Racing Director Fred Vasseur reviews the first GP in Baku and anticipates an improved performance in the hills of Austria.
Azerbaijan appeared to be another tough weekend for the team, but you seemed quite upbeat after the event. What were the positives?
The weekend was difficult, especially qualifying, and we have to recognise that we didn’t get it quite right. We did however recover in the race. While our race performance wasn’t excellent, it was more or less in line with our objectives and expectations. We have to thank both the team and the drivers for keeping their heads down, but now we need to get back to a situation where we are in a position to score points and this includes doing better in qualifying. Baku was a bit of a one-off though; a street track that was very quick and everyone experienced problems. When we go back to something more traditional, we need to find our rhythm from the start of the weekend from qualifying through to the race.
As you say, qualifying seems to be the team’s Achilles Heel at the moment. What deductions have you made about this and how will you address it?
I think Baku was just a one-off. If you look back to Barcelona, this is more representative of where we are. We need to manage the weekend well from the start to the finish, making the right strategic decisions to have an approach that is more global and consistent between Saturday and Sunday.
The drivers hustled the car round the track – are you happy with their performance and attitude?
The job is harder when you have weekends like Baku, but the drivers are part of the group, just like the engineers and mechanics, and know what they need to do to have a strong weekend. In Baku they did a good job to fight with the other teams and motivation should not drop just because we have had two hard weekends. I have confidence in them and we need to get a dynamic to get into the groove right from the start of the event.
Austria is a fast, flowing track – do you think this type of track suits the R.S.16 better than the tighter street tracks?
Yes, we suffered in the slow corners in Canada and Baku. Austria should be better for a variety of reasons. I think we are making progress as a team and I hope we can move forward race after race on the more traditional circuits towards the level of performance we saw pre-Monaco.