Fernando's 'cruise' to second, reliability issues and an update on this week's Silverstone test. Taking it easy? There have been suggestions that Fernando Alonso has gone into cruise and collect mode at the end of the season, scoring points ...
Fernando's 'cruise' to second, reliability issues and an update on this week's Silverstone test.
Taking it easy?
There have been suggestions that Fernando Alonso has gone into cruise and collect mode at the end of the season, scoring points without making much effort in terms of chasing race wins. Yesterday, he seemed to confirm this when he said that he had backed off for much of the race. But as ever in Formula 1, the gap between truth and appearances was wide...
"The car was very difficult in the high speed corners," explained Fernando. "You could feel the rear end moving around a lot, and that's not what you need at this kind of circuit! It's strange, because the feeling wasn't there in the dry, but I had a couple of really big slides in Eau Rouge during the race..."
"The back end stepped out, but luckily I managed to correct the car and get off the throttle. Blanchimont was difficult as well with this feeling in the car so after that I was careful in the high speed sections and a little bit conservative." Conservative, perhaps -- but cruising? That's just not Fernando's style.
The Renault F1 Team changed Giancarlo Fisichella's V10 after fourth practice on Saturday, following the detection of a valve problem from Monza. For Denis Chevrier, this was once more proof that reliability is a moving target for any engineer...
"You can never take reliability for granted," explains the team's Head of Engine Operations. "This is a demanding arena, and we are constantly trying to push back performance boundaries while maintaining an acceptable level of risk. The major regret from the weekend in Spa was that we failed to meet the standards we have set ourselves since the start of the year."
"Modern F1 demands constant excellence, and Giancarlo's non-finish is one more proof of how the smallest of mistakes can compromise a race weekend. In the end, his penalty made life more difficult than it should have been, and he had to go on the attack from the outset to try and make up ground."
Not only that, but a gamble with race set-up failed to pay off for the team. "The wet conditions really deprived us of a number of potential advantages in yesterday's race," explained Denis Chevrier. "Wet conditions make life much easier than usual for the engines, because Eau Rouge is no longer taken flat -- and that means the longest continuous period of full throttle is cut from 20 seconds, one of the longest of the year, to half that."
"Given that prolonged periods at full throttle are particularly demanding for an engine, this undoubtedly meant we were unable to press home any reliability advantage we might have had over Raikkonen's engine. Secondly, we had opted for a very raceable set-up for dry conditions: we took a strategic decision to ensure the car was quick in the first sector, where it is possible to overtake at this circuit."
"Other people clearly ran a different compromise in terms of their downforce level, which could be seen from the straightline speeds in qualifying, and had the circuit dried fifteen or twenty minutes sooner, it would have been very interesting to see how things turned out. As it was, we never got the chance."
The team will test this week with Fernando, Giancarlo and Heikki at Silverstone ahead of the final series of three flyaway races. The team has four testing days left in its 30 day allocation, and these will be put to good use preparing for the bumps of Brazil, as well as the challenging sweepers of Suzuka and Shanghai.
A new aero package will be tested, as well as engine developments destined for Sao Paulo. The team hopes to introduce its fourth major engine specification upgrade of the year, the RS25D, at this race, a decision which will be taken according to the results of track and dyno testing this week. Both drivers will be using new engines in Sao Paulo.