Less than two months before departure for Melbourne, the Renault F1 Team's Managing Director Flavio Briatore talks about the coming weeks, and his optimism for 2004. Q: How is work progressing at the Renault F1 Team this winter? Flavio...
Less than two months before departure for Melbourne, the Renault F1 Team's Managing Director Flavio Briatore talks about the coming weeks, and his optimism for 2004.
Q: How is work progressing at the Renault F1 Team this winter?
Flavio Briatore: Enstone and Viry are working together better than ever before. Renault really made a name for itself in Formula 1 this year: people have forgotten Benetton, or Renault as an engine supplier. We are one Renault team, working harder than before, and working better. The structures we have now put in place are the right ones, and the team is very strong, very motivated. We have assembled a group of people who want to win.
Q: You have recently announced a new major sponsor: how do you see the commercial climate of F1 at the moment?
FB: We have an excellent relationship with Japan Tobacco, our title sponsor and thanks to our performances in 2003, we have signed a very important agreement with i-mode. There will be more sponsors before the start of the season as well. I think that overall, the environment is very healthy for Formula 1. 2004 will be an important year, expanding to China and Bahrain: this is now an international sport, not just European or South American. F1 costs a lot of money, and exploring new markets and new countries is part of getting a good return on that investment.
Q: How about the changes for 2004?
FB: I think the engine changes are a step in the right direction: they will save money in the long term, even though meeting the regulations will be a challenge for everyone this year. As for other changes, I still believe we are doing too much testing. In 2003, we proved with the Heathrow Agreement that the efficiency of your work is as important as how many days you run: our rate of development matched the top teams throughout the year. Our business is Grand Prix racing, not testing: races are what people come to watch. Personally, I would welcome more races and less testing, but there are other people who think differently.
Q: And what about Renault in 2004? How do you expect things to go?
FB: 2003 was an exceptional year for us. As for the coming season, there is nothing to say just yet. We are concentrating on finishing the car, and producing a reliable, competitive engine. What I can say is, we are optimistic about the engine, and those of us who have seen the new car in the wind tunnel are very excited indeed about 2004.