Engineers are binary by their nature; something is either evidentially confirmable or simply hypothetical, things work or they don’t, and a system is either beneficial or non-constructive.
That’s exactly why we thought we’d ask our Head of Engineering and car #9’s Race Engineer Alistair McVean how he saw 2018 play out…
With 3206 points, fifth place in the Drivers’ Championship, three wins and nine podium finishes – 2018 has undoubtedly been the team’s most successful season to date?
AM: “Definitely. That was three times the number of podiums we had the year before. Our qualifying and race average has improved… there are improvements in all areas, in the team, in the speed and performance.”
Did the performance of the new Commodore catch you by surprise or were you expecting to roll out in Adelaide so strong? Did we get our heads around it pretty quick?
AM: “I don’t think it caught us by surprise, we were expecting it to be a good thing. We were on a solid path at the end of last year and although we expected some teething problems we were expecting to be strong. We understood early what it had given us, we didn’t do a whole lot of development around that, but we did our usual tuning to make it faster. I think we understood ahead of most events what the car was going to do differently compared to the year before and our performance at the start of the year was just natural development.”
The performance does seem to be naturally progressing. Do you expect that trend to continue next season?
AM: “We started the season strong at Adelaide and the Grand Prix and sat second in the Championship but had a lull in the middle of the year before we bounced back in Darwin. It was that time, before the enduros, that we learnt a few things and got back on the upward trend. I think it bodes well for next year, we have the same package and same team going into the new season, as well as a good test day at the end of the year. I think everything will continue to improve; we have a good understanding of where we need to head and what we need to do to be better again.”
Can you tell us more about the test day? Some would think it’s a bit late?
AM: “We retained a test day up our sleeve as we didn’t have time to use it during the year, so we took the opportunity to use it now. There are potentially a few new rule changes coming through next season also, so we took the opportunity to understand the effect of them early. We also went through a few things that had been on our list to confirm and check on, and we feel like we made some improvements and were able to go faster than we did in qualifying around there on used tyres, so it bodes well, but we need to understand when the whole field shows up.”
What would you say was the most satisfying moment for you?
AM: “I thought Bathurst was the most satisfying moment until 25 laps to go. That entire weekend had run really smoothly, and everything had gone almost exactly to plan. Each person in the team had done their job perfectly and we were fast and consistent across the entire weekend. People have used the word ‘domination’ and I feel like we did that up until the very end.”
Looking ahead to next year, what can we expect?
AM: “I think we are still on the positive trend, we’ve got a good few things ready to roll out with next year and there is good stability in the team, so it should only be forward steps we are taking. Everyone here wants to continuously improve but we are still going to be the same old Erebus, enjoying our racing but also stepping up in every area to limit those few down days we had this year.”