The Mild Seven Benetton Renault Sport team's technical staff look ahead to this weekend's Japanese Grand Prix, the final round of the 2001 season. The team spent last week testing with Mark Webber in Barcelona and although most of the programme...
The Mild Seven Benetton Renault Sport team's technical staff look ahead to this weekend's Japanese Grand Prix, the final round of the 2001 season. The team spent last week testing with Mark Webber in Barcelona and although most of the programme was for 2002, they also ran a number of set-up modifications aimed at Japan.
Now Technical Director Mike Gascoyne is looking forward to a positive result at Suzuka:
"The Japanese circuit at Suzuka is one of the most challenging circuits of the year, and certainly among the drivers' favourites, second only perhaps to Spa. We are confident of a strong result as the B201 has performed well at all types of circuit recently, and this form should continue in Japan.
"Tyres are the main unknown factor for the race, and Bridgestone will certainly be determined to maximise their home advantage, but Michelin's competitiveness throughout the year will provide a strong challenge at Suzuka as well."
Gascoyne said the team were disappointed not to have scored any points since Spa, given the car's recent improvements, but added that a new qualifying spec engine should help in Japan and that he is looking forward to 2002.
"It has been a long and difficult season, but in some respects, we are almost disappointed to see it end just as we are producing a competitive package. However, our recent improvements bode well for next year, and we are looking to carry this momentum through the winter and into 2002."
Director of Engineering Pat Symonds explained the challenges of the Suzuka circuit, which he feels rewards drivers with previous experience of the track:
"This is particularly true in the rain, which is not uncommon at this time of year, as the circuit requires the driver to take a completely different driving line in order to find grip.
"Suzuka is equally challenging in dry conditions, as the secret of a good lap time lies in getting the uphill complex behind the pits correct, and this means the car needs to respond accurately to steering inputs.
"The driver also needs good traction coming out of the final chicane in order to allow an opportunity to overtake into turn one, minimal understeer through the circuit's long corners and stability through the challenging 130R."
Symonds added that the circuit requires a reasonably high level of downforce, similar to Barcelona, and explained the elements that control race strategy here:
"The circuit is very aggressive on tyres and brings heavy fuel consumption. These factors combine to make it a two-stop race, although three stops have often been employed."