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Exclusive interview with Force India's Mike Gascoyne 27 Nov 2007

Mike Gascoyne (GBR) Force India Chief Technical Officer Formula One Testing, Barcelona, Spain, 14 November 2007. World © Bumstead/Sutton The nosecone of Adrian Sutil (GER) Force India Formula One Testing, Barcelona, Spain, 14 November 2007. World © Bumstead/Sutton Roldan Rodriguez (ESP) Force India F1 Test Driver. Formula One Testing, Day One, Barcelona, Spain, Tuesday, 13 November 2007. World © Hartley/Sutton Giedo van der Garde (NED) Force India F1. Formula One Testing, Day One, Barcelona, Spain, Tuesday, 13 November 2007. World © Hartley/Sutton Colin Kolles (GER) Spyker Team Principal, Dr. Vijay Mallya (IND) CEO Kingfisher, Michiel Mol (NED) Spyker, Fred Mulder (NDL) and Jan Mol (NDL)
Formula One World Championship, Rd16, Chinese Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Shanghai International Circuit, Shanghai, China, Saturday, 6 October 2007

They may have started the 2007 season trailing behind the rest of the field but with a maiden championship point from September's rainy Japanese Grand Prix in the bag, a new name and a much healthier budget, the former Spyker squad, Force India, are looking forward to a much brighter 2008.

Ahead of next week’s Jerez test, chief technical officer Mike Gascoyne reviews the squad’s performance over the 2007 season and reveals his hopes for the future…

Q: How has your first season with the team been? Are you pleased or disappointed with your progress?
Mike Gascoyne:
I think we finished the season in very good shape. The year was very difficult in some respects, the team did not develop as we had hoped, it was quite difficult financially and then we had the sale of the team. Looking back we haven’t been able to do as much as we wanted and we haven’t moved forward as much as we would have liked. Nevertheless, looking forward, we can now be very optimistic about the future.

Q: Have you enjoyed being back at a smaller team? Have there been any drawbacks?
MG:
In general I have enjoyed being back at a smaller team. Of course, there are drawbacks, especially when you are limited in terms of budget and resources, but that has been addressed for the future. I’ve enjoyed the racing and working with a young, dynamic and growing team, so it has overall been very enjoyable.

Q: What’s been your opinion of Adrian Sutil this season? You were initially critical of his early mistakes - has he improved over the year?
MG:
Adrian has shown that he has the talent to be in Formula One and race at the highest levels, but he has also made quite a lot of mistakes throughout the year. This is normal for someone in a rookie season, but certainly he is making fewer and fewer as he grows in experience, which culminated in Fuji with his and the team’s first point. Next year I think he will show he can be consistent and quick everywhere.

Q: How big a setback was the delay of the B-Spec car?
MG:
The B-spec car was only delayed for one race and in the big scheme of things it really didn’t make that much difference. It’s the development from now on and going into next season that’s important.

Q: 2007 was the squad’s first season using Ferrari engines. How has the new partnership worked out?
MG:
We have a very good working relationship with Ferrari. Engine-wise there have been no major issues and they have been very reliable.

Q: How did it feel to score your first point?
MG:
Scoring the first point was very important as the team has been on the back foot for many years now. Although finishing the season with one point is not a lot different from zero, it certainly feels a lot different. It’s a landmark for the team and shows we are moving forward - from a team at the start of the year that was just driving around at the back, to a team that can go racing. From this perspective it was very important so we need to make sure that we build on this next year.

Q: Do you believe there will be more points for the team in 2008? What are your targets for next season?
MG:
For 2008 I think we definitely have to make a step forward, be more consistent, qualify better and, if we are racing in the midfield, regularly pick up the odd point. We certainly have to target more points next year.

Q: Last season the squad completed just 11 days of pre-season testing. How far do you think that decision affected the team’s early progress? Have you planned more for this winter?
MG:
We had limited pre-season testing last year due to budgetary reasons, but it did not really hinder us in terms of development of the car. Looking forward however to next season, we have a much larger test programme planned and for sure this will allow us to be better prepared for the start of the year.

Q: How did the test in Barcelona go?
MG:
The testing in Barcelona was very useful. We had our contracted test drivers and Adrian Sutil, who all know the car well. It was also very useful for us to get feedback from drivers who have a lot of experience in different teams and are able to compare this to our car. This was particularly interesting as it allowed us to see where we are deficient and where we are compared to other teams.

Q: How much do you think the new regulations concerning traction control will affect the performance of drivers in 2008?
MG:
The removal of traction control will have an effect. It will certainly benefit drivers who are able to look after rear tyres, especially in long runs, but ultimately in Formula One you have the best drivers and I am sure they will be able to cope with it.

Q: Will next season's car be an evolution of the F8-VII? What improvements have been planned?
MG:
Next year’s car will be an evolution mechanically but aerodynamically you will see a lot of updates on the car for the start of the season and throughout the year.

Q: Are you glad the team has new owners? Will the change bring more stability and a bigger budget?
MG:
The new owners, the Mol family and Vijay Mallya, are very committed to being in Formula One and after the instability of the last three years with different owners, I think the team is now on a stable level and can look forward to developing in the future.

Q: Were there things that you had to put on hold in 2007 that you’re now in a position to pursue? What’s top of your ‘to-do list’ at the moment?
MG:
We are developing the team in all areas, bit specifically our aerodynamic resource. Our wind tunnel in Brackley has come on stream, our budgets look much better than previous years and we have been able to do some of the things we haven’t been able to do for the past five years and move forwards on all fronts.