Symonds talks to AUTOSPORT.com

Giancarlo Fisichella and Benetton went from hero to zero in a fortnight, following up the second place in Brazil - after the disqualification of David Coulthard - with a nightmare weekend at Imola.

Symonds talks to AUTOSPORT.com

Having gambled on medium tyres - actually the harder of the two available Bridgestone compounds - Fisichella qualified only 19th.

After slogging away in the race, and making a late single pit stop, the Italian rose to 11th place.

A better grid position didn't benefit team mate Alex Wurz very much, and he could only manage ninth. In recent years this topsy-turvy form has been something of a Benetton trade mark.

Adam Cooper asked technical director Pat Symonds to explain the situation.

Q: You did badly at Imola last year, but were you surprised to struggle so much after finishing on the podium in Brazil?

"It's true, we haven't had a good race at Imola for many years. It's a circuit that traditionally has been difficult for us. I don't think there's necessarily a particular reason for that. Last weekend we got lots of things wrong. We didn't get the set-up right, and particularly with Giancarlo. Because of that we decided to take a few different measures, like running on the medium tyre, like going for one pit stop, in the hope that if we made a good start we might be able to get in there.
You look back at the history of this race and there's never any overtaking. But the weekend was one disaster turning into another, and as everything relied on a good start we should have known that would go wrong as well!"

Q: There does seem to be a tendency for you to do badly at the same tracks every year. Is there any reason?

"True, but you've got to remember this car has been designed by a different person. Yes, you can see a family trait with one designer sometimes, but there are sufficient differences now to make history not necessarily repeat itself!"

Q: How much was the team boosted boost by the podium finish in Brazil?

"Obviously a lot. It lifts morale, it pushes people harder. It's what you need. You've got to have the strength of character to handle weekends like Imola, and the sense of sport to enjoy weekends like Brazil. To get through a weekend like Imola you analyse your mistakes, and you look forward to Silverstone."

Q: What's your feeling about the British GP?

"We did very badly there last year, but before Imola we had a very successful test, with Giancarlo being fastest on two of the days, on very reasonable fuel loads. We've got a few new bits on the car for Silverstone, so we hope this is a hiccup that we can do something about."

Q: How tough is the battle behind those two top teams?

"Yes, it's very difficult. But that should make it a good fun season."

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