Q & A with Simon Roberts

Q. Did you expect coming to Spa that you could have a strong weekend?

Q & A with Simon Roberts

Simon Roberts: We did have reasonable - not silly - ambitions.

Q. Were you more surprised by your pace at Spa, or more by the pace of your opponents?

SR: In terms of outright speed, I think we expected to be quick. We do have a low-drag car, and that is not deliberate - it is just the way it has turned out. What has surprised us is we think the weekend has all been about balance. The guy that could get sector one, two and three balanced did well - and Fisi did that on Saturday.

Q. And Sunday's race showed that the car isn't just a one lap wonder?

SR: You look at qualifying and P3, Fisi was strong all the way through. We felt worse than we should have done on Friday, but everyone was struggling. In the rain we were pretty happy because Adrian and Fisi like it, so the car normally works in the wet. We lost dry running in P1, didn't really connect with the car in P2 but worked hard overnight analysing data and hit the car with something that worked for both drivers.
 


Q. How much input has McLaren had on the development side?

SR: None.

Q. Giancarlo has had a difficult spell in F1 - his head appeared to be down at times - so what do you put his transformation here down to?

SR: Earlier on in the season he stepped up. Because of his status in the sport he probably attracts comments unnecessarily and I don't think that's necessarily fair. We had a chat with him and Enrico [Zanarini, manager] earlier in the year and he was definitely committed from that point. This weekend, we didn't do anything different. We turned up and he was just on it through the race, he just didn't miss a beat lap after lap.

Q. In the four or five races leading up to Spa, Fisichella was strong in the races but didn't deliver in qualifying - did you see any difference in his approach to qualifying at Spa?

SR: None - not deliberately no. It just clicked. It's all just so close, all of the teams are within one second in Q1, and you can't afford a single error. Fisichella lost six tenths in the final sector at Valencia and was four tenths up in sectors 1 and 2. He should have been easily through, but he didn't make it.

Q. Did the Ferrari speculation lift Fisi?

SR: If there is anything going on I'm sure it's helped, yes.

Q. How significant is this result for the long term prospects of the team?

SR: Drivers are interested in us anyway with what we are delivering and we are a really friendly team. We don't have the budgets to mess about. It does unlock a few things. It is a fairytale all round. Everyone likes the underdog to do well and we've just done that.

Q. Is Force India now a regular points contender?

SR: From Valencia on, we changed our mindset. We consider ourselves now a strong Q2 team. Instead of thinking, 'great we're in Q2', we now spend time analysing why we didn't get a car into Q2. That's right for the drivers, everybody. Maybe we have to re-evaluate even that after this.

Q. Can you explain why we are seeing such an exciting championship - with six different winners in the last six races?

SR: There has been a huge change in regulations, and the cars have all evolved very quickly. One of the things we have been doing in the first half of the season has been looking at what works on other cars. But you cannot just copy stuff - you have to understand what other teams are trying to achieve, and then apply it to your chassis.

If your front wing is in a different place relative to your bargeboards, then someone else's wing will not work on your car. So after every event and every test we analyse all the photos and see what we can learn - and actually spend as much time trying to understand it, so we can discount some because they are not compatible with our direction. Then the other bits we try and incorporate into future designs.

Q. Given there have now been two victories for KERS powered cars, should that now be rethought?

SR: It helped Kimi to overtake, but he didn't pull away. It's about the way you balance your car. There are advantages for KERS, for some tracks more than others, and in qualifying it helps quite a lot. But the grid has not moved in one direction.

Q. Have you ruled KERS out for the season - it was originally slated for Germany?

SR: Yes. We had planned and designed the car to run with KERS and although up until recently we said we would keep the option open, internally we decided that the cost for a team like ours was too much. Running it was fine, it's just all of the extra equipment you have to buy. So we took a strategic decision. The Valencia package actually means that we can't package KERS now. We can always go back though. The Silverstone bodywork can take KERS. We look at it on a race by race basis.


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