The name Spyker isn't exactly new to Formula One; the team, which was previously Jordan and then Midland, carried the moniker Spyker MF1 since the car maker took over Midland in 2006 and since the beginning of this year it's simply...
The name Spyker isn't exactly new to Formula One; the team, which was previously Jordan and then Midland, carried the moniker Spyker MF1 since the car maker took over Midland in 2006 and since the beginning of this year it's simply SpykerF1. 2007 is hoped to be a new beginning for the Dutch outfit. The Spyker F8-VII was launched at Silverstone on February 5th, just over the road from headquarters, and a fresh momentum and stability seemed to be in the air.
The 2007 car sports a distinctive orange livery and presenting it was memorable for Michiel Mol, director of the team. "This is an emotional moment for me, it's very special," he said. "It's history in the making. It's amazing to see what we have achieved over the past few months to get this car together, and now today we unveil the first Formula One car of Spyker."
On the technical side, the F8-VII is said to be a "solid base on which to build" and some things that have been proven in the past, such as the steering rack, have remained unchanged. The chassis is still high but effectively has a zero keel as opposed to last year's twin keel. The gearbox is a little longer and, naturally, the change to a Ferrari engine has made the back of the car rather different.
"It's difficult to say at this time what the strengths will be," said technical director James Key, seeing as the car has yet to hit the track. "But I think there's a few things we can probably say with confidence at this stage. It's a much more refined car than we had last year. We've identified weaknesses with the M16 we had in 2006 and tried to address them."
"So the quality of the product, if you like, is better. We've taken weight out of the car so there's more flexibility with the set up and weight distribution, which is fundamental to the tyres. Other strengths certainly include the engine. We've got the Ferrari in there now and we're very pleased with the way that's gone, the relationship with Ferrari."
For Mike Gascoyne, joining Spyker is something of a homecoming as before he was technical director with Toyota and Renault, he worked with Jordan. As Spyker's chief technical officer it's a bit different from his previous team Toyota, a huge corporate presence compared to Spyker's fledgling racing identity.
"I had a few months off and had a chance to think about what I wanted to do in the future and, actually, it was a very easy decision when these guys came round to see me and explained their vision of where they wanted to go," Gascoyne said of his choice of Spyker. "Knowing the team and how it's set up… I'm under no illusions about the work that needs to be done and how to move forward and it was a very simple decision to make. It's a great challenge for the future that gives me motivation to take the team to the front."
"The design of the car was all very much under way, near enough complete," he added of when he joined the team in November last year. "James (Key) has done a great job with this car, with the resources that he had, the whole team has done a fantastic job so really, compliments to all those guys. I'm concentrating on the long-term future to build the company from a technical point of view."
"The team has the resources now with the stable future that its got, so we can really start to plan to be a more competitive team. It's clear from the management that's what they've targeted James to achieve and he's done a fantastic job, so hopefully later in the year we'll make it more and more competitive."
Dutchman Christijan Albers joined the team as Midland MF1 in 2006 and continues this season, along with German rookie Adrian Sutil. Spyker has no less than four test drivers to its name: Malaysian Fairuz Fauzy, Spaniard Adrian Valles, German Markus Winkelhock and (the still-debated with Super Aguri) Dutchman Giedo van der Garde.
A Dutch team, Dutch sponsors; Albers must feel right at home… "I'm really proud to be here, to be part of this," he said. "We are working really hard and everybody is really motivated and I'm really eager to be back in the car because it's been a long time! But I'm confident; I know everybody is pushing really hard to get a quick car."
Sutil, of course, is equally eager to start his debut season. "It's a dream of all racing drivers to be in this world and it was great news," he recalled of when Spyker informed he had the drive. "I was hoping to get a test seat or something, a real opportunity to drive the whole season, but I didn't expect to be a Grand Prix driver so quick! So now I really know my opportunity is here and I will do everything to do a really good job."
Managing director and team principal Colin Kolles is happy to see Spyker moving onwards and upwards from its troubled past. "I'm definitely very pleased because we've had quite difficult times," he said. "We had to rescue a company and then we had to stabilize it and now I'm looking forward to bringing it forward and making it a success. I think we have a very motivated team and they are working day and night to make it happen."
The F8-V11 designation is based on Spyker history. Car models were previously named A, B and C and when CEO Victor Muller restructured Spyker in 2000 he wanted to keep that tradition. The E line is due in the near future so Muller decided it "makes sense for our Formula One car, our latest model, to be the F line." The number eight refers to the cylinders in the Ferrari engine and the VII to Spyker's aircraft manufacturing history. Models were designated by Roman numerals and the year they were launched.