Bob Bell, the Renault F1 Team's Chassis Technical Director, discusses the challenges of the 2006 World Championship. Q: Bob, what is your assessment of the overall competitiveness of the F1 field this season? Bob Bell: I think the level was ...
Bob Bell, the Renault F1 Team's Chassis Technical Director, discusses the challenges of the 2006 World Championship.
Q: Bob, what is your assessment of the overall competitiveness of the F1 field this season?
Bob Bell: I think the level was similar to what we saw in 2005. There were two teams in front, and the rest of the grid fighting behind them. I think overall reliability was better this year, and the level of performance took another step forward. But that's no surprise. In aerodynamics, for example, an annual gain of 10 to 15% in not usual in a calendar year. What's more, there was a very intense battle between the two tyre manufacturers.
Q: Looking at the R26, the first thing people saw was that it was a good-looking car...
BB: It was magnificent. Naturally, the regulations dictate almost all the proportions of a modern Formula 1 car. But the R26 was very elegant.
Q: What were its strengths?
BB: It was always a very consistent car. It was easy to set up, and was competitive on every type of circuit. It gave the drivers a lot of confidence. It had excellent basic performance. And it's now the world champion!
Q: You developed the car throughout the year. If it was taken to Bahrain right now, including all the development that has been conducted through the year...
BB: It would be at least a second a lap faster.
Q: It goes without saying that the atmosphere in the team now is fantastic. But you had a challenging year at many points, and the summer was the toughest part. How did the team respond then?
BB: First of all, I think that when the tuned mass dampers were banned*, it made everybody much more determined. We wanted to prove that we could win without them. There is really strong morale in the team and we went through some turbulent times, but we didn't give up. We accepted the results, and kept on working. The attitude of our colleagues in Viry was identical. That's one of the things that makes me proud about 2006: in spite of all the difficulties we had, we never lost faith.
*The team raced without the TMD from Hockenheim onwards.