The official Mild Seven Renault F1 Team Preview for this weekend's Hungarian Grand Prix. Jarno Trulli: Q: Jarno, the R24 is very strong in high-downforce configuration: can you repeat your Monaco success in Hungary? JT: I certainly hope we...
The official Mild Seven Renault F1 Team Preview for this weekend's Hungarian Grand Prix.
Q: Jarno, the R24 is very strong in high-downforce configuration: can you repeat your Monaco success in Hungary?
JT: I certainly hope we can perform as well as we did in Monaco! I was unlucky in Germany to be slowed by a very unusual problem, but I was very quick during the first part of the race and I am happy with our competitiveness. Although there has been a testing ban over the past weeks, we will have a new engine spec in Hungary, new aero parts and the track suits our car. We are confident of being very competitive.
Q: The Hungaroring is very dusty off line: how important is precision over a full race distance?
JT: As usual, you have to keep pushing until the very end of the race, and maintain your concentration all the way through. In Hungary, there is also the problem of the circuit being very dirty off line - if you run wide you will lose positions because it takes a long time to clean the tyres off. So, you can't afford any mistakes.
Q: What are the main characteristics of the circuit from the driver's point of view?
JT: It is quite a fun circuit to drive, with so many corners, but it is not comfortable: the track surface is very bumpy. We have to set the car up to give a lot of mechanical grip in the slower corners, but also run quite soft to make the car driveable over the bumps. Also the circuit changes a lot as the dust blows around, so it can be quite tricky to get the car handling well and going quickly.
Q: Fernando, you are returning to the scene of your first Grand Prix win. How does it feel?
FA: It is going to be a special race for me I think. This was always one of my favourite circuits anyway, and it is a nice feeling to look back and remember last year. I am feeling confident: we were fast in Hungary in 2003, we have been fast with maximum downforce already this season in Monaco, so I hope we can have a good race, and maybe be in with a chance to win.
Q: This is a circuit where overtaking is very difficult: what makes it fun to drive?
FA: It is the style of the corners. They are quite slow, but very difficult to get right for the entire lap: you need a very precise style. Also, there are series of four or five corners where if you get one line wrong, it affects all the next corners too, so you cannot make any small mistakes. Plus it is high grip on the racing line, and very low grip and dusty off it. You can attack in some parts of the circuit, and need to be more cautious in others. The demands make it a big test for a driver.
Q: When working on set-up, what do you concentrate on?
FA: Mechanical grip is the area we look at a lot. The downforce is at maximum, and the engine needs good torque but maximum power is not so important. So what we really need to look at is mechanical grip through the slow corners and also good traction out of them. The other thing we need to work hard on is the tyres: you have to look after them more in Hungary than at Monaco. But I am confident we will bring good tyres, and am happy with the choice that we have made.
Bob Bell, Technical Director:
Q: Bob, Hungary has been earmarked as one of the circuits where the team expects to perform strongly: is that still the case?
BB: Definitely, yes, and we are perhaps even more confident after our performance in Monaco. The circuit was very good to us last year, and our car this year is probably best relative to the competition on slower circuits where we can use maximum downforce, and which reward our good traction and braking. We will be hoping for a similar level to that we demonstrated last year although somehow, I doubt we will find ourselves lapping Michael Schumacher this time around.
Q: Tyre performance will be a critical parameter in Hungary: how confident are you in their performance?
BB: We have made a sensible tyre choice following hot weather testing in Jerez prior to the German Grand Prix, and we have every confidence we can manage our tyres correctly during the event. Michelin looked very competitive in Germany, and we were able to make the most of what we had at our disposal. Of course, we do not yet know how the Bridgestones will perform, but with the testing ban currently in force, I expect the balance of power to remain relatively constant with what we have seen in recent races.
Q: Finally, we have reached two-thirds distance in the season, and Renault holds a nine point advantage over BAR in the constructors' championship. Are you pleased with that situation?
BB: We are very pleased to have maintained our second position in the championship through the middle part of the season, and the gap has remained relatively constant since the early part of the year. Of course, our objective will be to capitalise on our stronger circuits to open up that gap, but we go into every race with the aim of maximising the finishing positions of both our drivers. It is vital to maintain that gap, as I firmly believe the chase for second in the championship will go right down to the last race. As we have seen over the past three rounds as the margin has see-sawed, this kind of gap is incredibly tenuous. We need to take every opportunity we can to score points with both cars.
Rob White, Engine Technical Director:
Q: A final evolution of the B spec was introduced in Hockenheim, and there is a new spec in Hungary. How pleased are you with progress on the engine, and with its overall performance?
RW: I am pleased with the progress made with the performance of the RS24 during the season, which is the result of a process that balances aggression and rigour, to advance the performance while managing the risks to maintain reliability, which is still the prerequisite for good racing results. While pleased with the performance, we are never satisfied so the whole Viry group will continue to strive to further improve the RS24 to power Fernando and Jarno through the final third of the season.
Q: Can you tell us a little more about the D spec?
RW: The RS24D, racing in Hungary for the first time uses a revised cylinder head and related parts in the top end of the engine. The RS24D represents a small performance step over the final RS24B and will be the platform for further refinement and development during the final part of the season. There was an RS24C development project, which was pursued on the dyno, but which did not go in the car. Elements of the RS24C will appear in future versions of our engine.
Q: Does introducing a new engine spec during a testing ban pose any particular problems?
RW: Although for base engine performance and reliability, it is the intention that track testing is confirmatory rather than exploratory, track testing remains an important final hurdle. It is also the first chance to gauge the subjective impressions of the drivers and an opportunity to work on the final calibration and set up of control systems. The timing of the test ban is known in advance, so must be considered in the planning and management of engine performance steps. Of course, the absence of track tests during August reduces the scope of changes that can introduced at races during and immediately after this period.