Following the conclusion of the 2016 Formula Virtual World Championship season in Brazil, the DS Automobiles Team Mathershaw team called a press conference, with team principal Arthur Lapierre and technical director Robert Mathershaw both in attendance alongside newly crowned World Champion Adrien Simon and his outgoing team mate Olen Inman.
Reporter: First of all, I’d like to congratulate you Adrien for taking the title for the first time. How does it feel to be champion?
AS: It feels incredible. From the second I got in the car for the first test at Estoril I knew it was going to be a good year, but I couldn’t have dreamed it was going to end this way. The first thing I want to do is congratulate and thank Olen for a wonderful battle all year. We’ve been extremely close through the season, and he should be very proud of his performance – he’s a future champion for sure.
Reporter: Olen, you were pipped by the smallest of margins in the final race. Do you have any regrets about this season?
OI: No. I’ve loved the experience, and I gave it my all. Adrien is a more than worthy champion, and it has been an honour to race with him this year.
Reporter: It was announced after the race that you’re going to FUN for 2017. How long have you known about this?
OI: It was a mutual agreement between the team and myself that I’d be leaving at the end of 2016, and I’ve known for a couple of races. I can’t deny I’m disappointed, but I can understand the circumstances and why it has happened. The team management made sure I had somewhere to go for next year, so I’m thankful for that at least.
Reporter: Arthur, can you explain why he’s leaving the team despite the fact he has just finished 2 points short of the title in his rookie season?
AL: It wasn’t an easy decision. Formula Virtual is as much about business as it is about sport. Olen is an outstanding driver, and I’m sure he’ll experience success at the highest level again. His attitude has been excellent all year, and this didn’t change because of what happened.
Reporter: That doesn’t really answer the question: Why are you dropping Olen?
AL: As a team, we aim to strike a perfect balance between short-term success and planning for the long term. Our money isn’t infinite, and we need to choose our battles wisely. We’ve got a wonderful team here, which includes a number of extremely talented drivers in the DS Automobiles Lapierre Junior Team, and we feel the best step for the future is to promote this talent.
Reporter: So it’ll be a Junior Team driver that replaces him?
AL: It’s certainly likely. We’ll be making our assessments during the Young Driver Test, and after that a decision will be made.
Reporter: Robert, this has been your main project for the previous four seasons now, how does it feel to have engineered success at last?
RM: This is our greatest achievement. We started with a tiny facility in Liverpool, and we now have a state of the art factory at the Paul Ricard circuit. I’m so proud of this entire team, from Adrien and Olen to the janitors at the factory – every single person who works for DS Automobiles Team Mathershaw is world champion. In addition, I think it’s important to note the contribution of Downton in this triumph – alongside DS, they have developed the engine into the finest powerplant on the FV grid, and the two teams have developed a working relationship unlike anything else on the grid. Finally, and this may shock some of you, I’d also like to thank Karl Beckenbauer. He left the team under strained circumstances last season, but without his contribution during our formation, we wouldn’t be where we are now.
Reporter: This is for all of you. Do you think more success is possible in 2017?
RM: It’ll be hard. We’re open about the fact we put a hell of a lot into this year, and while we’re starting from a brilliant base after this year, we’ve got to be pragmatic.
AL: It’s possible, but everyone in the team knows our position for 2017, and we’re preparing for a year of consolidation before going all out for the 2018 titles.
AS: Like le chef [Mathershaw] and le prof [Lapierre] say, we know it’s going to be tough. But on a personal note I have my own goals both in and out of the cockpit, so I think 2017 is going to be a very interesting season.