Belgian GP: Renault Friday practice notes

Just seven laps for Renault today at a very wet Spa-Francorchamps. The Renault F1 Team completed a total of seven laps today at Spa-Francorchamps (six for Giancarlo and one for Fernando). Here is the debrief on the day's strategy... 10 things...

Just seven laps for Renault today at a very wet Spa-Francorchamps.

The Renault F1 Team completed a total of seven laps today at Spa-Francorchamps (six for Giancarlo and one for Fernando). Here is the debrief on the day's strategy...

10 things to do in Spa when it rains:

1. Installation laps. Giancarlo completed a solitary installation lap this morning to check everything was functioning properly on the car, before his only run of the day. Delayed by an oil system problem in P1, Fernando did his this afternoon. His comments afterwards: "No problems with the car. But the conditions were impossible -- you can't go faster than 150 kph".

2. Hunt the team kit. "It always happens," lamented Executive Director of Engineering Pat Symonds. "It starts raining, you look for that wet jacket you could swear you had left in the truck last time, and it has disappeared..."

3. Change the set-up -- just in case. It may be raining hard enough to make a powerboat race almost impossible to hold, but you need to be ready just in case the conditions improve. So as the rain began to fall at the start of P2, off came both rear wings, on went the high downforce versions for heavy rain, and the front wing angles were tweaked to balance the car. Just in case...

4. Think of what you could have been doing. As they waited in the garage during P2, Giancarlo and Fernando could be forgiven for letting their minds wander to what else they could have been doing with their rainy afternoon. Giancarlo: "I would probably be on the sofa at home, relaxing or playing with the kids"; Fernando: "Playing sport with my friends, probably tennis or football -- on an indoor pitch!"

5. Debate the weather. Was this afternoon's downpour as bad weather as had been seen in Spa on race weekend? "I think so," admitted Denis Chevrier. "I've been coming here now for twenty years, and I don't think I've ever seen conditions quite like this..."

6. Debrief from P1. Giancarlo completed three timed laps at the end of this morning's session, as the damp track became suitable for running dry tyres at its 'crossover' point. So how did the R25 feel? "I only did three laps, so it's quite hard to say, but the balance felt OK. We just didn't do enough running to be able to tell."

7. Adapt your plans. The teams do not now have to choose their dry tyres until midday tomorrow, following the end of P4. But how do you cope with having to do two days' running in one?

"Obviously, we try and condense the programmes as much as possible," explains Pat Symonds, "but compromises have to be made -- you cannot get through all the work you would normally do during four sessions, in two. We need answers on tyre wear, to make a relatively informed choice, but both drivers also need to work on the set-up to get a good balance. It will be a tricky balancing act."

8. Debate Eau Rouge. The debate rages every year: is Eau Rouge taken flat? In 2004, that was certainly the case, but would it be in 2005 with the reduced downforce? The answer was 'not quite' in first practice, but close enough to suggest it will be come qualifying and the race -- if they are dry. "I think we should be able to get through without lifting," smiled Fisico.

9. Count the umbrellas in the motorhome. The Renault F1 Team brought nearly one hundred umbrellas to the Belgian Grand Prix in preparation for the traditional weather conditions. All the large style golf umbrellas have disappeared, but there are still fifty small ones left. But stocks are diminishing fast...

10. Study the weather forecasts. Of course, after a day of relative inactivity owing to the poor weather, the big question is: what will conditions be like tomorrow? "Well, I don't think it is going to get much better," explained Pat Symonds.

"I expect a foggy and misty start to the day tomorrow, which could well mean we see the start of practice delayed because the medical helicopter cannot fly. And after that, there is a very high chance of rain throughout the day..." The weekend promises to be challenging -- for teams, drivers and spectators alike!

11. Elsewhere in sport -- One for the Brits: England were all out for 373, and Australia are 67-0 as we go to press. Its' delicately poised and... not raining!

-renault-

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Series Formula 1
Teams Renault F1 Team