Five Questions for Paddy Lowe
Talk us through today’s programme?
PL: Today started reasonably well, with P1 running more or less to plan save a small engine problem for Nico which the team turned around very quickly. We tested a few different items before moving on to a standard P2 programme of prime and option runs. This ran smoothly until the long run on options, when a tyre failure for Nico brought out the red flags in the final third of the session. With one car ruled out of running, we decided not to continue the regular programme with Lewis until we had understood the problem.
What did you see on the screens?
PL: I think we’ve really only seen the same the same thing that everyone else has seen on the video. It was a very unusual situation, where there seemed to be bits of tyre structure coming out as much as a minute before the actual terminal failure of the tyre. That’s not something I’ve seen before, so Pirelli have obviously taken the tyre away to analyse. I think we’ll have to wait to see what emerges from that. We’re double-checking everything to do with the car as well and will work with Pirelli this evening to understand what happened and how we can ensure that we're operating safely for the rest of the weekend.
How are we looking heading into the rest of the race weekend?
PL: Overall, though, both drivers were happy with the balance of the car. It's a tough lap to get right, as the ideal downforce levels required vary at different sectors around the track, so our pace was encouraging. We will be keeping a close eye on our competitors as always, though. Ferrari and Red Bull in particular look strong this weekend, so we'll need to have good outright pace and the ability to defend at the end of the long straights to come out on top.
Further restrictions on driver aids and team radio assistance are coming in next year. Can you give us your thoughts on the difference it will make that fans will be able to appreciate? There are obviously a big list of things you can and can’t say on the radio. How do you remember all those things?
PL: I know. It’s actually quite tricky. We police ourselves on the intercom. People often ask: “Can I say that? Can I say that?” But we will work our way through it and get used to it in time. I think we will see a little bit more variability. But the big thing for me is that, to a larger extent, if a driver has a good or a bad start that will be down to his skill and less dependent on the team’s performance on configuring the start.
Last year Nico had 11 poles but this year it’s been just one from the first ten races. Lewis by contrast took seven last season but has claimed nine from 10 so far in 2015. As someone who oversees the technical side of the team, what do you see is going on there?
PL: I think it’s just the two drivers’ form as it varies. I know Nico was finding it quite difficult at the beginning of this year but actually he picked himself up from Spain onwards and he’s shown himself a great competitor to Lewis, so the battle’s far from over. As we can see, it isn’t always won on the Saturday grid position so the Championship is wide open to the end.