Q & A with Nelson Piquet

Q. So on the opening day of this test you had some running with almost no rain, which was a first?

Q & A with Nelson Piquet

Nelson Piquet: Yeah, it was a complicated day again. We have been quite unlucky in this winter testing. All of the days I have done we have had problems, or it rained or something went wrong. So it is tough, but hopefully all the bad luck (I have) will be now and during the season we won't have any more.

Q. So what went wrong?

NP: Well, you name it - from tyres to battery. We had lots of problems that kept us in the garage, so it wasn't really good.

Q. This track is very hard on rear tyres, and you had a bit of a problem the first time you were here. Is it getting better?

NP: Yeah. I think we are now in the transition between working on the set-up and working on issues on the car. So slowly we are getting there. The car already is a different story compared to the last time I drove here. It is much better and there is still another big step that needs to be gained and learned on tyre degradation and stuff like that. Still the traction is not optimum. I think we can still get much better on it.

Q. Have you found a good basic set-up that you are happy with?

NP: To be honest, I didn't have much running today. With all these stops and goes it was a bit difficult, plus the car has got so much better since the last test that it was already a big step. I didn't have the time to fine-tune the car. I still know where the big faults are - I am complaining and saying I think we need to get better in these areas - and traction is one of them. But you need to get consistent running for a long period of time for you to develop the car. It makes it a bit difficult if we are always having problems.

Q. You say you have made a big step since the last test. In what areas?

NP: Everywhere. The car is much more on the ground, much more together. To be honest, the set-up wasn't anything special - it was just get in the car and run. It was a set-up that we didn't know how it would be, but we have found more than half a second in set-up and I think we can find a few more tenths easily just in the set-up.

Q. Is there the potential in the car to start chasing the fastest cars, or is it more complicated than that?

NP: We are not chasing anybody; we are trying to do our job. We will only know who is where, who is quick, and who is not quick in Australia. Until then everybody is going to be running KERS and not running KERS, we never know fuel loads and aero updates; everyone will be at different levels until there. So to be honest at the moment we have to work on our issues and work on our set-up. We look at the screen and we look at the times but it is not something that is going to worry us.

We know that some teams have a lot of downforce already now, and they don't have much more for Australia. We know some teams have much more for Australia. So I am not too worried about that. I think if we resolve our problems, the factory has quite a few updates to put on the car and it should be a lot better in Australia.

Q. Who looks like being the pace-setters then?

NP: It is always a bit difficult to say. You look at the screen and you think that Red Bull Racing are really quick. But you know that McLaren and Ferrari are going to be quick because they are two top teams with the best budgets and the most people working on the car. But I don't think we are going to be far off, if not fighting with them. I am really sure we will start the season in a much better situation than we started last year.

Q. And BMW?

NP: For sure, I think it is going to be all quite tight. It is difficult to say as everyone looks quite good. Williams look good, Red Bull look amazing - and Toro Rosso if it follows a similar car to Red Bull and they don't have any problems they will be strong as well. So it is all very difficult to say at the moment. I am sure the big teams like Ferrari and McLaren will be there, and then there will be a big fight between BMW, us and the other teams.

Q. What do you think about KERS now and the safety aspects - especially with drivers appearing to jump out of cars?

NP: Obviously the teams are over-worrying - which is normal as we cannot play with anyone's life. But it doesn't worry me. To be honest, when we are sitting in and out of the car, it doesn't go through our head any more. When you break the car on the track, it doesn't cost you anything to jump out of the car rather than put one foot in and one foot out - so we just do it. It is not something that worries me.

Q. Is this jumping a directive from the FIA or drivers to play it safe that way?

NP: No, it's more logical. If the car has any risks, if you jump out the car you don't have contacts on the floor and the car, which is normal. If you just step out and have one foot in the car, then there is a risk of something going wrong. We just jump to be overprotective.

Q. Is the system easy to use on the track?

NP: Yes, I think once the team know how to manage it well, for us it is easy. We just need to press a button to release it a few times a lap, so it is not a big issue. At the moment obviously there is a lot of set-up change during each lap in the KERS systems, and that doesn't make it too easy. It's because the engineers are getting used to it, the temperature goes up and down - so all that is not too easy for the engineers to understand. And with limited running you don't get as many kilometres on track to get familiar with it. I am sure in the next few tests they will get more and more used to it, and we just are going to need to press the KERS button a few times a lap and not need to change the set-up.

Q. Do you think all the drivers will use it in the same place?

NP: It depends on the team. If the team are going to find an optimum place where to use it then maybe, but everyone will use it where you want.

Q. The last time you were here you said you wanted to get some more days scheduled in before the start of the season. Did you get anywhere with that?

NP: Well, not only more days - but more kilometres. If they give me more days now and I don't get the kilometres then it doesn't help. I still need more days - compared to Fernando I am still way back on the kilometres that I have. It worries me a little bit, but there is not much I can do. The team realizes that I don't have many kilometres, so I hope they change their mind before the start of the season.

Q. Do you think overtaking will be easier this year with the new regulations?

NP: I am sure it is going to help us a little bit. The front wing is big, and the rear wing is smaller, so in the normal sense it should help us a little bit. You never know until you are right behind a car, but even in F3 it is difficult to follow another car - not as bad as F1, but still not easy. So I won't expect it to be a night and day difference. Maybe it can make it 20% or 30% easy, but still if you look at F3 that has very little aerodynamics and it is still not easy to follow another car.

Q. How much of the difference will the moving flap make?

NP: If the car is well balanced then you are not going to use it a lot. If you have a high degradation tyre then you will use it more, if you are at a track where there are two high speed corners - where one is oversteer and the other is different then you will use it. But I had several races lat year where the car was good and I didn't have to touch even the differential much. So it will depend really on circumstances.

Q. Because of the testing reduction do you think the tale of the first Grand Prix will be the story of the season?

NP: Well, last year we had already a crazy first race with not many cars finishing. I think there is a chance of it happening again.

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