|After the narrow twists and turns of the Monaco GP circuit the GP2 Series now moves to the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg, Austria, the first time the GP2 teams will have raced here. Once again the Racing Engineering drivers, Stefano Coletti and Raffaele Marciello, will be amongst the favourites for victory with their undoubted qualifying and race pace.
Below Thomas Couyotopoulo, Sporting Director of Racing Engineering, looks forward to racing in Austria.
The first three rounds of the 2014 GP2 Championship did not really bring the results the team expected and is used to. What is the reason behind this?
The results for the beginning of the 2014 season are indeed very disappointing. It is very frustrating especially as we can all see that both cars and drivers are quick and could be fighting for the top spot of the championship standings. Our cars have been qualifying in the top 8 so far this year in every race, and having both of them on the second row in Barcelona shows that there is a lot of potential, even with Raffaele, who is "discovering" the GP2 championship as a rookie. The problem is that the opportunities were lost in race incidents, such as bad starts, incidents with other cars leading to punctures or crashes. The way GP2 is designed you cannot afford to risk everything in Race 1 as it is highly likely that it compromises the results and points for both races. Stefano was fighting for podium positions in Race 1 in Barcelona and Monaco but the incidents on track dropped him out of the points, which is very frustrating for him and for everybody in the team.
Given Racing Engineering’s fast cars and drivers, do you think Austria will finally bring the well-deserved points?
To be honest it doesn’t matter which track we race at next, we continue to work hard on the preparation for the event, with the performance of the cars and drivers finally being vindicated by scoring points. We have seen situations during previous GP2 seasons where teams and drivers have had some big ups and downs, so we carry on professionally, giving everything we can to be back on the podium.
It’s the first time that GP2 will race at Spielberg. What do you know about the track and its peculiarities?
Although it is the first time that GP2 will race at Spielberg it was a classic venue for F1 and some other championships in the past. The circuit is quite short and simple so the performance between all the cars and drivers in qualifying will most probably be very close. Even though the track is short, it is challenging for drivers given its mixture of full throttle straights and hard braking zones. It used to give a good show in the past, and the surroundings are very nice, similar to Spa in that respect.
When there is no data from past races and/or tests, how do you prepare for a race weekend?
As this circuit is not a new one, and despite the fact that GP2 has never raced there, there are opportunities to get data from other championships and to work on simulations. The drivers and engineers will also prepare for the event on the driver simulator, which reproduces all aspects of this circuit quite well. So, even though the work is more theoretical and not based on past experience with the GP2 cars at this track, there is a lot to do and preparation is as detailed and thorough as usual.