With two cars starting in the top five, including Fernando Alonso on pole position, Renault's Engineering Director Pat Symonds sat down to discuss the weekend so far. Q: Pat, rain on Friday disrupted much of your planned programme: what impact did ...
With two cars starting in the top five, including Fernando Alonso on pole position, Renault's Engineering Director Pat Symonds sat down to discuss the weekend so far.
Q: Pat, rain on Friday disrupted much of your planned programme: what impact did that have on your running on Saturday?
Pat Symonds: Fortunately, we did not have quite as much work to do as expected after the rain on Friday. We made balance changes overnight after our limited running in the first practice sessions, and we established quickly that they had worked well. Both drivers had found the initial balance good, and we were then able to fine-tune it during the morning sessions. We also completed enough running with the tyre types on Friday to be able to make our choice early Saturday morning, and we are very confident in its performance and degradation.
Q: Qualifying saw one of the team's strongest results of the year: what was your view of it?
PS: Fernando's lap today was near perfect, and particularly towards the end when he really made up time on his rivals. The quality of his lap is reflected in the fact that 1.1 seconds cover the top twelve cars, but he is nearly three tenths ahead of his nearest rival. Jarno's lap was not quite as clean, as he found the car more unstable in the fast corners than he would have liked. Nevertheless, he took fifth place, and was only one tenth away from being alongside Fernando on the front row.
Q: In terms of tomorrow's Grand Prix, what kind of race do you think we can expect?
PS: Magny-Cours does not generally produce classic races. Although the circuit features a long straight followed by a tight hairpin, it is actually very hard to challenge into this corner because it is hard to keep close to the car in front through turn 3. The only real way to overtake there is if the car in front makes a mistake through turn 3, and loses exit speed as a result. Otherwise, I estimate that you would probably need a 15 kph differential to pass under normal circumstances - and that is more than the gap between the fastest and slowest cars through the speed trap in qualifying today.
Q: Finally, the great unknown for the race is of course strategy. How will things pan out?
PS: I think it is possible we could see a few different strategies in the race. The limited running this weekend has made it more difficult than normal to put a precise figure on the level of tyre degradation, and while we are extremely happy with ours, this may lead to some strategy variations through the field. If people are going for three stops, I think we can probably expect them in around lap 14, followed by a second stop in the late 20s or early 30s, and a final stop in the late 40s. Those opting for two stops will probably pit for the first time around lap 18, and visit the pits for the final time in the early to mid 40s.