Nick Shorrock, Director of the F1 programme for Michelin, talks about the performance of the Renault F1 Team so far, and about the approach required for Monaco. Q: Nick, there's a lot of action on the track this year. Is this because...
Nick Shorrock, Director of the F1 programme for Michelin, talks about the performance of the Renault F1 Team so far, and about the approach required for Monaco.
Q: Nick, there's a lot of action on the track this year. Is this because the Michelins and the Bridgestones are very close in terms of performance?
Nick Shorrock: We've known for a long time that the 2006 championship was going to be open. The regulation has evolved in quite a few areas (engines, qualifying, tyres) and the current situation on the track is a consequence of that. This said, this competitiveness can't be down to one element only.
You can achieve a good result only if the whole package (chassis, engine, tyres, driver) is performing at its highest level. You can't explain what has happened on the track since Melbourne just by looking at the performance of the tyres.
Q: So, teamwork makes all the difference...
NS: Yes. Our role is to provide the best possible product to our partners. After that, they have to make their package work at its best.
Q: Would you say that the performance of the Michelins and the Bridgestones is closer this year than they've been for a long time?
NS: Yes, and it has a direct impact on our work. When you're used to winning and when you have a comfortable margin over your rivals, people may not notice that the product you are using is not perfectly suited to the track conditions. On the opposite, when two rivals are very close, the tiniest mistake can make the difference. Your choice has to be spot on at each venue.
Q: At the Nürburgring, Fernando Alonso said that his tyres were struggling a bit during the race. Is that true?
NS: Let's say that Michelin's offer was not 100% suited to the conditions. In retrospect, our product was a bit too hard. But our partners had tested it before. They had followed our advice and had given their green light.
Q: Barcelona seemed to be much better!
NS: We've used a new family of products in Spain: these new tyres had been designed thanks to the data we collected at Melbourne and Imola. They were quite different from what we had used since the start of the season. Their performance has been similar to the Bridgestones during the week-end. These tyres were soft -- maybe a bit too soft! -- but we've been able to provide one lap performance as well as consistency during the race.
Q: Monaco is a special track. How did you prepare this race?
NS: We're currently testing in le Castellet and Vallelunga in order to evaluate some specific tyres. Obviously, Monaco requires a soft rubber and qualifying is very important. However, consistency should not be forgotten: having a bit of performance left at the end of a stint can be a decisive advantage.
The tyre we'll provide must be able to fight for pole position, but should also be able to keep its performance after a few laps. Finally, it will be interesting to see how the qualifying session goes. Because of the new format, and on such a special track, the starting grid could be quite unusual.