21 November 2011
Q&A - Eric Boullier, Lotus Renault GP
Eric Boullier looks ahead to the F1 season finale
Firstly, Abu Dhabi – what went wrong for the team in the desert?
The result was not what we were looking for. We knew that the weekend would not be our finest of the season; the trend of slower tracks not suiting the R31 well repeated itself over the three days. For the race, we adopted differing strategies but neither one paid off. Our reliability problems did not help, either. The boys put in a big effort to try and give us something to smile about at the fantastic Yas Marina Circuit but unfortunately it was not to be. All eyes now to Brazil and what we hope will be a decent end to the season.
Vitaly had some strong words after the race in Abu Dhabi…
Well, the interview you mention was made minutes after Vitaly jumped out of the car last Sunday. The race was tough, he was upset not to have scored points, he was exhausted. Drivers are not robots, they're human beings. Also, like every driver, Vitaly is a competitor. Had he been on the podium in Abu Dhabi, he would have complained about not winning the race. We take this incident as exactly this - an incident. Vitaly has apologised to the team and sent an email to all the staff at Enstone. As far as we are concerned, the matter is closed.
From one fantastic venue, Yas Marina, to another in Interlagos – what are your hopes and expectations?
Well, my hopes are for a fine end to the season. The boys in the team have worked hard and relentlessly to get the best from this season, and it would be nice to be rewarded with a good result. Expectations, well we did not perform at the Yas Marina Circuit. Interlagos is going to be another tricky venue, but it's a classic place to race and I'm looking forward to taking the team there and giving it our best shot.
It's the nineteenth and final race of the season – how much does a season take out of a team?
Yes, it's a long and draining season. When you score points and achieve positive results, it helps a team's motivation and keeps people upbeat. Contrarily, when a team is suffering from lack of form and other adversity it becomes challenging to keep the spirits of the troops high. During a long, hard season that challenge becomes more prevalent, and hopefully we have managed to keep morale at a reasonable level during the hard times we have faced in recent weeks. India and Abu Dhabi were poor races from our perspective, but it's important that we maintain our focus and enjoy the last race of the season.
How would you summarise the season? What were the highlights?
It has certainly been a season of contrasting fortunes. The highlights, naturally, remain the podiums that Vitaly and Nick secured us in Australia and Malaysia. That was an amazing way to start the season and it was always going to be difficult to preserve that level of performance as the other teams found their feet. As it happened, we did continue to score a healthy number of points at some of the other races in the first half of the season – Canada was a particularly good race for Vitaly - but that petered out as our level of development failed to advance at the same rate as that of our competitors. Bruno did well to get his name on the points board for the first time when we raced in Monza but, as of late, there has not been the consistency required to do well. Of course, the positives of the season were lessened by Robert's pre-season incident, which was a big setback for the team. As for the here and now, I would love nothing more than a strong performance at Interlagos to round things off.
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