Comments from the Renault team ahead of the Belgian Grand Prix Heikki Kovalainen: "Spa is a real driver's circuit" Q: Heikki, you finished the Italian Grand Prix in the same place as you started it, in seventh position... HK: We were a bit...
Comments from the Renault team ahead of the Belgian Grand Prix
Heikki Kovalainen: "Spa is a real driver's circuit"
Q: Heikki, you finished the Italian Grand Prix in the same place as you started it, in seventh position...
HK: We were a bit disappointed not to finish higher, and not to have taken advantage of Massa's retirement to score more points. But we made no mistakes during the race, so I have to admit we finished where we probably deserved to. Even so, it was good to finish the race and maintain my 100% record, and to score points for the fifth race in a row. Now, we need to focus on the weekend ahead.
Q: This will be your first Belgian Grand Prix at Spa. Are you excited?
HK: Yes, very excited! Spa is a fantastic circuit, and I have very good memories from my races in GP2. The track layout is very nice, with lots of elevation changes and some really good sequences of corners which put the drivers and the engineers to the test. It is certainly one of the best races of the year, and a fantastic challenge for the drivers -- especially through the famous section of Eau Rouge.
Q: You tested at this circuit in July. Was it important to do so?
HK: It is always an advantage when you can test at a circuit before racing there, and especially because the team didn't race here last year -- and we had never run the V8 engine at this circuit. It allowed us to establish the baseline set-up in terms of downforce levels, suspension settings, brake bias and so on; I think we found some good answers, and we will have a good starting point to work from throughout the weekend in order to have a competitive car in qualifying and the race.
Q: Why do you think drivers enjoy the challenges of Spa so much?
HK: This is what I would call an old-style circuit. Not in terms of the facilities, which have been improved a lot this year, but in terms of the track design. There are many demanding, high-speed corners and this is a real driver's circuit, where we can make a big difference at the wheel. Even if the car does not have the perfect set-up, or if it is not the fastest on the grid, a very brave driver can go into the corners faster, accelerate earlier or not lift where others do. This is a circuit where you can really see who the good drivers are.
Giancarlo Fisichella: "A good opportunity for a competitive race"
Q: Giancarlo, you would have been hoping for more from your home race last weekend...
GF: To be honest, after I was held up in qualifying, I knew I was in for a tough weekend. 15th isn't the place to start from if you want a good result on Sunday, but I still pushed hard all the way through the race. I finished 12th and there's no doubt that I had wanted a better result on home ground in Italy. But there are still four races left, and we will be aiming to put in a strong performance at each one.
Q: Spa-Francorchamps is a circuit that drivers usually enjoy -- are you one of them?
GF: It is an exceptional circuit, and without a doubt the best for the drivers. Eau Rouge is a fabulous corner, and really impressive from the cockpit even though it is not quite as demanding with the V8 engines, as it once was. But this is a circuit where the driver can really make the difference.
Q: Do you think the R27 is capable of a strong performance at Spa, given the nature of the circuit?
GF: We have already seen this season that our car is quite competitive in low downforce configuration, notwithstanding the performance last week in Monza. We run higher downforce than in Italy, but this we still have relatively little wing in order to get good top speeds, and I think this is a good opportunity for us to be competitive. As always, we will be doing the maximum to ensure this is the case.
Q: Rain is often a factor to contend with in Belgium. Are you worried about this?
GF: Not at all. At this time of year in Belgium, we all expect to have to run in the rain, or in changing track conditions. That's not a problem for me, as I enjoy driving in the wet. It would simply add another layer of excitement to the race.
Over at Red Bull Racing with Fabrice Lom
Q: Fabrice, it was a low-key weekend for the team in Monza...
Fabrice Lom: Yes, we were disappointed that we weren't on the same pace as our direct rivals, and that just one of our cars made it to the finish. Mark finished just outside the points, which is even more frustrating, but we are already focusing firmly on the weekend ahead in Spa. It's another importance race for all the engine teams.
Q: There was a lot of discussion about the Monza-Spa pairing, and the demands it places on the engine. What is the main challenge at the Belgian circuit?
FL: Spa includes some very long straights, which means a high proportion of the lap is spent at full throttle. There is also a high number of gearchanges, and a lot of high lateral and even vertical 'g' loadings. But in my opinion, the main difficulty is with the lubrication system and specifically the oil feed through the Raidillon. This is something that the engine was designed to cope with, as we knew Spa would be on the calendar and that we would have to face this unique challenge. We tested at Spa in July, and we have no particular worries in this area.
Q: At this time of year in Belgium, rain can often disrupt the proceedings... Is this another difficulty for you to cope with?
FL:When you not among the teams that can win races in normal conditions, rain spices up a race and brings with it much more uncertainty. That means you can always hope to take advantage and come away with a strong finish. For the engine team, we have to protect the engine to ensure it operates normally in wet conditions. But this is something we are used to, and we will be ready should it rain this weekend!