By the end of the four pre-season tests, many F1 insiders had predicted that the new Renault-powered T128 – which is also equipped with a Red Bull designed rear end – was a contender for the lower midfield as the team entered its sophomore season.
Yet, walking away from the season-opening race – in which Jarno Trulli finished 12th and team-mate Heikki Kovalainen retired after both failed to make it out of the first phase of knockout qualifying – the team is still no closer to fulfilling this aim.
Not so, says Gascoyne, who dismissed claims of showboating as ‘”utter nonsense”.
The Brit instead explained – an argument which has been repeated by many inside the team – that the team’s problems stemmed from it being unable to generate enough heat in the tyres.
“The last day in Barcelona was a race simulation, so why would we lie to ourselves?” he told Auto Motor und Sport.
“With the hard and the soft tyres we were [generating] well below the average temperatures of all the other cars in the field,” he said, referring to tyre data supplied by Pirelli to all of the teams on the grid.
The concerns over much higher ambient temperatures at this weekend’s Malaysian Grand Prix actually has Pirelli concerned that teams will struggle to manage degradation, but Gascoyne is upbeat about the team’s chances, arguing that the T128’s gentleness on tyres could actually be a strong point at Sepang.
“We will see how good our car really is. Maybe [in Malaysia] our weakness will be a strength,” he added.
[Image via The Cahier Archive]