Comments from the Renault team ahead of the Canadian Grand Prix Jarno Trulli: Q: Jarno, the last two races have gone very well for you - what are your feelings about the past three weeks? JT: Well, I think as a team we have had a very good...
Comments from the Renault team ahead of the Canadian Grand Prix
Q: Jarno, the last two races have gone very well for you - what are your feelings about the past three weeks?
JT: Well, I think as a team we have had a very good period. The win in Monaco was fantastic for everybody in the team, and for me too, but maybe the Nürburgring was a bit more realistic in terms of where we are now, even though I was unlucky with some incidents during the race. Everybody is still pushing very hard - we might be second in the championship, but there is no complacency. Indianapolis is only halfway through the season, and anything can still happen, so we need to push ahead with our development, keep our good reliability and try and make the most of every opportunity that comes our way.
Q: In terms of the circuit at Montreal, what is it like to drive?
JT: You need a low downforce set-up, and that makes things more difficult: the car feels lighter, and more critical to drive. It is as if you are always on the limit, when you are braking and turning in. But that is how the circuit is - our job is to get used to it. In the past, our car has always been quite competitive at this circuit, and the engine is much better now than last year - we should have another step for Canada. It will be a difficult race, but I am looking ahead with confidence.
Q: What about the trip to North America, are you looking forward to it?
JT: For sure. I enjoy the lifestyle in Canada and America - it is more relaxed, very friendly - and it is good to get out of Europe for a little while. The two tracks we race at are quite different to what we have in this part of the season so that will be another challenge, and then I will actually be working between the races, trying to develop my wine in America. So it will be a busy few weeks!
Q: Canada needs good engine power and good aerodynamics. Last year, you finished fourth - can you do better this year?
FA: Well, we know the car has improved in both of these areas, but predictions are difficult - each race has been different, and at the moment, our competitiveness depends a lot on how well we manage the weekend, and how good a set-up we can find. Overall, I think we can be strong, because this is a team with a lot of experience and motivation. Our car has good traction out of slow corners and is good under braking, which are two important areas in Montreal. I think we should be looking for podium finishes to maintain our championship position.
Q: From a personal point of view, how happy are you with your season so far?
FA: I have mixed feelings, because it could have been better, I think. We have been very reliable, and that has given us a strong position in the championship as we approach the halfway stage of the season, but it will be a big fight to stay where we are. The team is pushing hard to improve the car and the engine, but it then comes down to us as drivers to get the most out of our package. I have been disappointed with my results in the past few races, and I definitely want to improve things as we move into the summer.
Q: What are the challenges from the driver's perspective in Montreal?
FA: The car is always nervous because of the low downforce levels, which makes things more difficult - you have to push as much as possible like in every other race, but it is harder to drive the car on the limit. The chicanes at Montreal are not like other circuits - in Imola you can really attack them and be aggressive, whereas you have to be smoother in Canada. It is quite a difficult balance between attacking enough to be fast and not pushing too far, because it is quite easy to step over the limit. The barriers are very close if you do, so you cannot afford any mistakes at all.
Bob Bell, Technical director (chassis):
Q: What developments will we see on the car for Canada?
BB: We will have aerodynamic developments, plus an engine upgrade as well. There is a constant stream of improvements planned for the next races as we move through the halfway point of the season. We are not under any illusion that these will suddenly take us to Ferrari's level, but they will certainly allow us to remain competitive with our closest rivals. We will continue to focus on performance throughout the summer.
Q: Prior to the European Grand Prix, you had said the race would be a sort of acid test for the recent improvements to the car. What was the conclusion?
BB: I think that our recent gains represent a real step forward in our understanding and use of the car, although there is still plenty of scope for improvement. On this level, we have further changes and developments programmed that should see us move further in the right direction.
Q: In terms of the two upcoming flyaway races, what level of competitiveness do you expect?
