Racing24-7.net caught up with Toyota Gazoo Racing driver Mike Conway this morning, talking about the big race coming up this weekend.
Do you enjoy being the underdog car with less media focus within you team?
“Yeah, I wouldn’t say the underdog, but the level of focus is maybe a bit different, but it doesn’t really matter for us – we still push. We are still able to get the same results anyway, so it doesn’t matter.”
The #7 car started the 6 Hours of Spa Francorchamps one lap down due to a technical infringement in the qualifying session, but it still made it right up to the rear bumper of the #8 at the finish.
“Yeah, we were fast. We rolled out quickly there, and the same here. The car has been good. We know that we have two cars that are capable of doing 1-2’s every weekend, so it’s just a case of executing it. We achieved it at Spa, which is good. Obviously we would have liked to start in the right position, but the things in qualifying, afterwards, didn’t go our way. We got to do everything right here, do no mistakes, and hopefully on Sunday, we will be looking for a good result for two cars. Whatever way it goes, 7 car or 8 car, I think it’s just important to get the result.
“I don’t feel there is any extra pressure, really. We know that we have to get in and do our job anyway. It sounds simple, but we know that it’s not so simple.”
But there must be, not relaxed, but less pressure compared to the last few years, fighting the big manufacturers.
“Yeah definitely not relaxed. The Rebellion and SMP are looking quick, so I don’t think we should sit back and expect to get a result. They definitely got the possibility to do, and if they are able to do the sort of time, that means, if you do any small mistakes they will be ready to pounce on that. But we can’t focus too much on them either, we have to focus on our self. But we know they are capable of achieving very fast laptimes. We haven’t seen anything from them, I think, so we will learn a bit more today.
“They can run more downforce than us, we expect them to be quick. They will be tough to beat. We saw Sector 1 and 3, they were quick.”
Have you been testing between Spa and this race?
“No, some of the guys have done some simulator stuff, and they did the shake down on the Bugatti (Circuit, editor).”
The tires are limited, so you can’t just bolt new tires on the car all the time.
“We have 12 sets of tires. So we have to do triple stints at least on them. The stints are slightly shorter, so last year we were doing 14 laps per stint – now it’s only eleven. So we need to do 4 stints on a set of tires, so it’s like one lap shorter. So, it’s actually fine.”
And then the weather factor.
“Yeah it’s very changeable. Every time you look at the weather app, it’s not worth looking at, because it’s probably changed completely from the morning to the afternoon. But you got to expect that. We have had that before, I think in 16, we had a massive downpour at the start, just coming from nowhere, and that could happen anytime. In the night, whatever. That’s why we have to be really on top of things – make the right decisions – that’s what it’s all about.”
You have the advantage of a few seconds per lap, so it can quickly go away…
“I don’t think we have that much of an advantage – a few seconds a lap. I think it’s really close. It doesn’t take much for an advantage to go away, especially if you are in the wrong Safety Car. We need to pit a lap later, and if they pit before, and we get in the wrong Safety Car, or they get in the wrong Safety Car, you can easily lose 45 seconds right way. It’s just luck of the draw, if you end up with slow zones, and they don’t – you know how it is – it can all change very quickly. The main thing is not to panic, or lose sight of the end. Whatever happens, happens, we just have to work through it. Whatever we say here, it’s never that easy. It seems like everything can happen, and it normally does, so we try to be prepared for it.”
The cars are on the track for the first time today at 16.00 CET, where they will do 4 hours of practice, before the first of three qualifying sessions will be run tonight between 22.00 and 24.00.