There's just one race to go in 2006, and thus one more chance for Spyker to log some points. Tiago Monteiro is hoping that, given favourable circumstances, the team can end the season on a high. For a variety of reasons his has not been a season...
There's just one race to go in 2006, and thus one more chance for Spyker to log some points. Tiago Monteiro is hoping that, given favourable circumstances, the team can end the season on a high. For a variety of reasons his has not been a season of regular finishing like last year.
When he spun in China he logged the first retirement in two years that could be put down to driver error -- a remarkable achievement for a newcomer to the top level. He really enjoys Brazil, and thanks to a common language, feels at home there. But first the team website asked him about the last race in Suzuka.
Q: Firstly, how did the Japanese GP go for you?
Tiago Monteiro: All in all it wasn't too bad, given the limits of what we can do. We had a very good first stint, considering we were aiming for one stop, so we were very heavy. However I could follow the guys in front. I overtook Sato and then I was following the Toro Rossos and Red Bulls, and Christijan was in the middle of them as well. Considering that I had something like 10 laps more of fuel in the car, all I needed to do was be able to follow them, so I was quite happy.
But then at my stop, which was quite long with a rear wheel problem, after reviewing the strategy the team decided to do two stops. They put a little bit of fuel in, and new tyres, and I went out to do some quick laps. However I had huge graining and a big, big struggle with the tyres, so it was a really bad middle stint; Sato passed me again and I lost a lot of time to Scott Speed.
Q: Did things improve after that?
TM: The last stint was like the first one, it was quite good, but I lost too much time in the middle one. So it wasn't what we wanted, but it was good to be fighting with people like Coulthard, Barrichello, Sato and Speed. That shows that we are improving, and that that's what's important to us.
Q: How much did you enjoy Suzuka?
TM: It's an amazing track. It's not easy to overtake, and it's a very tough track for the tyres. But what a pleasure to drive there! It's so quick, so tough, so technical. I love it.
Q: There's just one race left in Brazil. Any thoughts?
TM: Yes, it's the last one. It's amazing how quickly it goes, and we're almost at the end of the season. It's also a nice track, with a great crowd and a great atmosphere. So I'm looking forward to it. Our goal is still to try and get a point. It's going to be difficult, but we're here to fight until the last minute of the last lap. So we'll see.
Q: How would you summarise the 2006 season, bearing in mind you haven't scored points like last year?
TM: We didn't have so many opportunities this time, so we don't have any points yet, but we've been a lot more competitive. It's a bit of a mixed feeling. It was good to be closer in qualifying, being able to go into the second group sometimes, fighting for positions on track with other drivers, which didn't happen last year much.
So that was very good and very motivating. On the other side, there's been a lot of reliability from the other teams, not many people going off, not many people stopping on the track, and therefore not many chances to score points for us!
Q: Have you seen the team making good progress?
TM: Yes. It's a totally different year and a totally different car, balance-wise especially. That's really where we made a huge gain, in terms of balance and downforce. We have a lot of things to work on obviously, but it was a different car, a different world. It's looking good for next year -- a new engine, Mike Gascoyne coming in with his shopping list, things are going to be very different.
Q: Are you excited by the connection with Spyker?
TM: Yes, because it's a constructor, even if it's a small one. For them it's the perfect sport to be in, so that's how they're going to sell more cars. They're going to make their brand known. So they're so motivated, and that's what we need. Lotus and Ferrari did that at the beginning, and that's what should get us up front.
Q: You don't know if you are staying in 2007, and there seem to be a lot of drivers looking for a ride. What's the latest news?
TM: In my head I'm staying here! We'll find out soon enough. Obviously we're working on a totally different basis now. The team knows what I'm worth, they know what I can do, and like Christijan I would become a paid driver and not a paying driver. We're are negotiating now.
We've put Spyker in contact with some sponsors, and it's up to them to finalise those deals. For me it's a different kind of negotiation now. There are always drivers on the market of course, there's always competition, but Spyker have told me that they have faith in me, and what they want to do. Now it's a matter of the details, I guess!