Comments from the Renault team ahead of the Brazilian Grand Prix Fernando Alonso Q: Fernando, you need just six points to win the world championship. Are you nervous, so close to achieving your dream? FA: No, I'm not. For sure, I am quite ...
Comments from the Renault team ahead of the Brazilian Grand Prix
Q: Fernando, you need just six points to win the world championship. Are you nervous, so close to achieving your dream?
FA: No, I'm not. For sure, I am quite close now to the championship, but I approach this race like any other. We have been quick in Brazil in recent years, and now our car is even stronger in every area. So I am looking forward to the race.
Q: Is it important to you that you could become the youngest driver to win the championship?
FA: To become world champion is the maximum for a driver, so I am happy and proud to have the possibility while I am so young. But being the youngest is not what motivates me. The maximum for a sportsman is to be the best in his championship, and to be the best in Formula 1 is the ultimate for any racing driver.
Q: Finally, what is your feeling ahead of the race in Brazil?
FA: As always, I go there trying to do the maximum. What's the point of going to a race and only aiming for a podium? You can't do that, you have to want to be the best, to attack. So that's what I am going to Brazil to do. We need to have a smooth weekend, no problems, and hopefully we will get the result we want.
Q: Giancarlo, how are you feeling after what was a big accident in Spa?
FA: I am fine. I was a bit sore the next day, but I tested last week in Silverstone and felt really good. It was disappointing to retire in Spa, because my car was competitive and with Montoya retiring, it could have been a good opportunity for us to score some points. But the car did a great job protecting me, and now I can't wait to get to Sao Paulo.
Q: The team is still fighting for both championships -- what is your role in that?
GF: I think for Fernando, it should be quite easy now to win the drivers' championship, but we are still in a big battle with McLaren for the constructors and it is very close. I think they have a stronger car, but the reliability is not so good. So I am really optimistic for the end of the season. I want to win another race, and maybe Brazil will be a good opportunity. We have a new aero package, and a new engine spec as well, so I think we can be a bit more aggressive over there.
Q: What about the circuit in Brazil -- is it challenging?
GF: For sure. I really enjoy racing there actually. Physically, it has always been quite a difficult circuit because it is anti-clockwise, but I think that after racing in Turkey recently, which is another anti-clockwise circuit, it won't be so bad for us. Even so, it will be tough because it is a short circuit and there are over seventy laps in the race. In terms of driving the track, it used to be quite bumpy but that has been improved a bit now, and there are some really nice corners, like turn 11 which is downhill, accelerating and you need to attack without running wide. It's a good challenge.
Q: It has also been a successful circuit for you...
GF: Yes, I have always liked it. Of course, I got my first win there in 2003 with the Jordan, and I finished second with Benetton in 2000. Even in 2001 when we were down on power, I scored a point, so it has always been a nice track for me. And Benetton and Renault were always quick there. So I think we can go to Brazil feeling very optimistic. Maybe we are not as quick as McLaren still, but I definitely think we can be closer than in recent races.
Pat Symonds, Executive Director of Engineering
Q: Pat, the team is fighting for both championships as we begin the last three races of the season. Which one would it give you most pleasure to win?
PS: From a personal point of view, I am always very proud to win the constructors' championship, as it is a symbol of what everybody in the team has contributed to the season. In terms of image and the importance to the company, there is no doubt that the drivers' title is the one to win: everybody remembers the world champion driver, not the world champion team. But within the team, there is a very strong drive to claim the constructors' title as well.
Q: The McLaren is currently the class of the field. How will Renault be responding?
PS: We are not arrogant here in the team, and we do fully appreciate that the McLaren is now a quicker car than the Renault. We have a good step on the aerodynamics for Brazil, that will help us claw back some of the deficit. But it is also partly to do with some of the strategic engineering decisions that have been made in the team. We do not want a car that is fast and fragile, we want a car that will finish every Sunday because that is how championships are won.
Q: What do you think will be the deciding factor in these final races?
PS: I still think it will come down to reliability, even at this late stage. With three races left, ourselves and McLaren have six race starts each until the end of the season. If both teams get six finishes between now and China, it is likely that McLaren will beat us. But if they fail to finish, then we can beat them. So firstly, we have to make sure we finish the races with both cars. Then after that, we need to put pressure on them.
Q: Is it not tough fighting a team that is quicker than you?
PS: Of course, but that's what sport is all about! With a racing driver, I believe what marks out good drivers from champions, is the champion's ability to set a personal best every time he goes out in the car -- they can always push back their limits. And it is no different for the whole team: we are looking to set our "personal best" at each race until the end of the year.
In Monza, we didn't win but I came away very satisfied because I felt we had put in a personal best performance as a team. Equally, after problems in the pit-stops this year, we had two of the quickest stops in Spa. It is an enormous challenge to get a team working at the top of its game, but when it does, it is extremely satisfying.
Q: Finally, tell us a little about Brazil...
PS: Brazil -- like Indianapolis -- is a circuit with two very distinct halves: a very high speed section past the pits and along the back straight where top speed and low drag are at a premium, combined with the twisting infield which demands downforce and mechanical grip. So we work hard to find the right compromise on wing levels.
You need good mechanical grip for the slow corners, and also good ride: the circuit can be bumpy and if the car is hopping from one bump to another, you lose grip and therefore lap-time. Traditionally, the team has performed very strongly at this circuit, and we are certainly optimistic that this will be the case again this year.