Currently sitting second in the Championship after a successful round at the Clipsal 500, Freightliner Racing’s Fabian Coulthard sits down with RF1 to talk about the 2015 season and the future of the championship.
Next year the Australian Grand Prix could be a championship round, is that something to look forward to?
Yeah I think it’d be good if this became a championship round, it has awesome facilities and it’s a great track. It feels like it’s a shame to not be a championship round already, so hopefully next year it does become one.
You’ve had a really good start to the season with a win in race two at Clipsal and you’re currently second in the championship, how do you build on from those results?
You just have to take it one race at a time, we tried to improve the car over Christmas to make it better and I feel like we’ve made some gains. Hard tyres aren’t a massive strength of ours but the last few events I think we’ve made progress and we’re heading in the right direction. We keep learning and this is a good event to try new things in a race situation, but every time you put your helmet on it’s every man for himself.
How was the pace of the car the during your practice and qualifying sessions?
Yeah pretty good, obviously this is pretty unique as a street circuit in the sense of it being so flat, no bumps, it’s your typical F1 circuit. Anytime you can try new things on a different circuit it’s good, but for us we don’t really come across anything like this for the rest of our calendar.
Do you treat this weekend as a testing platform for other rounds?
We treat this weekend as any other event, we have sponsors on the car so it’s important for us to put on a good show for them. We have a new main sponsor in Freightliner who are the naming rights sponsor for Brad Jones Racing, their base is in Melbourne so it’s very important for us to put on a good show. So we go out there and do the best we possibly can, some people say they use it as a test, but we see more crashes and more contact here than at any other event so that kind of says to me that it’s not just a being kind and playing fair, it’s every man for himself.
Next round in Symmons Plains you would be targeting another race win there?
Well yeah it’s where I got my first podium and then we had two wins there on the same weekend a couple of years ago. Obviously the plan is anytime you go to a race is to win and do the best job you can do.
What would you consider a successful season? What is the bare minimum result you will accept?
Top five. That’s it. Top five isn’t the goal, the goal is to win the championship, but anything below top five I’ll be disappointed. We’re not the biggest team in pit lane, we don’t have the biggest budget, but for the equipment that we have, the personal that we have, the money that we spend I think we do a bloody good job.
Moving on to the future of V8 Supercars; what are your thoughts of the proposed changes to the body shapes and engine configurations?
I think it was always going to change, it was always going to go to the next level. I’m concerned a little about getting the parity right, obviously front engine, rear wheel drive, turbocharged, things like that. There’s a whole new amount of fundamentals that we need to be able to keep a lid on and keep fair amongst all manufacturers. I think it’s going to be a good thing, the series needs something like this and I think it will take it to the next level.
Do you think the series will enforce parity between different models and marques?
Well that’s what’s going to have to happen isn’t it? It’ll be a shame to see one particular manufacturer get a leg up on everybody else, so as long as they can keep the parity the same, the aero package the same, we can all race fairly and together I think that’s got to be the number one factor.
A potential issue would be keeping the fans’ interest because it’s not going to be “V8 Supercars” anymore, and if Holden don’t do particularly well interest in the sport could fall couldn’t it?
Yeah you know it’s always been red versus blue, but over the last few years we’ve had the introduction of Nissan, Mercedes and Volvo, it’s brought all of those fans that weren’t necessarily V8 Supercars fans to the sport. So you’re always going to get the people who are disappointed with the change where the cars are turbocharged and not full-blooded V8s, but as a series you just have to evolve. If this means the next step and is going to make our championship better, then people should be pretty happy for it.
Do you feel the shift in the regulation changes is supporting touring cars remaining road relevant?
I think that’s the beauty of our series at the moment. The cars are recognisable on the street and they’re recognisable on the racetrack, people feel like they can go and buy a V8 supercar and drive it on the road. I think that’s what’s relevant and I think that’s what is important. What we have is a product at the moment that needs to remain.
Images via George Hitchens Photography