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Q&A with Super Aguri's Ben Wood 12 Oct 2007

Ben Wood (GBR) Super Aguri F1 Aerodynamicist. Super Aguri Staff Portraits, 2007. World © SUTTON Takuma Sato (JPN) Super Aguri F1 Team SA07.
Formula One World Championship, Rd16, Chinese Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Shanghai International Circuit, Shanghai, China, Saturday, 6 October 2007 Anthony Davidson (GBR) Super Aguri F1 SA07.
Formula One World Championship, Rd16, Chinese Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Shanghai International Circuit, Shanghai, China, Saturday, 6 October 2007 Takuma Sato (JPN) Super Aguri F1 Team in parc ferme.
Formula One World Championship, Rd16, Chinese Grand Prix, Race Day, Shanghai International Circuit, Shanghai, China, Sunday, 7 October 2007 The Super Aguri Racing F1 Team team celebrate sixth position for Takuma Sato (JPN) Super Aguri F1 Team.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 6, Canadian Grand Prix, Race, Montreal, Canada, Sunday, 10 June 2007

After clinching four points during the season’s opening stages, Super Aguri were enjoying their best season to date. But with neither Takuma Sato or Anthony Davidson finishing higher than 11th in the past ten races, the Japanese team’s championship charge has ground to a halt.

Ben Wood, head of aerodynamics, explains why a lack of mid-season development may have hampered the team’s results...

Q: Ben, what are your feelings about the SA07's performance this year?
Ben Wood:
In general, we have been pleased with the first half of the season's performance. We extracted a lot of performance from this car, but in the end we cannot compete with the larger teams we are up against. It’s a constant development game and if you don’t develop and put parts on the car as the season progresses, you go backwards on the grid. Our race team has done an excellent job in ensuring they extract the most out of the car. We are also very proud of the fact we took our points during dry conditions and by merit earlier in the season.

Q: It has been said many times that the team's in-season development has been hampered by budget constraints, do you have anything to add to this?
We’ve never had the largest aero department and we are currently a team of 11 people doing everything, so we’re quite used to making the most of limited resources. However, that gets a bit difficult when you can’t afford to wind tunnel test. We have not been able to put on any really serious development parts since May, so it’s really hurt our on track performance. This is one of the reasons why our situation is particularly difficult.

Q: Will you be making any changes to the department over the winter?
Well, I hope we can take some more people on to continue the good work we’ve started. The guys in the aero department have all done a fantastic job. Each model designer, model maker and aerodynamicist has been immense in their own way. They all have different skills that blend very well together. There are no two people or jobs alike. We also thrive in having very good contact with the drawing office, race team and R&D as we all sit in the same room.

Q: We are approaching the final race of 2007, what recent upgrades has the team introduced in an attempt to replicate its performance in Brazil 2006?
We have a new rear wing which, if dry, we’ll be racing. It’s partly about proving some non-aero concepts and we’ve been waiting to run it for a while now. We also have a few small modifications to the some of the brake ducts assemblies.

Q: Which characteristics of the track at Interlagos will suit the SA07 and which will not?
Interlagos is a favourable downforce level for us, as are most places, and is characterised by a longish straight and several medium-speed, linked corners. Typically our development strategy has worked well here in the past in terms of what we can extract from our mechanical/aero platform. We should be able to generate some heat in the tyres much easier with this type of surface and I hope this means we can put in a showing to encourage the team going into the winter development period, after two particularly hard races in China and Japan.