Strategy: three questions for Pat Symonds Pat Symonds, Renault F1's executive director of engineering, is a man of great experience. It is he who considers all the relevant parameters and decides on the race strategy to adopt, and this is just...
Strategy: three questions for Pat Symonds
Pat Symonds, Renault F1's executive director of engineering, is a man of great experience. It is he who considers all the relevant parameters and decides on the race strategy to adopt, and this is just one of many roles held by Pat Symonds in the Renault F1 Team.
Q: What factors do you have to bear in mind when you are deciding on a race strategy?
Pat Symonds: Arithmetic, and a bit of inspiration. Part of the process actually demands a logical approach. The key data (fuel load and consumption, tyre degradation, the handicap of having 10kg more fuel on board, the length of the pitlane, etc) are fed into the computer, and the right choice is calculated. On the other hand, there is no substitute for experience for getting through the traffic in races and sometimes you need to improvise. The computer does not know the philosophies of our opponents, but I do.
Q: Do pitstops have a bearing on the performance of a car?
<B>PS: Yes. At the start of a stint, a car is heavy and the tyres are cool. The times will therefore improve as the stint goes on. Then, when the rubber starts to go, the pace will slow. In theory, that is precisely the time to make a stop, but managing races means you have to be very flexible. You have to be able to alter your strategy at any time, having envisaged many different scenarios.
Q: Do you take strategy into account when you are designing a car?
PS: Of course. The choices made for races are in function of, for example, the size of the fuel tank, and that in turn influences the car's wheelbase, which then affects the behaviour of the chassis. The hardest thing to master is still the tyres. It's impossible to know how much, and in what way, they will evolve over the winter. To a large extent, they are what determine the race strategy.