Bob Bell, the Renault F1 Team's Chassis Technical Director, talks about progress with the R26, ahead of its debut on track next week.
Q: Bob, can you give us an update on progress with the R26?
Bob Bell: The team has done a fantastic job so far. The programme for the R26 was very tight, and that put pressure on everybody to rise to the challenge of producing the car on time. However, the car build went smoothly, and we began static testing of the first chassis here at Enstone before Christmas. We are on time, and that does great credit to the whole team.
Q: What can you learn from static testing?
BB: The chassis testing rig allows us to confirm the basic structural characteristics of the car, as well as providing an initial understanding of its dynamic responses. The car has met our criteria, and we have seen the improvements we hoped for.
Q: Before Christmas, the team tested with a restricted V10 engine in the R25 chassis, rather than running a hybrid car. What did you learn?
BB: When it comes to winter testing, there is no single, right answer -- only a correct solution for each different set of circumstances, which vary for every team. Running with a restricted V10 until the New Year, and then bringing out the definitive package very early, was the best option for Renault. Our testing went very well, we ran reliably and learned a lot, particularly about the differences in chassis set-up for 2006.
Q: How is the atmosphere within the team at the moment?
BB: We are all excited about starting work with the new car. Our figures from the wind tunnel are good, the engine has given strong results in terms of performance and reliability over Christmas, so we now want to start learning about the R26 on the track. The focus has been on getting the car out early to maximise our mileage ahead of the opening race, and ensure it is fully reliable for Bahrain. We have a busy two months ahead, but it is a challenge we relish.