De la Rosa Q&A

Pedro de la Rosa enjoyed his best Grand Prix outing to date in Austria, successfully negotiating the first corner carnage and then passing Jos Verstappen and Mika Salo to claim third place. He lost out to leader Mika Hakkinen at only 1s a lap for the first part of the race, and managed to keep Rubens Barrichello - who admittedly had handling troubles - safely behind him. Alas it all went wrong when a plume of smoke signalled a problem. A gearbox oil leak was the cause, and Pedro had no choice but to come into the pits. Poor reliability has plagued the team all year, and the team's total of three points does not reflect its true potential. Adam Cooper spoke to the Spaniard about his enjoyable but frustrating afternoon

De la Rosa Q&A



"I saw cars everywhere! I think I saw a Benetton (Fisichella) spinning in front of me. There were some cars on the grass already, and I just took a decision to take the inside line, very tight, and try not to kill the car speed. I was in first gear, avoiding the cars, and it made my race really. And then Jos had a problem at Turn 3, so I overtook him also, and it was looking good!"



"After the safety car I overtook Mika Salo, so it was looking even better! The car was very good, really. We were on the harder tyre, and for us it was definitely the right choice. The car balance was much better, and tyre degradation was zero. It was perfect. It's the same for everyone, but we were going especially quicker and quicker as the fuel went down. Most people thought we were on a two-stop strategy, but we really surprised them, because we were on one."



"I could have made it to lap 37, which was quite good. We were saving fuel with a very lean fuel map, and just trying to drive as smoothly as possible. Then the gearbox went."



"Nothing - the car was perfect. But coming into the first corner two laps earlier I had a little bit of oversteer, so I think there was some oil coming onto my rear tyres. Then my engineer said please come into the pits. I thought I was going to go for a tyre change and refuelling, but he said you have to retire. I just couldn't believe it. They told me to bring it into the garage, which is what you normally do when you break down, and instead I put it in the normal place. At that stage I thought come on, you have to fix it!"



"I think I would have made maybe one more lap, because they could see on the telemetry that the temperatures of the gearbox were over the moon. It was a shame really, because it would have been good to finish so high."



"I know his car was bad and whatever, but for us, on the same strategy as them, to keep up the pace so well is quite good. It's quite disappointing really that these things happen in races when you're going so well, rather than in races where you're nowhere!"



"It's been good. I'm very pleased how things are going, and especially the big step that Arrows has done, and how much more competitive we are. I think that's the bottom line. We're still struggling a bit on reliability, but hopefully we can score more points in the second half of the season. But I'm very pleased. The team has done a great job, and all the investment made by Tom Walkinshaw in the winter has paid off."



"I think the engine is definitely a big step, but in terms of lap time the chassis has been the biggest difference. Aerodynamically it's so much more superior, and mechanically the weight distribution is much lower, it's a much more modern car. The whole package is much more competitive."



"We have to forget about the two top teams. I think they are in a different league. But if you take those two teams, there are always three or four teams behind, and we are one of them. It's very, very exciting, because if you have a fantastic qualifying you can qualify in the top six. But we haven't been able to do that yet. My highest position has been ninth, twice, and we need one step more."



"Absolutely, we have to make more progress. For this race we had a new qualifying engine from Supertec, and the team is working quite hard for making the car quicker. But on the other hand other teams and also ourselves are starting the design of next year's car."



"It's very high I must say. We've made a huge progress this year, and now we're starting to believe that we can be up there. The next step is very difficult, because those last tenths are very, very difficult to find, very expensive. I believe the problem is always the same. You make a good step and then the rest make the same step, so you progress at the same rate. I think Arrows is a team to go up next year, and will surprise a few people."



"I don't know really. That's a key element, a very important element of the whole package, because the whole package is designed around the engine. Nowadays in F1, with so many manufacturers involved, it's going to be more and more difficult. I don't expect teams like Jaguar to struggle next year, and I expect BMW to make a huge step, I expect also Honda will be very strong. It will be very hard."

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