Q & A with John Howett
|By Jonathan Noble||Monday, April 27th 2009, 09:19 GMT|
Q. Are you disappointed with what happened?
John Howett: Yes, we should have gone with the soft tyre for the longer stint. We had the option to go three stop or two stop. On three we would have been stuck in traffic, so we decided to go for two. And we were worried that the soft tyre would probably not hold out with the heavier fuel load and the conditions. I think strategically it was wrong. We were slower on the harder tyre, and I think that is where we lost most of the advantage.
Q. So it was only a strategic error?
JH: Yes I think so. Sure.
Q. The first stop seemed to be very early compared to where the Brawn's were. Was Jarno Trulli's stop bought forward?
JH: No. I think normally we would expect to get 13 laps, but we got 12. That sometimes happens because they were pushing fairly hard. One or two cars went longer than we predicted based on the declared fuel load - Vettel and Alonso.
Q. How is the mood in the team, as normally a podium finish is a reason to celebrate?
JH: I think it is positive that we are disappointed. If you look three years ago, we would have been ecstatic about finishing third, whereas now we are disappointed because we could smell the victory. That is a positive sign, and really Jarno was hounding Sebastian at the end of the race, so we are there with the pace of the Red Bull. And honestly, I think in race trim the Brawn is fractionally quicker but definitely within striking distance.
Q. Three podiums from the first four races, and one pole position. Is that a satisfying start to the year?
JH: It is a solid start to the season, but we are hungry to win. We can smell it, so I think it is an incentive. The motivation is there to keep pushing.
Q. What are you missing to get this first victory?
JH: In Formula 1, you have to get everything to the top level and probably if we win a race then we will relax and it will make it much easier. I think we are trying too hard. It is always the same, because it can be that we are so hungry to win that we are nervous to make an error and that makes you make conservative decisions that don't make you win. But we have to be proud of the team and what we have done – the engineers have built a very quick car, and the reliability has been solid.
Q. What has been the secret to Toyota's step forward in performance this year?
JH: I think it is stability. If you look the last two years, we have been improving solidly and I think also learning. Where we brought things to the track and they delivered we understood why, and when we brought things to the track and they didn't work we also understood why. The process is one of then improving the whole internal understanding of what makes the car go quicker.
Q. What are you expecting from Barcelona?
JH: We have an upgrade on the car. Everyone is talking about massive upgrades and we have to see where we are relative to everyone else. We have a fairly good one, and there is an interesting long straight into the first corner. Here is relatively long and we managed to defend against the KERS cars, so it will be interesting in Barcelona.
Q. The fact we are seeing KERS make an impact now, is that changing your mind about what you do?
JH: Well, still I think overall the KERS cars are the slower cars. We are very conscious and probably have been for six months about some of the advantages that KERS could give in certain areas of the race. The problem is the deficit you have versus that benefit. We are looking at if we can find an interim solution which is maybe less of a disadvantage and a limited amount of an advantage when we need it.
Q. So you are still looking at it for later this season?
JH: Yes, we are still looking. Obviously with all the budget restrictions, it is still a decision about whether it is the right area in which to place the resource we have.
Q. How big a step have you got for Barcelona?
JH: It is a quite good step, but it really depends what everyone else brings. It is a little bit that situation at the moment.
Q. Will Toyota go away from this weekend knowing it has a car quick enough for pole and for a win?
JH: Yes, if you look at what we did with Timo in Malaysia, we can make the right strategic decisions. We have been racing much better in the last two years, so while we made a mistake I am not criticising. I am saying we need to learn again from that, be braver at time and have more confidence.
Q. In F1, that first win is always the hardest isn't it?
JH: Yes, sure. I sincerely believe it. If we can make that one, the rest will flow through.