Andrea Bertolini teams up with Viktor Shaitar (silver) and SMP Racing director and driver, Sergey Zlobin in the #72 SMP Racing Ferrari 458 Italia this season – in what on paper looks to be one of the strongest trios in the hugely competitive LMGTE class.
Quickest in yesterday’s first Free Practice session, we caught up with Andrea as he came out of the SMP Racing team de-brief.
“The session was good and we achieved a nice balance with the car,” said the laconic 40-year-old from Sassuolo in the beautiful Emilia-Romagna region of Italy. “We worked on the performance of the car under braking because a lot of time can be made here at Silverstone, especially in to the complex sections and the new sections.”
Andrea was satisfied with the balance of the Ferrari 458 Italia and was looking forward to setting the car up for today’s all-important four hour race:
“The tyres are performing very well and are nice and consistent of a long stint,” he surmised. “This will be important during the race. Sergey (Zlobin) is doing very nicely and gaining big confidence all the time. Sergey is key to the challenge we go in to this weekend. Sergey and Viktor (Schaitar) will make up most of the race as I can only do one stint really, so it is crucial as a team to get this strategy maximum and ready for the race.”
Bertolini, a veteran now, has worked with many well-drilled teams over the years, including the Maserati factory and of course Scuderia Ferrari as a works driver. Praise from him then means something and he is genuinely impressed by the SMP squad.
“The SMP Racing team is very good and very professional, nice engineers which is always good because I always like to give them an ‘ard time! But seriously, the preparation is excellent and we have had some good tests so we are as well prepared as possible for this season in ELMS, which looks very strong this year. We are super focused.”
“The LMGTE Ferrari is very strong here at Silverstone but I think when we get to Imola the Porsches will be quicker and we will have a tough battle with them. The (Gulf) Aston Martin could be good there.”
And what of strategy in the LMGTE class for the extended race time in 2014?
“Normally I think that the logical choice will be for the quickest driver to do the last stint. We are not decided yet but it makes sense because if there is a safety car which is often early in the race then there is a big problem. But at the end of the race usually the track is in better condition with the rubber on line and the grip is better. We will see but I expect many teams will choose this option but of course it depends on many other circumstances too.”
Grazie Andrea, a true gent!