Comments from the Renault team ahead of the Monaco Grand Prix Fernando Alonso Q: Fernando, tell us about driving at Monaco... FA: It is great -- especially on the first laps on Thursday when you have to get used to everything again, it is a...
Comments from the Renault team ahead of the Monaco Grand Prix
Q: Fernando, tell us about driving at Monaco...
FA: It is great -- especially on the first laps on Thursday when you have to get used to everything again, it is a special feeling. By Sunday, once we have run in free practice and we are really comfortable with the track, then things feel more normal, but it is still a unique race for the drivers and the teams. Every team brings a special package for Monaco, and we need to have a special mentality in the car. You cannot make any mistakes in Monte-Carlo, and that means 100% concentration from Thursday to Sunday. Mentally, it is very demanding.
Q: People often say this is the definitive driver's circuit?
FA: Historically, people have said that, but everything needs to be good. In the three years I have driven there, I have driven the same way -- but a few years ago I was back in the pack, then last year with Renault we were fighting for the win. The car is very important as well: you need good suspension, the aero is maybe less important, but the engine must be good, and soft in the power delivery. The R25 is easy to drive, and predictable, so I think we have a strong car for this circuit.
Q: Did the pace of McLaren surprise you in Barcelona?
FA: Honestly, no. We knew they were a bit quicker than us all weekend, they had a new package there and it did the job. But I don't think the race gave a representative picture of the difference between our cars, because Kimi was able to pull away too easily in the first stint as I was struggling with the car. I think we will be much more equal in Monaco, and am feeling very confident.
Q: You will have a major aero update on the car -- is that a boost?
FA: For sure. It well help in performance, no doubt, but also it shows that the team is fighting as well. Everybody here at Renault is pushing, and doing their part: the race team, the test team, and all the factories are going to flat out to keep us on the top. We are not telling ourselves any stories -- we know that is what we need to do in order to get the results. And I think we are doing a very competitive job so far. In Monaco, we will be aiming for the podium from the start of the weekend -- and then we need to see things unfold, and how we can fight for more.
Q: Giancarlo, you have said that Monaco is your favourite race -- what makes it special?
GF: It is just a special weekend for me. I feel very comfortable there -- I used to live in Monaco, and now I bring my boat down for the race, which means all my family can come and stay as well. I actually drive the boat from Italy up to Monte-Carlo, spend time relaxing in the days before and then during the race weekend, when the day is over it is great to go back on the boat and spend time with my family.
Q: What about the circuit -- how does it challenge the driver?
GF: I have very good feeling with this circuit. You need to be very precise with the car, and be aggressive without making mistakes. I love the sensation of driving through the streets, and really pushing to the limit. In the past, I have always gone well in Monaco, and it should be the same this year.
Q: So, you are feeling positive ahead of the race?
GF: Definitely. I have been on the podium twice in Monaco, and I think I am with the right team for this race -- Renault did a great job last year with Jarno to win the race, and the R25 will definitely be fast there. What's even more important is that I think I can have a good race weekend from the start now: I am in the right place in first qualifying, near the end of the session when track conditions will be best, and that means I can fight to get a good grid position, which is so important in Monaco.
It feels like I have broken out of the cycle I was in, where I kept on having to qualify early. That is one thing, and now with Renault, I have a great car. As I said, I have already finished third and second in Monaco. It would be wonderful to go one better this year.
Bob Bell, Technical Director
Q: Bob, how pleased were you with the team's performance in Barcelona?
BB: I was very proud of our result there. It could easily have been second and third with Fisi and Fernando, which would have been a tremendous achievement, but even to finish second and fifth speaks very highly of the drivers, who both had to deal with adversity in the race. It reflects well on the team, too, because it shows that we are operating in a manner that if things go badly, we are able to recover from it and salvage points. I don't think that is something we were capable of doing a few years ago, but it most definitely is what you need to be capable of in order to fight for a championship.
Q: Did the drivers impress you in the race?
BB: Absolutely. We have always said about Giancarlo, and the same is true of Fernando, that they do not give up. They both race until the chequered flag and even if they have something happen -- like the problem for Fisi, or Fernando's tyre blistering -- they do not let their heads drop. As a team, that is what you want from the drivers. It proves they are 100% committed.
Q: Finally, the team won in Monaco last year -- can you do it again?
BB: We certainly hope so. One of the puzzling things about last year with the R24 was that the car was difficult to drive on the limit, yet it flew round Monaco -- the last place where you would want a difficult car. I think what we have seen with the R25 is that where the competitiveness of last year's car was up and down, this season we have lifted those 'downs' to a consistent overall level of performance.
So far, Michelin have been extremely consistent in their level of performance this year. Their tyres have been historically strong in Monaco, and we are confident they will deliver a good solution once again. At every race so far, we have been quickest or next quickest -- over five different circuits, in varying conditions. I anticipate that we will go very well in Monaco, and that we will see both drivers fighting for the podium.