Comments from the Renault team ahead of the German Grand Prix Fernando Alonso: "We need to get the balance of performance and durability" Q: Fernando, tell us a little about your view of Hockenheim... FA: Obviously it is now very different...
Comments from the Renault team ahead of the German Grand Prix
Fernando Alonso: "We need to get the balance of performance and durability"
Q: Fernando, tell us a little about your view of Hockenheim...
FA: Obviously it is now very different to how it used to be, and not quite the high speed circuit it was. But even so, we use quite a big part of the old track and there are some long straights, so it is still pretty fast. The other good thing is that it is one of the circuits in the championship where it is easier to overtake, because we have some long straights leading into slow corners that mean we can have a good fight.
The set up is not easy to find, because you have to get a compromise between good top speed in the quick sections, and grip and high downforce levels in the slower parts.
Q: Temperatures are often very high -- what challenges can that bring?
FA: The race is held in the middle of July, which means that conditions are very hot, particularly on the asphalt. In the last two years, we had some problems with the rear tyres because of high temperatures and the traction demands in the corners, so it is something we need to analyse very carefully with Michelin to get the right balance between performance and durability.
But the test team were working in Jerez last week in hot conditions, and they have done a fantastic job so far this year. I am sure we can be very competitive, just like we were earlier in the year in the hot races at Bahrain and Malaysia.
Q: So what are your hopes for the race?
FA: Like every weekend, we will be aiming to finish with our cars on the podium -- more than that is difficult to predict at this stage, until we have started running and seen how the balance of the car is. But my last two races were very strong, and I think that again in Hockenheim, the R25 will be very competitive. We have some new developments which will bring us a little more performance, and I think the characteristics of the circuit will suit us.
Against that, McLaren will be very motivated to succeed at one of their home races, so we know it will be a big fight. We just need to do the maximum possible -- from the start of Friday practice to end of the race; stay consistent; and take the biggest number of points that we can.
Giancarlo Fisichella: "I will have the chance to win more races this year"
Q: Giancarlo, what are the main demands of the Hockenheim circuit?
GF: It is a very tough circuit for the tyres -- you need a lot of traction out of the slow corners, and with the high temperatures, it puts a lot of load on the tyres. Also, we run with much more downforce than on the old circuit, and the grip levels on the new asphalt are higher, so it is very important to make the right tyre choice to keep good performance all the way through the race.
Q: Monaco was also a circuit with high traction demands -- and you had problems looking after the tyres there. Could that happen again?
GF: I don't think so, no. We understood what happened in Monaco and found the reasons for it, in areas like weight distribution and the traction control. Since then, we have raced in Canada where you also need very good traction, and we had no problems at all with how we used our tyres -- in fact, we were the quickest cars that weekend. So I am confident the problems won't happen again.
Q: Some sections of the media have suggested that you are not being treated equally with Fernando in the team -- how do you respond to that?
GF: It is really frustrating for me to hear that, and for the whole team as well. I don't understand how people can think that when you are trying to win the Constructors' Championship, you would favour one car over another?
People outside the team do not see what happens inside, how hard we all work together to improve the car, how we do 700km each day at the tests, the meetings at the factory, and the effort of all the designers, engineers, mechanics to score as many points as possible. I know they are supporting me 100% and we work as a team. In the end, that is what matters.
Q: Looking ahead through the middle of the summer, what are your expectations for the team's performance?
GF: I think it looks very promising for us -- we had a new engine spec in Silverstone, that we will be improving through the summer, and there are new developments on the car at every race, with parts coming for Germany as well. McLaren made a good step forward earlier in the season, but I think it is very close between us both now -- maybe they are quicker, but not by much.
Certainly we have a very good chance to fight for the win at every race we go to, so that will be my aim, to score a lot of points for the team, to keep Renault ahead in the Constructors' Championship. And, of course, to win some more races! I am certain I will have the chance to do that before the end of the year.
Bob Bell, Chassis Technical Director:
Q: Bob, we have passed the halfway mark of the season with the team leading both championships. What will the key to the second half?
BB: Consistency. Quite simply, finishing with both cars in the points is the bare minimum; but in reality, we have to get both cars on the podium. We need to keep Fernando winning races, and aim to do the same for Fisico -- and if he can't, get him home in the top three. Certainly, we cannot expect McLaren to continue their recent unreliability, so it is imperative that we do not drop points at any race. Two cars on the podium must be our target every time out.
Q: Speculation continues to surround how the team operates with its two drivers -- what do you say to suggestions that Renault is favouring Fernando over Giancarlo?
BB: The answer is very clear: we do not give different equipment or treatment to our drivers. It is not in our interests to do so, and quite simply, we don't do it. Of course, at this stage in the year, we want to do everything we can to protect Fernando's position in the drivers' championship. But for the team -- the 750 people working in Enstone and Viry -- the constructors' championship is the more important of the two titles, both in terms of motivation but also the financial benefits it brings for the team.
It is very important to win it, and to do so, you need two cars finishing well; it makes no sense to favour one driver over another. However, I am sure the fight in the constructors' title will go down to the last race -- it is going to be very close.
Q: Giancarlo has encountered some problems at pit-stops in recent races: how are you working to solve them?
BB: In the event of a problem, we always assume that we can improve the job we are doing, or the tool we have given our drivers, in order to ensure that an incident does not recur. We work to address every potential source of difficulty -- be that training the driver better, or improving our systems to make them more robust.
Fernando has come very close to having similar problems to Giancarlo in race conditions, and we have encountered the issue on other occasions, so we worked during testing last week to make the car and engine easier for the drivers to use reliably in these 'critical' phases.
Q: We are entering the summer test ban -- what impact will it have on development of the R25?
BB: The test ban can be a hindrance to development because it limits the items you can safely introduce at race weekends, as they must be low-risk items in terms of reliability. Having said that, by this stage of the year, most of our development work is focused on aero parts rather than major mechanical projects, so we should be able to maintain our gains through the period of the summer break. We will have new wing packages, engine cover updates and new bodywork details throughout the coming races.