Lotus F1 Deputy Team Principle, Federico Gastaldi sat down to address current hot topics with regards to this weekends upcoming Canadian Grand Prix.
What’s the outlook heading to Canada?
We’re looking forward to heading to an event which is a real favourite for many people and one which historically gets a lot of attention and great television viewing figures. Montréal is a superb city and we really experience a fantastic welcome from everyone when we visit. It’s a race where we have many guests and it’s our first visit to North America of the season. In a commercial sense this is a strong event. On track, it could be something of a challenge for us as it doesn’t look to be a track which plays to our current strengths, but whether that is the case or not we will soon find out.
Monaco didn’t go the way we wanted…
Monaco was a frustrating experience. Having Pastor on the starting grid and the car not working was negative for everyone. Romain did a good job to bring the car home in the points again, which is very good, but I think Pastor could also have been in the points too. The team did a great job as usual – engineers mechanics, all the staff and the people in the factory – but it was frustrating for many of us. I know everyone back at Enstone has worked very hard to ensure we won’t have the same problem that Pastor experienced again.
For Pastor in particular, the start of the season must be very frustrating?
Certainly it’s been a tough, tough start to the year and Pastor has really suffered from reliability problems. We know that he is a fast driver with good experience and like all drivers he wants to be racing on track. Monaco was a cruel blow. Even though we weren’t able to extract the speed we wanted from the car, there was a good strategy in place for Pastor to make gains in the race. As we know, it wasn’t to be. We don’t expect to experience an issue like we did in Monaco again.
Cost cutting seems to be an ongoing hot topic – what are your thoughts?
There are a lot of discussions. The problem is that while we seem to be in the same boat, we are not yet on the same page. We all have different agendas and different things to worry about. Ultimately, Formula 1 is the pinnacle of motorsport and we all try to spend as much money as available to try to beat the opposition. If you have a massive budget and good people you place yourself well to be able to produce a very good racing car. It is true that Enstone has a history of punching above its weight in regards to creating very competitive cars on smaller budgets than the opposition, but cost cutting can be beneficial for all. The crucial aspect is that it needs to be done so there are no loopholes.
Ultimately, we need to ensure the sport in the current economic and sponsorship climate is sustainable. If we don’t do this we could find a situation where Formula 1 has only four teams. We need to make sure we, as Formula 1, produce a solid business model for the future.
How hard are sponsors to come by in the current climate?
For sure it is never easy and certainly title sponsors are something of a rare breed at the moment. As a team we have a number of strong partners and we have a secured operational budget for the season, notwithstanding that we don’t have a title sponsor as such. What we have been able to do – and we’ve seen more of this happening elsewhere too – is secure additional support from new and existing partners. In Monaco, we saw Saxo Bank on our sidepods and they were very happy with the value they received from this activation. In Montréal we have EMC in this position and we know they will be happy with the activation they can leverage from this.