- Wednesday, June 19, 2013
07-09 Jun | Montreal
|(P7) Paul Di Resta||+1 Lap|
|(P10) Adrian Sutil||+1 Lap|
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News - European GP
Q&A with Otmar Szafnauer
19 Jun 2012
The Canadian Grand Prix was a mixed weekend for Sahara Force India and while the team missed the points, the fact that Paul Di Resta qualified eighth and ran fifth early was the source of some encouragement. However, the race also put a renewed focus on how important it is to get the best out of the Pirelli tyres and the team is working hard to that end for Valencia and beyond. We asked Chief Operating Officer, Otmar Szafnauer, for his thoughts on Montreal and the season so far.
The Canadian Grand Prix started really promisingly for Paul, but in the end he slipped out of the points. Have you worked out what happened?
“We had a quick car in Canada; we just underachieved in the race. We got some of the set-up parameters wrong for the conditions we were anticipating on Sunday, it was that simple. We have a good understanding of what we should have done differently. It’s just unfortunate that it was on Monday that we understood and not on Sunday morning! It looked promising at the beginning when Paul passed Rosberg on pace and was running fifth. When we put the second set of tyres on he struggled, whereas Rosberg put his second set on and did purple lap times. That was the difference really, that second set of tyres didn’t perform as expected. We’re not blaming the tyres – there are things that we can do to ensure that they do perform.”
In qualifying Paul not only made it to Q3 but the team then got everything right and he beat Button and Schumacher to earn eighth. Was that encouraging?
“Yes, it all paid off. Also Nico was two and a half tenths up on his quick lap when Perez went off in front of him and he caught a yellow flag and had to back off. If the rest of the lap had just been the same he would have been well inside the top ten in Q2 as well.”
We’re a third of the way through the season. How would you sum things up so far?
“I think this has been one of our best starts to an F1 season when you look at the number of points we have. We’ve been pretty consistent and we think we’ve got a pretty good racing car. What we haven’t had is that one special race. Sauber have been on the podium twice now and Williams have won a race. We haven’t had the ups and downs, we are more consistent. A down race for us is 11th and 12th, not the back of the pack. However, our better races aren’t that much higher, so we’re a bit flatter. We just have to get that one race where we really hit the sweet spot and collect a lot of points. We haven’t done that yet, which is why we’re in eighth.”
Could that special race come at say Silverstone, where Paul qualified sixth last year?
“The tyres are different so it is difficult to compare this year with last. But I think the more time goes on the more all the teams will have a better understanding of the tyres and once that happens I think the normal order of car performance will take over. We therefore must hurry and get our day in the spotlight soon, otherwise it will be even more difficult. While the variability is still there we’ve got to work hard and make use of it.”
As you say you’ve been consistent, but is there a particular type of track where you feel the car is stronger?
“We’ve had a pretty good car all year. Generally we’ve done better at tracks where there is less drag and downforce is less important, but having said that this year one of our best finishes was at Monaco, where you need all the downforce you can get. I think it is more down to how you use the tyres. I don’t know what happened to Lotus in Monaco, but they were holding us up, and at the very next race they finished second. It’s the same car, so I think the difference is the tyres. Generally some circuits do suit us a little bit better, but not as much as in the past. We don’t have that big variability anymore.”
Is getting the engineering right on race weekends even more important than improving the car?
“I think coupled with that we still have to push the development, because once we get the set-up right, then it is the rest of the car that counts. So we still have to push development, which we’re doing.”
Nico was out of racing for a year. Are you pleased with the way he’s performed?
“It’s taken him a bit of time, as expected, but he’s doing well. He’s also been unlucky. In Canada he looked very strong and then he was unlucky with the yellow flag and he didn’t make it. We have a strong driver line-up in both Nico and Paul.”
Any thoughts on the big picture – is the unpredictability good for F1?
“It’s good for the show. I was talking to someone who works for MotoGP and he was saying how great is for the fans. If you have that opinion from a guy like that who understands racing, but is not an F1 insider, then you should believe it.”