Comments from the Renault team ahead of the Italian Grand Prix Jarno Trulli: Q: Jarno, you had a very difficult race in Spa: how do you bounce back from that? JT: I am sure things will go much better in Monza. When you have a result like...
Comments from the Renault team ahead of the Italian Grand Prix
Q: Jarno, you had a very difficult race in Spa: how do you bounce back from that?
JT: I am sure things will go much better in Monza. When you have a result like Spa, you need to have the confidence in yourself to bounce back, and I do. This is my home race, so I will have a lot of supporters and that brings added motivation, not pressure. The team have responded brilliantly to build a completely new car for this race, so I just hope I can get back to a normal level of performance at this race.
Q: When you are working on the set-up, what are the important areas?
JT: The car is very light to drive: the downforce levels are extremely low, and that has an effect under braking and acceleration, not just in the corners. You have to brake very early compared to any other circuit, and the car is more nervous as well. We also have to get the right tyre choice, and find the right combination of consistency and performance. But overall, whatever areas we focus on, our aim is the same as at any other circuit: the find a good balance which gives the driver the confidence to push the car to the limit.
Q: Finally, how competitive can the R24 be? The circuit has a lot of similarities to Montreal, where the team was very quick.
JT: We have focused on obtaining a good car set-up during testing so that on the race weekend itself, we are ready to attack and run an aggressive weekend. Over the past two years, our car has suited Monza well, and we should have the baseline performance to fight for the podium. If we can put ourselves in that position, then anything can happen in the race, especially with the heavy braking into the chicanes and the potential for incidents.
Q: Fernando, what are your feelings as we approach the Italian Grand Prix?
FA: I am feeling strong and confident for this race. In Spa, I had a reliability problem that prevented me from finishing the race, but things were looking very good until then: I had started pulling away from Raikkonen's McLaren, and we were running similar fuel loads. In terms of racing in Italy, this will be a little bit like having another home race for me - I have spent a lot of time in Italy, and feel like I am at home whenever I come here. Monza is a unique place, a special place, to race, and the fans are always passionate. I am looking forward to the challenge.
Q: How do you approach the circuit from a driver's point of view?
FA: We run the lowest downforce levels of the year at Monza, and you need to be very precise with the car. You can't make any mistakes under braking or in the corners, and if you do, it could give your competitors the opportunity to overtake as you lose speed down the straights. We worked hard during the test last week to get the car balanced properly, and we have found a set-up that we are happy with, so hopefully I can feel comfortable with the car straight away.
Q: Finally, what are your hopes in terms of the results of this race?
FA: We always say that we want to wait and see, but obviously after the Monza test, we have a better idea than usual of where we are compared to the competition. Overall, that the car should suit this circuit, and we were competitive in terms of straightline speed during testing. It is always hard to make predictions, but we should certainly be fighting for the podium. It won't be easy and there will still be work to do on Friday to adapt the car to the conditions, and get the tyres working correctly. If we can do that, then we should be very strong in the race.
Bob Bell, Technical Director:
Q: Bob, Spa demonstrated that the R24 is an extremely competitive package: what does that mean for the end of the season?
BB: In spite of the end result, I think we can be very encouraged by our performance in Spa. From the standpoint of basic speed, the car was extremely quick, and certainly good enough for Fernando to get on the podium, if not win the race. That is the first reason for encouragement. Secondly, although our qualifying positions on Saturday owed a lot to good fortune, we also made the right decisions and exploited that situation. That indicates we are operating very well as a team. But we will not be able to exploit these assets unless we get the cars to the finish. We will redouble our efforts on reliability to ensure we can capitalise on the innate speed of the R24 in the final races of the season.
Q: Jarno will have a completely different chassis for this race: what is the thinking behind that decision?
BB: Jarno clearly struggled during the race in Belgium. He is a very technically sensitive driver, and can often detect problems with a car that cannot always be seen on the data. However, it is equally fair to say that when he detects a problem, he struggles to extract maximum performance from the car. In giving him a different chassis, built with completely different parts, we want to eliminate the possibility that some hidden problem in the car is affecting his performance. Although we have dismantled his race car from Belgium and found no problems at all, we are all wise enough to know that there are some subtleties even our data logging cannot detect. Our approach to the forthcoming Grand Prix is a reflection of our total commitment to supporting equally both drivers. From the team's perspective, it is vitally important to extract maximum performance from both cars and drivers until the end of the season.
Q: What are your expectations for the Italian Grand Prix?
BB: The circuit demands strong performance on the brakes and under acceleration, which we know are strengths of the R24. It also requires a set-up with roughly twenty percent less drag than at Monaco, and we have worked hard in the wind tunnel to achieve optimum efficiency at the necessary drag level, which is reflected in our aero package for Monza. Equally, we have improved the car throughout the season, and I feel we are competitive in most types of corner, in most conditions, on every type of circuit. We expect Monza to be no exception, and approach the race with our usual high expectations.
Rob White, Engine Technical Director:
Q: Can you explain the source of Fernando's problem in Spa?
RW: Fernando's retirement in Spa was the result of a failed O-ring between the oil pump and crankcase, which allowed engine oil to escape onto the rear tyres. The failure was similar to that experienced by Jarno in Hungary, and although we introduced revised parts between these races, they were not sufficiently robust - indeed, the rigours of Eau Rouge were the cause of the failure. Since then, further modification have been approved on the dyno, and run successfully for more than 2000 km in the car at Monza. Clearly, our aim will be to complete the Monza weekend without any repetition of the problem.
Q: Are you confident the team can regain its strong level of reliability before the end of the season?
RW: Reliability must be our top priority, and is the pre-requisite for championship success. We have addressed the specific problems that led to our recent failures, but have also used the experience to improve our processes for the future. The objective of zero failures for the final four races is a realistic one, and our efforts to ensure this reliability are on-going. However, we are motivated to succeed in this aim by the desire to win more races and defend our second place in the championship.
Q: Finally, what does Monza herald for the engine-builder?
RW: Monza is an emotionally captivating circuit, and of course, the fastest of the current tracks. It imposes one of the most punishing duty cycles of the year, and presents an enormous challenge in terms of mechanical and thermal loads. The basic demands are simple: raw performance and faultless reliability. However, other parameters such as aero efficiency, braking performance and the tyres also have an important role to play in this race. It always produces a very tight grid, and we will hope to be fighting with our immediate championship rivals for the points positions come raceday.