The ING Renault F1 Team looks forward to round thirteen of the season, the Italian Grand Prix at Monza. Fernando Alonso: "I believe we can finish the year strongly" Fernando, it was a disappointing weekend in Spa -- tell us about ...
The ING Renault F1 Team looks forward to round thirteen of the season, the Italian Grand Prix at Monza.
Fernando Alonso: "I believe we can finish the year strongly"
Fernando, it was a disappointing weekend in Spa -- tell us about your race...
It was very frustrating as we missed another good opportunity to fight for a podium and score important points. It's true that we were missing pace in qualifying, but the car was more competitive in the race and things were looking good until my first pitstop when it became clear that the car was damaged.
Do you think your luck will change in Monza?
I hope so because we have a competitive car but we haven't been able to show the true potential so far. We saw how quick the car was at the Nurburgring, Budapest and Valencia, but for various reasons we haven't scored the points that we should have. However, I always look forward, try to stay positive and will approach the rest of the season believing that we can finish the year strongly. At least we know that we have a car that is fast enough to get close to the podium, which will be my aim this weekend in Monza.
Tell us about the challenge of racing at Monza?
It's a special track and the fastest of the year so we run the car with a special low downforce package which means the car feels very strange and light because you miss a bit of grip in the corners. In the past we used to test at Monza before the race as you need a special set-up with the car, but obviously we can't do that now which means we have a lot of work to do on Friday to find a good balance. You need a car that has good straight-line speed, is stable under braking and can use the curbs in the chicanes.
Romain Grosjean: "I'm looking forward to driving in Monza"
Romain, Spa was only your second Grand Prix, but it was short-lived...
Yes, my race was very disappointing. I had some problems in qualifying so I started at the back of the grid, but at the start of the race things were looking good as I made up five or six places on the first lap. Then I got caught up in the incident at turn five. It was frustrating to retire so early as I need as much time in the car as possible and I really wanted to finish my first race at Spa, which is a circuit that I love.
What do you think of Monza?
It's another classic track and I'm really looking forward to driving there. I've had good results there in the past and I know the track well so I can concentrate on finding a good balance with the car with low downforce. We will be using KERS this weekend so I will need to get used to that during free practice on Friday as I've not used it before, but it should give us an advantage, especially at the start of the race.
Have you set an objective for this weekend?
My aim is to do better than I did in Spa so I need to make it through to at least Q2, get a good grid position and finish the race. At the moment I am still learning about Formula One and I will continue to use every opportunity and every lap to improve as a driver and help the team. I'm continuing to build a good relationship with my engineers, which of course plays an important role in getting the most from the car.
Pat Symonds: "The team is competitive, the drivers are motivated and the car continues to improve"
Pat, a promising Belgian Grand Prix ended in disappointment. Sum up the team's weekend for us...
The Belgian Grand Prix was one of the most puzzling races I've been to for a long time and it was very odd to see a grid that was so mixed up. However, we tried to make the most of it and although it was unfortunate to lose Romain so early in the race, Fernando had the potential to have a good race and looked strong in the early laps. He was fuelled for a long first stint and the car seemed to be working well despite the damage that had occurred on the first lap, which had reduced the car's downforce. Unfortunately at the first pitstop we realised the car was damaged and Fernando had to retire.
Are you pleased with how Romain is progressing as a Formula One driver?
His first race in Valencia impressed me a lot as he continually improved; found the limits of the car; kept out of trouble and had a solid race. In Spa I was impressed with him again, particularly in the wet free practice because it was the first time he had driven a Formula One car in the wet. In qualifying he didn't get a perfect lap and was unlucky with traffic, and then in the race he got caught up in the incident with Button. That was a shame as it would have been valuable for him to gain some more experience in racing conditions.
The team plans to use KERS in Monza. Why will it be such an advantage there?
There are three aspects of KERS that need to be considered: lap time, the advantage it gives from the start, and the ability to assist overtaking. Firstly, the gain in lap time of running KERS in Monza is likely to be around a quarter of a second and it's worth even more in qualifying as you can do one release before you start a timed lap and another release during the timed lap. In terms of the advantage at the start, it's a long way from the grid to the first corner in Monza and KERS will give an advantage of well over fifteen metres compared with non-KERS cars. For assisting overtaking, you have to remember that Monza is a circuit where it's very difficult to overtake, but running KERS certainly won't disadvantage us in that respect. All these factors combine to make Monza a very favourable circuit for KERS.
How do you expect the R29 to cope with the high-speed challenge of Monza?
The car should perform well there. We will use a totally different low downforce aero package, which has between 10 and 15% less downforce than the package we ran at Spa. Monza is very much about braking; traction; change of direction in chicanes and although it's a high-speed track there are no real high-speed corners. Overall I think that the R29 is performing well on all types of track and Monza should be no exception.
So far the team has failed to realise its potential. Can things turnaround in the final five races?
I don't see why not. The car has continuously improved as it did last year. It hasn't achieved the results for a number of reasons this year, but the team is competitive, the drivers are motivated and the car continues to improve so I believe we can perform well in the last five races.