Racing Point Technical Director Andy Green summed up the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix …
Question: How does the mechanic feel during the Stroll pit stop?
Andy Greene: After a medical examination, he returned to the team.
Q: Tell us about the strategy of Sergio Perez. At first everything went well: he drove a long segment and climbed to fourth place, but the second pit stop cost you dearly. Everything could have gone differently …
Andy Greene: Yes, it could have turned out differently. At first everything went as we wanted. Before the safety car, Sergio drove at an excellent pace and rose to fourth place. He piloted superbly and won back positions thanks to the longer run on Medium tires. Everything suited us.
Leaving the safety car at such a moment is the worst possible scenario. We hoped for a different development of events, it was difficult for us to make such a decision. At that moment Sergio was driving on Hard tires, we specially tuned the car for a long series of laps and were very worried about the restart. It seemed to us that problems might arise.
It was safer, it seemed to us then, to put him a new set of softer rubber so that we no longer had to worry about anything. We thought that rivals could do the same.
We had a good racing pace, we tuned the car so that it works carefully with the tires and does not overheat them. But in such a situation, we would have problems behind the safety car.
Then there was a second incident behind the safety car – we couldn’t predict that. Thus, Sergio has even fewer circles left to recoup. It worked against us. Knowing everything, we would have acted differently, but at that moment we proceeded from the information we had.
Question We have not seen such a tight fight for third place in the Constructors’ Championship for a long time: you and McLaren have the same number of points, and you are only one point behind Renault. It’s an interesting challenge, but because of it, you can’t switch to preparing for the next season …
Andy Greene: In fact, we have already switched to preparing for the next season. In 2021, the aerodynamics of the car will change, so we have been doing this for some time. We are not planning any new products in the remaining races, although we would like to. In my opinion, the car is capable of more than we showed in the two previous races. We have a great racing pace and we do great on Sundays. It is necessary to analyze the results of the two previous races – perhaps we will adjust something to add to the qualifications. The fight for the third place in the Constructors’ Cup continues. The results are solid, but we are not giving up. It will be interesting!
Q: What do you think about the tracks where the next races will take place? Formula 1 has not come to Turkey for a long time, and no one knows what to expect from a short track in Bahrain …
Andy Greene: We have no cause for concern. We must be in great shape in Bahrain. Because of the abrasive asphalt, there is a lot of stress on the tires, and the fact that our machine handles rubber is helpful.
Nothing is known about the new configuration of the track in Bahrain, we do not know how events will develop. It should be very interesting. There are many high-speed turns in Turkey … But we are not worried about the tracks where the next races will take place – we are looking forward to them.
Q: After the podium at Monza, Lance had a difficult period: he missed the German Grand Prix and retired in three races. What does he need to win back? How can the team help him?
Andy Greene: Now he does not achieve the same results as before. He lacks confidence, in the near future we will try to help him return to his previous form. I assume that he was affected by illness – we did not expect that this would happen. We’ve heard how long it takes to recover is a really long process. Lance must regain confidence, believe in himself – then we will see the same Stroll again, as he was in the first half of the season.
Question: What caused him to lose confidence? Is there a specific reason?
Andy Greene: He had a difficult period in terms of physical and psychological stress. In Mugello, he had a serious accident that could affect his confidence. Then in a couple of races he was not in the best shape. We assumed that due to poor health, he might have difficulties. And so it happened. I think that he has not the same psychological attitude as a few races ago. He needed time – and we gave him a few races to recover. Now you can move on.
The line is very thin. If you don’t feel the car and don’t know how to make the tires work, then you seem like an outsider. We need to help him get back into shape. We have all the necessary funds and people. He needs support. We have to reach out to him and say: “Let’s get out of this, achieve great results in the remaining races and try to return to third place in the constructors’ championship.” He is quite capable of this. It’s just that it’s not easy for him now.
Q: If you do not take into account the human factor, it is possible that the problems began after changing the suspension. Lance has to adapt to some new element, so is he in trouble?
Andy Greene: Good question. Judging by his comments, there are several points that could be related to the suspension. In fact, at Imola, he reverted to the previous version of the suspension. Perhaps now he realizes that this was a mistake.
I don’t think this is the main problem, but this is partly why he lacks confidence in the car. He could not understand what was happening with the car and what had changed. He tried to find a way out, so we went back to the previous version.
