Less than one week on from Suzuki's first dry weather win in the MotoGP class since 2000, Crash.net spoke to Jose Manuel Cazeaux, crew chief of Maverick Vi?ales, at Misano about the full extent of the 21-year old's talent and managing his rider's expectations...

Crash.net:
Has the fact that you're a MotoGP race winner as a crew chief sunk in yet? Have you had to pinch yourself in the week between Silverstone and Misano?

Jose Manuel Cazeaux:
No. Actually we believe since the first moment that Maverick was one of the good ones. For us it was like an obligation to find the way to give him a bike that allows him to win. When you have that chance, unfortunately it's not for every manufacturer. When you have the chance to have one of the good ones you have to take it. I think in Japan they did a great job but also the team give the right feedback. It was like a nice mix of team engineers and factory designers and engineers that allows us to be at this level.

Crash.net:
Maverick's race at Silverstone was so impressive in many respects. Were you surprised at how cool he remained ahead of the restart?

Jose Manuel Cazeaux:
Yes, we know that the bike is performing in the first laps. There were some weak points that still we have to work on. For example in Austria, because of the characteristic of the track there was too much acceleration. We were still not competitive to win at the front, and also tyre life was going down after half a race distance making the thing even more difficult. But we work a lot on that area in Brno and I think in Brno we did another step. We couldn't demonstrate it there because then the race finally was in wet conditions, but we were pretty convinced that that package would have been very competitive in Silverstone. Indeed it was. Also Maverick said to the press he was coming to Silverstone with the idea of having the possibility to win. Maybe everybody was not laughing, but saying maybe it is too much. At the end he did it.

Crash.net:
At the beginning of 2016 Maverick said regular top sixes and an occasional podium were the targets. Yet you can see his frustration when he's not fighting for the win. Did you have to manage his expectations this year to some extent?

Jose Manuel Cazeaux:
Of course. As I said before he's one of those 'aliens.' When you have one of them, he's expecting to win and when there is something that is stopping him, not only the bike, I mean also maybe riding technique. He wants to do everything quick to be there in the top. He knows he has that talent, but when it's not coming, sometimes he gets angry. More than angry, it's a kind of frustration. He knows he has the potential. So we work a lot in parallel, on his riding style, his technique, improving in every detail, and at the same time the bike. So of course compared to 2015 we did a huge jump in acceleration. The engine now is competitive as much as the others, except Ducati that has a little bit more compared to other manufacturers. With a seamless gearbox we were able also to match the acceleration when shifting gears. There were still some details that I think we were able to improve in the last races so I'm curious to see in the following races if we can keep the momentum.

Crash.net:
Maverick has mentioned finding some solutions that can aid tyre life and maintain pace in the second half of the race in Brno. Are you able to say what you found?

Jose Manuel Cazeaux:
A little bit of everything, even rider gas control.

Crash.net:
It's interesting you said you saw instantly that Maverick was special. Was it the first test you noticed that you really had a real talent on your hands?

Jose Manuel Cazeaux:
Yes.

Crash.net:
What was it that he did?

Jose Manuel Cazeaux:
The way of riding the bike. When a rider takes off his helmet you can understand how much margin he has: if he's doing it naturally or forcing it too much. The way he was controlling the throttle from the first time on a MotoGP bike, the way he adapted to the carbon brakes so quick, we knew that he was special.

Crash.net:
You mentioned Suzuki made really big improvements from 2015 to '16 with the seamless gearbox and top speed. Did you notice a change in Maverick from the end of testing in 2015 to the start of this year?

Jose Manuel Cazeaux:
He felt very good with the first Michelin tyres. Then Michelin changed the rear tyre because of other problems. Then we struggle a little bit to adapt to the new spec, but at the beginning it was like all the problems we had with 2015 bike disappeared immediately with those set of tyres. Then we make a step backwards and then again working little by little we catch again the front line.

Crash.net:
Someone from the team told me that whenever Maverick comes into the garage he always shakes his head, like he's frustrated. He seems so focused all the time. Is that what he's like to work with?

