Technical Director Mike Gascoyne is hoping for points finishes from Mild Seven Renault F1 Team drivers Jenson Button and Jarno Trulli at this weekend's British Grand Prix, following the introduction of a new aerodynamic package which includes ...
Technical Director Mike Gascoyne is hoping for points finishes from Mild Seven Renault F1 Team drivers Jenson Button and Jarno Trulli at this weekend's British Grand Prix, following the introduction of a new aerodynamic package which includes revised bodywork and a new rear wing for the R202.
"Much like Barcelona, Silverstone is a circuit which highlights good aerodynamic performance," commented Gascoyne. "This is an area in which we know the car to be strong, as has been shown by the competitive times we have set in testing, both at Silverstone and Barcelona. The modifications will only improve our performance.
"I think that in recent races, we have seen McLaren take a step forward in competitiveness, and now we have to match that. Overall we are looking to qualify well inside the top eight and aiming for a podium finish."
Executive Director of Engineering Pat Symonds is also very positive as the team heads into the tenth race of the season, adding: "In the last two tests at Silverstone our car has been extremely quick, meaning we approach this race with more confidence than any other so far this season."
The circuit is characterised by flowing high-speed corners, and the open nature of the former airfield can also create particular problems for the teams, as Symonds explains:
"Silverstone demands relatively high levels of downforce because of some very fast, tricky corners, which will place a premium on aerodynamic efficiency. The car requires good crosswind sensitivity, as the exposed nature of the circuit means winds can severely affect lap times.
"In addition to this, we need good traction, much like anywhere else, and we aim to minimise understeer through the complex at the end of the lap."
Although the team has already spent twelve days testing at Silverstone in 2002, the extra knowledge doesn't necessarily bring any advantage when it comes to Grand Prix weekend.
"In testing, our work doesn't usually focus on a single circuit," says Symonds. "In order for our development work to be productive, we obviously need to establish the correct baseline set-up, which means this is subsequently easier to achieve on a race weekend.
"The cars, though, are constantly evolving, and weather conditions can change lap-by-lap, meaning the conditions from a test session are never reproduced exactly. Although we may concentrate more on fine-tuning the car, the amount of testing doesn't give us any specific advantage."
Tyres remain the largest unknown factor in overall performance, and having played an important role in race results over the past month in particular they will once again be central to competitiveness.
"This track is quite hard on tyres, especially in comparison to the circuits we have visited recently, so we will be moving up the compound range by quite a long way," commented Symonds. "We have been looking at this type of tyre during testing for a number of weeks now. The last few races have shown that the tyre war is reaching a crescendo, meaning we can therefore expect them to be considerably softer than last year."
The British Grand Prix marks twenty-five years since Renault's Formula One début with the turbocharged RS01 in 1977. For Mike Gascoyne, who will commemorate the event at Goodwood's Festival of Speed the weekend after Silverstone, the anniversary may be important, but his focus is definitely elsewhere:
"Renault has a great tradition in motorsport and this weekend represents a significant milestone. But we have never won the championship with our own chassis, and that's the challenge at hand. We are looking forwards, not back."