Chester: A home Grand Prix is very motivating
"Silverstone represents a good challenge"
Technical Director Nick Chester analyses the team’s performance in Austria
and looks ahead to the British Grand Prix.
The next race is the team’s ‘home’ event: what impact does this have psychologically and logistically?
Psychologically, the entire team like Silverstone. Having a home Grand Prix on your doorstep is very motivating. It’s a good track and it’s nice to have it so close to the factory and to people’s homes so not everybody stays in a hotel which makes a nice change for them. Logistically, it’s also so much easier - being only 45 minutes away from Enstone, we can get everything there and back in no time. It’s quite a big advantage.
What are the characteristics of the Silverstone circuit, and how much of a challenge should they present the E23 with?
Silverstone represents a good challenge. The circuit has a lot of high speed corners and also some good low and medium speed corners, a real nice mix. It also presents reasonable straights meaning that there is a power sensitivity to Silverstone as well. It’s a real challenge with the different characteristics of corners and to get the car to work well in all of them. In terms of parts, we tested a few small updates in Spielberg that we’ll be taking to Silverstone.
The Pirelli tyre allocation moves from the softest pairing to the hardest – could this have an impact on how the team could perform in Silverstone?
It shouldn’t make a big difference. We tended to like the softer compounds a bit better but we are able to generate reasonable tyre warm up on most of the tyres now. Colder weather might have a small impact on how quickly we’ll be able to get the harder compounds to temperature but we have made a good step forward compared to last year in this area.
Romain experienced two gearbox-connected issues in Austria, were they related? And what’s the team doing to avoid these type of issues in the future?
Romain had an issue with the hydraulic system in qualifying and then he had a problem with fourth gear in the race, however the issues weren’t related. We have identified the causes and are now rectifying them to avoid these issues going forward.
Pastor drove a strong race in Austria…
He drove really well and probably one of the best races I have seen him drive. The race start was a bit tricky but then he just drove through and picked up places aggressively but fairly and he backed out of manoeuvres at the right times. When he started the overtaking move on Max Verstappen he had the DRS open so quite a lot less rear downforce which can make it a bit tricky. Pastor did everything right.
The team lost fifth place in the Constructors’ Championship in Austria, but the battle is close: can we expect a fightback?
Definitely. Our qualifying wasn’t as good as it could have been and Romain had to retire in the race. In general we expected to be in front of Force India but we pulled away from Torro Rosso and Sauber. We fully expect to get these points back. The E23 is going well and a clear weekend should enable us to score some good points.
The squad made two very impressive pit stops in Austria and this is an area where the team really has made great steps over the past few years – how so?
The steps have been gradual. We have put a lot of effort into the pitstops. The crew does an enormous amount of practicing – we had done about 500 practice stops over the winter, we practice every day, twice a day when the team is in Enstone and then daily at the circuits as well. We put a lot of effort in it and I think that over the past couple of years we’ve managed to really improve and perfect our pit stops.
How much progress was made in the Austrian test?
Despite the first half day being a complete washout, we then still had a reasonable afternoon and did a good amount of aero data logging. We can do this type of data collection when the conditions aren’t perfect and it was helpful in terms of understanding our aero package. In the end, we pretty much hit our targets at the test and completed our programme. We did a lot of mechanical set-up work also ahead of the British Grand Prix. All in all it was a useful test despite the heavy rain experienced on the first morning.