Renault F1 Team's Engine Operations Manager Denis Chevrier sat down to discuss a dramatic season, and spoke about the developments to come between now and the end of the season. Q: Denis, how do you evaluate the 2003 season? Our objective we...
Renault F1 Team's Engine Operations Manager Denis Chevrier sat down to discuss a dramatic season, and spoke about the developments to come between now and the end of the season.
Q: Denis, how do you evaluate the 2003 season?
Our objective we set at the start of the year was to score four podiums, and we achieved that with Jarno's result in Hockenheim. What's more, even though the third team in the Constructors' Championship is quite a way ahead, the teams behind can't really worry us now. That has taken off some of the pressure, meaning we can tackle the last races of the season without too many worries.
Q: If you had to talk about disappointments, what would be top of the list?
The three leading teams are very close in terms of points, which goes some way to prove they have monopolised the major points-paying positions this year. Our aim was to get close to them, and we haven't quite made it all the way there yet. Our position is that of the outsider team, which can score a significant number of points on occasion, but not consistently: we perhaps haven't quite yet managed to regularly fight with the big boys.
Having said that, we are not far off: the team's performances are on the right track, and we have the potential to develop further. When you get there, everything has to be performing at 100%: chassis, engine, drivers and strategy. That is hard to do from start to finish in a Grand Prix.
Q: On the subject of reliability, are you pleased with the progress made this year?
Yes. According to some, we apparently began the season with uncertain reliability: I think the critics were silenced by our results, which proved a lot better than they had predicted. Naturally, we have had a few retirements and we still need to make progress in this area, because the top three teams have excellent reliability.
Q: What have been the major engine evolutions this season?
We brought out a 'D' spec engine in Austria. This step brought gains in power and performance, bringing an improvement in lap time of around 0.2s. The 'E' spec made its debut a little later at the Nürburgring. The changes were primarily in the upper part of the engine, which meant we gained horsepower without any increase in engine speed. There were also some changes for Hockenheimm concentrating primarily on reliability. These will be a solid base for the next developments.
Q: And what will those developments be, between now and Suzuka?
From Budapest, we will be able to count on a bit more power. A final performance step is planned for Monza or Indianapolis: given that the Italian Grand Prix is particularly mechanically demanding, we may decide to delay this final evolution until Indianapolis.