McNish: Audi in a better situation but ‘racing people are never satisfied’
Audi may have ended the 2018/19 Formula E season trophyless, but its second year competing as a full works operation hinted at more to come from the Ingolstadt team.
Team principal Allan McNish, himself a three-time Le Mans winner with the German marque, explained to E-Racing Magazine’s Rob Watts that despite achieving some of the team’s goals this season, he’s still not satisfied with the outcome.
“I think you can never be satisfied. Even if you win, you’re never satisfied. Racing people are usually very unsatisfied, unhappy people even when they do win,” said McNish.
“Despite that, we’re actually in a better situation than we were because last year we were hanging on in the teams’ championship and had no chance of the drivers’ championship. Zero. We were so far behind JEV.
“We set a clear goal that we wanted to be fighting for wins and for both championships [this year], so in that respect, we actually have achieved some of our goals.
“You can easily look back at different races and think, okay, we dropped some points here or there, but at the same time, so can everybody else. So it’s clear there were points that we didn’t collect, but I wouldn’t say that it sits on our mind at all.”
During its championship-winning season in 2017/18, Audi recovered from a disastrous start (scoring just 11 points in the opening four rounds) to pip rival Techeetah to the teams’ championship at the last race in New York – a comeback McNish describes as “dynamite”.
But despite not hitting the same heights in its sophomore season, McNish says he’s pleased to have had a more consistent campaign this time around but was quick to point out one reason in particular, why he felt Audi was unable to display its true performance throughout the year.
“Clearly, the reliability issues that we had with the inverter last year, we didn’t want that to ever happen again and so, therefore, to [have been running] reliably all the way through, that does give a bit of satisfaction,” said McNish.
“As I said at the beginning, you’ll be never totally happy, so you always want to try and push forward. The area that I think has not been ideal for us, honestly, is where there’s been a 45-minute race that’s been reasonably easy for most [teams] to get to the end of.
“Last year it was much more based on energy efficiency, which was what the DNA of what Formula E is, but with the way that safety cars and full course yellows have gone, [the lack of emphasis on energy efficiency] has probably helped the others and taken away something that certainly I think we’ve still got as an advantage over the opposition.”
So where do Audi go from here? In McNish’s first two seasons in charge, the team has won six races, a further ten podium finishes and one teams’ championship title.
The key to ensuring further success, as McNish explains, is in keeping a consistent and motivated team but in also not settling for second best. There’s a good reason the Scot says he’s never satisfied.
“You look at technology, you look at the regulations, you look at, as we were saying, about our learnings from this year and areas where we think we could improve,” he said.
“One thing for us is, we’ve always been quite a solid and consistent team in terms of personnel and I think that’s a strength of ours going forward, but that doesn’t mean to say we rely only on our history.
“You’ve got to keep evolving it and adding new fresh blood coming through as well. I think we’ve got some clever young guys in there and they’ve got a big future ahead of them, so it’s about using the assets and experience you’ve got, but adding to it as opposed to changing it.
“You’re only as good as your last race. That was a thing my dad always told me so we always try to make sure that we’re one step ahead of the rest. For next year, I think we’ll make another step forward.”
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