Heading into the season-finale of the FIA ETCR eTouring Car World Cup at Sachsenring this weekend, Hyundai Motorsport Director of Marketing and PR, Stefan Ph. Henrich gives his assessment of the Hyundai Motorsport N squad and looks to the future.
What’s the assessment of the team so far this season?
“We can never say we are fully satisfied until we win the title. However, we can still be proud of the work we’ve done over the season, and how much we have improved. The performance we showed as a whole team at Race IT was a great result for the whole team and shows how much we have gained during the season.”
Where has there been room for improvement from the team?
“I don’t think you can ever say the development on any race car is ever really finished, and I would say the same for the team structure. You can always find ways to improve. After 2021 we added to an already experienced squad of engineers dedicated to the ETCR project. We strengthened our line-up with drivers with great experience in ETCR competition, as well as a huge number of other top-level race series. Their input during pre-season testing, and then during the race season has been vital in the positive steps we’ve made at each event.”
How well do you think each of your drivers have performed?
“All our drivers this season have put in great performances in an incredibly competitive series. There have been some superb results from our drivers from the very start of the season with Jean-Karl’s pole position in Pau, all the way through to Mikel’s perfect score at Vallelunga. We’ve seen a first Super Final podium for Norbi at Race SP – the same event where Nicky made his debut in FIA ETCR and won his Pool Semi-Final. Even at Vallelunga, where Mikel claimed the King of the Weekend title, we were so close to being able to win the other Super Final with Nicky, as well as a 1-2 with Mikel and Norbi if we didn’t have late problems. Those performances show the level our drivers have been reaching.”
There’s been a great progression through the year in performance – is this from unlocking any particular secret, from hard work with the details or something else?
“We’re always looking for the next thing that can take us a step further, whether that’s big or small, but I wouldn’t say there’s a secret, magic button to find. We’ve made lots of little improvements and together these have added up to the progression you’ve seen on track through the year. FIA ETCR is a massive challenge for the whole team. The extreme power from the cars, and the unique race format means a driver has to push for a whole weekend, while the combination of that power, together with the tyres and weight of the car mean it can be tough for the engineers to find the best set-up for the car, and for each driver.”
Looking to the future, how could the team tackle 2023 differently?
“It’s clear to everyone that 2022 has raised the bar massively compared to 2021 – the lap times from the cars have come down and the level of the teams and drivers has gone up significantly. We can expect the same to happen between this year and the start of the 2023 season. Our task is to be able to match – or hopefully lead – that improvement. Again, I don’t expect there’s a big secret that we, or any of the other manufacturers, will find over the winter. We have to make the same sort of small improvements we’ve making all season, doing the same high level of work we’ve been doing every day and sharped our weapons better than our rivals ready for 2023.”