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The past few races may have been less than straightforward, but Team Principal Eric Boullier retains absolute faith in the unity of the Enstone family as the season nears its final phase...
What do we say after Suzuka? Eric Boullier: Obviously, it didn't go as well as expected. Of course, I could always say that we've increased our gap to Mercedes in the constructors' championship, that Kimi is still third in the drivers' classification, that our pace in qualifying was actually very good... But, ultimately, we scored 8 points only where, after P3 on Saturday, we could have thought about a much better result. It would have been possible to close our gap to Ferrari in the standing and, ultimately, it has increased. Not ideal.
What do you think of Romain's incident at the start?EB: We could see in Singapore, when Romain was back after his race ban, that some other drivers were putting extra pressure on him at the start. In Suzuka, Romain made a small mistake by misjudging his pace relative to Mark [Webber], which was a bit higher. We have sat down and spoken. We understand what has to be done. I think in Singapore to an extent and in Suzuka he was almost trying to overcompensate by focusing on staying out of trouble, which in the last race had the opposite effect.
Kimi never seemed to have the pace... EB: You're right, the car's pace was not as good as we were expecting and it actually became worse as the race progressed. Starting seventh we had higher hopes, but if you don't have the pace completely it doesn't work well. We couldn't put everything together in order to make his race more successful and gain more places.
What are your hopes for the upgrades scheduled for Korea? EB: Every time you bring new developments you hope that they will work as predicted. The upgrades for Korea are a big step; it is the opening of a new era for us. We expect that they are going to work, but of course it's always a difficult task to find the correct setup for the car when you are also evaluating new parts. What happened with our "DDRS" shows that you can't take any improvement for granted until you actually measured it on the track. Let's say that we are cautiously optimistic. What are your thoughts on the team's potential in the Championship? I think the nearer we get to the end of the season, the more difficult it will be to achieve top results. We need to stay united though, stay focused on our job and make sure we can bring home more points. We're certainly facing less pressure from behind than we could have expected with a 104 point buffer from Mercedes in fifth, however it's starting to become harder now to catch Ferrari ahead of us in third position. Coming into Suzuka with a 14 point difference and six races to go was a lot more achievable than 24 points with five remaining. What's clear is that we need to get both of our cars into the points. We also need to add performance to the E20 so we are not having to trade paint with Ferrari, but are well ahead of them on the track instead.
With new developments for the E20 showing positive signs in Suzuka and a raft of further upgrades scheduled for Korea, James Allison explains why the E20 is far from being out of the running with a quarter of the 2012 season remaining...
What do we have new on the car for Korea? James Allison: We've been ploughing something of a lonely furrow on the circuit with our relatively straightforward, power-maximizing exhaust. However, since well before the launch of the E20 and to the present day we've been carrying out parallel developments in our wind tunnel programme based around a Coanda effect exhaust. Once we saw the potential gain of the Coanda system surpass that of our current design it was clear that we needed to implement it, both for the benefit we could get in the last quarter of this season and also for learning experience it presents us for next year. We will run our first version of this style of exhaust in Korea.
Are there a lot of changes involved with the Coanda system? JA: It is not as big a deal as the 2011 style blown exhausts. Last year (for all teams, but especially for our forward exhausts) it was quite challenging to ensure that the exhausts did not set fire to the car. The Coanda system is a little more indirect, and the jet has cooled a little before it impinges on the floor which makes things a little easier to manage. There's still a fair amount of rearrangement including new Coke panels, new exhausts, new exhaust exit panels, some fireproofing of the floor and so on. All told, it's a biggish change rather than an enormous one. It's also easier to swap to and fro for evaluation.
Where do we stand on the implementation of the Double DRS 'Device'? JA: We haven't had the happiest of introductions with the system. It's been harder than I anticipated to make it switch effectively with only the limited opportunity afforded in Free Practice. We're going to take it away, have another think and most likely give it another go in the Abu Dhabi young drivers' test where we'll have more time to develop it in a systematic fashion.
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