Comments from the Renault team ahead of the Chinese Grand Prix
Heikki Kovalainen: "Show what we are capable of"
Q: Heikki, you scored your first ever career podium last Sunday in Japan. A special moment?
HK: Absolutely. It was a good reward for me, but also the whole team. After a difficult start to the year, I think it was good for everyone in the team to have this small success, which is something they were used to during the past two seasons when they won the world titles. It is a good boost to the morale to try and finish the season in the best way possible.
Q: China is another new circuit for you, what are your expectations?
HK: It is another one of the new F1 races, and like in Japan there is a very special atmosphere. The spectators are still learning about the sport, and they are very enthusiastic. The whole Grand Prix week in Shanghai will be enjoyable but at the track, I want to get into a good rhythm as soon as possible on Friday and make the most of each practice session, because I have never driven here before.
Q: What do you think of the circuit itself?
HK: I have been watching and working from the recordings of past races, especially the on-board camera views, and I would say that the circuit is a bit like Bahrain. There are some long straights, quick changes of direction and some heavy braking areas. At this kind of circuit, you need a very good aero balance on the car to be quick through the fast, flowing sections.
We pay a lot of attention to achieving good braking stability because you can gain a lot of time there. The important thing will be to work well on Friday, to find the limits for qualifying and the race. We are determined to show what the car is really capable of during these final two races.
Giancarlo Fisichella: "Keep up the momentum to finish the year strongly"
Q: Giancarlo, the Japanese Grand Prix was run in heavy rain, conditions you excel in...
GF: I have always felt comfortable driving in the wet. In Japan, the car didn't have a perfect set-up for the conditions because we had hoped it would be dry on Sunday. There was a lot of aquaplaning, and I was fighting with the car, but I still got to fifth place after what was probably one of the hardest races of my career! The points I scored were valuable and it was a very strong team result.
Q: Do you enjoy the Chinese Grand Prix?
GF: Yes, I do. It is a driver's circuit, and also a big challenge for the engineers to find the right set-up for the different sections of the track. Fortunately, we have plenty of time to find the right settings during the Friday practice sessions.
Q: What areas do you focus on when tuning the car set-up?
GF: The circuit includes some long straights and high speed corners but also a number of slow speed sections. As always, the key will be to find the best solution between having a stable, neutral car in the high speed curves and good straightline speed to overtake competitors on the straights. We will be fine-tuning the aero levels to find the best compromise from Friday onwards.
Alan Permane: "Win or lose, the effort never changes"
Q: Alan, the team achieved its best result of 2007 last weekend in Japan. What was the feeling afterwards?
AP: It was very satisfying, because everything worked out right. We had a good strategy, the pit-stops went well, and both drivers did a great job to stay on track in very tricky conditions. We scored twelve points, more than any other team has managed in a single weekend this year apart from McLaren and Ferrari. It was a very good result for the entire team.
Q: Heikki scored his first career podium too with a tenacious drive...
AP: He did a great job holding off Kimi in the closing stages. He and the team had a tough start to the season, and it was nice to see him rewarded for all his hard work on Sunday. A lot of people were writing him off earlier this year, but we worked together and he has bounced back from it all. He just doesn't ever give up and he stayed calm all the way through a pretty chaotic race. His racing is going from strength to strength at the moment.
Q: What are your expectations for the forthcoming race in Shanghai?
AP: We are feeling very positive, not just because of the result in Japan but also thanks to the basic performance of the car. We looked competitive in dry conditions at Fuji on Friday, and Shanghai is not too dissimilar in its demands. We have continued adding performance to the car over the last races, and I am confident that a straightforward weekend, in dry conditions, will allow us to transform that improved potential into results.
Q: And presumably, the team is on a high after Sunday's race...
AP: The effort never changes, whether you are winning or losing. Both factories, the test team, the race team -- everybody has been working at full capacity this year. When you are winning, it is easy to see the rewards. When you are not, it makes life tougher, but our commitment has never wavered. Our result in Fuji was a good first reward for all the efforts that have been made this year but everybody is still pushing hard, both for the end of this season and especially for 2008.
Over at Red Bull Racing, with Fabrice Lom
Q: Fabrice, the team saw a fantastic opportunity go begging on Sunday in Japan, when Webber was knocked out of second place, but David scored a strong result even so...
Fabrice Lom: It was a good finish, but the race still left a bitter taste because of what might have been. Still, it is in the past now and what we need to remember is that our car-engine-driver package was performing very well. The target is to achieve the same thing at the next race in China.
Q: China is the penultimate round of the 2007 season, and it is also the second race for the engine in each car. Is that a worry?
FL: No, not really. The fact that the engines ran all weekend in wet conditions in Fuji should not prove to be a problem. We have good filtration of the water, the engines are in good condition and wet running is less demanding in terms of reliability. That means their second race weekend in Shanghai shouldn't be too difficult, especially because it is not generally a circuit we consider demanding for the V8. So we are going into the race in a calm frame of mind.
Q: Do you think you will be able to put in a strong performance in China?
FL: We worked on our preparations for the Chinese Grand Prix a few weeks ago in Jerez, especially in terms of the aero package. The car performed very well and we made good progress during what was a promising test. Hopefully, that will all come to fruition in Shanghai, and allow us to move ahead of Williams. We are feeling confident ahead of this race.