Andrew Ferguson: "We are very optimistic for the weekend." After Christian Vietoris' fantastic weekend at the last round of the 2010 GP2 Series in Budapest, the Racing Engineering team is back from its short summer break and ready for this ...
Andrew Ferguson: "We are very optimistic for the weekend."
After Christian Vietoris' fantastic weekend at the last round of the 2010 GP2 Series in Budapest, the Racing Engineering team is back from its short summer break and ready for this weekend's races at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit. The Spanish team's chief engineer, Andrew Ferguson, is looking forward to a challenging weekend, where changing weather conditions are always stressing the teams' ability for last minute changes on the cars. But the Racing Engineering technician is also resuming the season so far and has a positive opinion regarding the remaining three rounds of the 2010 season.
Andrew, the 2010 season has brought some mixed emotions for Racing Engineering so far. When great results were achieved with one driver, the other one sometimes suffered from difficulties or bad luck. Can you talk us through the season so far and what you have experienced during the last few months?
Well, the summer break has given us some time to analyze how the team and the drivers have performed so far this season. The statistics show that Dani and Chrisitan overall are 3rd and 4th when taking average qualifying positions in both real and theoretical laptimes respectively. This shows that both are performing well in comparison to the other drivers in Qualifying. Dani`s pole in Monaco, along with Christians double podium in Hungary, have been the highlights of the season so far. However, it is true to say that we have suffered a number of issues which have prevented both drivers from scoring a podium on the same weekend. With this in mind, we are still ahead by 21 points in the teams' championship compared to the same time in 2009, only 4 points from 3rd position. In the drivers' championship, we are currently 3rd with Dani, only 8 points from 2nd and 11th overall for Christian. Christian's recent form and qualifying performances shows that he is capable of climbing up the championship table over the remaining 3 events quite quickly.
Overall, from an engineering point of view, I am very happy with the drivers and car performance this season, but it is always unfortunate when luck takes its toll on your results. But every team can suffer from reliability issues and we endeavor to compete at the sharp end of the grid for the remaining races. I am very happy with the result and the ambiance within the team. Everybody is working well and enjoying the season.
The GP2 field arrives at Spa-Francorchamps this weekend, the mythical Belgian race track. Could you tell us what makes this track so special for engineers as well as drivers?
Spa has always been a special circuit for both engineers and drivers alike. The mix of slow speed chicanes and high speed corners combined with many camber and altitude changes make for a challenging task for the engineers when maximizing the cars performance. Using modern simulation techniques to hone the aero levels for an optimum lap time is essential for qualifying and race scenarios, as well as tyre management for the race. However, as there are many ways to set the car up, the relative compromises have to be assessed to allow the best overall options to be chosen. It's a great challenge and it's always interesting, even with the constant threat of changing weather being thrown into the mix to create situations where the driver and engineer must constantly monitor the track conditions.
With GP2 being a feeder series for Formula 1, all teams participate with the same cars, the same Dallara-Renault-Bridgestone package. But setting these cars up is far from easy. What are the key factors to get the maximum performance out of them and what will be your biggest challenges for this weekend in Belgium?
Well, I can`t comment on the settings that we choose to run for obvious reasons, but it is true that all teams are given the same base package and they choose between hundreds of possible combinations to set the car up based on their own theories on what is required to optimize performances in a qualifying or race session. For these reasons, it is always very rewarding when you have been able to outperform your rivals, which is what drives many engineers!
In Spa, as mentioned before, the aero and gear ratios are very important, along with the general balance of the car. If the driver feels he can get the car to react and go where he is asking it to, then this gives the driver the confidence to drive the car closer to the edge of the grip level. When he can do this, he can use more of the potential from the car.
With the possibility of changing weather in Spa, we also have to be ready for the possibility of varying track conditions and depending on the severity, a number of changes we have been testing in the past will be readied should they be needed.
Spa is a fast race track with a lot of history which captivates drivers and fans. Drivers are impressed by its famous corners, such as Eau Rouge.
What are your expectations for the weekend, where do you see the Racing Engineering drivers?
As always, we as a team will try our best to give the drivers the best car for the weekend. We are very confident in our drivers' abilities and hope for as large a points haul as we can get for both of them. We want to help them in their driver's championship positions, as well as helping the team in its championship position.
Racing Engineering has always been competitive in Spa with its different drivers and we hope to continue this success in 2010. As always, GP2 is highly competitive and we know there are other strong drivers and teams to compete with, but we are very optimistic for the weekend.