Q&A with Federico Gastaldi and Nick Chester

03/06/2014
NEWS STORY

Deputy Team Principal Federico Gastaldi looks at his inbox and addresses the topics of the hour.

What's the outlook heading to Canada?
Federico Gastaldi: We're looking forward to heading to an event which is a real favourite for many people and one which historically gets a lot of attention and great television viewing figures. Montreal is a superb city and we really experience a fantastic welcome from everyone when we visit. It's a race where we have many guests and it's our first visit to North America of the season. In a commercial sense this is a strong event. On track, it could be something of a challenge for us as it doesn't look to be a track which plays to our current strengths, but whether that is the case or not we will soon find out.

Monaco didn't go the way we wanted...
FG: Monaco was a frustrating experience. Having Pastor on the starting grid and the car not working was negative for everyone. Romain did a good job to bring the car home in the points again, which is very good, but I think Pastor could also have been in the points too. The team did a great job as usual - engineers mechanics, all the staff and the people in the factory - but it was frustrating for many of us. I know everyone back at Enstone has worked very hard to ensure we won't have the same problem that Pastor experienced again.

For Pastor in particular, the start of the season must be very frustrating?
FG: Certainly it's been a tough, tough start to the year and Pastor has really suffered from reliability problems. We know that he is a fast driver with good experience and like all drivers he wants to be racing on track. Monaco was a cruel blow. Even though we weren't able to extract the speed we wanted from the car, there was a good strategy in place for Pastor to make gains in the race. As we know, it wasn't to be. We don't expect to experience an issue like we did in Monaco again.

Cost cutting seems to be an ongoing hot topic - what are your thoughts?
FG: There are a lot of discussions. The problem is that while we seem to be in the same boat, we are not yet on the same page. We all have different agendas and different things to worry about.

Ultimately, Formula 1 is the pinnacle of motorsport and we all try to spend as much money as available to try to beat the opposition. If you have a massive budget and good people you place yourself well to be able to produce a very good racing car. It is true that Enstone has a history of punching above its weight in regards to creating very competitive cars on smaller budgets than the opposition, but cost cutting can be beneficial for all. The crucial aspect is that it needs to be done so there are no loopholes.

Ultimately, we need to ensure the sport in the current economic and sponsorship climate is sustainable. If we don't do this we could find a situation where Formula 1 has only four teams. We need to make sure we, as Formula 1, produce a solid business model for the future.

How hard are sponsors to come by in the current climate?
FG: For sure it is never easy and certainly title sponsors are something of a rare breed at the moment. As a team we have a number of strong partners and we have a secured operational budget for the season, notwithstanding that we don't have a title sponsor as such. What we have been able to do - and we've seen more of this happening elsewhere too - is secure additional support from new and existing partners. In Monaco, we saw Saxo Bank on our sidepods and they were very happy with the value they received from this activation. In Montreal we have EMC in this position and we know they will be happy with the activation they can leverage from this.

Technical Director Nick Chester is taking nothing for granted ahead of the Canadian Grand Prix...

Should Canada suit the E22?
Nick Chester: It's probably going to be a bit of a tricky one. On the one hand we're going to have the soft and super-soft tyres, which should be better for us. On the other hand Canada's got long straights, which we feel might not be great for us. There are also some big braking points and at some races this year we've felt our braking isn't as good as it should be. So for the E22 it's a balance between performing quite well on the softer tyres and maybe losing out on power and braking. We're going to do all we can to improve those areas before we go.

Tell us more about the braking?
NC: With such long straights followed by big stops into low speed corners, getting the braking performance right is critical in Canada. Obviously this year with all the energy recovery systems there is quite a lot of tuning that can be done to enhance performance. It's definitely an area we are looking at and we've got some things we want to test on the Friday to hopefully improve the braking.

Why did the E22 have a tough time in Monaco?
NC: Honestly we expected to be pretty quick in Monaco. The bottom line is that we were off the pace in the low-speed corners. So we feel we were losing out on mechanical grip, which may be a function of suspension - including how the car rides over any bumps - or of us not getting the tyres in the right operating window. Part of our response has been to do work on the suspension rigs before we go to Canada, to see if we can rectify this.

How much do aerodynamics play a part in low-speed corners?
NC: In low-speed corners you still need to be generating sensible downforce on the car. Even though you're not going to feel it as much as the medium and high-speed corners it still plays a part. The conditions that the car operates in for downforce in low speed corners are quite different to medium and high-speed corners. For example the ride height is different, the steering, the yaw angle. So it can be that you lose some downforce in a low-speed corner, but when the car has less steering, less yaw and different ride heights it's better in the medium and high-speed corners. There are a few areas that can cost you in low-speed corners and rest assured we are looking at all of them!

Did the weather at Monaco have an impact?
NC: It was a bit cooler on race day, but in qualifying the track temperature was quite good and we were not quick enough. So I don't think the weather had a huge effect in terms of our issues.

What happened to Pastor's car?
NC: The fuel pump stopped working. It worked initially on the way to the grid but when they tried to fire the car up again the pump stopped. We are still investigating to be absolutely sure, but we are confident we know what the problem is. It is unrelated to the power unit.

What new parts are planned for Montreal?
NC: There's a new medium downforce package and we've also got a few new mechanical parts, one of which will hopefully improve the grip of the chassis. There's also a small update to the cooling package which will give us a little more downforce.

How about the power unit?
NC: We will continue to run with the latest fuel from Total as we did in Monaco so many power unit improvements will be focussed around modifying the mapping to get the most from this specification fuel. Mapping has brought significant progress this season.

How do you manage some of the technical frustrations in relation to the drivers?
NC: To be honest both our drivers are now sufficiently experienced not to let frustrations impact upon their performance. Both Romain and Pastor have been extremely professional as you would expect and can see that the team and our suppliers are all pulling in the same direction. Pastor has gone through two races this season where he has not started, which has to be one of the toughest things a driver can go through. His resolve and fighting instinct have been notable. Romain has shown incredible spirit and fortitude as well. His performance in all the races have been fantastic, especially considering the relative lack of mileage in the first four races.

Canada has historically been an unpredictable race. Will Romain and Pastor be in a good position to take advantage should it be so again this year?
NC: That is the plan, yes. There can be a lot of variables at Montreal like rain, reliability and incidents. Romain and Pastor are exactly the kind of drivers you want on your side to exploit any opportunities. However, we hope to be able to challenge for a good points finish irrespective of any of these variables.

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Published: 03/06/2014
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