Denis Chevrier, chief race engineer, sums up the first three races for the ING Renault F1 Team, and also talks about the partnership with Red Bull Racing. Q: Denis, the ING Renault F1 Team had had a difficult start to the season. What is the ...
Denis Chevrier, chief race engineer, sums up the first three races for the ING Renault F1 Team, and also talks about the partnership with Red Bull Racing.
Q: Denis, the ING Renault F1 Team had had a difficult start to the season. What is the engineer's point of view?
Denis Chevrier: It's true. The first three rounds of the 2007 championship have been very closely fought, and it's been difficult for the team. Where the engine's concerned our reliability level's pretty good so far; we've had a few issues but nothing dramatic, and we've brought our two cars to the finish in all three events, which is satisfying.
Q: Where would you situate the ING Renault F1 Team in relation to the others?
DC: This year competition is very tough and up to now we've clearly been in the role of challenger. At present it's very difficulty for us to compete for a place on the rostrum so our aim is to score points with both cars. In Bahrain we saw just how small the gaps are in qualifying. As things stand at present, we can't allow ourselves to lose even one of two tenths as it's what'll allow us to make it into the qualifying shootout: it's not the same race when you start from sixth or seventh place on the grid as when it's from eleventh.
Q: In the present context has your job as an engineer changed?
DC: No, not really. Our way of working remains the same whether we're fighting for the title or running into a few difficulties, as is the case this season. We're working with the same tried and tested methods, the same timetable and the same people. We just have to learn how to get more out of our package in the present circumstances.
Q: What's the mood like in Viry-Chätillon after the results of the first three races?
DC: We had a very busy winter; we worked hard during winter testing and everybody, whether in Viry or Enstone, was eagerly awaiting the first three races. In 2006, we had scored forty-six points and in 2007 the total so far is nine after three events. We've changed from favourite to outsider, and it's not easy to accept. But we're racers and it is in adversity that a team shows its true mettle. We're determined to fight, and we know that our efforts will pay off in the end.
Q: How is the Viry factory coping with the team's performance deficit at this point in the season?
DC: We realise how difficult it is to put together the right car-engine-driver-tyre package: many teams never do. Our frustration today is not entirely related to the team's results. We're frustrated by the present regulations, which have really robbed us of the possibility of making the difference as engine engineers. In the past, if the team was lacking performance, the engine group was able to play a crucial role in overcoming the lack of performance. This season it's much more limited. But to answer your question, there is no sense of disappointment or of a downturn in the team's morale. What there is is even greater determination.
Q: What conclusions can you draw concerning your partnership with Red Bull after three races?
DC: It's a young team so there's a lot to do and a lot to be set up. But we're progressing step by step. For the moment there are still a few problems to be ironed out to enable both cars to see the chequered flag, but the performance level, especially in Bahrain, is very encouraging for the team members. The Renault personnel posted to Red Bull worked very hard this winter and they're happy in what is now their team. So far the collaboration between Renault and Red Bull has been very rewarding, and everybody is doing their level best to succeed, and we hope it will be a fruitful partnership.