UK 2000: Sean McIntosh half-term report

McIntosh Half-Term Report Q&A Canada's Sean McIntosh returned to the Formula Renault UK Championship this season looking to build on his rookie season in '04 where he won the 'Graduate Cup' Championship. With...

McIntosh Half-Term Report Q&A

Canada's Sean McIntosh returned to the Formula Renault UK Championship this season looking to build on his rookie season in '04 where he won the 'Graduate Cup' Championship. With this weekend's double-header at Snetterton, Norfolk, Saturday 6th - Sunday 7th August, marking the start of the second half of the 20-race season, Sean reviews his progress to-date piloting the #24 Team Firstair entry in one of Europe's toughest open-wheel proving grounds.

Q: First up, what are your overall impressions of the first half of the 2005 Formula Renault UK Championship?

SMc: I think the competition at the front is even tougher than last year. There are four different teams with three to four drivers each that have cars capable of winning races. To be honest, I was hoping for a bit better first half of the season but it hasn't been bad either. I've qualified in the top five 80% of the time and had numerous top four finishes. I've been in contention at every race meeting and that is what is important.

Q: You scored an early victory at Donington Park in Round 2. Did you think that would be more of a catalyst for the season?

SMc: I was expecting to have won more races but going in I knew it wasn't going to be easy. We need to get more out of our tires in qualifying and put the car on the front row to win some more races.

Q: What's been the key to your consistency in the first half of the season?

SMc: I've never really had a problem with consistency during any season of my career. This year we've had a decent car each weekend and that's allowed me to qualify in the top five numerous times. When you start at the front, the chances of getting involved in an accident are greatly reduced. I've also been working hard at each circuit to quickly discover the best set-up possible for the conditions.

Since we're one of the smaller teams in the UK Championship I try to be realistic in knowing that we're up against other teams running three of four quick drivers who are all sharing their data. On that basis it's up to me to make sure that I pay close attention to what my car is doing each and every time out and then accurately communicate the results to my engineer Chris Gorne. That usually allows us to get the best out the car in the shortest time-frame possible.

I personally enjoy this challenge as I think it helps me to further develop my race craft and communication skills as well as contribute to our overall team performance!

Q: Is it frustrating for you not to have more podiums and wins or is it more important to be looking at the big picture in terms of the championship?

SMc: Like I said before, I would have liked to have had more wins and podiums at this point in the season. I've finished fourth four times! Had those been third place finishes instead, I'd be very happy with six podiums. I know it's easy to say that now but the difference between those two positions is only two points so I've kept myself in the championship hunt by finishing there.

Q: You qualified in the top-five for each of the first eight races; is qualifying an area you've been working on in particular this year?

SMc: To be honest qualifying is something we actually need to improve on. We aren't getting the best out of our tires which has left me a tenth or so down too many times. Fourths and fifths don't look bad on paper but to win races on a consistent basis you need to be on the front row. The team's focus heading into the second half is to get that extra tenth out of the car that we've been missing in qualifying.

Q: Is there pressure returning to the series as the 'Graduate Cup' Champion?

SMc: No not at all! It's always my goal to win, regardless of my status.

[pic] Q: Have you come to like some circuits more than others the second time round?

SMc: Well I knew I'd enjoy Donington, Oulton Park and Brands Hatch again! I was expecting a much better weekend at Croft but things don't always go the way you'd like them to. We got away from what was working earlier and it hurt us.

We had decent finishes at Thruxton but I haven't quite got to grips with the circuit. It's a tricky place and testing is quite limited there. One track I wasn't looking forward to running at was Snetterton but our last test there was very successful, I was quickest throughout the day. I've gone from not liking it at all to loving it. When the car is good it's a fun place, but if it's not working it can be pretty frustrating!

Q: Has anything surprised you about the level of competition in the Formula Renault UK Championship this season?

SMc: I always knew it was going to be tough but I didn't think the competition was going to be this tight. On more than one occasion I have been less than a tenth off pole and not on the front row! You don't see that happen in many other series'! I believe that is the primary reason so many top drivers come from racing in the UK.

Q: What are your goals for the second half of the year and beyond?

SMc: I'm going to take things one [pic] weekend at a time for the rest of the year. I need to win some more races and to do that I need to start qualifying on the front row! Overall, I'm still gunning for the championship and there are still plenty of races left to score big points! The team and I have regrouped and we're going to come back even stronger!

My plans for the future are going to depend on what happens in the second half of this season. My aim is to move up into something quicker next year, possibly even GP2 if we can raise the money! There are a few things brewing already!

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Series Formula Renault
Drivers Sean McIntosh