on top of it. When we get the new car, who knows what will happen if the same situation happens again?
Q: Will Markus Winkelhock remain the test and reserve driver for the rest of the year?
CK: Markus did an excellent job in the European Grand Prix, but we were very clear that he was not, unfortunately, in a position to be able to fill the seat until the end of the season. He will continue in the role of reserve driver and attend races. Obviously we know that if he does need to step up to race, he will do a good job for us.
Q: How do you feel to be back racing in Formula 1?
SY: It was a surprise to get the call from Spyker, but at the same time I was, and still am, really glad to come back to Formula 1. Obviously I haven't had a normal testing programme this year, but I drove an F1 car in February, and I do not think this will be a problem. I am excited to be back in a race seat.
Q: You have already raced on the circuits we are visiting in the final part of the season. Is this an advantage for you?
SY: I know all the circuits quite well, except Spa-Francorchamps where we didn't go last year. But last year I was in the situation where I had to learn the circuits and the car very quickly, so I think I will know this one quickly too. I am quite relaxed going to this part of the season.
Q: Which circuits did you enjoy last year and what are you looking forward to this year?
SY: Last year I enjoyed every race, but the ones that were just fantastic were the Japanese Grand Prix, then Brazil. This last race was especially good - I set the 7th quickest lap in the race and then the second quickest sector time in sector two, which we didn't expect at all! This was a great result for us so I'm looking forward to going to Brazil again.
Q: What will be your aims for the remainder of the season?
SY: Of course I would like to be really quick, score points and finish as many races as possible. The target though has got to be to help Spyker score their first points.
Q: Does it feel familiar to be back? You first got your experience of F1 with the same team.
SY: I tested for the team (although it was a different name then!) back in 2005 and drove a Friday practice session in the Japanese Grand Prix. It's an advantage as I know some of the engineers and mechanics, so it's easy to get back into the team.