Renault's Fernando Alonso sat down ahead of the Malaysian race weekend to discuss his assessment of the new rules, and his mount for 2005, the R25. Q: Both yourself and Giancarlo have said the R25 is a car with reactions you can trust. What is...
Renault's Fernando Alonso sat down ahead of the Malaysian race weekend to discuss his assessment of the new rules, and his mount for 2005, the R25.
Q: Both yourself and Giancarlo have said the R25 is a car with reactions you can trust. What is the advantage of that?
Fernando Alonso: The first thing is you notice it on the lap times, but really, it just gives you confidence. Every time you leave the pit-lane, you believe in the car and you can keep your driving under control all the time -- then you cross the line, and the lap-times are good. It is a good feeling, and to know that whatever the conditions, you can be in or around the top five -- as we saw in Australia. That is the benefit of having confidence in your car.
Q: During the winter, some commentators suggested you might have to alter your aggressive style to suit the new tyre rules. Has that been the case?
FA: No, not really. I think for 2005, it is not the driving style that is so important, but to understand how to change your pace in race conditions. When you are in traffic, you always need to be thinking about how you can save the tyres -- to make the most of them when the track is clear.
Q: You have now experienced a full race weekend under the new regulations, although in strange weather conditions. What do you think of it?
FA: From the perspective of the teams and drivers, I don't think it is a perfect solution -- because we always want as much time as possible to set up the car and choose tyres. But I think Melbourne showed that it can be very spectacular for the spectators.
With the new format, any small problem in practice that stops you running will be a big handicap for qualifying -- and I think we will see more different teams in the top half of the grid this year. That will make the races more interesting, which I think is the reason the rules were changed. I think they will work.
Q: With much more limited running in free practice, the teams possess much less data than they did in previous seasons. Does that make the driver's role even more important?
FA: When it comes to preparing for the race, yes, I think it changes some things. After all, as the driver, you are the only one who knows how the car feels, and who experiences the change in tyre performance, or the fuel effect as the car gets lighter. We need to give the right comments to really prepare the race as strongly as possible. So I think we have a bigger role to play this year than before.
Q: Talking about the race, when you are in the car, do you talk a lot on the radio? What information do you need?
FA: The priority is to understand the race situation -- I always have a picture in my head of what is happening. I need to see the positions in front of me and behind, to understand what the other cars are doing with the strategy and which lap they stopped. Most of that information, I can get it from watching the mirrors and the people in front. But if I miss something, that is normally when I ask for information on the radio -- to put the final pieces of the picture together.
Q: Do you feel you have progressed as a driver since last year?
FA: Yes, but I'm not sure I should say exactly where! There is not one thing I can put my finger on, and say that's it, but I think every time you drive the car, you learn something new. This winter, we have done 8000 km with the new car -- and that was plenty of time to learn and develop.
Q: How well do you think the R25 will suit Sepang?
FA: For the drivers, the time when we really feel the difference of the R25 is in high speed corners, so Sepang is obviously one of the races we are looking forward to this year. I love the track, there are lots of long, fast corners and it is a place where you really see the potential of the cars.
In Melbourne, I think the difference between the best and the worst car is quite close, because all you have to do is brake for the slow corners, turn in and get back on the throttle. Sepang is very different, and there is a huge difference from the best to worst cars. I think we will see more of the potential of the R25 in Malaysia.