In advance of this week's French Grand Prix, the Etihad Aldar Spyker Formula One Team has conducted Q&As with drivers Christijan Albers and Adrian Sutil. Christijan Albers Q: What are your impressions of Magny-Cours, where the French Grand...
In advance of this week's French Grand Prix, the Etihad Aldar Spyker Formula One Team has conducted Q&As with drivers Christijan Albers and Adrian Sutil.
Q: What are your impressions of Magny-Cours, where the French Grand Prix is held?
CA: Some drivers don't like it, but I actually find it a very good circuit. The track layout is good, you have to have a good downforce balance for the high speed and low speed corners, so set-up is always a compromise. There are a few possibilities to overtake so you also have to have a good speed to be able to pass on the straight. I like the track though - the only problem I can see with it is it's in the middle of nowhere!
Q: In Indianapolis we saw you racing with a group in front until a combination of heavy fuel load and blue flags dropped you further down the order than you would have hoped. Do you think this is a sign of the team's development?
CA: We are making good progress everyday. You saw it this week at the test - we were immediately on the pace, with a 1min 23.3 lap on the first run with new tyres. It's very close to Adrian's time at the end of the second day, so you can really see that we are getting there with the development. It was a shame on the last day that we didn't have a chance to better this lap due to an electrical problem as I know we could have gone even quicker. We went well and if we keep going at this rate it will get even better.
Q: Do you feel that you are more comfortable in the car now?
CA: Yes, I am feeling better and better. I have to work with the engineers now to keep this momentum going, but we are all working well together so I do not see anything will change. It's now the busiest time of the season with the back to back races in Canada and the USA, then the Silverstone test, France, GB then the Spa test so we have plenty of time and track mileage to improve.
Q: Is this time of the year physically quite tough with the travelling, testing and racing?
CA: You spend a lot of time away, but this is of course part of the job. It's no problem, I enjoy it as we can get more time together as a team.
Q: What are the goals for the French Grand Prix?
CA: It is the same as always, to give it maximum attack and get the best result we can. We have to get the set-up right, get the confidence high and then go out and do our best. I like the track and I have done OK on it so far - in fact the only drama is getting out of the circuit on a Sunday night!
Q: Have you ever driven at Magny-Cours before?
AS: Yes, I know the circuit very well. I did a Friday practice session there with the team last year and I did an F3 race in 2004. It's actually one of my favourite tracks as I like the layout with the quick chicane, the long right hander through the corner to the straight, the hairpin - it's exactly what I like and I already know am quite quick around there!
Q: How have your results been here in the past then?
AS: In Magny-Cours I am usually OK. I first raced there in 2004 with the Kolles team in F3 and it was actually one of our best races. Then I had a test with ASM with Lewis Hamilton - I think I beat him by two hundredths of a second!
Q: But personally as well as professionally, this track holds some good memories for you?
AS: Actually the first F3 test I did at the end of 2003 was in Magny-Cours and it was also the first time I met Colin. I got in his car the day after the race at Magny-Cours and beat his two drivers! I got in on the Monday and I was immediately one second quicker - Colin was delighted he could see his car worked and over the next two races started talks with Mercedes to get in a car, then I made it to Team Kolles in 2004. It's got a lot of good memories, as I got a big break there and a lot of good things have happened at the track.
Q: You've now got a good momentum and are going to a track you know and like now. Have you been pleased with the season so far?
AS: The season has been so far very good. We have of course had some problems in some of the races, but I finally had a great race in Indy. Indy was better than Canada, but even in first 20 laps I was competitive and racing the Toyota and Aguri in front. It could have been a good race, it was a shame not to finish. I hope then in Magny-Cours we are able to do a really great race. I have my experience now, I know the track so I am really confident I can do a good race.
Q: Do you feel any extra pressure now?
AS: I don't feel any extra pressure at all. I try to enjoy my racing and when I have fun I am normally very quick. There is no additional pressure, I feel quite calm.
Q: The momentum is now good, did you keep this up at the Silverstone test?
AS: We used pretty much the same set-up from the last race, so the balance is similar and technically we had no problems. The car is really reliable and also from the times you can see we are getting better. The gap to the front is not that bad - it's a long track at Silverstone with long straights like Barcelona and we are only 1.8secs behind. Hopefully will be in this region for the French and British Grands Prix too.