AN INSIGHT INTO THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN SEAT SPORT DRIVER AND RACE ENGINEER Yvan Muller and David Floury: SEAT Sport's French connection The relationship between a driver and his race engineer is one of total trust and mutual respect.
AN INSIGHT INTO THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN SEAT SPORT DRIVER AND RACE ENGINEER
Yvan Muller and David Floury: SEAT Sport's French connection
The relationship between a driver and his race engineer is one of total trust and mutual respect. They must speak openly and honestly, and work on both a technical and personal relationship, where they work to fine the best car set-up and give each other the confidence needed to win at the highest level. It's such a close relationship that, under normal circumstances, only a race engineer talks to his driver during a race, and vice versa.
Two Frenchmen form one of the best partnerships in the FIA World Touring Car Championship -- driver Yvan Muller and his Race Engineer David Floury.
David grew up in the Vosges village of La Bresse, 60kms away from Yvan's home. They met 10 years ago when Yvan was ice racing and David joined the Oreca team as a student. They met again in the UK when Yvan raced in the BTCC and David lived briefly in England, and at the beginning of 2006 they both joined SEAT Sport and moved to the WTCC together -- as driver and race engineer.
Everything was new, they quickly formed a strong working relationship -- so much so, that in his debut season in the WTCC, Yvan won a race at Brands Hatch. This year they are working together on winning two titles -- the Drivers' title for Yvan and the Manufacturers' title for SEAT.
Here, we ask them to talk about their relationship with each other and delve into a world of closely guarded secrets, strategies and how they motivate and encourage each other on a personal level.
Yvan Muller on David Floury
"I know David from a very long time ago. When he was in school he came to Oreca for three weeks as part of his studies, so I met him ten years ago years, and then when I came into the WTCC last year he became my race engineer for the first time.
"It's important when you know your engineer for a long time. Before, when I did the British Touring Car Championship, I was with John Waterman for four or five seasons and it's good to know your engineer quite well. You know his good points, you know his bad points and it's the same for him about me. Like with David, sometimes it's also good to meet a new engineer, just to get a fresh view and feeling about things and I am pleased to work with David because he is a very good engineer and there is a good relationship between us.
"There is not only a relationship from a technical point of view, but also he knows when he needs to give me confidence as a driver and vice versa, because sometimes the driver has to give the confidence to the engineer. Two people have to be one, and when there is this kind of relationship it's very good. When one is a bit down, the other one is up for him.
"You need to trust your engineer and he needs to trust you, and if there is not this trust between the two guys it won't be good, especially at this level of competition."
David Floury on Yvan Muller
"The relationship between the engineer and the driver is quite special, because you have to work together technically, you have to work together on strategy and you have to be honest with each other when it doesn't work and things go wrong. The role of the engineer is technical, but it's also like a coach in a football team -- sometimes you have to take a step back and look at the bigger picture and say 'okay, we are far away, but we know why'. All these things you have to build up a strong relationship. Last year was my first year working together with Yvan. It was also my first full year in touring cars, the first year for Yvan in the WTCC and our first year at SEAT Sport. Many things were new. We had to learn about new tracks, new regulations and about a new car, and at the end of the year I think we did quite well. It was a good season, so this year our target is to build on that experience. We know each other better now.
"We didn't get the results we were expecting at the start of the season, especially at Zandvoort. We had a bad qualifying -- part of which was because we only had very old tyres to carry over from Curitiba, so we couldn't really work well in free practice and we were a little too conservative in qualifying. We didn't qualify well, and when you are in the middle of the pack, especially with rolling starts, there is always the risk of having an accident. We spoke a lot between Zandvoort and Valencia and Yvan came to the factory and we had a debrief together about what happened in Holland and what we have to improve. It was really important to talk straight away after Zandvoort, and I was really happy with what we did to qualify second at Valencia, just 0.001 seconds off pole, and then finish on the podium. When things go wrong you have to find a solution and bounce straight back -- and this is what we did.
"One of Yvan's strong qualities is that he is really cool headed, he is always looking at the big picture and he isn't someone who gets over excited during a race. He has a good general view of where he is in a race, what he can do and how much risk he can take; he is always very strong in his mind. Yvan is always in complete control of what he does. If he's leading he wins and if he's struggling he analyses what is wrong and how we can make it better the next time. It's good to work with Yvan, because I can always talk openly to him and there is no taboo -- and it is the same the reserve way."