Q+A with Mark Gallagher – Cosworth General Manager F1 Business Unit
Mark, what is Cosworth’s assessment of the 2010 season?
“We achieved all our key operational objectives from an engine supply perspective, providing our four customers – one third of the grid – with a competitive, reliable and affordable Cosworth CA2010 engine supported trackside by a dedicated team of technicians embedded within the teams, and backed up in Northampton by the personnel in engineering, manufacturing, build, test and operations. From a business perspective the season went well; we spent money where we needed to and we achieved the profitability required to continue investing in the programme. The relationships with our customers were good, and have developed well – so we can look back on the season with a good degree of satisfaction.”
Did the engine perform as expected?
“The Cosworth CA2010 was created in a very few months using the original CA2006 as the baseline, but revising it to produce peak power within a rev limit of 18,000rpm, a much extended duty cycle of up to three full race weekends, and fuel consumption correspondent with the ban on refuelling and increased emphasis on start-weights. I believe our engineers did an outstanding job. The engine performed very well in pre-season dyno-testing, but we knew that once it would hit the track we would need to optimise its performance more fully. The fact that pre-season testing was rain affected, and that only one of our four customers took part in all the tests, rather limited the gathering of useful data. Once we started racing we had a couple of issues which, while not ‘show stoppers’, necessitated some action to revise the oil system and tackle slightly higher than expected power degradation. I am pleased to say the issues were quickly identified and tackled. Obviously we had an initial pool of engines already with the teams and it took a little time to cycle rebuilds through the system to revise specifications, but at no stage was the programme compromised and the best measure of that was total race reliability.”
What about actual results on track and pure performance?
“If you work in any significant aspect of Formula One whether as a team or a key technical supplier and don’t focus on winning, then there is no point being here. As a supplier of engine and electronics technologies Cosworth plays an important part in contributing to the overall package of the teams we work with, but ultimately the chassis, the vehicle dynamics, the aerodynamics and the myriad of other systems which go to defining a Formula One car are not within our control. We therefore focus on making sure our technology behaves absolutely to the best of its abilities. The results on track in relation to the new teams were very much in line with our, and their, expectations. It was always going to be a three-way battle behind the vastly experienced teams, many of which have enjoyed manufacturer support over the last decade and therefore have extensive technical facilities and resources as well as deeply experienced personnel. Williams gave Cosworth a much better opportunity to show our true performance and together we achieved every possible points finish in 4th – 10th places and scored that pole position in Brazil which, whilst due to conditions, was a memorable milestone.”
Speaking of Williams, how does Cosworth view 2010?
“AT&T Williams is one of the very best teams in Formula One, with enormous capability and experience. We have worked hard to ensure that the Cosworth engine contributed successfully to their overall package and at all times they have demanded from us a constant push to optimise performance. We have no problem with that; it’s a very good thing because when you add our inherent motivation to the determination of a team such as Williams, success will come. The package started the season with the team demanding improvements in every area, but from Valencia onwards the results started to improve with both cars making it through to Q3 on a regular basis and both Rubens (Barrichello) and Nico (Hülkenberg) scoring points. Ultimately the package finished 6th in the Constructors’ World Championship and there were an increasing number of occasions when we could outpace Mercedes in qualifying and mix it with both them and Renault in the races. There is much reason to believe we have now achieved a good platform on which to build.”
The first race of the 2011 season is in exactly 100 days time – how are preparations going?
“This is a very busy time of year and work on 2011 started months ago with the development of the KERS drive which is currently being tested. We are working closely with AT&T Williams, Marussia Virgin Racing and HRT to support their pre-season testing, car launches and start-of-season activities, and we expect to be running both the standard CA2010 and KERS version of the engine next season. We are also restructuring some of our internal systems to improve processes wherever possible, so the coming weeks will be typically hectic. We are very much looking forward to 2011.”
Finally, from a personal perspective, how has your first year at the helm of Cosworth’s F1 business gone?
“When I accepted the role here I was under no illusion that it would be a demanding job, but ultimately very rewarding. It has met both those expectations to a much greater extent than I imagined! I learned from my time running a championship winning team in A1GP that it is vitally important to let engineers and technicians do what they do best, empower them to get on with the job, and focus on making sure the contracts are fulfilled and the business operates profitably. I have learned a great deal too, which means that the role is always interesting; but most of all I have learned about the wider capabilities of the Cosworth Group. It is to my frustration that the F1 audience still views Cosworth as an ‘engine’ company when in fact we are a great deal more than that today. The electronics, aerospace and defence and automotive work that goes on here is astonishing, yet unfortunately a well-kept secret. Part of what we will be doing in the future is communicating more effectively the highly diversified engineering and manufacturing business that Cosworth represents.”