Sky Sports Q&A: Damon Hill on upgrades, tyres and who can challenge Red Bull

1996 World Champion says the pressure is on McLaren

By William Esler.   Last Updated: 03/05/13 4:24pm

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As the teams prepare to head to Barcelona for the Spanish Grand Prix, Sky Sports News' Rachel Brookes catches up with Damon Hill to discuss upgrades, tyres and who can take the challenge to Red Bull in 2013.

Rachel Brookes: What are the teams doing in the break?
Damon Hill: "Well it is a hell of a start to the season - you are jumping from one continent to the next so it is difficult for the teams to catch their breath and actually implement some of their upgrades. Now they are back home in Europe, they are closer to the factory and have a chance to try out some of those modifications and bring them to Spain for the Grand Prix. We are going to see some fairly big upgrades on the cars when we get to Spain."

RB: Will we be able to see these big upgrades?
DH: "No, they will be very, very small little subtle things. A large change in the car means a complete redesign so they are fettling at the moment, but you are looking for hundredths or thousandths of a second from the modifications, but they all add up. Some people might make 0.25 seconds of a gain and that is a huge amount of time if they can get that. It might not sound like a lot, but then that is per lap - 55 or 60 laps in a race and it all adds up."

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RB: Who do you think have got the biggest challenge to get back on track during this break?
DH: "I think McLaren have got the biggest challenge. The expectation is quite high on them and they have had a bit of a torrid start to the season and I think the pressure is clearly on them to show they are going in the right direction. Ferrari are reasonably competitive, as are Lotus, as are Red Bull, but I think McLaren need to get just a little bit more pace then both their drivers will be up in the frame."

RB: Ferrari have had some misfortune which has allowed Red Bull to open a bit of a gap. Do you think Lotus could be Red Bull's main rivals?
DH: "They have been impressive. Kimi Raikkonen is coming on strong and he just delivers all the time which is very impressive. But they are a relatively small team and they haven't got the resources and the budget that the big boys have got, so whether they can fight for a full campaign or not we will have to wait and see."

RB: Tyres have been a bit of a talking point. The hard compound has been changed to be more like the 2012 tyre - who is that going to favour?
DH: "The suggestion is that Red Bull weren't too happy with the hard tyre because I think their car generates quite a lot of lateral-G and it was just chewing the tyre up too much, so I think they prefer a harder tyre. So you might see that that swings towards Red Bull's favour and there are mutterings that that is the case and some of the teams are suggesting that that is not what they want to see and that they quite like the softer tyre. But that is Formula 1."

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