Selected Driver and Team Manager Interviews after Round 6 at Redbull Ring, Austria.
ACE driver Pashalis Gergis was around the paddock in Austria for some more exclusive post-race interviews, this time we had a newcomer permanent driver in WC, a temporary PRO driver and some regular ones, and of course, a team manager.
Muhammed Patel (England) - Twister 2Fast4You @Muhammed Patel
Muhammed Patel was the first driver who got interviewed, the last time we talked with him was at China, where he had an unexpected blown engine in the last lap of the race, losing his 1st ever win in World Championship were his teammate Jim Parisis got his 2nd one. This time he had a better race.
Not much in the spotlight this time as your teammate Petar Brljak and Jim Parisis but you still finished just behind them in the end of the race. How was your qualifying and the race for you?
- Qualifying for the first time in a few races actually went well and out qualified Petar for once. He had a slight edge in race pace, but I knew if I was ahead I could probably stay ahead. Unfortunately Bigazzi and I had a collision early on which gave me some front end and suspension damage, which made the car quite difficult to drive initially. I let Petar and Jim through because I didn't want to hold them up with my damage, but after the pitstop I was able to regroup and stay in position to capitalise on other people's errors.
Coming to the next rounds it looks like the battle between Petar and Jim has heated up, what will be your approach to that?
- I guess the approach will be the same as always, try to get the best possible result. The pair of them are pretty hard to beat, especially Petar, but it would be nice to beat him once or twice this year in a fair fight. The good thing is we are not costing each other points, so we still lead both championships.
After having the ACE results in your hands, do you still feel confident about the race today? Is Germany a track you expect yourself in the top?
- To be honest we haven't been that happy with the car this week, neither I nor Petar have had much time to practise. The ACE result was a bit of a surprise, but we still don't know GhostSpeed's pace. The race itself will be interesting, today showed we must nail qualifying to stay out of trouble, and hopefully I choose the right strategy in the race to get a good result.
Dániel Kiss (Hungary) - Twister Racing Team
For the first time, we had Dániel Kiss in the interviewing booth, Dániel will be racing permanently in World Championship from now on instead of ACE, replacing his teamboss David Greco who will drive for Avid Chronic until the end of the season. He had a few interesting things to say.
Your 2nd appearance in WC, after winning the season opener in both ACE and WC you came up with a 4th position. How was your race and your qualifying?
- Q2 was really bad for me, I failed the last 2 corners and lost ~3 places with that. I might have beaten my teammates (Mo and Petar) to come in for P4, I couldn't have beaten the GS guys and Michele for sure. The race went all right, I let Jim through on lap 2, because I didn't want to hold him up/grab points off from him, because he is a main WC driver for us. Then I was just managing the pace, trying not to fight Mo, because I was a bit faster than him because he had damage. After the DNFs and mistakes from others, it was clear that we could get a 1-4 because we were sure that Jernej's tires wouldn't last until the end, so we could have a go on him in the last few laps which luckily happened. It's a really good result for the team, I feel I could have beaten Mo and we already discussed it privately, but I didn't really want to fight him at that point.
I was one of the first people to know about your promotion to WC so I'd like to ask you what was the reason you made such a decision? You looked you had already secured the ACE championship! Now it's pretty wide open for a couple of drivers there.
- I made this decision on the next day of the WC race. I felt I wasn't motivated enough to drive in ACE, no disrespect to the ACE guys, but I felt that ACE wasn't really challenging for me, my last 2 races went pretty badly, but I could still finish in P2 and P3. I wasn't testing that much either, I needed a change and the challenge of World Championship. I made my decision based on my 2nd WC race, because my pace was close to the top guys, therefore I asked D. Greco to loan me to Madcape for the rest of the season, because I didn't really want do ACE anymore. He told me that he wouldn't loan me to anybody, but would give me his seat because he couldn't test as much as he wanted this year and he was also lack of motivation a bit.
What is the target upcoming races? Do you think you can really stand up in World Championship and have similar results?
- I hope so, the 2 races which I have done in WC so far shows that I have the pace to be in top 5. I don't want to put pressure on myself, I know that I have missed 4 races, keeping P5 would be nice, but I won't give up the fight for P3. I know that 30 points seem a bit too much, but Mo or Kuba could have a bad race anytime and in that case with a podium I could really close the gap on them. However, my realistic aim is to keep P5 and to score as many points as possible for the team.
