Comments from the Renault team ahead of the German Grand Prix Jarno Trulli: Q: Jarno, Hockenheim holds good memories for you: are you looking forward to racing there? JT: I am definitely looking forward to arriving in Germany. I have ...
Comments from the Renault team ahead of the German Grand Prix
Q: Jarno, Hockenheim holds good memories for you: are you looking forward to racing there?
JT: I am definitely looking forward to arriving in Germany. I have always enjoyed racing at Hockenheim, ever since I was in German Formula 3, and even since the changes, it is a circuit I enjoy. It is technical again, because although most of the corners are low speed, you really need to concentrate on good performance through them and also responsiveness through the quicker sections, so the correct compromise can be quite difficult to find. There is a big physical challenge with the heat which is a good test and, of course, I scored my first podium there for Renault in 2003.
Q: Are there any after-effects from your Silverstone crash?
JT: Not at all. The car did an excellent job protecting me, and I felt fine immediately after the race. I just want to get back in the car, and put in a more positive weekend than we had in Silverstone. We didn't achieve the performance we wanted in the race, and that was a disappointment, so we must step up and take the fight to our immediate competitors.
Q: How optimistic do you feel ahead of the race?
JT: Predictions are becoming so hard to make - we really have to wait until Friday in order to judge where we stand, once we have tried the tyres. Getting that choice right will be absolutely critical, as it seems that each weekend, it is a different Michelin team challenging Ferrari: for this race, we will be working hard to ensure it is us so that we can consolidate our championship position. We have updates to the engine and the aerodynamics, and they will definitely help us with these objectives.
Q: Fernando, what are the challenges for the drivers in Hockenheim?
FA: Hockenheim is often all about concentration for the drivers. It is usually very hot there, so the conditions in the cockpit are quite demanding, and to be quick we need to be very precise in how we drive. There is a lot of heavy braking into slow corners, and especially on heavy fuel loads or in the race on worn tyres, the slightest slip can mean that competitors will get by you on the exit of the corner. This is a circuit where overtaking is quite easy at certain points, and if you make mistakes, the cars behind will often punish you.
Q: What about the car: what areas does it need to be strong in?
FA: Well, with the current layout, the most important areas are getting good mechanical grip, and also very good traction - but keeping the top speed quite high into the hairpin at turn 4. The R24 has been strong in these areas, as we have seen at circuits like Monaco and Montreal, so I think we should be optimistic. Equally, the team will be looking to bounce back from Silverstone with a good result.
Q: In terms of performance, what can we expect?
FA: Personally, I was pretty frustrated after Silverstone, because I spent the whole race following slower cars and just couldn't find any clear track. So hopefully, we will have a problem-free weekend so that we can run at our proper pace. However, this year, it has become more and more difficult to predict who will be strong at which circuits: we have expected to be good in some places where we were not, and have had a nice surprise at other circuits, like France. A lot will depend on the tyres, of course, but we will hope to be one of the main challengers to Ferrari on Sunday afternoon. We need to start scoring points again to maintain our championship position.
Bob Bell, Technical Director:
Q: Bob, how well do you feel the Silverstone race reflected the true level of performance of the car?
BB: We knew Fernando would struggle to make an impression from his grid position, and that was borne out in reality. Admittedly, he was not running in free air when his tyres and fuel load were optimum, but whatever the circumstances, we were not as competitive in reality as we should have been, and that was particularly true in Jarno's case. However, what we were particularly reminded of was that any unreliability will cost us: every team's reliability is up, and only one car running ahead of Fernando retired during the race. It is imperative we maintain our hitherto good record in the coming races.
Q: Overall, how delicately poised do you believe the championship situation to be?
BB: We have seen a number of teams challenging Ferrari this season, including ourselves, but nobody has been unable to do so consistently. That no doubt reflects the fact that while we, and our direct competitors, have particular strengths, Ferrari have achieved an extremely high standard in every area of vehicle performance. McLaren have now joined the battle at the front: while many people were very quick to write them off this year, we have never taken that view, but it now remains to be seen whether they can turn their Silverstone pace into consistent race by race speed.
Q: Looking ahead to Hockenheim, what are your performance expectations?
FA: Firstly, I think we will all appreciate getting back into the normal fortnightly rhythm of races after a frantic mid-season period. In terms of performance, Hockenheim could prove a good circuit for us. We ran well there last year, taking third and fourth, and the R24 has been strong at circuits featuring lots of traction events and heavy braking, as Hockenheim does. The cooling on the R24 is extremely good, and this will be important in the high temperatures, plus we will also introduce further aerodynamic developments. Both drivers performed strongly in Germany last year, and we will certainly be hoping to start scoring points again.
Rob White, Engine Technical Director:
Q: An engine update is planned for Hockenheim: what can you tell us about it?
RW: In Hockenheim, we plan to race a further evolution of the RS24B. This concludes a cycle of development based on knowledge and experience accrued since the introduction of the RS24B at Imola earlier in the season. Specifically for the German Grand Prix, there are new pieces in the bottom end, and engine operating conditions are customised for the Hockenheim circuit. Further small steps will follow, based on a revised cylinder head from Hungary onwards.
Q: Silverstone saw the first engine failure of the year: what happened, and is it a source of worry?
FA: The failure of the engine in Fernando's car at the end of practice on Saturday came without warning. There was a problem concerning the timing gears that drive the camshafts that had not previously emerged in dyno and track testing. Rapid analysis at Viry allowed a countermeasure to be implemented and dyno tested on the engines for Hockenheim. The engine build group responded fantastically to the inevitable disruption and we are optimistic we have fixed the problem, despite the accelerated approval process.
Hockenheim demands good torque from low engine speeds and the last circuit with this dominant characteristic, Montreal, suited us very well.
Q: Is torque a particular strength of the RS24?
RW: The continuous improvements in chassis and tyre performance add relentlessly to the demands on the engine. The search for increased power continuously drives engine speeds upwards, yet low and medium speed performance remains important too. The RS24 has a torque curve and power delivery that is well liked by the drivers. This is a result of well-focussed development by the Viry team and good work by the track engineers in calibrating the engine control systems to the drivers' needs and preferences. However, Silverstone also reinforced the importance of achieving faultless reliability. The target for Hockenheim is to conduct a race weekend without incident, which is always the best starting point for a good race result.