"No better place to score a podium" - Renault enters home Grand Prix with high hopes The Mild Seven Renault F1 Team approaches its home Grand Prix at Magny-Cours this weekend with measured confidence, and Technical Director Mike...
"No better place to score a podium" - Renault enters home Grand Prix with high hopes
The Mild Seven Renault F1 Team approaches its home Grand Prix at Magny-Cours this weekend with measured confidence, and Technical Director Mike Gascoyne believes that both Jenson Button and Jarno Trulli are capable of points-scoring finishes .
The team has scored 14 World Championship points in the ten races so far this season but the podium celebrations have remained elusive for both drivers and Gascoyne believes France would be the perfect place to finally spray the champagne.
"We will certainly be looking for points and it would be great to improve on that at our home race," said Gascoyne. "That must be our aim. There would be no better place in the whole year to score a podium finish.
"We are expecting the same performance levels as we showed in the early part of the Silverstone race, where our recent work manifested itself well. There will be large numbers of senior personnel from Renault at the race and it would be great for the commitment they have shown to the F1 programme to be rewarded with a podium finish."
The medium-to-high downforce circuit will, according to Executive Director of Engineering Pat Symonds, present one of the most difficult challenges the team's engineers have faced all season.
"The track has a very smooth surface and it can be very hard work as it is extremely sensitive to track temperature, more so than other circuits," said Symonds. "That means the car tends to oversteer as the circuit warms up and this is a factor we must always keep in mind.
"Overall, you often find you are chasing the circuit with set-up. It is very easy for big understeer to build in turn two and, what's more, the circuit demands high speed changes of direction and good traction out of a number of slow corners.
"But the track surface allows us to run the car very stiff and run very low ride heights to pick up aerodynamic grip and no doubt we should be competitive. The car performs well aerodynamically, and we are very strong on traction although we may lose out a little in out-and-out acceleration compared to our nearest rivals."
The last race, at Silverstone, presented a real challenge for the Team, with the prevailing conditions exposing the current limits of tyre performance on a wet-dry circuit.
"We showed we are very competitive in the dry and we were running in points scoring positions close to the other top three teams at Silverstone," said Gascoyne. "We looked like getting in the points and we got the strategy right by getting the drivers into the pits quickly for the first stop. Subsequently, it was disappointing that the tyre performance did not allow us to be competitive.
"Tyres have always been critical and Silverstone only served to show what large differences tyres can make. All the Michelin runners know that their tyres are not as competitive as they should be in the wet and we were dreading those kind of conditions. The light rain and then a drying circuit allowed the Bridgestone intermediate to demonstrate its superiority, but they were probably the worst conditions possible for us."
Symonds agrees, but he remains unsure over which company will have the edge at Magny-Cours because of the constantly evolving circuit conditions.
"It is very hard to say who will have the tyre advantage at Magny-Cours," said Symonds. "It is a very particular circuit in terms of tyres, with the unique surface making it rather a low-grip circuit. Temperature sensitivity makes make the correct tyre choice, and we have found before that solutions we have found in testing do not correspond to conditions on race weekend.
"It is not particularly tough on tyre wear, but the traction events around circuit can lead to large amounts wear at the rear. There are high levels of degradation and generally teams will run a two stop strategy, but three stops have been tried in the past."