Comments from the Renault team ahead of the Japanese Grand Prix Fernando Alonso Q: Fernando, looking at the Japanese Grand Prix -- is it just another race, or the start of a new era for you? FA: Both, I think. I expect there will be a lot of...
Comments from the Renault team ahead of the Japanese Grand Prix
Q: Fernando, looking at the Japanese Grand Prix -- is it just another race, or the start of a new era for you?
FA: Both, I think. I expect there will be a lot of attention, a lot of questions, a lot of cameras when we get there. But when I get in the car, then I will be working like normal. We have a race to do, and another championship to win. I believe the truth is that we have been the best in this 2005 season, and I will be working at full power now, with Fisi, to win the constructors' title too. I think we can do it.
Q: Do you enjoy Suzuka?
FA: Oh yes, I always enjoy Japan. It is very technical and complex, and all the drivers feel very good there -- there are lots of high speed corners, and that is a big challenge. It is very complicated for the engineers as well, and getting the set-up right is a good challenge for them. Plus we always enjoy the weekend because there are so many fans there supporting F1, which means we have a great atmosphere.
Q: There is always the risk of bad weather -- last year, we had a typhoon!
FA: That's not a problem. We saw already in Spa that the tyres are fantastic this year, and we managed the whole race there with the same type of tyre. It started wet, it was dry at the end, and the tyres were working well. Bad weather could be a key part of the weekend, but with Michelin tyres, we are ready for any challenge. They have done a fantastic job this year.
Q: Fisico, how did things go for you in Brazil?
GF: Obviously, it was a great weekend for the team, with Fernando's win: I helped him celebrate late into the night! But from my point of view, it was a tough afternoon on Sunday. The car had oversteer from the start, and it was hard work with that and the tyres to get a good pace all the way through the race. In the end, I think the best I could have finished was fourth, so we only lost one point, but it definitely wasn't as good as I had hoped on Saturday night.
Q: So what about Japan -- it is a big battle for the constructors' title...
GF: Yes, it will be a big fight. Japan is another really great circuit, with a very challenging first sector and lots of long left-hand corners that can be hard for the neck. You need a good engine because there are a few long flat out sections, good downforce and good traction to get speed out of the last corner and over the start-finish line.
Q: Will you enjoy the weekend?
GF: For sure -- we are not at McLaren's level in terms of pure speed, but we are closer. I have a great feeling at this circuit, because it is one of my favourite tracks, and the fans are fantastic. I have a fan club in Japan, who I will be seeing on Friday night, and that adds something special to the weekend as well. I am really looking forward to racing in Suzuka.
Bob Bell, Technical Director
Q: Bob, can you tell us about the atmosphere within the team at the moment?
BB: It is just fantastic. There was a great function at Enstone on Sunday, with 150 people watching the race, and the feeling spilled over into Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday... Morale is at an all-time high.
Q: Have people forgotten about the other championship?
BB: That is what has been interesting: there is no sign anybody is now thinking they can relax. We are determined to go win the constructors' title, to do whatever it takes, but also happy in the knowledge of what has already been achieved. There is a lightness to the approach, but it hasn't undermined our determination and resolve.
Q: Fernando was in the factory on Tuesday -- that must have meant a lot...
BB: It did -- it meant a huge amount to people. He came in earlier this year after the win in France, and that was really appreciated. It really is special for the people who don't get to travel to the races, and there was a fantastic atmosphere on Tuesday.
Q: Are there still technical developments coming on the car?
BB: We have got a suspension update in Japan, and some new aero parts -- we are transferring things we find during the development of the R26 where possible. Of course, the main update to come is the E spec engine in China, which should be a good step forward.
Q: Will the team's approach change in the final races?
BB I think our risk management may change a little, but not much. The reality is that the team which drops a race finish from either car in the last two races will probably lose the title. So we cannot afford to forget any of our attention to detail, or compromise our reliability in an attempt to be more aggressive on performance. But we will certainly push harder than we have in recent races.
Q: And how about Fernando? Surely he can drive differently now?
BB: Certainly I think he will be more aggressive in his driving style now -- he won't be an easy man to overtake in Japan and China. But his real strength is that he is an intelligent guy, and knows when it is right and safe to push. He will carry on doing that, I am sure.
Q: What about Giancarlo -- his result in Brazil seemed slightly lost amidst the celebrations...
BB: I don't think Fisi had a great race, but that happens sometimes. For whatever reason, the way the tyres performed during the race suited him less well than Fernando. But Fisi has clearly proved that he is as good as anybody on his day. His driver at Spa was stunning -- he may have gone off, but he was really on it in the opening laps. He had a good race in Japan last year, and he will have a big role to play in these last races.
Q: Finally, the wind tunnel model of the R26 now sports a number '1' on its nose, painted on Sunday night -- how is development going?
BB: It is progressing well. The project timing is on schedule. On the performance side, the stable aero regulations mean that gains are harder to find than they were this time last year, but the development is ticking along nicely.