Q&A with Spykers Mike Gascoyne 05 Feb 2007
B-spec car already planned, with Turkey debut in mind
Spykers chief technical officer, Mike Gascoyne may have only arrived in November but, speaking at the launch of the new F8-VII, it is clear he has already got to grips with his new team
Q: Youve been with Spyker for three months now. What have you been up to since you joined?
Mike Gascoyne: One of the first things I did was to look at the overall structure of the technical team and look how we could improve to make the operation more efficient. James (Key) and his team had done a phenomenal job and had made steady progress with very limited resources, but I had to come in and look at how we could make a big step. With the new aero regulations it was obvious that one of the main areas where we could get the biggest gains was in the aero department, so I have signed a deal with Aerolab and its team that effectively doubled our resources.
Q: What benefits will this partnership with Aerolab bring?
MG: With the upgrade to the tunnel we have at Brackley, weve now effectively got the capacity to have two tunnels working full-time, which really does bring us into line with the resources of the bigger teams. We signed the deal on January 1 and weve already put in some really valuable work. Aerolab really is a turnkey operation, its a unique facility and opportunity; a state of the art facility thats fully staffed ready to go. You can make some real improvements in performance by looking at the aerodynamics of the car - well see the benefits in the second half the year.
Q: And have you restructured the in-house technical team in any way?
MG: Now that Im here, it has taken a lot of the pressure from James. I will look after the strategic development of the team, focusing on prioritising key performance aspects such as aero, so James can concentrate on the future technical developments. The broad structure of the technical team hasnt changed, however, although we have had a slight move within the aerodynamic department because of the workload and the increased aero time. We have brought one of the senior aerodynamists up to help with planning and making sure the programme stays on track, which has allowed our head of aero, Simon Phillips, to take a step back and concentrate on the actual design process. We will have changes further down the line too once we have made the basic improvements we need to make.
Q: How much of a direct involvement have you had with the new car?
MG: When you arrive on November 1 theres very little you can do in terms of a new car, so really my role was to advise. Ive been in all the design meetings, but the philosophy of the car was basically finished at that point. The aerodynamics are still evolving, but mechanically, the layout of the car is fixed.
Q: How much of a step forward does the new car represent?
MG: Obviously the decision on the engine came fairly late, and that really impacted on the time we had to really develop and change the car. The gearbox is really an evolution of last years, although the rear suspension is a little bit different. Weve made an aerodynamic step forward, but were looking for much more progress later in the season. Really were targeting a much more major upgrade in the second half, which will be a fully revised B-spec car.
Q: How will the B-spec car differ - will it mainly be aerodynamics, or will it be a complete package?
MG: It will be a combination of aero and a new rear end, including a new gearbox layout. That will be tailored towards the 2008 regulations where youve got to have a four-race gearbox. I think youll see quite a large update to the rear suspension, and a lot of other things will change. The programme we have in the first half of the year is really geared towards making big progress in terms of aerodynamics and design.
Q: When do you expect to introduce the revised car?
MG: Were targeting Turkey. We want it to be a significant step forward, but really it will be defined by progress in the wind tunnel and where we are at the start of the season. We have to see where our direct opposition are, particularly Super Aguri and Toro Rosso. Were going to ensure that when we do introduce the B-spec, it will be a significant step forward. That car will be a fully-fledged Spyker, and will have had a lot of my input.