After the conclusion of the Renault's final winter testing session in Jerez, Chief Test Engineer Christian Silk explained what the team has accomplished so far.
Q: What were the teams objectives for pre-Christmas testing?
Christian Silk: Firstly, to allow Giancarlo to acclimatise to the car, tyres and team; secondly to test the 2005 specification Michelin dry and wet weather tyres; and finally, to develop the electronic hardware and software for the 2005 car using the R24. We tested for twelve days, completed over 6,000 km and apart from some bad weather in Jerez in the second week, everything went very successfully.
Q: How has Giancarlo performed in these first sessions?
CS: Extremely well. He was worked very hard and his motivation has been impressive: he is clearly enjoying being back with the team after three years away. Of course, it helped that we have worked with him before and know him well, but he has already made a valuable contribution.
Q: What about tyre development?
CS: We completed our first race distance on the tyres in the final Jerez test and the endurance runs looked promising. Michelin have made very good progress on both the wet and dry tyres and looking at the advances we have made, we are pretty confident. There is a good baseline from which to start development in 2005.
Q: The team has chosen not to run a hybrid car -- is that a disadvantage?
CS: There are pros and cons to both methods, and it is a question of how you choose to allocate your resources. Although the car we have been running is superficially an R24, we have conducted a lot of work for next season, notably in terms of familiarising the drivers with the revised downforce levels, testing 2005 transmission components and developing the new electronic systems. We have made plenty of progress.
Q: What impact have the rule changes had on testing?
CS: Firstly, the drivers have been acclimatising to the loss of grip from the reduced downforce levels. This has been particularly noticeable under braking and traction, as well as through the quicker corners, but they adapted quite quickly. From the team's point of view, we had to re-learn how to set the car up with the revised levels of downforce and aerodynamic balance, while the different tyre usage will mean there are major changes to how we work at tests.
Q: Testing will recommence on 11 January at Jerez: what will be your goals for that period?
CS: Initially, we will concentrate on tyre and electronic development. Our aim is to complete our electronic development using the R24, to ensure that our systems are ready for when the 2005 car begins running. Tyre development, on the other hand, will be on-going until the opening race of the year in Melbourne. The major step after Christmas will come when the new car tests for the first time in late January.