Comments from the Renault team ahead of the Monaco Grand Prix Jarno Trulli: Q: You come into Monaco on the back of your strongest result of the season so far: how big a boost is that for you? JT: So far, the team has had a very strong start...
Comments from the Renault team ahead of the Monaco Grand Prix
Q: You come into Monaco on the back of your strongest result of the season so far: how big a boost is that for you?
JT: So far, the team has had a very strong start to the season, and for me, this is definitely the best start I have had in my time at Renault. Barcelona was a great result because we earned our finish - there was nothing lucky about it, no presents from other teams - and both Fernando and I are performing strongly in the championship. As a team, we are strong with perfect reliability, and motivation is high for Monaco.
Q: As a driver, is Monaco a special weekend?
JT: As a Renault driver, definitely! The atmosphere is nice because there are big crowds, and also lots of Renault supporters. It is uncomfortable because of the restricted space, but I think that things will improve this year with the new garages. In terms of working on the car, Monaco is a strange place: rather than looking for the optimum set-up, you concentrate on getting the car working so that you can put it where you want to on the circuit. You need a good car, and we have that, but the driver can make a real difference. There are compromises to be made everywhere, but to be quick, the driver has to be 100% confident in the car.
Q: In terms of performance, the team finished the Barcelona weekend as the second team on the grid. How will things go in Monaco?
JT: We will only find out how fast we are when we actually get on to the track, but the circuit should suit us. Even though the layout stays the same, Monaco is a different race every year, with its own surprises and characteristics.We made progress with the car at Barcelona, and it was very consistent in performance during the race. I think this can be a good race for us, but there are too many variables now to make any definite predictions.
Q: You have finished every race in the points this season, but not been on the podium since Australia - can that change in Monaco?
FA: So far, the results this year have been excellent for the team - our third and fourth places in Barcelona helped us build a gap to BAR in the Constructors' Championship, so that is extremely positive. Obviously, I was disappointed not to get onto the podium in the race, but I set third fastest lap just one tenth slower than Michael, so it was clear we had a good level of performance with the car. But to use that race performance consistently, we need to work hard on qualifying further up the grid, and that will be even more important in Monaco where it is so difficult to overtake - if we get stuck behind slower cars, it is much harder to make up positions there than at other circuits.
Q: Monaco is a unique circuit, and experience is crucial: how successful do you think your third visit to the Principality will be?
FA: We will see - the race is so different to anywhere else that we cannot make any predictions until we have started running on Thursday. It is very important to know the circuit well and to have experience racing there, to know how the track changes, and to best understand how to set the car up and cope with the changing conditions - grip levels increase very quickly, and that can catch you out if you don't have the experience to adapt. Also, we have an extra day between practice and qualifying, and the circuit changes a lot in that time: you have to learn everything again on Saturday morning.
Q: When it comes to favourite circuits, Spa and Suzuka are inevitably mentioned - but not often Monaco. Do you enjoy racing there?
FA: To be honest, you are so busy in the car, all the time, at every point around the circuit, that it is hard to enjoy it.You need maximum concentration at every stage of the race, because any mistake will put you out. For me personally, the best part of the circuit is the first sector, with the quicker corners at Massenet and Casino Square, but Monaco is definitely more of a challenging circuit than an enjoyable one.
Bob Bell, Technical director chassis:
Q: The team arrives in Monaco on the back of the season's strongest result so far: what are expectations for this race?
BB: We are certainly very motivated at the moment: the team is working well, we are enjoying our racing and doing a very professional job in every area. At Monaco, we know qualifying will be all-important.This is traditionally a circuit that suits us: the R24 should perform strongly there, and the car has a good high-downforce package. Equally, our drivers have been impeccable so far and there is little reason for that to change in Monaco: Jarno has been historically very quick through the streets, and is extremely motivated after his first podium of the year, while Fernando raced very strongly there in 2003 and will certainly benefit from the experience he has gained since then.
Q: Traditionally, Monaco sees a special high-downforce package developed: is that the case for the R24?
BB: Yes, it will be. Our work for this race has primarily focused on the wing package, and in addition to usual, the car will feature a roll hoop wing, a deck wing mounted between the rear wheels and a high-downforce rear wing configuration, as well as developments to the bargeboards.
Q: What are the potential pitfalls for a team working at Monaco?
BB: Monaco has very specific characteristics in terms of how the circuit evolves during the weekend, and how a team manages the weekend. It is a very different proposition to Barcelona, for example, and the key is to give the drivers as much track time as possible in order that they can progressively build up their understanding and knowledge. You need to arrive with a good baseline set-up that allows them to build confidence, but also so that we can evaluate the tyres properly to make our choice for the weekend. It is all about being sensible in your approach, and not making too many changes to the car, too quickly.
Q: Monaco places unusual stresses on the cars: can the team look to maintain its 100% reliability record?
BB: Monaco is a hard circuit on the cars in specific areas: while the engine is not under significant load, for example, the gearbox is worked very hard with over 3800 changes during the race. Of course, this year, the drivers will be solely responsible for this, which will increase their workload in the car. However, there is no reason to suspect our reliability record will differ from what we have seen so far this year.
Rob White, Technical director engine:
Q: How pleasing was it to see the team strengthen second in the championship with another double points finish in Barcelona?
RW: It was a great reward for the efforts of the team at both Viry-Châtillon and Enstone. It is always pleasing to realise the performance potential of the car and in Barcelona, the team achieved that. Both drivers drove a great race, with Jarno capitalising on his fine qualifying run to reach the podium just ahead of Fernando. The ongoing efforts to maintain the reliability of the car and engine contributed to the consolidation of our position of 2nd in the Constructors' Championship.
Q: Monaco has the least severe duty cycle of the season: does that make it an easy race for engines?
RW: When we talk about easy or difficult races, the terms we use are relative: while Monaco is not the most difficult circuit to prepare for, it remains the case that there are no "easy" races. The full throttle time is low, the time at high rpm is low, and the race distance is short, so for the pieces subject to the highest mechanical and thermal loads at circuits like Spa and Monza, there is the opportunity for a small margin in Monaco. However, there are many pieces and systems in the engine for which the duty cycle of the circuit makes little difference. There are also failure modes that can be aggravated by the low engine speeds.
Q: What engine characteristics are most important in Monaco?
RW: More power is always better than less. Monaco is a circuit that rewards performance at low and medium RPM as well as maximum power. Tyre development and car performance improvements push downwards the minimum RPM at which the drivers use full throttle.The shape of the power curve is such that maximum power is achieved at very high RPM, so the maximum RPM is pushed upwards in the quest for power. The RS24B is well matched to these requirements, with more power than the RS24A at all useful RPM, a better torque curve shape and an extended RPM range.
Q: How does a Monaco engine differ in specification, and build? Are there specific areas that need to be adapted?
RW: The base specification of the RS24B engines used in Monaco is similar to that of the previous races. The engines for each GP are built with minor revisions according to the lessons learned in the analysis of engines from previous race and test events. Specifically for Monaco, special attention is paid to guarantee the behaviour and performance of the engine at very low speed and throttle settings. The engine must be predictable and driveable and the RS24 shows the results of 12 months' sustained effort to improve performance power, delivery and reliability. The engine engineers at the circuit will continue to work to refine the calibration of the control systems in order to achieve these characteristics.