The ING Renault F1 Team looks ahead to this weekend's Bahrain Grand Prix. Fernando Alonso: "I still believe we can fight for the championship" Fernando, the team took a big step forward in China, but the luck didn't go your way on Sunday ...
The ING Renault F1 Team looks ahead to this weekend's Bahrain Grand Prix.
Fernando Alonso: "I still believe we can fight for the championship"
Fernando, the team took a big step forward in China, but the luck didn't go your way on Sunday afternoon...
That's right. To come away with no points was a disappointing end to a really positive weekend where we showed a lot of potential. The new parts we added to the car gave us a big step forward and the team did a great job to get them to China and fitted on the car in time for qualifying. To qualify on the front row showed the progress we've made and it was a boost for the whole team. Unfortunately I started the race light on fuel and I made my first stop under the safety car, which pretty much ended my race as I went from the front row to the back of the pack. It was just one of those days when the decisions we took didn't go our way.
We head to Bahrain this weekend, a circuit where you've won in the past. Do you enjoy racing there?
Yes, it's a challenging circuit and I have some good memories of my wins there in 2005 and 2006 with Renault. Because of the circuit's location, it can get quite dusty and the conditions change from lap to lap so you need to be careful, but there are still some good overtaking opportunities, especially into turn 1 and turn 4. It's one of the most demanding circuits on the brakes with lots of big braking zones and so we will look at the wear rates on Friday to make sure we don't have any problems in the race.
What do you think is possible this weekend?
Hopefully we can repeat the performance we showed in China so that we can reach Q3 and fight for points in the race. It's still an early stage in the year and already the team has made incredible progress, which gives me the belief that we can still fight for the championship. We will have more updates when we get back to Europe, but at this stage in the year it's important that we score as many points as possible at each race so we can be in the fight at the end of the season.
Nelson Piquet: "I'm sure we will be more competitive in Bahrain"
Nelson, another wet race in China and another tough weekend for you and the team...
Yes, after the wet race in Malaysia I was hoping for a dry weekend in China, but then it started raining before the start so I knew it would be a difficult race. The visibility was really poor and the car was aquaplaning on the standing water which caught me out a couple of times and damaged the car. So it was a shame for the team to come away with nothing, but hopefully we can put the disappointment behind us and fight back in Bahrain where I should have some updates for my car.
Do you enjoy racing in Bahrain?
If I'm honest it's not one of my favourite circuits although there are exciting parts of the lap such as turns 5 and 6. However, the location means that the track surface is always pretty dusty, especially off-line and so you can't afford to make a mistake and run wide without losing a lot of time. It's also one of the hotter races of the year so it's quite physically demanding, although it's dry heat rather than the humidity you get in Malaysia.
What's your objective for the weekend?
I really need to make sure I qualify well so that I can pick a good strategy for the race. If we get the new parts on my car in time for this weekend then I think reaching Q3 will be possible, which will put me in a good position to score points in the race. The team is working hard to develop the car and I'm sure we will be more competitive in Bahrain where I will be ready to take any opportunity that comes my way.
Bob Bell: "I'm confident we can bring home points from Bahrain"
Bob, another wet race, can you sum up the team's performance in China?
We were very pleased with the basic performance of the car as we took a good step forward with the new diffuser that we fitted to Fernando's car. We're all very happy about that and the effort that went into producing it. Sadly we didn't bring home the result that we hoped for, but that is more to do with the strategic approach we had to adopt and how the race unfolded.
Did the new diffuser live up to your expectations and is there more to come?
It certainly lived up to expectations and gave us the gains we expected. There is more to come as the diffuser is a very new area of development and there will be a big push to continue its development over the next few months. We're also working on various upgrades to other parts of the car that we would normally work on at this time of year.
When will Nelson's car have the new diffuser?
Nelson will have the new diffuser in time for Bahrain. It simply wasn't possible to make two in time for China last weekend. I think that we did a great job to get one out to China.
The team took KERS off the car in China -- will it return for Bahrain?
As we've already said, we will consider the merits of KERS on a race by race because it's not a system that is categorically quicker at every track. It depends on the nature of the circuit and we will continue to assess it on a race by race basis.
What can the team achieve in Bahrain?
I think we can be quite confident that we can repeat the sort of performance we showed in China during qualifying as we now have the basic pace in the car. And if we have a dry race, I'm confident that we can bring home the points from the race to match our qualifying performance.