The end of winter testing, and preparations for Bahrain -- it's just one week away! Lies, damned lies and statistics! With so many talented engineers at our disposal, you would be forgiven for thinking we can make numbers say pretty much ...
The end of winter testing, and preparations for Bahrain -- it's just one week away!
Lies, damned lies and statistics!
With so many talented engineers at our disposal, you would be forgiven for thinking we can make numbers say pretty much anything we want them to. So we will try and keep the facts and figures to a useful minimum, as we look to assess the team's winter testing programme since we began running last December.
Overall, it has been a good winter, and a solid programme with the R25 before Christmas was followed by seven intensive tests with the new R26 -- and six of those were with two chassis at our disposal. In total, the new car has already completed 34 'car days' (1 car day 1 day for 1 chassis) of running, compared to just 22 at the same stage last year.
The R26 now has 13,821 km under its belt, an increase of 73% relative to 2005. This is a particularly encouraging marker in the light of the introduction of a brand new engine architecture, and the importance of strong reliability in the opening races of the season.
In total, the team has completed 21,910 km during 2005-6 winter testing since it began running on 30 November, 2005.
Never take anything for granted...
Looking at the numbers, it might seem like everything is rosy at Renault -- objectives met, and serene progress towards the opening race in Bahrain. Indeed, the assessments from the technical teams are positive -- but cautious. Nobody is taking anything for granted, as we conduct our detailed preparations for the opening race of the year. The comments from our Technical Directors demonstrate that diligent, pragmatic yet resolute atmosphere.
"We have had a tough winter, with some very demanding engineering and logistics tasks," explained Bob Bell when quizzed at Enstone. "The programme with the new car was very tight, to get it completed before Christmas. We then had to get two chassis running very early, but the strong performance in winter testing has given everybody a lot of motivation. After an intensive winter, we genuinely believe we have a strong chance of successfully defending our championships."
The tone of cautious optimism is the same at Viry-Chatillon as the V8 engine is readied for its race debut. "We are pleased with development during the winter," commented Engine Technical Director Rob White. "We had favourable first impressions of the V8 from its dyno running, and these have been confirmed."
"The first track tests were tackled in a well-prepared manner, and there were not too many nasty surprises from running the engine in the car. For our team, the choice to only run the engine in a real 2006 car, rather than putting it on track earlier, turned out to be a good solution."
The dress rehearsals are complete. Now it's time for the show!
2006 Bahraini GP Race Preview
During the 2006 season, the race previews will be issued systematically on-line and by email update in English and French, at 12:00 GMT on the Monday preceding the Grand Prix. For the second race in a double-header, this timing will be on Tuesday before the race.
The first in the series will be sent out on Monday, but because we're impatient to get going, here's a snippet from each of our drivers -- who can't wait to go racing again either!
So is the World Champion happy with his winter preparations? "Yes, I think we have done what we needed to," states Fernando. "The car is ready to race: it has done a lot of laps, on all types of circuits and conditions. Now is the time to measure ourselves against the others in the first race. We have done the maximum possible, so I am relaxed going into the season."
On the other side of the garage, the mood is focused and determined. "My motivation is very high," asserts Giancarlo. "I am very pleased to be with a great team like Renault, the world champions. Also, I know I am driving a very quick car this year. My target is to fight for the championship, and I am optimistic I can do that."
As always, the proof of the pudding will be in the eating, not just for Renault but every team. The full preview will be with you on Monday, and the real answers will be with us in just nine days' time...