Last but not least, I cannot resist not to mention this, would you follow team orders in order to help your teammate Jim get an advantage over Petar? Their battles have been a thing to watch so far and I'm sure there's more to come. Since you are all guys in the same team, what is the plan if that situation occurs during the championship?
- That's a tough one. At the previous race I let Jim through and didn't fight Mo because I was an ACE driver, now it's a bit different because I'm a full time WC driver, too. Obviously if I feel that I'm holding Jim up, I wouldn't fight him when he goes for an overtake, but I'm not sure if I would let him through as easily as I did at Austria because I need to focus on my race as well from now on. I won't be a Barrichello that's for sure, I won't give up podium finishes for him if I have a chance for one - sorry Jim! As you can see from their fights, there are no team orders for us, so I'm expecting more battles between the 2 of them.
Good luck from now on in World Championship, I really wish you had stayed and we had some on-track battles!
Daniel Brewer (England) - Origin Front Row
Next up was Daniel Brewer, the rookie in World Championship had a great debut in China, however, a couple of incidents and adequate results kept him out of points, however he came back with a strong result, finishing in P8, bringing valuable points for him and his team in the team standings.
Take us through your race, even though you were out of Q2 you managed to get a very decent P8 in the end, following a different strategy from your teammate Kuba Brzezinski who started from P19 due to an invalid lap in Q1, having both OFR cars out of Q2 for the first time this season.
- Qualifying was disappointing, as it has been for a while now. My lap was okay, but early in the session so the track wasn't very rubbered in yet which made it easily beatable. Qualifying is definitely something we need to improve on for the remainder of the season as our race pace, as seen by where we finished, is actually quite good. My problem here was tyre wear, which is an odd one for me as it's usually one of my strengths. Kuba was easily able to do one less stop than me on the same pace, which we think was down to the way I was taking the penultimate corner, but something I would have struggled to change really. It was however good to score points again after having my race ended through no fault of my own at both Bahrain and Canada.
As a whole your season has been a rollercoaster, in your debut in China you scored points but in the next races you were involved in several incidents that surely costed you better results, however in Austria you brought home some valuable points for the team. How has been the experience in World Champonship till now?
- This season has been an odd one. The calender really wasn't kind to me and meant I had to miss the first two races which obviously wasn't ideal. China was great and I got to show my raw pace, however a blip in the strategy cost me probably a couple of positions. The incidents in Bahrain and Canada I have made my feelings clear on, and feel that both are ridiculous crashes that should be punished heavily (as they were) and there's little else to say about that really. Austria was good, the track was enjoyable but I feel missing the first two races has really hurt me in terms of points, we had a very fast car early in the season and due to absence I was unable to capitalise on this. Now, our car is good, but other teams have caught up, particularly in qualifying, making it much harder to reach the dizzying heights Kuba managed early doors.
Many will be wondering what can be the peak of a driver who stepped up from Pro division, straight to World Championship, is there any objective you havent achieved as a driver and maybe as a team? Not only you and Brzezinski are newcomers this season, but even the whole team competes in the top division aswell.
- It's a difficult one really to predict what will happen and what you should aim for when taking such a step. Last season in Pro I was very poor in terms of finishing races, and we addressed that early on way before the season started. Despite being taken out in Bahrain and Canada, my consistency has improved a lot. The main thing about the jump up is that you can generally trust other drivers to actually look in their mirrors. The problem with the lower divisions alot of the time is people trying to win races in a ridiculous manner at turn one or on the first lap, causing crashes. In World Championship the mentality of most drivers is to make it through the first lap, and then race from there, which makes it much easier to avoid said crashes. Another thing to realise about the step up is that, although there are a couple of drivers in lower divisions capable of setting laptimes of World Championship in both qualifying and in the race, World Championship is about doing this lap after lap. The guys at the front are machines in these terms, which makes it not only very hard to even make it to Q2, but also to pick people off in the race.
