Comments from the Renault team ahead of the Brazilian Grand Prix Fernando Alonso: "Taking nothing for granted" Q: Fernando, Brazil was the place where you won your world championship last year. It must hold fantastic memories for...
Comments from the Renault team ahead of the Brazilian Grand Prix
Fernando Alonso: "Taking nothing for granted"
Q: Fernando, Brazil was the place where you won your world championship last year. It must hold fantastic memories for you?
Fernando Alonso: Yes of course. Brazil will always hold unique memories from winning the championship there in 2005 -- and the fact we are fighting for it again in 2006 makes it even more important. It is a fantastic place, where you can really feel the emotion and the passion of Formula 1. Brazil has a long tradition in the sport with many famous drivers, so you have the history too. It is great to be racing in this country, and especially with so much at stake at the end of the season.
Q: In terms of the circuit, what challenges does it hold for you and the engineers?
FA: The track surface is normally very bumpy, so we work a lot on the suspension to make the car comfortable to drive over the whole race distance. The other main area is the engine, because the main straight is very long and uphill, so you need good power and good acceleration out of the last corner. Those are the most important factors from my point of view.
Q: Michael Schumacher has said that the drivers' championship is over for him. What approach will you be taking?
FA: Firstly, I don't think it is over at all. Until the final lap, when you know you are champion, anything can still happen and we are taking nothing for granted. So we know that there is still a job to do, and we are focused on it. I think our aim has to be to do a normal weekend, to get the maximum from the car without any big risks, and to finish the job. If we have our usual performance, fighting at the front, then we will achieve our targets.
Q: Finally, the 2006 Brazilian Grand Prix will mark the end of an era for you, as your last race with Renault. What will be your thoughts?
FA: I think it makes this a very special weekend for me, and gives me extra motivation to do the maximum for all my friends and team-mates. It is also the last race for Michelin in this period, and both Renault and Michelin have done so much for me in the six seasons since I started in F1. I think it is impossible to give back to them everything they have given to me since 2001. The only way I can try is to have a fantastic final race and to win the title so we can finish our relationship in the right way, with a celebration.
Giancarlo Fisichella: "Do the maximum for myself and the team"
Q: Giancarlo, you have had two podiums in the last two races -- you seem to be ending the season in strong form...
Giancarlo Fisichella: I definitely think so, yes. The car is working really well at the moment and Michelin have done a fantastic job in the last races. That means we are fighting at the front in all conditions, and I have had clean races without any problems. Suzuka was really good fun, overtaking Button in the first stint and then using a good strategy to get ahead of Toyota. Things are going really well at the moment, for me and the team.
Q: Now we arrive in Interlagos -- what are your thoughts on the circuit?
GF: My thoughts are simple -- it is one of my favourite circuits! I scored my first Grand Prix win here in 2003, and I finished second in 2000 as well. So there are good memories for me at this track, and I really enjoy its challenges as well. It is a difficult track, particularly for the neck because we are running anti-clockwise, so the left-hand side of your neck has a really hard time. Plus there are lots of bumps, which makes it physically harder as well; and it is a short track, so we do a lot of laps in the race. It all means that physical and mental endurance are very important factors.
Q: In terms of technical development, you will be using a boosted RS26 engine in Interlagos...
GF: Yes, I think it should be a good step forward for me. The team at Viry has done an amazing job this year with the V8 engine, from the first test in January all the way through to the final race, and to have a new development ready for the final race shows how committed they are to winning this year. They have worked extremely hard to prepare the new specification so it is powerful and reliable. Hopefully, it can give us the edge in terms of performance.
Q: Finally, your objectives for this race are two-fold: to take third place in the drivers' championship, and to win the constructors'...
GF: Absolutely. I go into this race with the aim of doing the absolute maximum to win. You cannot drive with the idea that only points are good enough, you have to be aggressive, to attack and aim for the top of the podium. It is too early to make any predictions about performance until we see the cars running on Friday, but we know that the R26 is competitive after our performance in Suzuka. But my objective will be to fight at the front of the field, and score maximum points for myself and the team.
Bob Bell: "Winning championships by winning races"
Q: Bob, the Renault F1 Team took its first victory since June in Suzuka. Was it a lucky win?
Bob Bell: Only in the sense that we have no direct influence on Ferrari's reliability! This team has worked flat out all year and even in the tougher moments of the season, we have never given up. Fernando was in the best possible position to capitalise on Michael's misfortune in Japan thanks to the pace of the car, and one might argue that we pushed them to use their engine harder than they would have liked. Just like in life, I think you make your own luck in Formula 1.
Q: As the team goes to Brazil, there is a dizzying array of mathematical possibilities for winning the championship. How do you establish the team's targets for this crucial race?
BB: The most important thing will be to change nothing, and to not feel pressured to do so. We go to every race weekend aiming to win, and we will approach Brazil in the same way. We want to do our normal job, and take nothing for granted. We will race hard and react accordingly should the circumstances of the race demand it. There are many mathematical scenarios that could see us win or lose, but for the team, it will be business as usual. I think we have always believed that the best to win championships is by winning races.
Q: Michael Schumacher practically conceded the drivers' championship in Brazil. That must make Fernando's life easier?
BB: Make no mistake: Michael will be racing flat out in Brazil, as always. His hallmark trait is that he never gives up, and that is why he has been testing in Jerez since Japan. And he has an extra reason to be going flat out in Interlagos. This will be the last race of his career, and I am sure he is determined to go out on a high.
Q: Looking at the demands of the Interlagos circuit, it is often said to be very bumpy. Could the absence of the mass damper particularly affect the car?
BB: To be honest, it is no longer the very bumpy circuit it once was. Last year's race in Brazil was the first time we ran the Tuned Mass Damper, and the drivers certainly noticed the help it gave them. But we have worked very hard to re-optimise the car since it was removed, and we have been very competitive at a wide range of circuits since then. The R26 has been quick at all types of circuit this year, and we are confident it will once again be so in Brazil.
Q: Suzuka was a strange weekend for the tyres, with a performance deficit in qualifying reversed in the race. What do you expect in Brazil?
BB: We have worked hard on our tyre choice for the race, and Michelin's effort over the past months has shown how determined they are to leave Formula 1 on a high. But we need to wait for the first practice sessions before making any predictions. We are confident that we will have a competitive, consistent race tyre.
Q: You mentioned that this will be Michael Schumacher's final race in F1. It will also be Fernando Alonso's last Grand Prix with Renault. What are your thoughts?
BB: We have known for a long time that Fernando is leaving after this race, and we have maintained an excellent working relationship throughout the year. It will certainly be the end of an era for the team, but we are determined to finish on a high by winning both titles, as we did last year. After that, we will begin to look ahead with great optimism, and relishing the new challenges of 2007.
BB: First and foremost, they have both been equally hard! The team has raised its game for 2006: we have scored more points and finished more races than in 2005. We are up against Ferrari at the peak of their abilities, and Michael Schumacher at the peak of his. Should we win, that will mean the prestige of our victory is only greater -- especially when we reflect on the adversity we have overcome this season. We won the first and last races of 2005, which was a true reflection of our effort all through the year. We are determined to do it again in 2006.