‘We have a podium chance in 2009’
He first came to India 20 years ago, to go mountaineering in the Himalayas. Now, the Force India Formula One team’s Chief Technical Officer Mike Gascoyne comes with another lofty challenge: providing the car that will take the team steadily up the grid in the months to come.
Gascoyne’s first tryst with the team really began 10 years ago, when he joined Jordan, Force India and Spyker’s predecessor, as Technical Director. The car he designed for their 1999 season gave Jordan their most successful year in F1, where they won two races and finished third in the constructors’ championship.
Now the pressure is yet again on Gascoyne. But he is unruffled and ready to take on the challenge that the “great privilege” of being the technical head of India’s first co-owned F1 team brings. On the sidelines of the launch of their 2008 car, Gascoyne spoke on the task at hand.
On the team’s preparation so far
Through the winter tests we have basically used the same car as last year. We have done our driver evaluation and have improved quite a bit because of the drivers’ inputs. But we have new parts coming out for Barcelona with significant aerodynamics development. With that, we can improve by another 3/4ths of a second, which will take us off the back row of the grid and be competitive.
On the target for the first race in Melbourne
We would need quite a bit of luck to score points in Melbourne. But our target is to at least get out of Q1 (the first part of qualifying), which we never did last year. Our long-term goal is big but you got to reach it in small steps. We have a good budget but we can’t catch up with others overnight. Constant improvement is the key.
On the 2009 season
With the current regulations for 2008, we are a long way behind. But the 2009 season is going to be really interesting. The engine freeze is going to be good for us but with the new chassis rules, we stand a real chance. We plan to push aggressively for 2009, even at the expense of 2008. We have already started with the wind tunnel programme for 2009. Dr Mallya wants a podium by 2010, but if we can put more development in, we have a real chance for a podium in 2009.