Last weekend, MotorLat attended a virtual media session with Xevi Pujolar where he talked about the team´s performance during the last Spanish Gp. When MotorLat asked him whether he believed another choice of strategy would have given Valtteri the 4th place or even a higher position he explained:
“No, I don´t think so. I think we tried (but there) were faster cars behind, we tried to keep them behind but we didn´t have enough pace to fight with them. So, (we) didn´t think about strategy at that point, how much pace we have got and that´s about it. We tried to cover them as much as we could but, we couldn´t and then trying to cover them we compromised our strategy a bit because a two-stop for us it was possible and actually, if you see like Hamilton, actually, is like a two-stop as well in terms of the stints, but trying to keep Sainz behind we knew we had to do some management at the last stint. We tried to manage keeping Sainz behind and we took too much out of the tyre really then we were struggling to make it to the end.”
At the time of the interview the cause behind Zhou´s retirement was not completely clear. However, Pujolar explained: “We know it´s something related to the cooling system and we had to retire the car to avoid damaging the power unit, but we haven´t got the root cause, yet.”
When he was consulted about Zhou´s losing positions at the start and whether there were any reasons behind, the engineer explained: “The reason is we need to improve our consistency on the start performance for sure it made our life very difficult after the first lap and is something that we are working on. We made some progress and we did some races at least. To keep position that´s our minimum target but today it was not good enough.”
He also added “We manage to recover the positions but it is not ideal. We qualify well and then if we lose positions it´s costing extra energy to recover that. So, it´s something we will focus and will work a lot these next few days because Monaco is a critical one for the start and lap one.”
The last weekend, many teams took new upgrade packages to Barcelona. About Alfa´s upgrades he explained: “The package behaved as we expected and we wanted to be still the best of the rest and if possible, even, if we can challenge faster cars. So, we worked for it and again we were racing Ferrari and Mercedes with Valtteri. Even Mercedes they did a package upgrade and that was a big step. Hamilton was quite fast during the race and even Ferrari. For the moment, these teams are too fast for us when we fight with them in the race, we tried to challenge them. We don´t want to give up. Today, we tried but then at one point we had to give up otherwise we risked we can even lose more positions. To be realistic here at the moment we want to keep possible the McLaren´s Alpines, Tauris, these guys behind in the race in the championship we are still fighting them but in the race the main target was to keep a gap to these guys and then if we have enough margin why not challenge the Ferrari and Hamilton when they had problems at the beginning of the race.”
When MotorLat asked him, after the Miami Grand Prix about his expectations for Spain, Pujolar said he had high expectations for his home GP. Last weekend, we asked him whether the expectations were fulfilled and he said, “Yes, for sure. We always want better and at one point we were fighting for P4. So, I think we were very strong in the race. If we want to fight Ferrari still, we´ve got some work to do. But if we look at the midfield I think, our expectations, we were successful. If we compare against the midfield everyone was behind and with a decent gap. If you look also Zhou at the start, he lost some positions and he was fighting people, overtaking people in Barcelona in the middle of the stints in a track that is difficult to overtake.
"Hamilton, when he was very fast, he was overtaking people as well but Zhou is in his first year in F1 and is fighting guys with a lot of experience in the midfield and is overtaking. So that means that we´ve got a package that is working and two drivers that are performing very well.”