Abu Dhabi Q&A with Force Indias Andy Stevenson 26 Oct 2009
For every team member, journeying to a brand new race track is as challenging as it is exciting, and this weekends inaugural race at Abu Dhabis Yas Marina Circuit is no exception. But after visiting the track back in April and seeing recent pictures of the completed circuit, Force India team manager Andy Stevenson is confident a world-class venue - and thrilling race - awaits
Q: You visited the Abu Dhabi track in April. What were your first impressions?
Andy Stevenson: It was far from complete when I visited but we could certainly see the work that was going on and how much it had progressed from pictures we had been sent earlier in the year. For me it was good to go and visit and see exactly what was happening because it quashed a lot of rumours in the press that said it might not be completed in time. You could clearly see it was well on schedule.
Q: You've now seen pictures of the finished product. How do you think it looks?
AS: I think it's phenomenal. It's taken circuit design to another level, and whether it will ever be matched again, we'll have to wait and see. It's a luxury for F1 to be handed something like that, and I really hope the whole thing is a success.
Q: What do you think of it as a race venue?
AS: From what I've seen of the circuit I think it will be a very good race track. I think the safety aspect of it is very, very good. The FIA and the circuit designers do their homework, they've got all the information they need, and they're not going to design something into it that they shouldn't have. I think it will prove to be an incredible race track.
Q: There's been a lot of talk about the pit-exit tunnel, which is very tight. Do you have any concerns?
AS: There's a lot of talk about it because it's different, but when we actually get there and go through it, it won't be such a big issue. The one thing that might be a little bit difficult is the temperature of the track, because it's going to be very different in the tunnel. But I like to think it won't be too much of a problem. Brazil has a dangerous pit exit, and if you drive flat out, you crash. It's all part of the driver's skill to get in and out safely, so the drivers have to have the same mentality in the Abu Dhabi tunnel. If someone hits the barrier, there is a crane that can lift the car out of the way. The track is also eight metres wide at that point - there's a lot of room - and it releases the cars out on to the track at high speed in a completely safe environment, and that is what it was designed to do. It certainly makes it totally original. If it wasn't a tunnel, nobody would be questioning it - I think it's just the fact that the whole thing has got a roof on and you get a claustrophobic feeling!
Q: Logistically, do you have any concerns about the weekend?
AS: It's all fairly straightforward. As a team we're really looking forward to going there. To have the luxury of the facility that's on offer there, how could we not look forward to going? We're going to be spoiled by the garages. They've even gone to the extent of air conditioning them, so it's going to be difficult next year in Malaysia! It just shows the extent that they've gone to with everything. The detail is phenomenal.