Gary Paffett Q&A

Gary Paffett made his FIA F3000 debut with the new Brand team at Imola last weekend, as the next step on his route to what will hopefully one day be a F1 seat. Last year Paffett really marked himself out as man to watch by winning the German F3 series, and he has shown well in testing for McLaren. David Richards of BAR is also keeping an eye on his progress. Imola was a tough baptism as both driver and team made their first steps in the formula, and after being sent into the gravel via a tap from Derek Hill, Gary finished 14th. Adam Cooper spoke to him in Italy

Gary Paffett Q&A

"The start was good. I made two or three positions into the first corner, and from there I tried to catch the people in front. The first part of the race was OK, and we were quite on it, but we picked up a bit of oversteer in the car and started to drop back a bit. Because we had a bit of oversteer and wheelspin it got worse, and the rear tyres went away quite quickly. Later in the race there was very little rear end grip, and on the exit of corners you couldn't really get on the power, and people got a run on you. I think Derek Hill just crept up a bit quickly and gave me a tap. I got into the gravel and thought, 'It's still moving, I'll be able to get out of it,' and I drove all the way round the outside and got back on. Everything was lost by then, so it was a question of keeping going and getting some data for the future. We've got the first race over now and we've learned a lot about what we need to do. It wasn't the best result for the team, by a long way, but both cars finished the race, which is a plus. We know we've got a lot of work to do now."

"It was difficult. It was a lot different to when we tested earlier on in the year. It was pretty slippery overall, and it took a bit of time to get back into it. But we had a few problems in the car, a bit of understeer, that we tried to cure. We couldn't quite get the time on the new tyres. I got caught up in traffic on a couple of laps and also made a few mistakes on a couple of laps and went a bit wide in a few corners. So it was just a bit inconsistent really. We could have done a lot better, I think, but we just need to work a bit more on the car and get it closer to the mark."

"There are people at the front who have done it for years. They know the set-up they need, know where they need to go to do certain things with the car. That's the problem we have. If we have a problem, we have to sit and think what do we do to it to cure it? Everyone else is one step ahead and they do it straight away. It takes a bit of time to know what to do to the car to make it go quickly."

"Compared to F3, the cars are very different, and you have to drive them in a very different way. In F3 you're every smooth, and it's all about finesse and carrying the speed and everything. These cars are a lot bigger and a lot harder to drive. You really have to chuck them into the corners, and you have to be a lot harder on the car than in F3. You have to drive it a bit like you don't want to drive it... You have to learn to drive an F3000 car rather than develop your skills to drive an F1 car. That's what difficult, working on the technique for driving it. At least this [2002 spec] F3000 car is a lot closer to F1 than the old car, which I tested before. You've seen people getting out of F3 who have no problem with F1. It's not like it's a massive jump. You've got a lot more power and a lot more grip, but the style is very similar."

"Yes, I think it's still the place to be, it's still the stepping stone to F1. Being here with the F1 paddock is good, and there's nothing better than going out and having good results in front of F1 people, because they do watch the races."

"We spoke to some people about even a race drive, but in the end it just all came down to money. There was just no money around at all, and people want money for race and test drives. For us to find the sort of money they needed was really hard work. We tried our best to do it, but nothing came about. We're still working on it now, trying to get something sorted to do some testing in the middle to late part of the season."

"Yes. We're talking to a few teams, but the relationship with McLaren goes back years, and we're still in contact. And we're also in contact with Jordan, through Ford. We'll just have to wait and see what comes about."

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