It is clear that we could not change the suspension again – on a two-day weekend there was simply no time for this. But he will be glad that we will come back to a new solution again. This partly explains his problems at the entrance to the turn, when the car was behaving nervously. This problem occurred in Imola, but we will fix it in the remaining races.
The previous version of the suspension was too slow. Lance didn’t like this, he wanted the car to respond better to his actions, so we made it more sensitive. Now Lance has drawn his conclusions, and we will put everything back.
This is one of the aspects of working with rubber – it must be handled very carefully. Any slip, especially when entering a corner, can be costly. If the balance is not right, problems arise in the corners. This is part of the difficulty he faced.
Q: Otmar Safnauer says that the two-day weekend format is no longer Formula 1, but many people think that this is a good option for the future …
Andy Greene: As a one-time experiment, I didn’t really like it. We need Friday training: we collect data on tires, on the behavior of the car on the track, in order to analyze this information in the evening, and on Saturday to be in better shape. On Friday we are preparing for the weekend for a long time, and in Imola we missed it.
If there were more two-day racing weekends, we would have to change the way we work. Now this format does not suit us. We did not change anything for the sake of one weekend, but if this format remains, we will have to adapt. But will it remain Formula 1?
I don’t want to sound like a conservative, but I didn’t have the feeling that this was a change for the better. It seems to me that it did nothing for the show, it only reduced everything. I’m not sure that after the pandemic, when the fans will have the opportunity to come to the circuit, and we will have to arrange a show for them, a two-day weekend format is suitable for us.
Q: Do you have more preparation problems than top teams? Is it because they have more resources to run the simulator?
Andy Greene: Sure. They were better prepared. It all depends on the size of the company.
Question Returning to the conversation about the fight for the third place in the Constructors’ Cup: this year you have a lot of problems. The team lost 15 points, you had to find a replacement for the riders, you had accidents …
Andy Greene: So it is, and this must not be forgotten. We must fight to the end. We do not think about past problems, but when we think about them, we say: “We had a difficult season and we were not always lucky. Now we were supposed to take third place with some advantage, but this did not happen. “
But we are not going to sit back and regret missed opportunities. We focused on the work and try to do it as best we can. If we are lucky, great. But sometimes you have to create your own luck. We must work effectively, and I hope that in the remaining races we will be at least a little lucky – this is what we need to win back.
Q: Is it harder to earn points this year because of the busy schedule?
Andy Greene: Partly yes. This explains some of the reliability issues. But it’s all about tight results in the middle of the peloton. We can say that the first four places have already been taken by the two top teams, but there is a tight fight for the rest of the positions, and in such a situation, mistakes are inevitable. In my opinion, this is exactly what is happening: the third place in the Constructors’ Cup is an important achievement, and the teams from the middle of the peloton have something to fight for. This can be seen in the attitude of the riders and the team to this fight. Nobody wants to give in, it is very interesting to follow this fight. This partly explains why it is difficult to get both cars to score high points. The results are very solid – it’s not easy.
Q: What do you think of the new tires that you tested in Portimao? And the second question: due to possible restrictions on testing next year, teams will not be able to fully work with 18-inch tires. What do you think of it?
Andy GreeneA: I have no thoughts on testing 18-inch tires yet. We do not yet know what awaits us next season. If the pandemic does not subside early next year, it will be difficult to test 18-inch tires. I’m sure we’ll come up with something, but the test schedule will not turn out as we would like.
As for changing tires next year, I don’t see any problems. We discussed this issue. All teams have tested the new tires in Portugal – in my opinion, they have conflicting impressions, but there are no opponents or fans of the new tires. We decided that this was the right step – for the sake of increasing the wear resistance of rubber. We have no problem with that, and we are going to test them again in Bahrain and Abu Dhabi to collect more data by next year. In general, all teams believe that this was the right move.
Q: Are you unhappy that you had to change the aerodynamics of the cars to help Pirelli?
Andy Greene: In a way, we were waiting for this. Pirelli has been developing more durable tires for a long time, and we do not expect them to stop this work, just because in a year Formula 1 will switch to 18-inch tires. Due to the decrease in downforce, we are back to what the car was at the beginning of the year. Pirelli will try to do something too.
Everything is as it is, everything is in the same situation. I don’t think the tires will change much compared to the benchmarks. It’s good if they become more durable. They will become heavier, so the weight of the car will have to be adjusted.