Interviews by Sergio Álvarez; photos by Diego Merino.
P1. D. Hauger | PREMA Racing
P2. F. Vesti | ART Grand Prix
P3. A. Smolyar | ART Grand Prix
Q: Regarding traffic in qualy, guys, between you and the team, how do you choose the right moment to post a flyer and beat the traffic?
Hauger: “Ah yeah (you can tell from his voice that DH is enjoying it), especially on this track, everyone’s on the same strategy. Some other tracks it might be different but here it’s tight on on the schedule. Obviously you want to have that nice tow but also try not to get your Pirellis too cooled down or something with the traffic. So it’s quite hard to judge, especially on this one. Obviously, you find sort of a space point in FP, for example, where you feel like you have a nice tow and a good gap. But you always sort of play the game in qualifying with the others and you never know what’s gonna happen before you’re there so you have to play it a bit smart, take it a bit at the moment.”
Vesti: “Yeah, so the session is limited to 30 minutes, which means all the teams are pretty much doing the same thing: you go on green, you come back in after your run. Maybe you wait a few minutes and you go for the final run, it’s the same thing every time and all the teams are very similar on the procedure. So that’s why you always want to go at the perfect time and when 30 cars go at the same time, it will probably always be a mess (30 cars all going with 8 minutes to go).”
Smolyar: “I think you don’t have a lot of time to play with during the qualifying. You basically have 3-4 push laps, also you have to warm up the tyres for three laps so you kinda go on the green, you box, then change the tyres and go out with everyone. There’s not a lot of strategy on when you need to go out on the track. For me it was more like, I didn’t discuss it with the team, I just find the driver I need to stick with (for tow), in this case it was Fred (Vesti) actually because he was in front of me, so I was just trying to stay behind him, not slow down too much. In the end, with the traffic, I didn’t manage to be behind him but yeah, it doesn’t always work. We didn’t discuss much (with ART), you also don’t have enough time. Normally, you just go on the green and manage the traffic.”
Q: “Fred, this year Formula 1 will have more mandatory track time reserved for young drivers, have you maybe thought about jumping into the Mercedes at a Free Practice session?”
Vesti: “Wow! My full focus is on Formula 3 and I need to do well, do poles and win races to show that I have the potential for Formula 1 and if I do that I’m sure I will have the chance some time in the future, but right now the full focus is on Formula 3 and to score poles and win races.”
The obligatory T. Clarkson F1 invervention comes next: “Fred, can you tell us a little bit more about how much attention do you get from Toto and Co, how much interest are they taking in what’s happening in Formula 3 with you?”
Vesti: “There’s of course a lot of interest. They’ve great engineers, they also have a very good simulator that I’m able to use. So if I have some problems, also they’re very close to my team, ART, which means if we have any issue or problems they’re always there to help, mainly on the driving side. From my side, it’s a good help and of course it’s nice to wear the Mercedes star.”
Marketing PR in action.
P1. D. Hauger | PREMA Racing
P2. O. Caldwell | PREMA Racing
P3. J. Doohan | Trident (not present)
P3. At the time, before all the penalties for Track Limit Violations were applied post-race. L. Sargeant | Charouz Racing System
Q: What were your expectations coming into this race DRS-wise? Did it give you more wing or less wing here at the mother of all Red Bull rings?
Hauger: “Yeah, I think it was gonna be a bit of a train on this type of track, especially in the beginning when the DRS opens. It was sort of a key to try and stay calm in that pack as well and always try to stay within DRS obviously but it was quite a lot more fighting than I was expecting in the beginning and in the middle I thought it was gonna be just a train. It was a bit of a train (where’s Jarno?) but something was always happening so quite a few things that I didn’t expect (smiles). It was a good one anyways.”
Caldwell: “Um, for me, Dennis being able to come through from 12th (on the grid), it was pretty much what I expected. The people at the front, the first three positions were fighting because the person at the front doesn’t have the DRS and everyone sort of… from third backwards from what I could see was just following each other until someone lost DRS so with three DRS zones and then the last sort of sector and a half being high speed it’s very hard to follow in that sector and then, you know, just get DRS down the straight and it all concertinas up. But to be honest I was quite surprised at the latter stages of the race when tyre started to fall away how much fighting there was actually.”
