French GP Benetton preview

The Mild Seven Benetton Renault Sport team's Technical Director Mike Gascoyne and Engineering Director Pat Symonds preview the weekend's action and discuss technical preparations and race strategy ahead of the French Grand Prix, round ten of the...

The Mild Seven Benetton Renault Sport team's Technical Director Mike Gascoyne and Engineering Director Pat Symonds preview the weekend's action and discuss technical preparations and race strategy ahead of the French Grand Prix, round ten of the 2001 FIA Formula One World Championship. PRE-RACE PREPARATION

Mike Gascoyne, Technical Director:
"Magny Cours is a very important race for the whole Benetton Renault team. First and foremost, it is the home race for Renault and because of that we attach a lot of importance to it. At this race we have targeted several improvements to the whole package. We are planning for a an up-date to the engine and will use a new spec of engine, both in qualifying and the race. This is a step forward compared with the engines we have been using to date.

"Also we have got some aerodynamic up-dates on the car, which again should help towards the advancement of the entire package. From testing at Magny-Cours a few weeks ago, we now know that Michelin have got a competitive tyre suitable for this track, so overall it should be a weekend that suits us.

"At Nurgburgring, we made some improvements to the set-up of the car and discovered a direction in terms of set-up that should be particularly suited to the Magny-Cours circuit. So, all in all we believe we are making progress and this is a good start to the second half of the season for us. It has been a difficult start to the season but we always knew that this was going to be the case and now we have the hindsight from previous races and testing so that we can look for improvements over the second half of the season, starting at Magny-Cours."

QUALIFYING AND THE RACE - SET-UP AND STRATEGY

Pat Symonds, Director of Engineering:
"Magny Cours is one of the FIA nominated grand prix testing tracks and therefore a circuit we have some knowledge about. However, in spite of being a nominated track, it is not used by many team's for a great deal of testing, as its characteristics can dramatically change from day to day and indeed during the course of each day.

"The circuit itself is one of the smoothest on the grand prix calendar and hence the engineers tend to set the cars up extremely stiff and low. This is so that the drivers can search for grip on this smooth surface without having to worry too much about the compromises that need to be made for riding bumpy circuits. The other advantage of using a stiff set-up at this circuit is that it gives a good response through the two very high-speed chicanes.

"Trying to get a good set-up at this circuit is difficult and one needs to be very aware of the changing conditions, especially track temperature, which plays an unusually large role in lap times.

"The circuit is reasonably hard on tyres - particularly the left-front, which receives extremely high loading through the long Estoril corner - and there is really only one over-taking point at the circuit and that is under-braking into Turn 3, the hairpin. It is therefore necessary to ensure that the car has very good braking stability to be able to overtake one's competitors here. This can lead to processional racing at this circuit. The final point the teams have to take into account, is that it is often very hot in Magny-Cours and cooling can be at a premium."

-Benetton

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Mike Gascoyne
Teams Benetton