The school (and F1) holidays are now upon us, but before the OrangeArrows team headed in separate directions to take a well earned break before launching into the final part of the season, we decided to grab some of the key team players (Jos ...
The school (and F1) holidays are now upon us, but before the OrangeArrows team headed in separate directions to take a well earned break before launching into the final part of the season, we decided to grab some of the key team players (Jos Verstappen - No1 driver, Mike Coughlan - Technical Director, Graham Taylor - Chief Race Engineer, Mick Ainsley-Cowlishaw - Race Team Manager) for a mid-term self assessment of the team's performance. Each were given the same set of four questions and here are their answers.
1) What were your realistic expectations for the team at the beginning of the season?
JosV: It's really hard to tell until you've driven the car a few times but I guess a little bit higher than where we are.
MikeC: I thought we would be where Sauber are today. Always able to be in the points and, with luck, on the podium.
GrahamT: At the start of the year we were optimistic to resume where we had left off at the end of 2000 and start 2001 mid field but late midfield.
MickAC: I started here at the beginning of the year coming into a new position in a new team and finding out all about what was going on. But I always expect good things, and the first three races were very encouraging.
2) What are your thoughts on where we lie currently?
JosV: Not too good. We have a lot of work to do. But I am very encouraged though the deal we have done for the Cosworth engines. Next year should be very exciting.
MikeC: I'm pretty disappointed. After last year I thought we could move forward. We still have a lot of work to do.
GrahamT: We seem to struggle a lot on Saturday. If we could qualify a little bit better then I'm sure Jos could slice his way even further up the field in the first couple of laps and we could race better.
MickAC: F1 these days, particularly for a team like Arrows is very difficult because If three top teams are running well and running strong then you aren't going to score any points. It's a very hard business to be in, particularly as we have nowhere near the budgets of Ferrari, McLaren, Williams. We are having to work extra hard at giving good performances - for me, it's disappointing but we've got a future to look forward to.
3) What have been our best and worst GP performances, and why?
JosV: Best - Malaysia as I was racing at the top of the field and Austria where I scored a point. Worst - Brazil, for obvious reasons.
MikeC: Best - Malaysia for Jos, Austria for the team, Imola for Enrique. Worst - Canada for Jos, Melbourne for Enrique and Monaco for the team as we should have scored points there.
GrahamT: Best performance so far was Jos 1.5 seconds off leading a GP in Malaysia. I mean that was just fantastic. The weather played into our hands a little bit there but Jos just took the bull by the horns and to watch him slicing past McLarens and Ferraris….and again he did it in Austria. Canada's probably the most disappointing. Worst performance was definitely Monaco, we just didn't get it at all, all weekend.
MickAC : Probably the worst was Brazil when Jos hit Montoya up the back because we were looking quite good there, and the best is …..Malaysia you've got to say was outstanding from Jos, but for me it's when we score points - Austria.
4) How do you think the remainder of the season will go?
JosV: Hopefully we will have some good races. We are working very hard. I've no idea on our position as who knows what will happen between now and the end of the season.
MikeC: It's difficult as, because we are a small team, we have to spend all our resources developing the 2002 car.
GrahamT: Most of the design office are now concentrating on next year's car and we're all buoyed by the fact that we will have what seems to be a super competitive engine, but in the meantime the things we'd already put in the pipeline earlier in the year are now starting to come through - we'll have a new front wing for Hungary, and hopefully for Spa we'll have a new qualifying engine.
MickAC: We're always looking to progress - we're doing aero work, and other things as well. There's always a chance, because you never know who's going to finish. You have to take your opportunities when they come, and hopefully we can do that and get a few more points. Spa's a good hunting ground for us for sure, Hungary there's a possibility, and Monza should be okay.
So the general consensus is disappointment over our current position but optimism that with new revisions for the car, and circuits which are better suited to the A22, that we can, as in 2000, pick up some good points across the remaining races of the season. What's your assessment?