Comments from the Renault team ahead of the San Marino Grand Prix Giancarlo Fisichella: Q: Looking at the Imola circuit, what are your expectations for the race? GF: Imola is a selective circuit, and I think it rewards a complete car that is...
Comments from the Renault team ahead of the San Marino Grand Prix
Q: Looking at the Imola circuit, what are your expectations for the race?
GF: Imola is a selective circuit, and I think it rewards a complete car that is strong in all areas: a comfortable chassis, strong engine and good tyres. The slow corners mean you need good traction, and straights need aero efficiency and plenty of power, while there are quick corners as well where you need a good chassis.
You also need to be good over the kerbs, and the R25 is: it rides them well, and gives the drivers enough confidence to really attack a lot. I think the car will be at ease there, and from a personal point of view, I have more performance to find: I still need to work on finding a perfect balance so I can exploit the potential of the car. So far we have been very strong and from my point of view, there is more to come.
Q: How do you think your main rivals will perform in Imola?
GF: Looking at the Michelin teams, Toyota have been our main competitors, and I am sure they will be strong: they have been good at two different types of track now, so why not Imola? The other big concern for us is Ferrari. I think they will be very, very competitive -- we already saw that in Bahrain when Michael was close to Fernando. Now that they have had to time to develop the car, for sure we will have a tough job to stay ahead.
Q: Fernando, as we begin the European season, what is your verdict on the first three races?
FA: I think the team has started the season in a better way than we expected. Winter testing showed us we could be competitive and get good results, so we went to Australia feeling very confident. But to win all three races, with both drivers taking victories, and to have scored twenty-six points myself is a dream come true. The challenge now is to maintain that level, and stay on top.
Q: How have you had to adapt to the new regulations?
FA: Personally, I have not changed anything compared to last year, and there are no big differences in how I approach the race weekend. The new rules have forced us to adapt our way of working -- we have to be careful with the engine, and as soon as we think it is possible to drop the revs to protect the V10 and cool it more, then we do it.
Equally on the tyre side, I have been able to get the maximum from the Michelin tyres in qualifying on the single timed lap, but I have been quite conservative so far in the races -- especially with the rear tyres. In spite of that, we have been quick, and the Michelin tyres certainly make our life easier: their durability means it has not been difficult to keep them in good condition.
Q: You are first Spaniard to lead the World Championship -- how does that feel?
FA: I am enjoying the moment: I am leading the championship and have the best opportunity of my career to be in a winning car, and celebrate each victory. When we talk about the championship, we should not do it based on the first three races -- it is the last three or four races of the season that will be the important ones I think. But having said that, I prefer to take the points now and build a strong position from the start. We know it will be a long year, so I just want to continue enjoying myself, and keep working as hard as I can.
Q: Looking ahead to Imola, what will the demands be?
FA: Imola is a very tough circuit for the suspension: we hit the kerbs hard, and the car needs to be able to cope with that. The drivers must be aggressive through the corners, which I like, and it is impossible to relax: if you get the line wrong over the kerbs, you will be in the gravel trap or the barrier. You also need to find good mechanical grip in the slow corners, traction on the exit and a strong engine down the short straights. So far, the R25 has been competitive on all the types of circuit we have visited; I expect it will continue in San Marino.
Rob White, Engine Technical Director:
Q: Three races into the 2005 season, can you explain how engine usage has changed in 2005?
RW: Overall, the way we use the engines in 2005 is an evolution of how they were used in 2004 -- but the life cycle is now twice as long. The chassis and engine engineers agree how much running will be done before each weekend, and in what conditions that will be done -- usually in the week running up to the event.
We then manage our programme according to these decisions, and new information that arrives during the weekend: for example, we may adjust our programmes to accommodate changing weather conditions. Finally, the use of the engine's "potential" -- for example, the number of laps run at high revs -- is managed with the aim of getting the best racing results over both events in which the engine is used.
Q: Does this mean engine use has become more strategic?
RW: It is certainly more complicated now! The first point is that the increased engine life is technically difficult to achieve, but after that, we use the engine differently in practice, qualifying and the race. Only three years ago, we could use a different version of the engine in each session -- a 'qualifying special' for example, optimised for a much shorter life span, and then a race spec for Sunday. Now, we must make choices on how we use a single engine, and its performance, in each of the sessions across two weekends.
Q: Have the first races given you an opportunity to assess the performance of the RS25 relative to its competitors?
RW: In isolation, we were pleased with the performance of the RS25 when it first ran on the dyno -- despite very late rule changes, we hit all our performance targets before the season. However, the isolated performance of the engine is not what matters -- we always take a car-wide view of performance, and look at the V10 as part of the whole.
This prevents us from making direct comparisons of absolute engine performance relative to the competition. But we are certainly pleased with our engine's contribution to the performance of the R25 -- and with the performance of the R25-RS25 package relative to its competitors.
Q: Following the engine failure in Bahrain, Giancarlo may race with a 'B' specification engine in Imola -- can you update us on the status of this new engine?
RW: One of the purposes of the new regulations was to slow down the rate of performance development, and they have succeeded: it is now more difficult to approve new parts for introduction, and we only have a limited number of opportunities at which to introduce these parts. Our approach for 2005 will be to introduce performance developments in packages, and the 'B' spec is the first in a series of planned evolutions, that was initially scheduled for introduction in Barcelona.
Following Giancarlo's engine failure in Bahrain, we saw the opportunity to accelerate the build of a race engine to this spec to fit in his car. However, the final decision on its use will depend on dyno tests, and the detailed analysis of results from testing last week in Paul Ricard. It is important to stress that we will not be taking any short-cuts in the approval process in order to race RS25B at Imola instead of Barcelona.