Eric Boullier: Q: Reflecting on the Italian Grand Prix, how satisfied were you with the team’s performance?
EB: In the race we had some bad luck from the word go; Vitaly was caught up in an incident but there was nothing he could do about it. It was a shame he didn’t get the opportunity to demonstrate his strong pace because inevitably, from the position he lined up on the grid, we expected him to be right up amongst the points. The real positive to take away from Italy is the fact that the car is delivering more, which will allow our drivers to finish higher; both Vitaly and Bruno qualified for Q3 so that was very pleasing. It was satisfying to see Bruno have a good race after he had to avoid the cars involved in the crash at the first corner. His result will undoubtedly bring him some credibility.
Q: How challenging has this season been from a management point of view? There have been a few issues to contend with but the team seems to have come out the other side…
EB: Well, it has been challenging. I cannot say all the challenges were enjoyable – going through the difficulties we had after Robert’s crash was not easy – but overall I enjoy being tested with the issues that come my way, and tackling them in the best way I can for the team; overseeing these challenges is part of my job. There’s certainly never a dull moment!
Q: What do you think of the current balance of the team? You’ve got two contrasting drivers who seem to fit into the LRGP jigsaw well…
EB: I think they complement each other very well. It is beneficial for the team to have two different characters, who are very popular both in and out of the team.
Q: Singapore is the only night race on the F1 calendar and usually serves up quite a treat – how much do F1 and this race need each other?
EB: Singapore has become one of the top events – everybody wants to be there and attend the Grand Prix. It is a great race with excellent organisation, and in the last couple of years it has become one of the most popular venues; the Singapore GP means business. It is exciting to have a night time race which allows us to keep our bodies in tune with BST and CET. Singapore has already established a reputation as one of the most popular locations with all the teams, and everyone loves having the F1 circus there because the people are so friendly and accommodating. Quite simply, everyone loves the Singapore Grand Prix.
James Allison – Q: Was the overall performance in Monza evidence that the team has now turned a corner and is moving back in the right direction?
JA: While far from stunning, it was at least respectable. For two races in a row our car has looked a little more on the pace than in the previous Grands Prix, and this reinforces our belief that we are heading back in the right direction.
Q: How well has Bruno adapted to the challenge of driving the R31 since he became race driver?
JA: Several promising F1 careers have foundered on the rocks of a mid-season introduction in recent years. Under the current F1 rules Bruno has had no meaningful chance to get up to speed in the car away from the pressures of the GP weekend. He had just one session in the R31 pre-season, and he has impressed all of us with the way that he has seized his opportunity first at Spa and again at Monza.
Q: Singapore offers a different type of challenge – how much fun is it to prepare for this most unique of races?
JA: It is fun to go half way round the world and to stay on British Summer Time. It is also interesting to deal with a track temperature that plummets as the sun goes down, as we normally have the opposite problem from the morning to the afternoon sessions. Racing under lights, maximum downforce, reasonable braking challenges and some interesting bumps all add to the appeal of the track.
Q: Is there any apprehension approaching this race? One might think that the Singapore GP won’t suit the R31 in the way that perhaps Japan or Korea would…
JA: Monaco and Hungary were not good races for us and Singapore shares some characteristics of these two circuits. We feel we have improved things since then and we have a bit more to deliver for Singapore itself, but it is fair to say that I am apprehensive. However, if we do have a good race then we will be set for good performances in the five races that follow, as we will then have shown improved performance on three very different tracks.
Source: Lotus Renault GP
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