Chief Operating Officer, Otmar Szafnauer, sums up his feelings following the team’s most successful season ever.
Otmar, it’s been a few weeks since the conclusion of the season. How do you reflect on 2017?
OS: “To deliver fourth place in the Constructors’ Championship two years on the bounce is a huge achievement. I have to pay tribute to each and every one of the 400 team members who worked so hard to make it possible. Whether it was back at the factory in the UK or the trackside effort by the race team, everybody played their part in delivering the most successful season in our history. We can feel very proud of our performance this year.”
Does it feel more satisfying than the achievements of last year?
OS: “In some ways yes, because the challenges over the winter were far greater delivering a car that had very little carryover from 2016. Changes to the regulations are always difficult, but we were able to consolidate our position and even strengthen it. We secured fourth place in the championship this year with two races in hand and ended the season with over 100 points advantage to fifth place.”
What were your personal highlights and lowlights of the year?
OS: “Probably the race in Baku counts for both of those! Our car was very strong that weekend and the missed opportunity of a double podium was difficult to swallow. However, I’m proud of the way we bounced back from those difficult moments and showed a unified team spirit. That’s been a real highlight of the season.”
Another highlight has been the development curve of the VJM10…
OS: “I can’t remember a year where we brought so many new parts to the track. At almost every race there was something different on the car. In the second half of 2017 we took some significant development steps and emerged as the fourth quickest team at most of the races after the summer break. Even when we had secured fourth, we were able to bring 2018 development parts to the car to help our learning for next year.”
What are the main reasons for the team’s progress over the last five years?
OS: “It’s been a long journey and it’s actually taken us ten years to get to this level. There are no quick fixes in this sport and we’ve gradually put the right ingredients in place to achieve the results we have today. We continue to invest in the right people and the engineering core, led by Andrew Green, has remained consistent for a number of years with a real harmony in the way we approach things. We’ve also taken sensible strategic decisions, such as our choice of wind tunnel and engine partner and the way we chose drivers who are the best fit for this team. The backing of new sponsors, including BWT, has been essential in helping us take those final steps and deliver the high development rate.”
What’s happening at the factory over the next few weeks?
OS: “The factory is already buzzing as 2018 preparations continue. It may be the off-season, but it’s the busiest time of the year in terms of design and production as we deliver the new car. We will try and enjoy a brief few days rest for Christmas and come back hungry for the challenge that awaits us in 2018.”