DR MARK GILLAN Head of Vehicle Performance, Jaguar Racing Dr Mark Gillan joined Jaguar Racing in May 2002 as Aerodynamics Performance Leader. Following the company's restructuring he was made head of the new vehicle performance department....
DR MARK GILLAN
Head of Vehicle Performance, Jaguar Racing
Dr Mark Gillan joined Jaguar Racing in May 2002 as Aerodynamics Performance Leader. Following the company's restructuring he was made head of the new vehicle performance department. Before joining Jaguar Racing, Dr Gillan was Principal Operational Aerodynamicist for the McLaren F1 team. His expertise in aerospace and biomedical research is renowned - a former university lecturer, he has published over 40 journal and conference papers and was awarded the Engineers Employers' Federation Trophy for his patenting of a haemodynamic control device used in heart by-pass surgery.
Q: You're the head of vehicle performance. How does that fit in with the design and vehicle science departments?
Mark Gillan: "Our role is quite clear - it is to extract the maximum performance possible from the car as well as from the drivers and the engineers who are working with it. We are responsible for both race and test engineering and also the race strategy over the weekend, which means that during a Grand Prix all the different departments at the track - aerodynamics, IT, systems - report to us. It works very well because everybody knows where they stand and who to report to."
Q: As the team's strategist, how do you think the new rules for 2004 covering engines and qualifying will affect your approach to a race?
MG: "In 2003 you never actually knew what other teams' strategies were because fuel loads, for example, were kept secret after qualifying had ended. But the way things have developed for 2004 means it will be even harder to assess where other teams stand. You are now only allowed to use one engine for an entire weekend and that means some teams may choose to do less running on the Friday and Saturday before qualifying to ensure they don't suffer an engine failure. If you have to change your engine you are now penalised 10 places on the starting grid."
"The trouble is, you need to do some running before qualifying on Saturday because you have to declare what tyres you are going to use all weekend after the Friday morning test sessions. Without doing some laps you can't make that decision properly. So the strategy of how you use the engine is going to be key. If you opt to use an engine with a shorter lifespan but more power that will dictate that you do less running over the weekend. We are all going to have to find a compromise between preserving engine life and finding a decent set-up."
Q: Part of your responsibility is to make sure the drivers are performing to their maximum. How do you help a rookie driver like Christian Klien adapt to the complex world of F1?
MG: "As soon as Christian had joined, and before he ever went near the car on the track, we put him in our race simulator at the factory. In there we can take a new driver through all the control settings on the steering wheel and ask him to carry out certain tasks (such as what happens if the car stalls) so that by the time he drives for real he is familiar with the way the car operates and the layout of the cockpit."
"Then, when we took him testing for the first time, we made sure that we came up with a schedule that didn't demand too much of him too early. With a new driver it is vital that you build him up slowly with short runs and make sure he talks through everything before you send him out again. Even the language of F1 testing is different to anything he had come across before so getting up to speed on all the shorthand and code words that we use can take some time."
"What we expect in return from Christian is honesty. Early on he stopped testing for a while because he was beginning to feel tired and we appreciate that. We'd much rather a driver tells us when he needs a break than carries on and makes a mistake."
Q: How have your expectations changed for this season?
MG: "Last year we had to ensure that people respected Jaguar again and I think we did that. The performance of the car was significantly better and we must build on that. It's going to be difficult. Other teams have switched over to Michelin tyres like us and there are plenty of well-funded outfits out there. If we come out with sixth place in the championship and the knowledge that we have done our best, I'd be delighted."