Before moving on to the next driver, last year, in Hockenheim we had some dramatic fashion racing over the German circuit, from the server disconnection, to the red flags, to some driver incidents. Is this a track you have high expectations, do you like it at all? Thanks for your interview and good luck!
- Hockenheim was my best track by far last season. Pro obviously didn't go to plan so Ghostspeed allowed me to race in World Championship. Starting from 26th I was up to around 10th when the mass disconnect took place and the race restarted. Then, unfortunately, on the restart a crash occurring in front of me collected me through turn one and ended my race. In terms of this season, again it is hard to predict. Last year I loved this track, but throughout this season the tracks I'd have loved last season don't seem to have suited myself and/or the car we have. Although it's nice to predict, it's best to just take each race as it comes.
Michele D’Alessandro (BBR Life4Racing)
Last, but not least, Michele D’Alessandro accepted the invite he had from me to have an interview session, he is in his first year in FSR. In Austria he won the PRO race and he was forced to do back to back the World Championship race in order to replace his injured teammate Enrico di Loreto. His amazing qualifying didn’t translate into a good result due to a turn 2 incident with Petar Brljak.
After winning the PRO race last time, you jumped in the car to do World Championship, back to back and you almost get a pole there by earning P3. What went wrong in the start though, it looked like you could challenge the front row!
- In Austria during warm up I had some trouble with launch control so I knew that in the start I would lose one position, but unluckly I had a poor exit from turn 1 and on turn 2 I had a contact with a twister car. In austria I had a good pace and with some luck I could get 5° 6° position but in any case I was happy with this new experience in WC.
You informed me that Enrico Di Loreto won't be able to race so you will have to cover him up for Hockenheim aswell, what is the initial target for this race? Are you confident?
- For this race the initial target is p10 like in austria, but I'm a little bit less confident than Austria because I didn't found a good pace. Probably is because I switched from G27 to Thrustmaster and I have to found more feeling with that new wheel. I hope tomorrow I will have a clean race in PRO and WC.
Since you race in PRO, winning in Austria was the 1st one there, what do you have left there and what are your plans in 2016? Will you step up to ACE or try to move up to a World Championship team?
- Well, I'll try to improve myself, I left surely some points in the first races, unexperience errors that I hope won't happen in the future for sure. Some qualyfings weren't lucky, always losing pole position for a few thousands. This win push me a lot, and I hope to continue the positive trend until the end of the season, Jeroen is maybe too far ahead for the championship, so I will try our best every race. At the moment I'm not looking for the next season but only to this one.
I would like to thank all the FSR's staff for the work they do everyday and a big Thank you to you Gergis for this interview. Good Luck to all for the second part of the season & AMALA!
Manager/Driver James Sadler (England) - Ghostspeed Racing Team (Portugal) @James Sadler
Pashalis Gergis chose to visit the Ghostspeed paddock and had a chat with their team manager. Ghostspeed Racing, after a slow start in World Championship they look like the most improved team in the grid, with several pole positions, and podiums in the first 2 divisions. In Pro ofcourse Jeroen Kweekel has done the job brilliantly, having won 5 of the first 6 races of the season, leading the standings with a safe distance from the 2nd.
How has the season unfolded for your team James? From the top division to Pro.
- Our season has been fairly up and down, I think that is fair to say. In some respects we have been the fastest out of everyone, lately, on one lap pace and getting closer to the dominant Twisters. But still the Twisters are incredibly strong and showing they have a very strong team. In the World Championship we have been consistently getting into the points of late. We had a good chance at the race win in Austria but still Jernej finished strong. Definitely we have improved since last year and hopefully we can start to push on and try to get consistent podiums. Also Eventa has developed a lot in just their second year in FSR. Credit to them as well. We are now entering the second half of the season and will address on mistakes, in the first half of the season, such as race consistency.. Hopefully we can start to challenge the top of the field in the World Championship as well as Ace. Hopefully we can continue to do well in Pro as well. The guys have been working exceptionally hard and I am delighted at where we are at this point in time.
In World Championship, Jonny and Jernej had a struggling start of the season, however they look like they have turned it around, with better qualifying results and races of course. What's next for those guys?
