"We do plan on developing right up until the last race because, for us, there are so many key parts to the overall architecture of the car that are the same [for next season]. We have the same engine, the same gearbox and other factors that will mean that there isn't a big architecture change for next year. This means that we can get new bits and pieces we will put them on because the development should be fairly continuous for next year."
Smith credits former McLaren
man John Iley with backing the decision to move forward with an evolution of the CT-01 next season, and team boss Tony Fernandes with making the current progress a reality, but clearly has his sights on moving closer to the midfield in 2013, having been frustrated in that ambition this year.
"When John Iley joined us from McLaren
[as chief designer], we looked at if there were any big conceptual things that we wanted to do," he revealed, "The technical group, before John's arrival, concluded that it would be more advantageous to develop the current car and evolve it and, when John joined, he agreed. So we are reasonably confident that evolving the car is probably going to give us the best development curve.
"One of the areas that we will move forward significantly this year is with the mechanical design of the car. I'm sure many people have been to the museum at Donington Park and it's amazing how quickly an F1 car dates and I think that contrast between our cars from this year and last is quite obvious. But that is enhanced by having a state of the art composite gearbox and KERS unit.
"We're fortunate to have those on the car that at the stage of the team's life we just couldn't have them on the car if we looked to do it ourselves. So it all does help and I think Tony's approach to things is quite different. He's definitely a go-getter and he's inspirational to a lot of the guys on the project and it's demonstrated, as you say, by the things that we do have on the car for a relatively young team that perhaps we wouldn't have ordinarily.
"I think that we'd all probably conclude that the reason that the whole grid, by and large, is closing up is because of regulation stability and it is diminishing returns. That's another factor that should come into us closing the gap more because we are further back and have more potential gains to make, so that's our development plan for next year. Normally, you make a big architectural change in the winter and you spend a couple of weeks in the winter flat-lining [with no development progressing]. We are planning on avoiding that."
based on an interview by Stephen English