The ING Renault F1 Team looks forward to round eight of the season, the British Grand Prix at Silverstone. Fernando Alonso: "Silverstone is a great place to drive a Formula One car" Fernando, you missed out on points in Turkey -- sum up your...
The ING Renault F1 Team looks forward to round eight of the season, the British Grand Prix at Silverstone.
Fernando Alonso: "Silverstone is a great place to drive a Formula One car"
Fernando, you missed out on points in Turkey -- sum up your feelings for us?
It was a really frustrating race for the team. The track conditions were poor at the start of the weekend and so we had to work hard to find the right balance with the car. In qualifying we decided it was best to run with less fuel to get a good grid position, but that meant I was lighter than the cars around me. If you pit early you're always at risk of getting stuck in traffic when you rejoin, and that's exactly what happened to me. I pushed hard in the race, but we could only manage tenth, which is a bit frustrating.
Do you believe the team can get back to the front in the second half of the season?
I have a lot of faith in this team and I know that everybody is working hard to improve our situation. We've been together a long time and have shown before that we never give up. But we need to be realistic because all the other teams are pushing just as hard to develop their cars and so it's not easy to take a big step forward. We just need to keep adding parts at each race to make sure we can fight for points and hopefully podiums on a regular basis.
What's your state of mind as you approach the British Grand Prix?
I remain optimistic and determined to get a better result at Silverstone. The R29 has always worked well in high-speed corners and so we should be more competitive this weekend. We will also have some new developments, which should give us some extra performance. In terms of the track, it's a great place to drive a Formula One car and as this is probably the last time we will race at Silverstone, I will make sure I enjoy the experience.
Nelson Piquet: "Silverstone almost feels like a home race for me"
Nelson, you were out of luck in Turkey -- tell us about your race...
It wasn't a great weekend and my fate was pretty much decided by the brake problem I had in qualifying. After that we did our best to try and choose a strategy that would work for the race, but we knew it would be difficult to score points starting so far down the grid. However, I still took some positives from the weekend as we found quite a good balance with the car and I had some fun battles in the race, especially with Lewis [Hamilton] when I overtook him at the end of the back straight.
After seven races this year, where do you feel you can improve as a driver?
It's clear that I need to perform better in qualifying as starting so far down the grid is really hurting me in the races. The problem is that all the teams are so close this season and there are a lot of cars all fighting at the same level -- a few tenths can be the difference between sixth and sixteenth on the grid, and so you really can't afford to make any mistakes in qualifying.
What are your expectations for Silverstone?
It's a track that I love and hopefully we can go there and get a good result. It's the local race for Enstone and so we always have good support there and the British fans are really enthusiastic about Formula One. It almost feels like a home race for me as I've been living in the UK for five years now and it's a track where I raced a lot earlier in my career. As I've already said, qualifying will be crucial, especially due to the high-speed layout of the track which makes overtaking very difficult.
Bob Bell: "We head to Silverstone confident of delivering a better result than we did in Turkey"
Bob, the team endured a tough weekend in Turkey. Was the result a fair reflection of the team's competitiveness?
I don't feel it was a completely true picture of where we are at the moment. Fernando had some issues in qualifying with tyre warm-up and didn't get the perfect lap which hurt his grid position. Had he started higher up, he probably could have avoided some of the traffic after his first pit-stop and scored some points. With Nelson also having problems in qualifying, it was always going to be a tough race for him, but he still pushed hard and got as much out of the car as he could.
Both Fernando and Nelson have urged the team to improve the car -- can you react quickly?
Yes, we are reacting and one of the things that we've done well this year is to get the new developments on the car as quickly as possible. The twin-diffuser was a good example of that as such components normally take up to fifteen weeks to introduce, but we cut that down to five weeks, which was a tremendous credit to the team. We will continue to react quickly and when we find a development that brings the desired result, we will do everything in our power to get it on the car as soon as possible.
Looking ahead to Silverstone -- is the high-speed layout likely to suit the R29?
We've got reasonably high expectations for Silverstone, although we're remaining realistic because we know we're not suddenly going to be fighting for the podium. The high-speed nature of the track should suit us and the R29 will work well in the quick corners. Our braking performance is probably an area where we are losing out at the moment, but Silverstone is not especially demanding on the brakes and so we go there confident of delivering a better result than we did in Turkey.
What developments are planned for Silverstone?
We have a development to the diffuser, which is a reasonable step forward, as well as an upgrade to the front wing package. We explored some developments to the front wing in Turkey and will be running it again in Silverstone with further enhancements that we believe will improve the car. We also have some mechanical changes, more to do with functionality than performance, but they're still important and should help us.
Silverstone is the local track to Enstone -- is it a special race for the team?
It's a very special race for all the teams based in the UK as it's a focal point in the middle of the season. Usually a lot of staff from the team go to the race and there is always a special atmosphere which all the teams enjoy. We go to every race determined to do the best job we can, but we'd love to put on a good show in Silverstone.
Can the team be back fighting for podiums by the end of the year?
That's certainly our intention. If you look at our qualifying performance as a measure of car development pace, we have been improving steadily and the gap to the fastest car in Q2 has been falling consistently, just as it did last year. This year the gap to the leaders is falling at a higher rate and that gives us the belief that we can be back challenging for podiums by the end of the year.