The Renault F1 Team prepares for this weekend's Brazilian Grand Prix in Sao Paulo. Fernando Alonso: "Interlagos always has an amazing atmosphere" Fernando, after a disappointing race in Japan, how is the mood of the team ahead of the Brazilian...
The Renault F1 Team prepares for this weekend's Brazilian Grand Prix in Sao Paulo.
Fernando Alonso: "Interlagos always has an amazing atmosphere"
Fernando, after a disappointing race in Japan, how is the mood of the team ahead of the Brazilian Grand Prix?
Although we didn't get the maximum from the race in Japan, the mood in the team is still very positive. We know that the car is quick, but we were just unlucky in qualifying, which was a shame as I think I could have scored some points if I had started the race in a better position. We know that we have a very tough battle in the championship against Williams and BMW and so any points I can score in the final two races will be very important.
What memories do you have of racing in Brazil?
Interlagos is a circuit that will always be very special to me because I won both my world titles with Renault there. It's one of the most enjoyable races of the year because the fans are so passionate about Formula One and there is an amazing atmosphere all weekend.
Talk us through the challenge of racing at Interlagos...
The track surface is usually very bumpy so you need a car that can ride the bumps. As the circuit is anti-clockwise, it's more demanding for the drivers because there are several long left hand corners, which put high g-forces on your neck. To find the right set-up is not easy as there are quick corners, slow corners and a very long straight. The secret of a good lap-time is to have an efficient aero package and a car with good mechanical grip for the middle section of the lap.
Romain Grosjean: "Interlagos will be a great experience"
Romain, after five races, how are you finding life in Formula One? I'm just as happy as I was when I made my debut in Valencia in August. Being a Formula One driver has always been my dream and each time I get in the car still feels very special.
Interlagos will be another new experience -- are you looking forward to it?
Yes, I'm really excited about racing in Brazil and I don't want the season to end. Interlagos is probably not the easiest circuit, but it's a famous track and driving there will be a great experience for me.
How do you prepare for a new circuit?
There are two aspects to my preparation for Brazil. Firstly, because Interlagos is anti-clockwise, I have done lots of training, especially on my neck, to prepare for the physical demands of the track. Also, as I have never driven there before, I have been watching lots of videos to learn the circuit layout. I plan to arrive in Sao Paulo at the start of the week so I can walk the track and experience it for myself.
What are your aims for the weekend?
My objectives are to continue learning about Formula One and to gain experience so that I can improve and be as close to Fernando as possible. Hopefully I can have a trouble-free race, the car will be competitive, and I can score some points for the team.
Bob Bell: "We will take an aggressive approach to the end of the season"
Bob, after the podium in Singapore, the team was out of luck in Japan. Sum up the weekend for us...
It was disappointing that we came away without any points, especially as Fernando drove a very strong and aggressive race to make up six places. Ultimately we were hampered by the problems we encountered in qualifying, which meant Fernando started back in 16th place. Despite missing out on points, the team still did an excellent job and we can be reasonably satisfied that we got as much out of the race as we could given where we started. Our focus is now on the next couple of races and I believe that if we can qualify well, we can convert that performance into points.
The team faces a close fight in the constructors' championship -- chasing Williams and defending against BMW. Does that alter the approach to the final couple of races?
I don't think so. We go to every race determined to win and at the very least aiming to finish on the podium, and we're not going to alter our fundamental approach by being defensive to try and protect our position. The only way that we can come out on top relative to both those teams is to take an aggressive approach and try to maximise our finishing positions.
Interlagos is renowned as a bumpy and challenging track for the cars and the drivers -- what's the secret to going well there?
It's a demanding track for drivers as it's anti-clockwise which puts a lot of demands on them physically. In terms of the car, we will run with quite a lot of downforce and it's important to have a well-balanced car with good stability which gives the drivers confidence. We're also racing at altitude as the circuit is about 800 metres above sea level, which impacts on the power of the engine, so we will need to work on the mapping to optimise engine performance.
It was recently announced that Robert Kubica will drive for Renault in 2010. What has convinced you that he is the man to fulfil Renault's high ambitions for the future?
First and foremost he's a very quick and consistent driver who has clearly demonstrated his ability. He's also a real fighter who never gives up, which is a characteristic that fits well with our approach at Renault. Looking to the future, he is definitely somebody who is going to push the team and his hunger for success and leadership qualities on the racetrack will help motivate the team. Finally, on a personal level he is a genuinely nice guy who I believe will work well with our engineers and have a good relationship with the team.