Q&A with Spykers Mike Gascoyne 11 Oct 2007
After scoring a maiden world championship point in Japan, Spyker were brought crashing back down to earth at last weekends Chinese Grand Prix. The only drivers to begin on extreme wets, Adrian Sutil and Sakon Yamamoto found themselves hamstrung from the start when predicted heavy rain failed to materialise.
With Sutil eventually spinning out and Yamamoto finishing three laps down, it was a poor performance from a squad who had shown so much promise at the previous round. Chief technical officer Mike Gascoyne discusses his wrong call on the rubber, Sutils mistake and what he expects from the final race in Brazil
Q: Spyker were the only team to start the race with extreme wets. What was the thinking behind the decision?
Mike Gascoyne: Basically we had the prediction of heavy rain for the first 20 minutes, and the radar plot showed that coming in. It really just veered away and we only got the tail end of it. We just gambled that it was going to be heavy rain, and if we were the only ones on extremes, and other teams had to stop, we would be looking good. The bottom line was that we werent competitive during the weekend, and we were just going to drive around so we had to take a risk to move up. We were not the only ones to struggle - if you look at Renault and Williams and where we were relative to them, we were in the same position as normal.
Q: Was a gamble worth taking?
MG: Really we werent going to get much out of the weekend, and if you are in that position then you need to take risks - effectively you have nothing to lose. If it had worked out then we would have been very well placed, but in the end the gamble on the tyres didnt pay off. We then went on to the wets, and we then changed to drys just as it started raining again.
Q: What happened to Adrian Sutil?
MG: Adrian made a mistake, but to be honest he cant be blamed for that. It was raining again and he had just changed to drys and just skidded off in the last corner after Ralf Schumacher had just done the same thing. It had started raining, and it was wet in that corner. Its just one of those things.
Q: In retrospect what could you have achieved if you had started on wets like everyone else?
MG: I dont think we had a competitive car to really do anything with. We could have maybe jumped a couple of people who got it wrong, but we werent going to get much out of the weekend. Its difficult when youre a team at the back and youve got rookie drivers. Shanghai is a tough circuit to learn, and I think if wed had a dry race, youd have seen us get more on the pace.
Q: Generally are you happy with progress with the revised car?
MG: Weve had a couple of cracking races with the B-spec car, and a couple of mediocre ones. Interestingly, we had two circuits that Adrian knows very well, and two that hes not been to before. Hes done some tremendous races recently, but youve got to remember that hes still a rookie, hes still learning everything, and he hasnt had all the testing that Lewis (Hamilton) and other drivers have had. I think we suffered from that last weekend.
Q: Are you happy to at least come away from the Asian double header with a point?
MG: Were pleased with the point, and at the end of the day were going to finish 10th, which is important financially for the team. But its much nicer when youve scored a point, it just means something for the whole team. For me personally Ive never gone through a season and not scored a point! So even that one point means something to me, and it means something to everyone. Weve got one more race, and who knows?
Q: Is Interlagos going to suit the car?
MG: Were definitely more competitive at lower downforce levels. Youve got the long straight where I think well look to take a lot of wing off for the race and try and be quick, as we were at Spa. Its a very similar sort of wing level to that track, and obviously that was one of our more competitive races, passing people and getting stuck in. I think we can have a similar race in Brazil.
Q: And we might see more rain there!
MG: Weve sort of prided ourselves on getting it all right, but weve come crashing back down to earth with a bang after China. I have to take responsibility for that, I made the calls, but it didnt work out. As effectively as we did it at Nurburgring, where we put ourselves 30 seconds in the lead, I managed to put as nearly a lap behind everyone else! I went round and apologised to all the boys. Its nice to get the plaudits when you get it right, but you have stand up and take the responsibility when you mess it up!