Renault managing director Flavio Briatore talks about the upcoming season
Q: What is your state of mind just over a month ahead of the first race of 2005?
Flavio Briatore: I am calm and confident. We made some important decisions in 2004, for example choosing to devote wind-tunnel time to the 2005 regulations in the summer even though it compromised our development late last season. But it was necessary to make that choice to reap the benefit this year. On the engine side, the new RS25 ran on the dyno for the first time in July 2004. Immediately, the reliability and performance were encouraging. The teams at Viry and Enstone have done a very impressive job.
Q: Do you feel like the collaboration between the two sites is now perfectly synchronised?
FB: It is improving all the time. In Formula One, you always need to be moving forwards, questioning your approach and getting better. Our two technical centres are work together effectively and this is reflected in the engine-chassis integration of the R25. The Renault Technocentre has also continued to provide valuable support in key technical areas.
Q: Your technical directors Bob Bell and Rob White seem to share the same values of hard work, professionalism and modesty...
FV: At Renault, we don't have any prima donnas. Everybody, from the security guards to the drivers, contributes to our successes. Discipline is an important value, as are rigour and the ability to hit targets. Rob and Bob work hard, and they are not concerned about appearing in the spotlight. The whole team shares that approach.
Q: Will the R25 be capable of challenging for victory?
FB: The situation will be the same as always: you do the best possible job over the winter, you make your choices, you design the car and then begin testing it. So will the R25 be competitive? I don't know. I can be confident that we have done our best, but we now need to wait for Melbourne to see where we stand relative to the competition.
Q: The new regulations must have made things even trickier...
FB: They did. When the engineers initially made the changes specified by the rules to the 2004 car, we lost around 25% of downforce. We have gained back part of that loss, but what have our competitors done? Furthermore, the tyre situation is completely different this year. With only one set of tyres for qualifying and the race, the work the tyre manufacturers have done during the winter will be crucial.
Q: What do you expect from your driver line-up?
FB: A lot. We expect dedication and performance, as they are responsible for the work of many people who work tirelessly to provide them with a winning car. Fernando and Giancarlo offer a combination of youth and experience, complemented by a competitive and aggressive attitude on the track. During the 2005 campaign, it will be key to score points regularly with both cars. We have high hopes for our drivers.
Q: Can you give us an overview of the team's commercial situation?
FB: With the current focus on cost-cutting in the sport, it is important to stress that we must also guarantee our revenues. At the Renault F1 Team, we pride ourselves on offering value to money to the companies who invest in us and as proof of this, we have not only maintained a stable partner line-up through the winter, but also concluded a new partnership agreement for the team in the past few days.
Q: What is your opinion on the state of F1 today?
FB: The new regulations were important to slow the cars down, as they would have become dangerous had we not taken steps. We now need to offer close racing, forget about the polemics and concentrate on the sport itself. Cost cutting is a priority, and we have ideas about how to do that. But I am optimistic: the 2005 season could well prove to be very closely-fought.