Q&A with Super Aguris Antonio Cuquerella 01 Jun 2007
Anthony Davidsons race engineer, Antonio Cuquerella, reveals how the British driver is coping with the transition from long-time tester to full-time racer, reviews his Monaco performance and looks ahead to Canada and the rest of the season...
Q: Tonio, a frustrating race for Anthony Davidson in Monaco with his drive-through penalty, but a lot to be optimistic about at the team, wouldnt you say?
Antonio Cuquerella: Yes there is and the drive-through was the shadow in a good performance so far this season. Ant has been competitive since the first race, showing us very good speed and gaining experience in participating in races and qualifying that he did not have before. During the fly-away races Ant showed us his potential and race-by-race he has been transforming it into results. He is increasing in self confidence and from these first five races we have converted the test driver into a race driver. The extra things that he needed to learn were essentially driving in traffic, handling faster cars coming from behind, pitstops and being concerned about race set-up instead of solely the development of the car. Ant had a steep learning curve and is now starting to perform at the same level as the other F1 drivers.
Q: The Monaco and Montreals Gilles Villeneuve circuits are fairly similar. They're both street circuits, the barriers are incredibly close to the track and there are few places to overtake. How much of what you learned in Monte Carlo will you be able to use in Canada?
AC: Both circuits have a slippery track surface that makes us work with a very soft Bridgestone Potenza tyre and yes the barriers limit the amount of risk you can take. But on the other hand the set-up of the car is completely different. Canada is a low downforce circuit with a very high average speed, where drag and power are going to be important and these factors were not relevant in Monaco. Both circuits are extremely tough on the brakes, but in different ways - Monaco because of the temperature and Canada because of the power needed for braking.
Q: So how you have to think about set-up and strategy for Montreal?
AC: On the set-up side we are going to be completely different because of the aero requirements, but the Montreal circuit needs very good change of direction for the car and braking stability. In Montreal we use the kerbs in many places, so we need to set-up the car for these conditions. As we start with a very green track on day one this will make us change the balance of the car completely from the beginning to the end of the weekend. On the strategy side overtaking is difficult but possible. All of the teams will not be as protective in race position by doing a one stop strategy and there will be more two-stoppers. In Montreal the fuel weight effect is low, the pitlane is short and tyre degradation is high, so these are the most important factors for the teams when defining their strategy. It will also be tough for the engines and brakes, but grip is not as determining as it was in Monaco, so it will coming back to a normal level of influence on the lap times in Canada. This is because the amount of cornering force per lap is one of the lowest on the F1 calendar.
Q: How is Anthony settling back into racing again and how is your relationship developing?
AC: I think that he is changing his mind-set positively and quick enough for everyone to consider him to be a racing driver now. After spending five years testing it is not easy to change your mind to race mode. Our relationship is building and getting stronger race by race. We understand each other better all the time; he knows what I am asking for and I know what he needs. Right now we are confident in our capabilities and we make a good team. Ant is working well with the rest of the engineers and his car crew and is going to be an asset for the rest of the season.
Q: Talking about the rest of the season, how do you feel Super Aguris car 23 will perform?
AC: SAF1 Team overall has performed over expectations in the first five races of this year and clearly our first championship point in Barcelona was the result of all our hard work. But looking forward, car 23 is obviously targeting finishing in the points and this is something that I believe Ant and the whole car crew can achieve soon.