Jose Manuel Cazeaux:
Like many riders, the position depends more than lap time. So if he doesn't see himself in the top three or the first one, there is something wrong. This is good because we try to achieve perfection, but with experience he will learn also to stay calm because in some conditions you are with a full tank, for example, with the race distance on the tyres. You are lapping half a second slower than one with less than half a tank of fuel with new tyres. It can be a huge disadvantage but in reality you are going faster than him. So lap time analysis is not trivial and you cannot do it in the moment that things are happening. You have to stop, to see which tyres people are using, to know how much fuel they have in their bikes. So the truth is in the race. You have to patient, to believe in yourself.

Crash.net:
So this is one of the areas that Maverick can still improve?

Jose Manuel Cazeaux:
Yeah, for sure.

Crash.net:
Working alongside Maverick, this is your first job as a crew chief.

Jose Manuel Cazeaux:
Yeah, I was electronic engineer until 2015 season.

Crash.net:
How was the step up for you? Was it a big transition?

Jose Manuel Cazeaux:
Actually no. It was not even my idea. I was happy with my previous job. Then there were a couple of mechanics that were making the jumps to Suzuki. Mechanics with whom I worked with many years in Ducati. They were convinced I could do that kind of job, so they proposed me. We spoke with Davide [Brivio]. He also believed in that idea. OK, we start talking. It was a nice challenge and finally we did it.

Crash.net:
It's been a big of a crazy season: seven race winners in seven races [the interview was conducted on the Thursday of the Misano weekend]. Is this partly because of circumstance and partly because of the new rules bringing everything closer together? How do you explain this?

Jose Manuel Cazeaux:
The way I see it is, the win of Jack, who still has not been much competitive in dry, was because he has lot of talent and he was able to demonstrate that talent in the special conditions like rain. He did a great race. But dry is different. The limit is different. He still has to work on himself and his bike I think. The same thing for Cal. It was in the wet and Cal is a really good rider in the wet. But he was struggling up to that moment also in the dry. Now it looks like he's taken advantage of the momentum. He was also competitive in the dry in Silverstone.

Finally Ducati winning. I think they have a competitive bike. We have to accept that because it's clear. And they win in a track that is really different from the other tracks, where the strong points of Ducati were very useful. This is the concept in that track. You stay very few times cornering. There are just a few corners. You pick up very quick the bike and accelerate with the bike straight. They did a great job with aerodynamic winglets, which allow them to put too much force on the wheel and accelerate too much before the bike wheelies. So the bikes are wheelying before them, with less acceleration. So I think still to be competitive for winning at another race tracks, they still have to make a little bit of improvement. Probably. I'm not there any more!

Crash.net:
You mentioned winglets. Obviously you guys have used winglets before. Ducati are always very hesitant about saying whether it has a big advantage or disadvantage, but I think we understand now that they have a big advantage with these, no?

Jose Manuel Cazeaux:
In the straights, you can accelerate much more. It's like aerodynamics was historically - this is my opinion, maybe it's wrong - not so important for bikes because you cannot use them to create a downforce for cornering. That is where in Formula 1 basically it is useful. So finally it was discovered that using in the straights where maybe Formula you don't like, you have more drag. Because in Formula 1 you don't have wheelies. Here is helping to keep the bike low and increase acceleration. So now everybody understands this. Most of the riders don't like the wings because it's not aesthetically nice, but everybody's using them because there is a couple of tenths at least in the lap times only for that.

Crash.net:
In terms of the electronics, do you feel that the common ECU has helped Suzuki a lot this year? Is that one of the factors why Suzuki is as competitive as it is?

Jose Manuel Cazeaux:
Yeah, this is another reason of the level of everybody being more close. I think Honda, Ducati and Yamaha were improving for many years the factory electronics and they were at a very good level. With this software, it is a good level because it was not a big step backwards. I think for sure for Ducati and Yamaha - Honda usually tell that they are struggling to find the right setup. Maybe because their philosophy was different. It's like going from iPhone to Android. You have to find the way to do the same things. But for us, our factory software was not as competitive as the other ones. It was like a way to be at the same level as the others.

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