Renault technical director chassis Bob Bell discusses the R26 Q: Bob, was the R26 designed with a specific philosophy in mind? The new Renault R26. Photo by LAT Photographic. Bob Bell: The R26 is an aggressive development of a...
Renault technical director chassis Bob Bell discusses the R26
Q: Bob, was the R26 designed with a specific philosophy in mind?
Bob Bell: The R26 is an aggressive development of a proven and successful design philosophy. The R25 had no obvious weaknesses, which was reflected in our championship win. The task for 2006 was therefore to assess the impact of the engine regulation changes for the chassis, integrate the new challenges they posed, and then continue on our development path under stable chassis regulations.
Q: How significant has the change in engine regulations been for the chassis design?
BB: To be honest, the engine change has not made a huge difference to the cars. Parameters such as a new engine architecture, and for us a revised vee angle, obviously had an impact. But there is continuity in the chassis regulations, and the dialogue between the teams at Enstone and Viry is open and effective, which has ensured optimum installation of the engine in the chassis.
Q: What are the major differences compared of the R26 compared to its predecessor?
BB: In visual terms, the aerodynamic package is completely new. The most striking elements are the smaller sidepods to take account of the reduced cooling capacity of the V8 engine. By Bahrain there will be no carry-over items in any area.
Under the skin, the major mechanical change is that we will be using a 7-speed titanium gearbox for the first time. The V8 engines have less torque than their predecessors, and moving to a seven speed gearbox allows us to exploit very effectively the power and torque characteristics of the new engine.
Q: What do you think of the 2006 package after the first tests this winter?
BB: More than ever, the true level of competitiveness will not become clear until we begin running seriously at the first race, so I don't think it is worth drawing too many conclusions before then. However, we are quite satisfied with the first test sessions with the new car.
Q: Finally, the R26 has quite a reputation to live up to, defending two world championships. Can it deliver the goods?
BB: We certainly think so. But we are very aware that after a successful season, it is difficult to maintain winning momentum. We have not been complacent in any area, and our design approach has not been a conservative one. We already plan to introduce a major aerodynamic update just before the opening races. The R26 is an aggressive statement from the team, and it says that we mean to stay on top in 2006.