Sargeant: “It was pretty much exactly what I expected to be honest. I knew whoever’s out front with no DRS is really quite defen$eless. It’s super difficult and from what I learned last year I knew there’d be probably a few crashes along the way. I think you can expect more of the same in Race 2 and 3.”
Q: After the lessons about tyre management of this race, what are you planning to do in the next race or races here in Austria/Styria? Are you going to do anything differently this PM?
Sargeant: “I think I expected it – what I got towards the end, I was sliding around quite a lot when I was fighting, defnitely didn’t help. I think I’ll change my approach slightly but I’ll still be very aggressive now I’m starting from 10th for Race 2 (little did Logan know).”
Caldwell: “I’ll have to speak with my engineer because I was coming back on Dennis at the end so my tyres were slightly better than his. I’ll speak with my engineer and keep that secret if I’ll make any changes or not.”
Hauger: “We’ll see obviously, I felt pretty good in this race and we were always in the traffic which is what we’re going to be again so we’ll have to see and look at the data after. Maybe a few changes but so far it was going pretty well and we just have to keep the focus in it.”
P1. D. Schumacher | Trident
P2. F. Vesti | ART Grand Prix
P3. D. Hauger | PREMA Racing
Q: No questions.
But massive congrats to David, finally. Let’s hope he’s not a one-hit wonder in F3 or F2 (next year).
P1. F. Vesti | ART Grand Prix
P2. D. Hauger | PREMA Racing
P3. O. Caldwell | PREMA Racing
Q: Would you guys support standing starts in Formula 3, as it is today? As per Leclerc vs Martins vs grass incident.
Vesti: “I think with this format, with reverse grids and everything, that would make it even more interesting for the fans, even for the drivers it would be another challenge that you need to overcome to do a good result. In some ways that would be great, I’m sure that would be fun. Would it be nice? I wouldn’t mind, to be honest: the first laps are always exciting but also it can win you a race but it can definitely also lose you a race. So it’s another challenge, let’s say.”
Hauger: “Ha! I think it sounds a bit chaotic but, you know, you work hard to keep pushing (in the race), get a space and work your way up. Obviously if you’re up front you can lose it, if you’re a bit behind you can gain, as I said. It’s a bit back and forth on that so. I like it how it is now, to be honest.”
That’s an honest man right there!
Caldwell: “That’s a crazy suggestion, I’ve never had that one before!”
We like crazy, OC, we LOVE it, in fact. Make it more fun, spicy.
Continued Olli: “Like they said, honestly, it depends on the position you’re in at the time. It would change, I’m sure if you’re leading, you prefer a normal SC restart. If you’re at the pack, you might prefer a standing start so… Right now it’s hard to say whether I’d like to do a standing start or not, it just depends on the position you’re in. But that’s a good thought, that is.”
Tanks, Olli. We’ll radio that over to Masi.
Q: Fred, what have you done to the set-up of your ART car that make it perform better in cooler conditions? Can you please tell us?
Vesti: “Not really.”
Who would give their set-up secrets away? Smart kid. I mean, thinking back to Spa 2012…
Take it away, Fred: “I think as a team we always try to improve and sometimes it really depends. There’s a lot of things: it can be that you’re stuck behind a driver for just five laps and that will destroy your tyres. That can affect your race massively. It really depends on each race but something I do think is that ART are working really hard and also with my experience from last year and everything we’re doing together we’re definitely improving each race weekend. So that’s a good thing and I hope we can keep improving the car until the last round.”
Here’s what your top 5 looks like in the standings before we come back at the Hungaroring in August!
P1. Hauger, 115 pts | P2. Vesti, 74 pts | P3. Doohan, 72 pts | P4. Caldwell, 70 pts | P5. Martins, 66 pts.