Comments from the Renault team ahead of the Canadian Grand Prix Fernando Alonso Q: Fernando, you had a fantastic race at the Nurburgring -- have you recovered from the excitement of the final laps? FA: Yes, of course. It was a great race,...
Comments from the Renault team ahead of the Canadian Grand Prix
Q: Fernando, you had a fantastic race at the Nurburgring -- have you recovered from the excitement of the final laps?
FA: Yes, of course. It was a great race, and a fantastic one to win, although it would have been quite tough to catch Kimi, I think. Especially, it was a good win for the team, not just me, because we were feeling quite down after our performance in Monaco and this was the perfect way for us to fight back, and show everybody we are serious contenders for the title.
However, everybody starts talking about the championship now just because I have a big lead, but we have only had just over one third of the season so far. This is not when you win a title -- that comes in the final races. Until then, we are focusing on each race as it comes, and trying to do the maximum at every circuit.
Q: What do you think of the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal?
FA: Before we go there we do tests to simulate the downforce levels, so it is not a complete surprise when we drive on the first day, but the car still feels very light -- it is quite nervous, so you need to find the right limit between attacking for a good lap-time, and not attacking too much.
The chicanes can be tricky, because you must balance an attacking style with being careful not to crash. But I enjoy the circuit and since I have been with Renault, I have had good races there, so I am optimistic.
Q: How do you expect the R25 to perform?
FA: I said after the Nurburgring that during the race, the car had felt good to drive again -- I could attack all the way to the end of the race, and did not have to be defensive like in Spain and Monaco. I hope that will be true again in Canada.
Every year I have been there with Renault, we have been quick in Montreal -- with the R23 I set fastest lap, and with the R24 we were in a position to win, so with this year's car, there is no reason not to expect a podium or perhaps the victory, as long as we have no problems during the weekend. I am really confident that the car will be competitive there.
Q: Giancarlo, the Nurburgring was another frustrating race for you -- but you delivered a great drive. After climbing through the field, how did you feel?
GF: For me, the feeling when I finished sixth was frustration, because I know it could have been a lot better -- I had started from my original position in ninth, the podium could have been a possibility with the package we had at the Nurburgring. Unfortunately, the problem with the car dropped me to the back of the grid and I had to fight my way through and get three important points.
But as I have said before, I know that the team is working hard for me and Fernando, and that it is important for us to get both cars in the points, and in good positions, at every race. So far, the season since Australia has been frustrating, but I am driving well and maybe just need some more luck...
Q: Tell us about the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve...
FA: It is a great circuit for me. It is tough for the brakes, there are the chicanes where you need to be precise and the track surface is very slippery, so it is quite easy to make mistakes. But I just feel confident with the car every time I go there. I feel comfortable with the low downforce levels, and I seem to find the limit straight away. I am very optimistic.
Q: And what about your objectives for the race?
FA: I am feeling very confident. Renault were quick there last year, and personally, I have had four podiums at this circuit and even last year with Sauber, I finished in fourth position. Looking at qualifying, I will be going out near the end of the session which means we will have some more options with the strategy, so things are set up for a good race. As long as the preparations are trouble free, I think we will have a good enough car to be aiming for at least the podium.
Pat Symonds, Executive Director of Engineering
Q: Pat, the team leads the Constructors' Championship by 23 points after seven races -- does that mean the pressure is on?
PS: I think in Formula 1, the pressure is on everybody, all the way through -- until your position in the championship is fixed. Certainly, though, the way you approach that pressure changes: last year, we were secure in our third position, and knew therefore that in order to try and catch BAR, we had to be adventurous in every area.
This year, we are just over one third of the way through the season, and we have a reasonable lead in the championship but it is far from unassailable. There is perhaps a little more conservatism in some of our choices, because we cannot afford to make mistakes, but we equally do not have the luxury of thinking too conservatively because just a single non-finish, with our rivals scoring well, will turn things around -- as McLaren saw at the last race.
In a season as long as this, with the number of races we have coming up in the next two months, everything can turn around in the space of a fortnight. Even after Canada and the USA, we will not quite have reached the halfway point of the season -- and that means we need to continue pushing throughout the summer to protect, and extend, our lead.
Q: The Nurburgring was a true 'bounce-back' result -- was that a source of satisfaction?
PS: Yes, the result in Germany was particularly satisfying. Any strong finish brings a measure of satisfaction, but the feeling is greater when you bounce back from a poor result, because it reveals the true character of the team. When things go wrong, it is very easy to make knee-jerk reactions. We analysed carefully what had happened in Monaco, we were honest with ourselves, and staged a strong comeback. That is pleasing to see.
Q: When it comes to bouncing back, Giancarlo has had his fair share of problems to overcome in the first seven races...
PS: That is true, and it is a preoccupation for us. However, I don't think it is correct to view this as a trend -- it has been a sequence of isolated incidents and from our point of view, they are reliability problems that we need to solve, because they could as easily have affected both cars and left us in a weaker championship position.
But looking at the races Giancarlo has driven, I think they have been some of the best of the year -- the drives in Spain and at the Nurburgring were fantastic, and full of character. In Germany, he undoubtedly had a good strategy, but that does not allow you to gain positions on its own -- you have to make the strategy work. Giancarlo did that to remarkable effect.
Q: Looking at the rest of the season, tyre management has had a lot of attention in recent weeks. Will that be the key for fighting to the championship?
PS: Tyre management will be important, as we have said it would be since last winter, but reliability will be the crucial factor. Last year, we lost a huge amount of momentum with non-finishes in Canada and a single-car finish in Indy, when we should have been very strong. That was critical to our season, and the same will apply this year. When you have a low-scoring race through reliability problems, and your opponents score highly, that is when you are really punished.
Q: Finally, what will be the team's approach to Canada?
PS: We are going there to win. I think this team knows how to make a car work in Montreal -- historically, we have been very successful at this circuit. Aerodynamic efficiency is very important -- minimising drag while getting the right level of downforce. Equally the circuit demands good traction, which we have, while we understood a number of important lessons about managing traction demands after Monaco. Both our drivers like the circuit, so the mood is very optimistic.