Interview with Super Aguris Kevin Lee 21 Aug 2007
Super Aguri are enjoying a season more fruitful than almost anyone predicted. In the hands of Takuma Sato and Anthony Davidson, the SA07 has shown unexpected pace and secured four world championship points. But the drivers are just two parts in a much bigger machine. Chief operations officer Kevin Lee discusses his role and looks forward to this weekends Istanbul race
Q: Kevin, as chief operations officer, what are your main responsibilities at the Super Aguri F1 team?
Kevin Lee: My role is predominantly factory based so a major part of my job is to ensure that the factory does everything possible to support the race team and give them all the back-up that we can. The Super Aguri F1 team is very small by current standards, but we have an excellent group of people here who constantly strive to do the best job possible with the resources that we have. Our goal is to make sure that at each and every race we give the race team the ability to race the fastest and most reliable car possible.
Q: The annual mid-season testing ban has just ended - what happens at the team during this period?
KL: The mid-season break does give the team chance to catch breath, with many members of the travelling race team taking the opportunity to have a holiday. But at the same time the staff at the factory in Leafield are still pushing to maximise the performance and reliability of the race car for the last six grands prix of the season. We are working on the aerodynamics of the car, detailing the set-up for the Italian Grand Prix which is a very high speed and hence low drag circuit, while also looking at performance items for the other remaining races.
Q: How is the team preparing for round 12 of the 2007 championship, the Turkish Grand Prix?
KL: The Turkish Grand Prix is the first of three races for the cars during time which they will not return to the factory, so there are additional factors to be taken into account during the car preparation and spares logistics. We have some small developments for the car coming through, which we hope will enable us to continue at our current performance level and consolidate our position in the championship. Our result last year was disappointing, one car spun off and Takuma was greatly delayed after a first corner incident meant a lengthy pit-stop for repairs, so this year we want both cars to see the chequered flag having raced to their full potential.
Q: The Istanbul Park Circuit is the newest of the European venues that we travel to. How, in your opinion, is it fitting into the Formula One calendar?
KL: I attended the Grand Prix in Istanbul last year and was impressed with the facilities and I believe the infrastructure has been further improved for this years race. The timing of the race works well with it being the first Grand Prix after the mid-season break and it's quite a trek for the transporters, so the three week break allows them more time to make the journey. In terms of the circuit itself I think that it is one of the more interesting of the modern circuits, with a mixture of slow and fast corners as well as significant gradient changes.
Q: Travelling to the Turkish track involves covering two continents - what special factors does this present to the team?
KL: As I mentioned, the Turkish Grand Prix is effectively the first in a run of three Grands Prix and the distances involved means that the race transporters have no time to return to the Leafield factory. Due to that the race trucks will have to carry additional supplies of car parts and consumables, the factory staff are already planning parts shipments direct to Monza and Spa to replenish stocks. There is also a test at Monza immediately after the Turkish Grand Prix, so that will add further complexity to the logistics. Due to the size of our team several of the Engineers and support staff attend both the races and tests so they, along with the drivers, will have a very busy schedule in the next few weeks.