Supercars asks for van Gisbergen advice on Gen3
Friday 24th March, 2023 - 9:50am
Shane van Gisbergen says Supercars has now sought his advice on how to improve Gen3, following a processional Newcastle event and an infamous press conference.
The Red Bull Ampol Racing driver effectively refused to answer questions after his victory in Race 2, either on television or to assembled journalists
For that, he was rebuked publicly by Mark Skaife, but he subsequently claimed the silence was because he “upset some of the top brass” with his critique of the new breed of Supercar and wanted to keep his head down.
That was consistent with David Reynolds’ claim in the same press conference that “they don’t want us to say anything negative,” after Skaife made light of a falling out which the two had over comments which the Grove Racing driver had made about Gen3.
Van Gisbergen has long been unhappy with the fact that Supercars did not call on the category’s leading drivers to help develop the new generation of car, which has led to issues as basic as a steering wheel layout which did not allow drivers to drink, a drama which was only corrected at the last minute.
Now, Supercars has asked for the three-time champion’s input, although he faces a dilemma given he is now in the midst of a title battle, while also on the back foot after Triple Eight Race Engineering’s Race 1 disqualification was upheld.
“It’s a hard one and maybe to be honest I am battling with myself,” he said on the Rusty’s Garage podcast.
“They asked last week to get some things together on what we should do to make the car better.
“I basically just said, ‘Well, go to nine months ago and there’s all the comments; nothing has changed’. Now they’re sort of trying to change all these things.
“On one hand, I want to help the series get better but, on the other hand, I’ve got a championship to race for. This is the car we’ve got.
“I’ve been put 150 points in the hole. I’m conflicted, because I just want to race now and I’m pretty fired up to be perfect in the next few weeks and get those points back. But, on the other hand, I want to make the car better for everyone.
“All of the drivers are struggling with the same things, we’re all saying the same comments, because we all have the same car.
“It’s a hard one. For me, I just want to come out in Melbourne and drive it and do my best.
“It’s hard to be selfish and have everyone’s best interest at heart at the same time.”
Van Gisbergen remains disappointed by the public dressing-down from Skaife, who inferred that his press conference silence was due to anger at the disqualification from the race on the day prior.
Skaife is, however, a board member of Supercars’ parent company and understood to have become the Gen3 project lead, meaning he had inside knowledge of the pressure being put on drivers regarding comments about Gen3.
Van Gisbergen, though, admits he could have handled some media appointments better that Sunday in Newcastle, having essentially given the cold shoulder to telecast host Jessica Yates and press conference emcee Chad Neylon over questions directly related to Race 2.
“I definitely could have handled the after the race stuff better,” he said.
“People like Chad and Jess, they’re awesome for our sport. They have the right intentions and right way of doing things.
“When Jess asked me that question after the podium, I didn’t even listen to the question, I knew what I was going to say. And that probably wasn’t the right thing. When I listened back to it, she asked the perfect question to ignore all the outside stuff and focus on the racing.
“Anyway, I know I can be better.
“But I’m still pretty gutted by the way Skaife was with his comments. He’s someone who we’ve all given feedback to with the Gen3 car. He knows what we’re going on with and what we’re struggling with with the car.
“And for him to say the stuff that he did, like, it was pretty average by him.
“Pretending like it’s all roses and the car is perfect after the first race is not right. The car needs so much more development and time. Fundamentally, underneath, the car is awesome. It just needs time to be right.
“I don’t see why there’s a problem with being outward about that and telling people the story about what we need to fix and what we need to make better.
“Trying to hide and pretend everything is rosy is not right.”
Skaife has reached out to Triple Eight in a bid to address the matter before next week’s event at the Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix kicks off.
Asked if they will sit down before going on-track, van Gisbergen responded, “Yeah, I guess so,” although he hinted it might not be the end of the matter.
“It will be interesting to see how they approach it,” SVG added.
“I had some interesting calls afterwards from people above him, maybe.
“I don’t know, I just want to really focus on my driving. It’ll be interesting to see what comes from it from their side, but I’m trying to ignore it and focus on Grand Prix.
“It was a weird time for a couple of days. I’ve never won a race and felt so down after a weekend.”
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