Good morning Formula Virtual fans and welcome to Montreal, Canada ahead of this weekend’s Canadian V-Prix, round eleven of the 2018 Formula Virtual season. Joining us in today’s Thursday press conference; on the back row we have Bradley Downton of Downton FV Team and Cory Evans of Holmqvist. On the front row are Alex Easton from Phoenix Motorsport, Nick Forrest from North Star Racing, and Rai Miyamoto of Ocelot Japan Racing. Welcome gents.
Reporter: So, reflecting on the first ever Slovakian V-Prix last time out, we’ll start with you Alex. Eighth place for Alvarez took Phoenix above both North Star and FIRST in the Constructors’ standings and put you within two points of Lopez. What was the atmosphere in the garage like after the race?
Alex Easton: To be honest we knew we had great pace all weekend, starting with Sergio putting in that incredible lap on Friday, so we were hoping we’d somehow pick up a point or two. But to get four points was just massive; to finally lift us above FIRST – where we feel we deserve to be – and also above North Star who did well to grab a point too.
But yeah, the atmosphere in the garage after Sergio crossed the line was mental, I mean we pretty much always have a great buzz when we’re packing the stuff up after each race, usually with something like Oasis blaring out of the loudspeakers – I do need to apologise to our neighbours Ingram for that – but it was really turned up another notch there. Especially as Sergio had dropped down to ninth when Yoshida went through but then managed to squeeze past Tumo. I was buzzing for the whole team, but most importantly for Sergio; everyone kept talking about what would’ve been an incredible result in Malaysia had his engine not given up right at the last, but last weekend’s result really puts all that to bed now, I feel.
Reporter: Great stuff! Coming to you now Nick; Halvosen managed to grab a point for you, which put you on equal points with FIRST, however, Phoenix’s strong result meant they leapfrogged both of you. What was the feeling afterwards?
Nick Forrest: The feeling was pretty good, all things considered. Phoenix have obviously done a spectacular job developing their car throughout the season, and they definitely look to have moved slightly ahead of ourselves and Lopez. But having said that, Lopez are the ones we’re targeting in the standings, we’ve proved that we’re still able to grab the odd point or two when the opportunity arises, and we think we’re certainly in with a chance of overhauling Lopez by the end of the year.
Reporter: Brilliant, we’ll touch on that battle again later. But over to you now Bradley; after the absolutely torrid race in Germany, it must’ve been important to get a pretty strong result last time out? And with Simon retiring, it was important to maximise your own points tally wasn’t it?
Bradley Downton: Yeah absolutely. Germany was such a disappointment, we really needed a pick me up and it was great getting Nathaniel onto the podium and giving the boys something to cheer. It certainly was important, and I think we really did all we could as the car wasn’t strong in Slovakia.
Reporter: Klaas was unlucky to have to make four stops instead of three, which really cost him, but we have seen him excel on aggressive strategies in the past. Is it something the team will continue to do?
BD: Well now, that would be telling! We may, and we may not. It all depends on what we think the best strategy is for each driver on any given weekend. One thing I will say however is that Klaas is very good at overtaking, so we’re always confident he can make an aggressive strategy work unless the tyres turn out to be completely useless.
Reporter: Very true. Cory, at the start in Slovakia, we saw Tumo and Will come together which resulted in Will losing his front wing. Did you need to have words with them both after the race?
Cory Evans: We were particularly unimpressed with this incident and did indeed pull both drivers in after the race. Unfortunately, the relationship with Tumo has somewhat broken down after he informed us he would be leaving at the end of the season, but we reminded both him and Will that they drive for us at the moment and need to be maximising results, not crashing into one another trying to get one over the other.
Reporter: Absolutely. Rai, in the paddock after the race, you seemed somewhat downbeat on the result. Now that time has passed, do you still feel the same or are you happy with solid points for the team?
Rai Miyamoto: Eh, it’s not a bad result, the issue was that we haven’t had luck go our way and this was another track where we have failed to capitalise, that’s the main issue for the team. We are having a great season of course but once you have a taste of victory, a podium.. you want to be back up there and it’s just a bit downbeating not to be back there again. The points are great, it’s good as every point counts.
Reporter: A few weeks ago, it emerged that Puccio will leave the team after this season due to contractual issues. Given that he has more than double Yoshida’s points tally so far, were you saddened that you couldn’t reach an agreement to keep him?
