INTERVIEW

Mike Gascoyne


Mike Gascoyne

Mike Gascoyne 

 © The Cahier Archive

Valencia will be the 500th Grand Prix for Lotus. In its latest guise, Lotus Racing is well set to take the honours as "the best of the new teams" in 2010. Chief technical officer Mike Gascoyne took time out to talk about how things have gone so far.

Q: How would you assess Lotus's season so far?

We are very happy with our performance. We've been best of the new teams, have moved much closer to the midfield and are bang on our targets we set when we got our entry, which was very late. In Canada for example, we qualified very close to Sauber and then managed to finish the race ahead of a Renault, which was satisfying. The car has been very reliable and on the engine side we've had no major issues at all and have got several up to their projected mileage and usage schedules we had at the start of the season.

Q: How does your Lotus role compare with what you did at Toyota?

I think this team is quite a bit different. I've assumed even more management responsibility having set it up from scratch and I think my senior technical staff now does a lot of the day to day stuff I used to do when I was at Renault or Toyota. I think that's just inevitable in my role in setting the team up.

Q: Have you enjoyed it or has it been sleepless nights?

I've enjoyed it totally. We've got a great group of people and it's been great fun.

Q: Is it a problem motivating race-winning drivers to do something that might seem like a better fit for a young up-and-coming driver?

There's pros and cons. When experienced guys step back it can be difficult but then they've got the experience to deal with it. I don't think it's a problem with Jarno or Heikki. Everyone in the team is motivated, everyone knows what they signed up for and everyone is capable of looking at the longer term and where we want to be next year. To do that you have to put up with some pain, but as they say, no pain no gain!

Q: People have talked about reintroducing the 107% qualifying rule to maintain standards in F1, or even 105%. What is reasonable for a new team?

I think leeway should be given to new teams. From Lotus's position, in Q1 in Monaco we were 2.3s off the quickest lap time and there's plenty of teams in years gone by who got nowhere near that and people didn't whinge. For me Monaco really showed what a lot of hot air all that stuff was. There weren't any problems. The only problems, in fact, were in Q3 when there were only 10 of them out there and they all held each other up. A lot of the people doing the complaining should have spent less time whingeing and more time looking in their mirrors! I don't think there's any problem. We need to encourage new teams in the sport and I don't think we should have rules that penalise them.

Q: A lot of people don't really understand resource restriction. How far is Lotus from being able to utilise fully what's allowed?

If you look at the aerodynamic resource restriction agreement we've only been using something like 20% of what we're able to do, but are now up around 60%. I think we'd favour more restrictions. The resource restriction agreement is a start but it needs to be taken further such that it makes the sport sustainable.

Q: What has it meant for a top team?

I think up till now, not a lot, but it is starting to and they are starting to lose people. But I think it's crazy when you have people arguing about cutting costs and then you look at all the new motorhomes – millions of pounds and 20 trucks to transport them around! I think we need to go a lot further than we are doing to cut costs in F1.

Q: What do you say to someone like Luca Montezemolo when he says he'd rather have a third competitive Ferrari than new teams?

I don't think he's right. I think the response to Lotus coming back has been great and it's universally accepted that it's been good for the sport.

Q: What do you think has to change to improve the show – the circuits, the cars?

There was a massive knee-jerk reaction after Bahrain but since then the racing has been fine. I would go back to refuelling. I think it added an element. We're reducing downforce by taking away the double diffusers next year but I personally wouldn't do a lot else. It's clear that there are some circuits where you get a lot of overtaking and some when you blatantly don't, so let's look at that.

Q: Do you think the Tilke circuits are okay and are you happy with him doing the mooted Austin track in Texas?

Some of the circuits have been good and some haven't. If you look at Valencia, it's dreadful and I don't think there's been an overtake yet. It's clear where you get good overtaking, the studies have been done and we've just got to take them into account.

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