Q: Pat, after a weekend during which the R23B demonstrated impressive speed, it must be frustrating to come away with just one fifth place finish? Pat Symonds: Yes, it's a disappointing result. Throughout the weekend, we believed we had the ...
Q: Pat, after a weekend during which the R23B demonstrated impressive speed, it must be frustrating to come away with just one fifth place finish?
Pat Symonds: Yes, it's a disappointing result. Throughout the weekend, we believed we had the potential to win with either driver. Jarno took pole on Friday, and was quick on high fuel runs, while even Fernando's ultimate qualifying position gave us a chance of winning. During the race, we showed our confidence wasn't misplaced, but circumstances intervened to prevent us from achieving what we were capable of.
Q: Even so, Jarno put in a fantastic drive from nineteenth.
Symonds: Jarno put in one of his best drives of the year yesterday. He raced in very difficult circumstances from the back of the grid, but attacked all the way and made the best of every opportunity. Moving from nineteenth to fifth position in a race which saw just four retirements is quite an achievement, and the only way of doing so is with a strong, aggressive drive.
Q: As for Fernando, we were just beginning to see the race unfold in terms of strategy when he retired.
Symonds: Indeed. We would very likely have switched him to a two stop strategy after we fuelled the car for a long second stint. He started the race on three stops, but we designed the stop points in such a way that he could switch to two if the weather, or the way the race unfolded, dictated so. His speed immediately afterwards justified the decision and without a doubt, with one less stop to make than Rubens, we could have beaten him by a safe margin.
Q: The final races of the season have been frustrating, but the B-spec R23 has been competitive everywhere. Did the performance of the new mid-season package exceed expectation?
Symonds: I think it has done exactly what it expected of it to be honest. The introduction of the major update at Silverstone, as well as the continued development by the engine division, really helped us maintain an extremely competitive pace in the latter part of the year. In addition, our tyre partner Michelin continued to work very hard. With more freedom of choice on tyres this year, we were able to press home the innate advantage that our chassis has.
Q: As for the future, what does the winter hold for the team?
Symonds: 2003 has been a relatively satisfying season, but we don't underestimate the large amount of work that still has to be done in order to win the World Championship. The key to success in 2004 will be to enhance the weaker areas of our package while ensuring that the stronger parts do not suffer in any way. The wind tunnel figures for next year's car are promising and we are confident the chassis will be as good as ever. By moving to a new engine architecture, which will better suit the demands of the 700km engine life regulations, I think we are putting in place the components required to a more successful year in 2004.