RM: Yes, I seriously would have liked to have signed Puccio back but our contractual differences meant a deal could not be reached. We think Puccio is fantastic and this is a very hard choice as our other drivers coming up in our ranks are also doing great jobs in the lower series. Now Yoshida needs to show he can lead this team, as we now have to back his horse to carry us but who knows maybe our second driver next year will outperform him.
Reporter: Coming back to you Cory, there’s been plenty of talk about engine deals for 2019 in the last month or so. Where do Holmqvist and Koenigsegg stand on the matter?
CE: We have a contract with Koenigsegg that we will honour, and we have been working fantastically with them all year. Having said that, given the new rules and regulations we would obviously very much like to align with another team. If anyone is interested in Koenigsegg engines for 2019, we are happy to have discussions.
Reporter: It’ll be interesting to see if any more new partnerships are forged! Right, question for everyone; we’re just past the halfway point in the season now, could I get everyone’s assessments of their own team’s performance so far compared to their pre-season expectations? Nick, do you want to start us off?
NF: In terms of performance on the track, I think we’re pretty much exactly where we’d expected to be, on the fringes of the top ten with a couple of other teams, scoring a point or two every so often. In terms of the standings though, we’re still well behind where we should be, and again, that’s all down to what happened in Malaysia. We can’t change how that race panned out, though, we can only push on with the races we’ve got left this season, and hope to set that right.
RM: It’s been an amazing season for us after four dreadful years at the back, not getting a good amount of points. But it’s been a great opportunity especially as we have a win on our board as well. Obviously we have to make every second of the season count this time round. So we are hungry for another win, another podium.
AE: Where to start!? Well, prior to the season – as I’ve said before – we literally expected nothing to be honest. We thought we might keep one or two teams honest at the back but yeah, we fully expected to be finishing thirteenth in the standings.
How wrong were we?! It’s been an incredible year so far, with so many highs and so many memories created already – and we’ve only been in ten V-Prix! The guys and girls back at the factory have done a truly stunning job with what they’ve had to work with, and the drivers are paying them back. Carson has had some brilliant moments, in particular his pace over one lap has, at times, put us way higher than we should’ve been. And Sergio has absolutely stamped his mark on Formula Virtual; coming in as a rookie on loan from Westwood, I don’t think many expected too much of him, but he’s been excellent to be honest.
Saying all that though, there’s still plenty of work to do in the remaining eight rounds to solidify our debut season as a truly great one.
CE: It is difficult to sit here and say we are happy. We were aiming for top five and have missed by quite some way. Okay, perhaps not in terms of positions, but in terms of pace. Especially in pre-season where we topped several days, we were expecting to be quicker. That is how the cookie crumbles sometimes though, we need to suck it up and look forward.
BD: We hoped to defend our Championships and we’re right there fighting, but it’s clear to see DS Mathershaw have a significant pace advantage so we need to keep working. We absolutely wanted to be slightly quicker, and we’d hoped to have won more races, but that’s how this sport goes. We’ll keep pushing, always.
Reporter: Brilliant answers guys. Now, we’ll move onto the fan questions next. So, first one here is for you Cory; “Thunstrom is looking good in FV2, does he have a chance of a seat for next year?”
CE: Maximilian has been great so far this season, especially in his rookie year. Two poles in the opening two races show the pace is there, he just needs to refine his race craft. For 2019 no, he will not race at Holmqvist, he will be in junior series again. Past that, it is very much the intention.
Reporter: He’s definitely one to keep an eye on. Rai, this one’s for you; “Have you found any engine partners, and if you have, are you open to more?”
RM: No we have not been contacted by anyone. I think it’s more likely we will end up going on our own. It’ll be hard as we won’t get any of the benefits.
Reporter: What about any potential new teams joining the sport, is your door open to them?
RM: Of course we are open to any new entries to come to us, but if we go alone I think there should be something implemented that doesn’t punish us who are independently on our own.
Reporter: Next one is for Nick; “What does Sikes have to do to save his seat, assuming it’s under threat?”
