Test driver Allan McNish tells what he's been up to in the summer break and how things are going with Renault. Q: We're in the middle of the testing ban at the moment, what have you been up to in the meantime? Allan McNish. Photo by...
Test driver Allan McNish tells what he's been up to in the summer break and how things are going with Renault.
Q: We're in the middle of the testing ban at the moment, what have you been up to in the meantime?
I'm also doing lots of work in the gym. Thinking ahead to Budapest there are lots of corners and not much in the way of straights so it's a very physical track - and it's going to be hot. At the practice on the Friday I'll pretty much cover the full race distance so it's essential to do a lot of work on my shoulders to allow me to perform properly.
Q: Where are you next testing?
AM: The team's at Monza on September 3rd and 4th and they'll be focussing on the elements important for the Italian GP. Monza's the last of the very low downforce circuits where braking, stability and the ability to change direction quickly are really important, as well as top speed. Last year I reached a top speed of 361.5km/h on this circuit - that's about 220mph, not bad going!
Q: You've been at Renault since January now, how do you feel you've fit in with the team?
AM: It's a great team to be part of and I've had a really productive and fulfilling season with them so far. With Renault signing up to the Heathrow agreement, the role of test driver carries far more significance and my previous test experience for McLaren and Benetton, along with my drive at Toyota last year have given me all the tools to do a valuable job for Renault. I really enjoy working with Jarno and Fernando; we all have a similar outlook on things F1-related and are able to pool our experiences - if one of us learns something then it's directly transferable to the other cars. Through this process, I've been able to have some input into the races which has been satisfying in its own way.
Q: What are your thoughts on Renault's performance so far this season?
AM: We're doing better than I thought we would actually! At this point in the season both Fernando and Jarno are in the top eight - in 6th and 8th respectively - and the team is fourth in the Constructors. Our performance has been consistent throughout the season and we're continuing to build on that. Between now and the end of the season we've got a good chance to fight for podium positions in every race and so the team is very upbeat at the moment. So roll on the last four races!
Q: We've seen a fair bit of you on ITV talking about some of the ins and outs of Formula 1, how's that going?
AM: I'm really enjoying it actually and it has given me the chance to see Formula 1 from yet another angle. The race weekends are always manic, there's all kinds of team and sponsor activity to do, but the ITV interviews are pretty quick so they fit into my schedule quite nicely! In Canada I had a bigger role to play because I was in the studio standing in for Mark Blundell - I'd love the opportunity to do a bit more of that kind of thing.
Q: There's been a lot of discussion about Silverstone and whether it will keep it's place on the calendar next season, what are your thoughts on the matter?
AM: It's really difficult when people start comparing the facilities at a track that's been around for 50 years and has been added to over time to those at a brand new, purpose built grand prix circuit. Silverstone's got a lot of history behind it, as a track it's one of the most exciting of the season and it's at the centre of the motor racing world. It would be awful if it was to disappear off the calendar as well as being a huge loss to the British motor sport industry, and in my opinion it would have an impact on the potential of future British F1 drivers.
There's also the recent news that Montreal's been dropped. Canada was a race that everyone enjoyed for a number of reasons. Montreal itself is a great place to go and the Canadians always got behind the race and gave us such a welcome. It was also the break in the middle of the European section of the season and produced some really exciting races, and invariably a new winner, so it will be missed.
Q: Who's your money on to win the championship?
AM: I think Michael's going to do it this year - and he'll deserve it. Last season Ferrari dominated on so many fronts, but this year's package is not the best on the grid: I think Michael's done a great job with it.