- At the start we had good pace in Melbourne. Jeroen Kweekel had a debut race in the World Championship, qualified in 2nd place but lost it in the race. I think instead of struggling I would prefer to say unlucky because our pace has been there. Just lacking the consistency. Although we are now showing we can challenge for the top 5 in the race and at least a podium as well. Jonny is a strong driver, just hasn’t been able to convert the great qualifying into a strong points finish. Jonny is one that will never give up and will continue to work hard so he can be the best he can be. Hopefully address on the mistakes of late and get some consistent top 5 finishes. Jernej has now started to consistently pick up good points, I am delighted for him because he is a pleasure to work with. Furthermore I also think it is important we don’t forget Blair Disley. A driver who has slowly been picking up points where other drivers have failed to do so. He has definitely picked up the pace from 2014 and is showing he is a very good, consistent driver. Everyone is a pleasure to have in the team.
In Ace, you have a very consistent 4-man crew, Godek lost his win in Austria but he has looked like he can be right up there continiously? What are your targets there now since Daniel Kiss, the leader of the championship will move to WC?
- Ace we have been unlucky in some respects. Again some races we have been good, others we have not. Like WC we have picked up the pace but just need that consistency. Credit to Godek for winning at Austria. Definitely had the pace to win the race, the contact with Michi turned out to be his downfall. But Godek is now ready to come back fighting at Silverstone. Ruud Heesterbeek, a well known driver in GPCWC. He has been doing exceptionally well in his debut Ace season. I think it is fair to say Ruud hasn’t been up there in terms of one lap pace. But it just shows that if you have an excellent race craft you can be right up there and compete for some excellent points. I hope Ruud can push on and start to possibly look at getting top 5s on a regular basis, especially since Daniel Kiss is now moving to WC. Well deserved for Kiss to get promoted to the World Championship, I have to say.. Thomas has been unlucky in some races and has been strong in others. Like at Austria he managed to finish 3rd after Godek was penalised. A strong result especially since there are some top drivers in Ace. Finally George. He has been having wheel problems and now has pretty much fixed the wheel. Hopefully during the summer break we can work with George so we can help him to become a strong driver in Ace and start to pick up consistent, good points
In Pro, there are mixed results, on the one hand you have Jeroen Kweekel dominating the races and on the other one you have been a bit inconsistent there. Can you and Christof Schgor improve to help moving up in the standings?
- Jeroen has done an outstanding performance in Pro, demonstrating both consistency and great race craft. He has developed tremendously, especially considering this is his second season in Formula SimRacing. Definitely has great things coming to him in Formula SimRacing. Well done to Jeroen. I think me and Chris have been unlucky in some respects. We have definitely shown good pace and Chris was doing GPVWC. Now he has stopped racing in GPVWC and can now primarily focus on doing well in FSR. He will have a strong race at Silverstone and the rest of the season. He has definitely been up there with Kweekel and we will work hard with Chris so he has a strong end to the 2015 season. For myself, I have been busy with exams so have had to miss the odd race here and there. Some races I have been unlucky as well but I felt strong at Hockenheim, I managed to pick up a fairly respectable 4th place. Last but not least is Adrian Falcon, who has returned back to FSR after an absence, due to exams. He is a driver that did well in 2014 and at Germany he did incredibly well to achieve 3rd place. As well as Kweekel as well. Hopefully we can push on and perform well at Silverstone.
Last but not least, I'd like to ask you what's next for Jeroen, many have been saying he should be in World Championship instead of Pro, while others have purposed him moving up to ACE next year. What's the plan for him and generally as a team what should we expect from you unti lthe end of the season?
- It is entirely Jeroen’s decision on what division he wants to do, it is only fair to give your driver the option of what division they want to participate in. It’s more something that Jeroen has to decide rather than me saying what I think he should do. He has done really well in Pro and I am delighted for him. Have to see what occurs at the end of the year. As a team we want to push on and start to perform even better than what we have at the start of the year. Let’s see what happens at Silverstone but the team has been working incredibly hard and I am really thankful to where we have come from last year.
We hope you enjoyed those interviews as any we've done this season! There's a lot more to come!
Round 6 winner - Petar Brljak (Twister 2Fast4You)
FSR Media Group. (Pashalis Gergis, @David O'Reilly, @Primaguida (Alessio Campus), @Jonny Simon, Ron Squire)