NF: Well, that is only an assumption for the time being, I think that’s worth making clear, even with Gabriele performing as well as he is in the VWRS. Judson’s been very unfortunate at times this season as well, his engine letting go in France with just a few corners to go, for example. But at the end of the day, he’s still falling short of what Johan’s delivering, more often than not, and he is the only driver in that three-team battle who’s yet to score a point this season, so that needs to be rectified quite soon, at the very least.
Reporter: Let’s hope he can pull a good result out soon! Okay, this one here is for Bradley; “Both your guys struggled in qualifying but looked quick in the race in Slovakia. Does your car suit Sundays more than Saturdays?”
BD: It certainly seems so. The qualifying pace has been lacking for most of the season, but we’re right up there in race trim. It’s something we’re working on most definitely, we need to be higher on the grid to have a chance of stealing another win.
Reporter: Okay onto the final fan question of the day for you Alex, “Despite confirming that Alvarez will race next year, there’s been no word on Davenport’s future with the team. When can we expect to hear more?”
AE: We’ve near enough got everything sorted out for next season now, we’re just finalising a couple of minor details. Carson knows where he’ll be racing and he’s very much looking forward to the challenge. As for a timeline.. I’m not too sure to be honest with you! Most likely it’ll all get announced in the coming week or so.
Reporter: That seems a little cryptic! Anyway, final question before we round up today is for Nick and Alex; the gap between Lopez, Phoenix and North Star is now down to three points. How do you foresee that battle playing out in the remaining races?
NF: I think it’s going to be very close. Phoenix, as I said before, I reckon have the best chance to finish ahead in that battle. However, I do still think we’re marginally ahead of Lopez, in race trim at least. They’ve only finished in the points once outside of Malaysia, and there’s a fair few tracks left on the calendar where our V12 should be quite strong. It might end up going down to the wire, but like I said, I do believe we’re in a good position to come out on top.
AE: I’d have to agree with Nick to be honest. I’m not the sort to sit here and be pessimistic about our chances. I think the general feeling at Phoenix at the moment is that we’ve got some great momentum and probable just about have the edge over North Star and Lopez on average. Saying that, I think there’ll be weekend where each of the three teams have the advantage over the other two, and I reckon it’ll be up to each of us to maximise our points in the rounds that suit our cars. I’m thoroughly relishing the battle, I just hope it’s not decided by another crazy race like Malaysia, as Nick mentioned before.
Reporter: It certainly promises to be a great battle! Okay final question to everyone, same as usual guys; what are your goals for this weekend and do you think anyone can stop DS Mathershaw making it five in a row?
NF: Yeah, I think North Star can do that, we’re in good form after Slovakia, we know how to win around this track, so there’s every chance we could do it again!
Okay, in all seriousness, though, a repeat of last year’s victory is probably quite a way out of our reach this year, but more points are definitely in the offing, so we need to make sure we can grab them. As for the track, I have a feeling it’s going to suit Franklin quite well, so I’m gonna back them to score the win everyone’s been waiting for from them this season.
RM: I expect DS or Franklin to win, we’ve already been very vocal about how we’d like another win this season but you know it’s not looking likely. I guess maybe a podium would be great.
AE: The goal for us this weekend is as usual at the moment; to be on the fringes of the points and capitalise if any of the big boys have problems.
As for who I think will take the win... I agree with Rai that it’s between Franklin and DS Mathershaw, but I’m gonna back our future technical partners for this one.
CE: We just need to keep doing what we are doing and scoring points, capitalising on others mistakes. We are sort of in the middle of nowhere now, no chance to catch Ingram but clear of behind. It does however make focusing on 2019 easier. As for the win, the Franklin with the V12 should be strong here, likewise the Ocelot. But DS Mathershaw are on a proper run of form, and you can’t rule out Downton. Is that an answer? I have just listed the top four teams! laughs It is tricky to say, the season is so open. Yes DS Mathershaw look good, but it cannot last forever.
BD: We want to win, as per every weekend. We expect to be strong here, so the top step is absolutely what we’re aiming for. Can anyone stop DS Mathershaw making it five? Yes. We can, Franklin can, Ocelot can, and anyone else can if something crazy happens. But whoever does it needs to nail the weekend. DS Mathershaw are incredibly strong, and we will need to be perfect to topple them.
Reporter: Fantastic stuff guys, thank you! So, that's all from us here today, thank you to all the team principals in attendance. Make sure you tune in tomorrow for Friday practice!