Hungary was an encouraging weekend for Spyker, not least because Adrian Sutil outraced the Honda of Rubens Barrichello. The only disappointment was that the sister car of Jenson Button retired before Adrian could get past! The weekend also saw...
Hungary was an encouraging weekend for Spyker, not least because Adrian Sutil outraced the Honda of Rubens Barrichello. The only disappointment was that the sister car of Jenson Button retired before Adrian could get past!
The weekend also saw the debut of Sakon Yamamoto, who impressed the team with his intelligent approach. Without any testing he was never going to have an easy time of it, but clearly he has the potential to make good progress over the remaining six races of the season. The team website asked Mike Gascoyne for his thoughts on the weekend.
Q: In Hungary Adrian finished ahead of Rubens Barrichello -- whose team won the same race last year. Was it encouraging to be able to race and beat one of the works cars like that?
Mike Gascoyne: OK, we were racing at the back, but when you consider that we're the smallest team on the grid, and there have been four years of little investment, for us to race and beat the works Honda is something! We were actually disappointed when Jenson stopped, because we felt that Adrian was going to jump him at the second pit stop. It is an achievement for us.
Q: Are you frustrated that the qualifying seems to be a weakness at the moment?
MG: I do think we have to question slightly our qualifying pace. In the last couple of races we don't think we have qualified as well as we should have done, and I think our race pace shows that. In Hungary we were outqualified by both Hondas by a second a lap, but we can beat them over a race distance. You ought to be able to get more out of it, so we've got to work on qualifying. But Sakon was having his first race this year, and he had never driven a Spyker. And I think people forget that Adrian is still a rookie and he hasn't driven at any of these circuits, he's still learning. But he learned a lot from this race.
Q: What did you think of Sakon's performance in Hungary?
MG: To be honest I was very impressed with his professionalism. He has very good work ethic, he speaks good English, he has a sense of humour, and he understands our European ways and mentality. He really applied himself and worked very hard. To be honest if he hadn't been baulked by Fisichella he would have qualified very close to Adrian, within a few tenths of him. He built up his speed over the weekend. It's a shame he made a mistake in the race, because it would have been good for him to get 70 laps under his belt, no matter how far back he finished. I was very impressed and pleased with him, to be honest.
Q: People forget that he set the seventh fastest lap in Brazil last year. He had new tyres, but he still had to do it.
MG: Yes. You've got to drive the lap. He's got to work on his consistency, but he can drive, and he's a very likeable bloke to boot. After he crashed he came up, looked me straight in the eye, and said 'Sorry boss, I made a mistake, it was totally my fault.' There was no, 'It was understeering,' or it was this or that, he was very honest. It was a shame for him, but overall considering how difficult it is to jump in the slowest car on the grid, he did a very professional job.
Q: There has been a lot of talk about the B-car. Is there a danger that expectations have been built up a little bit too much?
MG: Exactly, if you could just suddenly chuck a car into the midfield, then everybody would be doing it! It's not that easy. We are trying to downplay expectations slightly, but it is a reasonable step forward aerodynamically. And mechanically at the rear we think it's going to bring us something, but that's very difficult to quantify. It's a step forward, but only a small one, and we may well still qualify on the back row. But this time next year judge us by where we are.
Q: How much difference will it make now that the wind tunnel is back on line?
MG: We just switched our Brackley wind tunnel on last week, and I think this is the start of the process. It was meant to switch on six weeks ago, but we were a bit behind schedule, and that's impacted the B-spec a little bit. We are the smallest team on the grid and we set very ambitious, very tight schedules. It's inevitable that we won't always be able to meet those schedules. But we're starting to get into a position financially and with the wind tunnel resources where we can really begin to move forward.
Q: And you will continue to use the Italian tunnel that you rent time in?
MG: Yes, we have a three-year deal. We had been using Lola in the UK, but that was just a temporary measure, just a few days here and there. Now we can get Brackley up and running 24 hours a day, and we can start to make progress.