It has been a busy week at the Renault F1 Team's factories. Work is proceeding at full speed on the new car...
Busy, busy, busy!
December was a busy month for the Renault F1 Team -- and not because they were eating turkey, decorating Christmas trees and wrapping presents! The final test sessions of 2005 were put to efficient use, as the team covered as many miles as possible ahead of the 2006 season.
Detailed work continued with Michelin on tyre compounds and constructions for the coming year, while all three drivers were able to run with V8 power levels (using a restricted V10) and get a feel for the set-up changes this demands. It was a busy programme, but the team worked with determination on its preparations ahead of the track debut of the R26, which will run for the first time next week in Jerez.
The call of the... track
The R26 has been an ambitious project from its inception. The timetable has been tight, to ensure maximum development time, but it is on track. People and resources have been under pressure to produce new designs and components. And the objective is clear: to defend the team's double world championship. It is now time for the R26 to pass into the hands of the test team, who have been preparing for its arrival throughout the winter.
As Technical Director Bob Bell explains, the efforts so far have paid off: "We have good results from the wind tunnel, and the engine is performing well in terms of reliability and performance. Everybody is eager to start learning about the R26 at the track." Bob Bell's full interview on progress with the R26 can be found on the team website.
The clock is running
Preparations with the R26 are progressing well. The engine fired up for the first time in a complete car at Enstone before Christmas, dyno testing continues at full speed in Viry and the next milestone will arrive when the car hits the track next Tuesday. The Renault F1 Team has an intensive schedule ahead, with testing planned for seven of the coming eight weeks in order to prepare as thoroughly as possible for the season-opening race in Bahrain, on 12 March.
The first of these tests, in Jerez next week, will focus primarily on allowing the team and drivers to learn about the new car and its characteristics. Problems will be solved as they arise and mountains of data collected to allow analysis to begin back at base.
Fernando Alonso will test for all four days, from 10 - 13 January; he will run with the R25 for the first two days, before discovering the new R26. Giancarlo Fisichella and Heikki Kovalainen will run two days each, with the Italian in the R26 and the Finn aboard the R25. The mood at the Renault F1 Team? Well what would you expect from a team of pure-blooded racers? They can't wait to get back to the track and start running!