BB: Circuits that require higher levels of downforce, and place greater demands on the aero package, certainly favour us more than the two forthcoming races are likely to. These two circuits are standard ones for the team - we should be competitive, without necessarily springing any great surprises. Canada in particular places a particular emphasis on managing the weekend properly, and dealing with the challenges of the heavy braking - as a team, that is something we deal with very well. We raced strongly at both places last year, and managed to collect good points-scoring finishes. We will be aiming for the podium once again, and looking to maintain our extremely profitable reliability record.
Q: Are regular podium finishes still the objective at every race?
BB: I think they remain a very realistic aim. At the moment, we do not have a package that will allow us to worry Ferrari on a race-by-race basis, but the R24 is fundamentally a very good car, and performs well aerodynamically. We know where our weaknesses lie, but the team is a very strong one, our reliability has been exceptional and the drivers are performing consistently. I don't think anybody can rule us out of the podium positions, and if the circumstances fall to us, then - as we have proved already this year - we are more than capable of winning.
Rob White, technical director (engine):
Q: Rob, the team has evolutions to the engine for the upcoming races: what will they be?
RW: The changes for Canada are performance improvements to the RS24B introduced at Imola. These are tuning changes, including new cam profiles, to improve the maximum power and power curve shape of the engine. The build spec for USA will be similar to Canada, with adjustments to how the engines are operated to account for lessons learned on the dyno and for the differences between the two circuits.
Q: Is introducing a new engine spec ahead of these North American races more challenging than ahead of other races?
RW: The logistics are a little tough. The engines for USA must be built before the Canada engines are used, let alone stripped and inspected. This is not a surprise: the calendar is well known, and does not present any difficulties if the news from strip-down is good. If there are any concerns following Canada, the options to respond are more limited. However, we have run a thorough test programme both on and off track, and are confident in the engine's ability to perform to our expectations.
Q: What are the main challenges for the engine at each venue, Montreal and Indianapolis?
RW: Canada is a circuit that is mechanically demanding of the race car, with fierce acceleration and equally severe braking around the lap. Indy is a circuit of 2 halves: nearly half a lap of the famous Brickyard oval which is the longest full throttle event of the calendar, then the infield of slower twisty turns with substantially lower duty cycle. In their different ways, both are extremely demanding of the engine, and we need to be fully confident in the material at our disposal before introducing evolutions at either venue.
Q: This race will mark the second engine evolution of the year: how satisfied are you with progress?
RW: The progress of the RS24 is very pleasing, and is the result of a huge effort by the entire Viry group, in collaboration with the team at Enstone. We have disciplined, rigorous processes that are extremely exacting, but undoubtedly paying dividends this season: as we saw in the last race, our reliability is allowing us to pick up a significant number of points when our rivals falter, and the R24-RS24 package has been competitive at every type of circuit. The contribution of the race and test support teams should also be acknowledged - they have maintained an impressive strike-rate and their combined efforts have allowed us to extract the best from the car at almost every race.
Q: What does it mean to the team at Viry that the RS24 is already a race-winner after such a compressed development programme?
RW: Viry was buzzing after the win in Monaco. Monaco is a special place, and an important race to win. It was fantastic to see Jarno cross the line first and then to hear La Marseillaise during the victory ceremony. The win brings us confidence, but also strengthens our resolve to repeat the experience.
*First win for the Renault V10
1989 marked Renault's return to Formula 1 after a three-year absence, as an engine supplier to Williams. Using an all-new V10 design, christened the RS01, the company used this debut season to lay the foundations for unprecedented success in later years, with Renault engines dominating the early and mid-90s.
Fifteen years ago, the 1989 Canadian Grand Prix saw the first win for Renault's V10 F1 engine, when Thierry Boutsen and Riccardo Patrese took a one-two finish at the wheel of their RS01 powered Williams FW12C. At the time, it seemed a mere interlude in a 1989 season dominated by McLaren and Ferrari, but the fullness of time would show just how significant a moment it truly was.