Comments from the Renault drivers ahead of the Brazilian Grand Prix Jarno Trulli, Race driver: Q: Jarno, you ran very competitively last year in Brazil before retiring, and had a strong attacking race in Malaysia. How competitive do you expect...
Comments from the Renault drivers ahead of the Brazilian Grand Prix
Jarno Trulli, Race driver:
Q: Jarno, you ran very competitively last year in Brazil before retiring, and had a strong attacking race in Malaysia. How competitive do you expect to be at Interlagos?
JT: I am feeling very confident for the next race. Although I was disappointed by the end result in Malaysia, we were very competitive all weekend and I had to work very hard to finish where I did. The whole package is doing extremely well at the moment, so I think for me, this could be a very good race.
Q: What are the major challenges of the Interlagos circuit from your point of view?
JT: For me, it is a circuit that I enjoy driving on -- to be honest, I like them all! It is especially the most technical circuits that I find satisfying, and in Brazil, we have a good mix of fast and slow corners as well as some other things that make it quite complicated. That's why I enjoy racing there.
Q: Before beginning the race weekend, you will be visiting the Ayrton Senna factory in Curitiba. For you, how important are these events: is it just promotional work, or perhaps something more?
JT: I think these events are important for all of us who are part of Renault, and for the people we meet. The company is very international with factories throughout the world, and we represent it every time we race: that's a big responsibility, but also something to be proud of. It is good for us to take the time to meet the people who are supporting us each weekend, and to appreciate the work and dedication of the Renault employees. From my point of view, it is an important part of my job as an ambassador for Renault and, this factory is particularly special because it is named after Ayrton Senna, who was one of the drivers I most admired while I was growing up.
Fernando Alonso, Race driver:
Q: What do you think of the circuit in Interlagos?
FA: For me, the circuit itself isn't one I particularly enjoy from a driving point of view, but Interlagos is one of the hardest physical races: that always makes it interesting when we go there, because it is a big advantage to be very fit. The bumps and the direction of the circuit means that after just a few laps, your neck gets very tired and we have been working on that for the past three or four weeks, training the left side of the neck a bit more in order to cope. For the drivers, it is a good feeling to be able to prove your fitness and to have to fight hard all the way through the race.
Q: Have you fully recovered from your fever in Malaysia?
FA: Yes, I have recovered completely. I spent a few days with my family in Oviedo, and I feel fine for Brazil now.
Q: Has the reaction in Spain to your podium finish surprised you?
FA: Yes -- they have gone a little over the top... The result in Malaysia had a big impact: for two or three days, it was talked about more than the football! That's completely unheard of here, for football to come second to Formula 1, and it was definitely a nice surprise. Having said that, it doesn't mean it will always be this good but I hope the interest will stay high.
Q: How competitive do you expect to be in Brazil?
FA: It's always difficult to say, because things change at every race, but I think we can be at the same level as in Malaysia. We have a very strong package, and we have had a definite advantage from the Friday morning session: we are ready to go earlier than the other teams, and it gives us drivers the chance to get settled into the race weekend sooner.
Allan McNish, Test driver:
Q: What challenges does the Interlagos circuit present the drivers with?
AM: In terms of set-up, it is different to the first two circuits because we run less downforce: where the first two circuits demand high wing levels, Interlagos calls for a little less. We also have to take account of the bumpy track surface in the car's set-up, and the lower downforce can make the car trickier to handle over the bumps. Otherwise, the main characteristic is that the track runs anti-clockwise and, coming early in the season, it can be a tough physical challenge, especially for any rookie drivers. All the quick corners are left-handers, and that places a particular strain on the drivers' necks, especially coupled with the high ambient temperatures. Having said that, the track is something of a known quantity now, and every driver's training takes it into account.
Q: The HANS system, newly introduced for 2003, has caused a certain amount of controversy in recent weeks. Have you suffered from any problems?
AM: In the first two races, we have been running with a Renault-spec HANS system, which is adapted to each of our drivers, and we are currently investigating the double belt system. When you are driving on an oval, the HANS just isn't an issue because you can't feel it at all. On a road circuit though, we are turning in both directions, often in very quick succession, and this means we need lateral movement for both our heads and also our shoulders. Because the belts need to be so tight, this can mean that when the HANS is worn, the shoulder movement becomes very restricted. As a result, because the system is so rigid, it is the driver's body that deforms under the loads, and that can cause discomfort. That seems to have been the problem for the other guys, but we haven't experienced any problems at all.
Q: As other teams' testing programmes get into full swing, will your work on a Friday morning shift to a more long-term focus?
AM: In Brazil, I think we will continue working much as we have done in the first two races. Firstly, the programme is still in its infancy, but also, our work in Australia and Malaysia gave some very good results, so there's no point in trying to fix something that isn't broken. However, as the season progresses, we will certainly be venturing into some more long-term development during the sessions as well as the usual tyre and set-up work.