Lotus' Italian GP preview with Gastaldi and Chester


Deputy Team Principal Federico Gastaldi looks ahead to the Italian Grand Prix.

The Belgian Grand Prix yielded a brilliant result for the team, now that you have had a few days to absorb it, what is your take on it?
Federico Gastaldi: I was very, very happy for the team but not amazed because I know that the team has the ability to always deliver such great results. We have great drivers and fantastic people here at Enstone. For me we are the best people in the paddock so I'm not surprised by the result and even though we currently face some challenges, we can still deliver strong cars. It was a great job by Romain and a great job by all at Enstone.

Monza is next, a notoriously high-speed track…
FG: Monza is a fantastic race track. As in Spa, we have good chances to perform well in Italy with the E23 and bring back home a haul of points.

Pastor suffered a retirement in Spa, what is the team doing to make sure this doesn't happen at the next race?
FG: First the team will prepare the cars as usual for the weekend sessions and hopefully, with a clear weekend, we can hope for a good performance by both drivers.

Where do you feel the team is at currently?
FG: We are facing challenges but we are a united team. We have shown many times that we are fighters and that we punch above our weight. We are now fifth in the Constructor's Championship and that makes me proud of everyone at Enstone. We want to continue to show our worth and fight on each and every lap these coming races.

How important is Monza, and Italy, for Formula 1?
FG: It's very important for me personally as my ancestors were from Italy! More seriously, Monza, Spa, Silverstone, have all been part of the original history of motor racing. Monza is and will always remain a classic in the Formula 1 calendar. The fans - or tifosi in Italy - are simply amazing and there are so many of them at all these historic venues no matter if it pours with rain or even if it snowed!

What do you like the most about Italy?
FG: The people; Italy is very colourful. The Italian food of course is also wonderful. It makes me feel at home when I'm there, I love the country.

This is the last European race of the season, what are your thoughts heading to the final batch of long-haul races?
FG: We will be heading to races overseas after Monza and we'll be visiting some great countries and venues. From Singapore which always offers a great night spectacle, to the USA that is extremely popular, to Mexico, a new venue that we are looking forward to visiting this year, and of course Russia, Brazil and Abu Dhabi, places where F1 is warmly greeted and where the promoters are doing a fantastic job. We shall be looking forward to visiting all these places in the latter part of the season.

Technical Director Nick Chester looks back at the team's performance in Spa and talks about Monza, the fastest circuit on the calendar.

What's the potential for Monza?
Nick Chester: I think that the potential is quite good. The cars have performed well at medium downforce tracks like Montréal and Spa. Monza is a step lower downforce that we never run anywhere else. The car seems to be efficient heading down to these kinds of levels. The E23 also has good braking and is reasonably well set-up for low drag. It should go quite well in Italy.

With Monza's straights is it a case of simply taking off all the wing and ensuring the car's as slippery as possible?
NC: Monza is one of the fastest circuits that requires the lowest downforce setting. The cars will be doing around 350kph so very fast. It is also important for the car to be good over the kerbs at the chicanes and so far we have seen the E23 is pretty good over kerbs.

Any new parts?
NC: We will be doing more work on our new front wing which we first ran on the Friday in Spa and will run a number of tests in Monza.

Coming back to Spa, the sessions were somewhat mixed up – did this mean our pace and potential was masked at times?
NC: Possibly, although straight away in FP1 Pastor looked reasonably quick before his shunt – he was around P8 - and Romain was P7 in the second session. We were already looking reasonably fast on the Friday and then on Saturday with more running Romain went quicker still. If anything our pace picked up through the weekend with good qualifying results for both drivers and then very strong pace in the race for Romain.

What went wrong for Pastor in the race?
NC: We are still checking all the parts but he had a big excursion at Eau Rouge and hit some curbs very hard which gave the chassis a 17G impact. That looks to have effectively knocked the power off the car and although he managed to get the power back on, it looks like we might have damaged the clutch control valve. Even though we may have been able to reset it when Pastor came back to the pits, we looked at the extent of the damage and decided to retire the car.

Pastor started the race from P7 and Romain from P9 (who'd qualified in P4) - was there potential for a 3-4 result?
NC: Pastor's pace was pretty good throughout the weekend, only a little bit off Romain as we saw in qualifying but certainly P4 or P5 were possible.

What went right for Romain?
NC: Pretty much everything! He drove incredibly well. His qualifying lap was brilliant - it was disappointing to get the gearbox penalty which in the end didn't affect us as he drove such a good race. Romain didn't have the easiest of weekends as he missed FP1 and then had stoppage time in FP2. Still, he was incredibly positive all weekend; his management of the race was excellent looking after the tyres when he needed to and then pushed when he had to push. Everything was perfect.

Romain was closing in on Sebastian at a rapid rate – would he have likely got past if Sebastian Vettel's tyres had held on?
NC: He had another two laps left to overtake him before Sebastian's tyre failed and I think that it would have been possible. He was closing in all the time and he could have had a good shot at passing him.

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Published: 28/08/2015
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