Interview - Sebastien Loeb thrilled with Red Bull test 18 Nov 2008
Five-time world rally champion Sebastien Loebs test run on Monday at Barcelonas Circuit de Catalunya caused a stir at the Spanish track, not least because Loeb eventually clocked the eighth-fastest time in the Red Bull. And after stepping out of the cockpit, the Frenchman was clearly thrilled with his ride in the RB4
Q: Sebastien, how was the test for you? Driving a Formula One car is distinctively different to what you are normally used to
Sebastien Loeb: Oh yes, it is. You have a lot of grip, your braking mode is totally different and you have these high-speed corners. It is simply not comparable with my usual racing. In Formula One you brake so much later. Finding the right braking points kept me busy throughout the morning session, but I think I improved in the afternoon. And once I got used to that, I was able to work on the speed and I think overall it worked pretty well.
Q: You completed 82 laps and you didnt seem to have any problems, so are you satisfied with your performance?
SL: Yes, overall I am happy. When I started, I focused on understanding quickly how the car works, and over the course of the day, I tried to improve and work simultaneously on the settings. In the morning, it didnt work so well but towards the end of the afternoon session, the times were going down - and I had the impression that I can do even better.
Q: At tests it is always difficult to judge the times of other drivers, as you never know what fuel load or set-ups the others are running. But the fact that you have been two and a half seconds quicker than Bruno Senna, someone highly rated in Formula One circles, must leave you with a pretty good feeling
SL: Yes, indeed. When I started this morning I didnt know where I would be in the end and a time of 1m 22.5s is a good result to go home with. We had low fuel and new tyres but when you use new tyres it is the first lap that is best, but I always need two to get in the rhythm again. So I probably lost my opportunity to do better. But I am satisfied that I consistently improved over the course of the day.
Q: The most significant differences to your normal racing job were obviously the downforce and the late braking. How did you cope with those differences?
SL: I knew that there would be a braking issue and I was surprised by how quickly you get used to that. In the morning, I thought it almost impossible, but lap by lap it worked better and better. And in the last ten laps it was no longer an issue.
Q: Was it easier or more difficult than you expected?
SL: That is difficult to say. I am happy because at the end of the afternoon session I was really feeling comfortable in the car. I didnt make any mistakes and had no big moments, I just tried to improve without taking big risks. And in the end, the time was not so bad - and I know now that I can go faster.
Q: How are you feeling? Only some of the regular Formula One guys did more laps than you
SL: I have known for three weeks that I would do this test, so I tried to prepare myself a bit. Right now I feel very good, but probably tomorrow my neck will remind me what I did!
Q: The force on your body during this test - was it worse than during the 24 hours of Le Mans?
SL: You cannot compare. It is something completely different. It's true Le Mans is very long but I would not like to do Le Mans in a Formula One car. It is much harder.
Q: How did it feel with the slick tyres?
SL: I dont know. I didnt drive with the other ones so I have no experience of them to compare.
Q: Will you test a Formula One car again in the near future?
SL: Thats a good question. I would like to, but that depends on my time - and if the team doesnt need their test slots for their own drivers in preparation for the season.
Q: Is a Formula One drive on your agenda in the future? Or was this test just a break from your normal duties?
SL: I dont think so. I am maybe a bit too old for that. But for sure it is a very exciting experience for me. And regarding the holiday - believe me, sitting in a Formula One car is far from being relaxing!