Renault race driver Fernando Alonso talks about the new R25
Q: What can you tell us about the R25?
FA: The first feeling with a car is very important. When I saw the R25 in the garage last week, I was very impressed: I had seen the wind tunnel model, but it was still a surprise to see how good it looked. It might be quite similar to the old one at first sight, but there are lots of new things: the sidepods are much tighter, and the cooling and exhaust exits are very different for example. The first impression was very good on the track. I felt that I could trust the responses of the R25 straight away.
Q: How does the handling compare to last year's car?
FA: The R25 feels more constant on the long runs. We cannot compare them directly because the downforce levels are lower for 2005, but compared to our interim car, the traction and braking stability are much better, which will be very important on the long distance tyres for 2005.
The car responded as we expected to the first set-up changes, and we now need to concentrate on understanding its character and pushing forward on performance. I still have some work to do to adapt the car to my style, but that is a normal part of the learning process.
Q: The RS25 engine is also brand new: how did it perform?
FA: The RS25 was a very nice surprise: from the driver's seat it felt more powerful straight away and I was impressed with the driveability. With the new regulations doubling the life of the engine, the team at Viry has done a fantastic job to produce a stronger V10. We still need to fine-tune its characteristics to exploit the potential, in areas like throttle mapping and traction control, but that is only a matter of time.
Q: The team's aim is to be fighting with Ferrari: can you do it?
FA: I won't have any clear expectations until we arrive in Melbourne but in terms of what I hope for, I would like to be fighting for victories this year. Mentally, I am stronger and even better prepared. We need to be quick during the race weekends and fighting at the front of the field for podiums and wins.
It will be a long season, and it is a big job to be competitive against our rivals, but I am confident in the work of the team during the winter. In 2004, we were always battling for the podium places. Now, we must take the next step.