Comments from the Renault team ahead of the Italian Grand Prix Fernando Alonso: Q: McLaren were very competitive in Turkey -- is that a worry for you? FA: McLaren are very quick, there's no doubt, but Monza is a completely different circuit...
Comments from the Renault team ahead of the Italian Grand Prix
Q: McLaren were very competitive in Turkey -- is that a worry for you?
FA: McLaren are very quick, there's no doubt, but Monza is a completely different circuit to any other, so we approach it feeling confident. We have had good straightline speed all year, and that is one of the things you need there. So it could be a good race for us.
Q: What is it like to drive at Monza?
FA: It is a legendary circuit, with an important place in the history of Formula 1, so to win there would be something special. You have the highest average speed in the championship, so it is a good feeling for the driver -- I like the combination of speed and risk.
Q: How do you need to adapt the car?
FA: You need a very specific set-up there. The team builds new parts only for this race, because it is very strange from an aero point of view with very low downforce, and you need good grip in the corners from the mechanical balance and the tyres. Also, the tyres can get cold on the straights which makes it hard to have good grip in the corners, but Michelin understand the challenge, and they have been fantastic so far this year.
Q: What is your view on the championship position?
FA: It is the same as before Turkey -- as long as we finish the races, we are OK. If we are competitive and can get on the podium, then it will be hard to lose my advantage. The advantage we have is that I can still afford some bad races and not lose the lead. McLaren have pressure to be perfect until China, and if they are not, we will be there to punish them.
Q: Giancarlo, tell us about your feelings on Monza...
GF: It is my second home Grand Prix, and a very important weekend because a lot of fans come to cheer me on. I won there in F3, but have never been on the podium in F1, and I want to do it this year. I like the circuit, even though the speeds make it a little dangerous, but it is an impressive place to drive.
Q: What are your goals for the rest of the year?
GF: To try and help Renault win both championships. The constructors' championship is really important to us, so I need to score as many points as possible, and try to win another race if I can.
Q: And what about Monza -- will it be a race you enjoy?
GF: Yes. We run with very, very low downforce, so corners like turn 1 are difficult -- you have to stop the car from 360 kph to 60 kph in first gear, and that's really difficult. But there are nice corners too: the Lesmos, and high-speed curves at Ascari and Parabolica, which I really enjoy.
Q: There have been suggestions that Renault used team orders in Turkey, after some radio traffic was broadcast on live TV during the race...
FB:If others think they need to try and pressure us by saying that then it is a good sign, but it doesn't bother us. I am surprised nobody has asked why viewers heard those comments on live TV? The answer is that our team doesn't believe in unnecessary secrecy, and we have nothing to hide.
Q: Even so, it wasn't difficult for Fernando to overtake Giancarlo...
FB: Giancarlo is a team player. He had problems with his tyres in the first laps, and Fernando was faster -- something we told Fisico over the radio. So when Fernando got alongside him, he didn't fight his team-mate. It is not about team orders, it is about working as a team.
Q: Are you worried about not winning races as the season draws to a close?
FB: No. We have already shown we can do that this year, with both drivers. Our sport is not about dominating at one moment or another, but about scoring points progressively through the season. As far as I know, the driver who wins the championship is still the man with the most points at the end, and nothing else.
Q: Even so, the battle for the teams' title is getting close...
FB: Things are much closer with only a nine point gap, but I am still confident. McLaren are the ones who need to take risks and attack all the time. Let's see how the next races unfold...