Interview with Super Aguris Richard Connell 10 Sep 2007
Takuma Satos race engineer Richard Connell reflects on the teams successful season to date, considers the changes that have been made to Spa-Francorchamps, and discusses Super Aguris prospects for next weekends Belgian Grand Prix at the famous circuit
Q: Richard, how has your season been so far?
Richard Connell: Super Aguri F1 Team is currently eighth in the constructors' championship and Takuma has scored four world championship points. The season so far has been extremely rewarding, both for me personally and for the team with respect to achieving another important milestone necessary to contributing towards achieving our goals and to move forward in the future.
Q: We are heading straight to Spa on the morning following the Italian Grand Prix. How did you prepare for this back-to-back race?
RC: Our preparation for the Belgian Grand Prix began several months ago when we completed a pre-event test at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit. It is not often that we get the opportunity to test at a circuit before a race weekend, and the in-season test in July has given us a good understanding of the most important items for the race, namely our aerodynamic package and the tyre compounds available to us. Before arriving at the circuit late on Wednesday evening we will have a comprehensive plan of attack for the weekend and will have given serious thought to many eventualities that we may encounter across the weekend, car set-up optimisation, circuit evolution, changeable weather conditions and race strategy.
Q: What are your thoughts about the modifications that have been made to the Spa-Francorchamps circuit?
RC: I know the Spa-Francorchamps circuit extremely well having raced saloon cars here in several 25-hour endurance races in recent years and for me the most important factor concerning recent changes is that they have not altered the wonderful character of the circuit. The new pit lane facilities are excellent and bring the paddock up to the same standard as many of the newer circuits we visit on the F1 championship circuit. The Bus Stop has been revised again; it will never be a great corner, but is a 'must' to slow the cars down considerably as they exit Blanchimont at such high speeds. It is possible that now the approach has been straightened, there is more of a chance to overtake under braking. All in all a very welcome return to the F1 calendar.
Q: How will the circuit characteristics suit the SA07?
RC: We have numerous set-up tools available so that we can adapt our car to the characteristics of the circuit and ensure we get the best performance from the SA07 across the weekend. Spa, with respect to other circuit on the F1 calendar, is a low-downforce circuit and we will run an optimised aerodynamic set-up to reflect this. History shows that the SA07 is well suited to these low-downforce, high-efficiency circuits and the team has given very good qualifying and race performances in Canada and the USA where we would usually run a similar aerodynamic package.
Q: What can the Super Aguri F1 Team expect to achieve at the 2007 Belgian Grand Prix next weekend?
RC: Our priority is to finish the Belgian Grand Prix weekend having maintained our eighth position in the 2007 constructors' championship. We will, of course, always aim to add to our points tally for the year, but with the highly competitive level of our mid-field rivals and reliability of the entire field, this is not always possible. So if we can maintain our advantage over the teams currently behind us, which is certainly possible, then the weekend will have been a success.