Nick Shorrock, Michelin's F1 programme director discusses the Japanese Grand Prix, and the forthcoming title decider... Q: Nick, a week on from Suzuka, how have you analysed the Japanese Grand Prix? Nick Shorrock: We need to consider the ...
Nick Shorrock, Michelin's F1 programme director discusses the Japanese Grand Prix, and the forthcoming title decider...
Q: Nick, a week on from Suzuka, how have you analysed the Japanese Grand Prix?
Nick Shorrock: We need to consider the weekend's events in chronological order. On Friday, rain disrupted our running, but we were still able to run in dry conditions during the final ten minutes of the afternoon. We were pretty pleased, and our cars were competitive. However, we didn't have any information about the consistency over longer runs. So with our partners, we planned a major series of tests for Saturday morning. All our cars ran with lots of fuel, and that's why we didn't look competitive at certain points in the session.
Q: What were you expecting before qualifying?
NS: After the third practice session, we knew that our rivals had a significant performance advantage, and could not explain it. However, in spite of this, our partners teams, including Renault, decided to focus on the race. We drew a line under qualifying, and our choices were designed to optimise our race performance as we knew our tyres were consistent. Our work on Saturday morning had shown us that the tyres had the same characteristics as we observed during our testing in Silverstone.
Q: So were you optimistic for Sunday?
NS: Yes and no. We didn't have a good night! We could not explain the gap to the Bridgestone tyres over one lap. However, when the race began, we were on the same pace as Ferrari, and perhaps even a little faster as Fernando was catching Michael when his engine failed. The track temperatures had cooled by a few degrees and our tyres, particularly the prime tyres, were then in their optimum operating window. That was a first explanation. And the conditions also caused some graining problems for Ferrari...
Q: What tyres are you preparing for Brazil?
NS: We are finalising the specifications at the moment, and we will go to Brazil with ten different types of tyre. They need to respond to some very specific challenges, as the region around Interlagos can hold some surprises in terms of the weather. The track surface is not as abrasive as Suzuka, so we have chosen medium hardness tyres. We also visited the circuit in early September, and saw that the asphalt had not changed significantly relative to 2005. Three short portions will have been resurfaced, and that should not have a major impact.
Q: Renault is leading both championships. Can you afford to be cautious?
NS: I don't think so. Of course, we will not go extremely aggressive, as we did with some of our tyres in Magny-Cours for example. But we need to perform well, and we have been talking a lot with Pat Symonds. The tyres will need to be spot on, and if they are not, we will pay a heavy price in lap-time.
Q: It will also be a special weekend for Michelin, as it is the company's last race before leaving F1...
NS: That's true. Psychologically, it will be an important weekend, and a difficult one too. We will certainly be a little more tense, although the result in Suzuka means we are calmer than we would otherwise have been. But anything can still happen, and nothing has been won yet -- far from it. We will feel a little sad after the race, but we hope that the result will put a smile on our face. In addition to our usual teams, we will be inviting 30 of our personnel who have made a major contribution to Michelin's success in F1.
Q: Whatever happens in Brazil, it has been a fabulous season, hasn't it?
NS: Yes. We should really pay tribute to our competitors, whose teamwork has pushed us like never before. And Flavio and Pat Symonds have pushed us hard at times too! Winning is one thing. But to win after such a hard battle would be even better. We are determined to finish as champions.