“We’ll give the other teams some headaches”
It was another strong result for the team in India – albeit with a little drama along the way – leaving Team Principal Eric Boullier buoyed by the positives heading to Abu Dhabi.
How well placed is the team coming into the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix?
We are pretty well placed to continue fighting for podiums and aiming for that valuable second position in the Constructors’ Championship. Our car – the E21 – continues to impress no matter what the circuit, and that we are still able to make improvements to it so late in the season is a real testament to all the great work that goes on at Enstone. We’ll keep fighting hard until the end of the season and we’ll give the other teams some headaches.
It was a good points tally for the team in India?
We scored well, but it wasn’t a perfect performance as we messed up Romain’s qualifying and Kimi had a brake problem in the race. These are two areas we need to address, but on race day everyone performed brilliantly. Romain had a very strong drive and managed to conserve his tyre performance right to the end. He was fast despite having to nurse his engine, and being on the podium was a good reward for the whole team. Obviously it was disappointing that the tyres couldn’t last long enough for Kimi, as being third and fourth would have been an amazing result for the team and very useful in the Constructors’ Championship, but he managed his car’s brakes well to take a solid points finish.
Was there an issue with team orders in the race?
Romain was two seconds a lap faster than Kimi at that time, so it was not even a team order. By asking Kimi to let Romain pass, we just made the obvious choice, as Felipe [Massa] could have stolen our podium. With hindsight, this radio message could have been sent in a less emotional way. There was a lot of tension, a lot of potential technical problems, and some of the words that flew around were simply not appropriate. I know that quite a few people were surprised and I can only apologise for that on behalf of the team. It won’t happen again.
Romain continues to be impressive on track; where do you think his upturn in form has come from?
Romain has moved to another level since the German Grand Prix in many areas. His confidence is strong and he’s not affected by setbacks as much as he may have been previously. Certainly in India, we as a team made the wrong call with his qualifying strategy and he ended up in seventeenth on the grid. The Romain of old may have let his head drop, but we saw in the race that he drove in a very intelligent and measured manner; even when we started having engine problems. It was a very impressive performance. Also, as a team we have a very good handle on our car, the most recent updates such as the long wheelbase are working well, and the mid-season change to the tyre specifications by Pirelli also seems to have benefitted him.
Abu Dhabi was the scene of a great win last year; how far has the team come in the last twelve months and can it win again this season?
Another win in Abu Dhabi would be fantastic and if Kimi could do the same again it would be a superb result. In a year we’ve made good progress. Our understanding of this year’s car and our design development processes are coming on well. We brought out the long wheelbase version of the E21 to prove a new method of assessing and evaluating our design development path, and this has proved to be a success. This is very good news for the future; especially as we look ahead to such significant changes in 2014. We head to this year’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix with a strong car and we’re in a position where both our drivers are performing very well at the moment, so anything could be possible.