“We intend to end the season strongly”
A return to form for the team in Singapore saw a top three qualifying position and a podium finish harvested at the Marina Bay Street Circuit, leaving Team Principal Eric Boullier feeling confident heading into the final six races of the season.
After a couple of difficult races in terms of results, Singapore was a good upturn in form; can the team maintain this for the remaining races this season?
Singapore was a good illustration of what is possible for the team in final third of the year. Once more Kimi drove an exceptionally strong race – even without considering his back pain – to come from P13 to the podium, whilst the team did an amazing job with the strategy for both drivers. Were it not for Romain’s engine problems we should have had both cars home in third and fourth. It’s unfortunate that Romain had the problem with the pneumatic system of his engine as he showed strong pace in the race after putting in superb performances on both Friday and Saturday. The level of downforce used in Singapore will remain for the majority of the six races left on the calendar this season and it certainly seems to suits our car, so we will fight for podiums for the rest of the year I’m sure.
When can we expect an announcement about Kimi’s replacement?
When it comes to drivers, we are not simply looking for a short-term replacement for Kimi. We are looking at where we are going to be in the next five years. We can afford to be patient – to ask the candidates to wait as we formulate our strategy for the coming years – and I hope not to have to take into account commercial considerations when making decisions on drivers because we have worked hard to build our financial strength without having to rely on sponsorship from a driver. We want the strongest line-up possible to continue the progress made in recent seasons; that is the priority.
How do you feel about Romain’s performance of late?
With Kimi leaving Enstone at the end of the year, Romain knows he has the possibility to build the team up more around himself. If you look at the last five races, he has done a great job. Since Germany, everybody has noticed that he has clearly ‘switched on’ and you can see the highs in every race. Whether we’ve been fighting for the podium or struggling a little bit Romain has clearly been matching Kimi’s performances, which is no small achievement when you consider the World Championship winning calibre of his team-mate. The Romain of the last two months is the one we all believed he would become, and I hope he keeps improving. If he continues in this way, it means he is ‘on it’ and delivering the results we all know he is capable of, which is very positive for his prospects in 2014.
What’s the team’s approach to the final six races?
It’s a tough end to the season for everyone; not only with so many races in such a short timescale, but also with the development back at the factory which has now switched to an exciting but challenging year ahead in 2014. We want to score as many points as possible with both drivers between now and Brazil, and knowing the strengths of the E21 we think that strong results should be possible from every track we visit. We are in a comfortable fourth position in the Constructors’ Championship, but that does not stop us from striving for better. The battle with Ferrari and Mercedes will continue to be a close one, but they remain a realistic target and we will be pushing as hard as we can right to the very last lap at Interlagos.