Support vital for team success in V8 Supercars series
FOR Lennon and McCartney, Apple founders Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, Hewlett and Packard, and Jagger and Richards - success is the result of a strong partnership.
In motorsport it's no different.
A driver can't win by himself. He needs the support of a dedicated team with the most important being his engineer. Coates Hire Racing's Nick Percat is enjoying his first V8 Supercars season this year, working with his engineer Alex Somerset. In today's special feature, Percat and Somerset share some insights.
Question: How important is the relationship between the driver and his engineer for success?
Answer: Alex Somerset - "It's very important. In successful relationships the engineer can understand what the driver needs without even asking the question. You can tell from a driver's body language. The general car attitude is secondary really. If you can pre-empt what the driver needs as the (on track) session is going along, you can save a lot of time."
Q: You and Alex have worked together for just a few months yet have formed a strong relationship very quickly.
A: Percat - "Definitely. Throughout my career I've chopped and changed engineers for various reasons and now for me to have my own car, crew and my own full-time engineer makes my life a lot easier and allows me to concentrate on my driving. We also get along well away from the track and I have a lot of trust in Alex. We worked together in India in Formula MRF and Alex got good results with James Moffat last year, so I knew the base package, (car set-up) that Alex would give me would be good. Alex knows what I need in the car and as I am still learning, what I need from the car, but there's no doubt we are growing as a good team. Alex has world-class experience, so it's easy for me to simply strap in and go with it."
Q: Nick, what do you look for from Alex?
A: "His years of experience. An example of of that is, he'll tell me that he has made a change to the car, what the change is and what it should do or has done for me in the past, so I have complete faith that it is what it's going to do. Every time we have rolled the car out of the transporter, be it the first test day at Eastern Creek or at the last round in Townsville, our HHA Racing Commodore has always had a strong baseline set-up. So for me it shows he's got a very good understanding of the car already and what I like, which makes it much easier for us to get the car into its sweet spot."
Q: Alex, what do you look for in Nick?
A: "Honesty. Sometimes you have to ask the driver, is it you or is it the car? You could change a lot of things for no real reason and when Nick says the car is rubbish, and then I've got to do something about it, so it's not a case of doubting if the driver is driving it well or not."
Q: Is it very much a collaborative effort between you and Nick to achieve the same goal?
A: Somerset - "Absolutely, but it even goes beyond us because you also have two mechanics and the tyre person as well. We've got the youngest car crew and everyone working in one direction is what makes the difference."
Q: From a collaborative perspective do you look to Nick for a lot of input from the car or do you rely on the data?
A: Somerset - "Eventually Nick will be able to tell me exactly what the car is doing and I won't need to look at the data. At the moment we use cross-referencing of both Nick's input and the data."
Q: From the driver's seat, what is the key to your success so far this year?
A: Percat: "Keeping it simple is the biggest one. We know the car we've got and we know where we are at and we set realistic goals. We don't expect to go out there and throw the thing on pole as much as we'd love to. I've worked with Ty in the past and everything that Alex has done I've seen before and he has had great success in the past, so that gives me a lot of confidence he can give me the right set-up in the car."