After the frustrations at the start in Bahrain, MF1 made a good step forward in Malaysia, with both cars making it to the flag. There might not be too many occasions when the cars line up ahead of a Honda, a Ferrari and a Toyota on the grid, but...
After the frustrations at the start in Bahrain, MF1 made a good step forward in Malaysia, with both cars making it to the flag.
There might not be too many occasions when the cars line up ahead of a Honda, a Ferrari and a Toyota on the grid, but engine penalties for those teams helped to push the Midland boys up the field.
Unfortunately, they were not able to take advantage. The earlier problems had a knock-on effect, as Christijan Albers' and Tiago Monteiro's starts at Sepang were compromised to ensure reliability, and that cost them ground.
Nevertheless, the double finish provided the team with a lot of information to digest, and improvements are in the pipeline for Melbourne.
Team principal Colin Kolles gave his thoughts on the weekend.
Q: What's your overall verdict on the Malaysian weekend?
Colin Kolles: It's better than Bahrain, but then, it couldn't have been much worse! This weekend, reliability issues were relatively minor. We will have new parts for Australia, so hopefully the performance will improve.
Q: After the problems at the start in Bahrain, both drivers went for manual starts at Sepang to save the equipment. Were you still a bit nervous about reliability?
CK: Yes, I was definitely nervous, but as you say, we went for manual starts. It was the right choice, even though the starts were obviously not the best.
Q: The cars lost a lot of time behind the Super Aguris in the early laps. Was that a bit frustrating?
CK: They got ahead of us at the start, and they were not easy to pass. We know that we have to improve our aerodynamic efficiency on the straights. We did lose a lot of time behind them, and we decided to bring Tiago into the pits due to this fact, and try and get him out on a clear track. In clear air, there was no issue. I think Christijan in particular ran a very good race.
Q: Any thoughts on the next race in Australia?
CK: We have 10 days in which to refocus and think through some of our problems, and we will definitely have some new parts in Australia. Hopefully, reliability will be not be an issue anymore. And, as I said, we need to improve our efficiency to help with our straight line speed.
Q: Has the team learned a lot from these two races, especially after getting both cars the finish in Malaysia?
CK: Definitely. The team has learned a lot, and we are learning more and more about the car every day - how to work with it, and how to get the car to work with the tyres. I think there's a lot of potential.
Q: Do you think Giorgio Mondini did a good job with the third car on Friday?
CK: Yes, I think so. He has to train a little bit more, because he had a problem with his neck, but he made no mistakes and did some reasonable lap times.
Q: You're not fighting at the front yet, but do you feel there's been some real progress?
CK: Definitely. We are not fighting at the front, but we know we can improve. We have made a big step forward, and the gap to the front isn't 4.5 seconds any more. Obviously, Renault is also developing, but still the gap is smaller than it was at this point last year. So I think that with our resources, and with our people, we did quite a good job. We never expected to arrive and be where we want to be overnight.