Renault Technical Director Mike Gascoyne gives his thoughts on the season so far and what the future holds. With the Renault F1 Team currently holding a comfortable fourth place in the Constructors Championship, Renaultf1.com sat down with ...
Renault Technical Director Mike Gascoyne gives his thoughts on the season so far and what the future holds.
With the Renault F1 Team currently holding a comfortable fourth place in the Constructors Championship, Renaultf1.com sat down with Technical Director Mike Gascoyne at the Team's Enstone base for a technical round-up of the first half of the 2003 season. Overall, Mike is pleased with the performance of his team's most recent creation, the R23: "We are fourth in a championship where the top four teams are all extremely competitive. So far, the most pleasing aspects of our season have been our excellent reliability, and Fernando's fantastic performances."
The nature of the game, though, is to always be looking for more, and Gascoyne is no exception to the rule: "Having said that, I am slightly disappointed in some respects: in Barcelona especially, but also in Canada, we saw that the car was quick enough to win, while at Monaco our performance was not as good as we had hoped. Jarno has not had much luck this year, particularly in Malaysia and Spain where we proved very competitive, and I would only be totally happy if the Team had kept the third place in the Championship we held earlier in the season. That would be a better reflection of the car's full potential."
At the start of the season, there was speculation that the decision to adopt the Heathrow Agreement, limiting the Team's testing time away from race weekends, would harm development of the car later in the season. It is a suggestion Mike is quick to counter.
"We always knew the extra running on Friday morning would benefit us at the race weekend, and in fact I think it has perhaps done so even more than we expected. Away from the races, the priority has been to make the most of the limited time we have at our disposal. We worked very hard over the winter on making our testing operation more efficient, and the result is that we have perhaps tested more things, and worked better, because we have been extremely rigorous about how we have gone about it."
"The trick in the second half of the season will be to ensure we maintain our advantage at the races, without incurring any disadvantage because of a lack of development time at test sessions. I certainly don't see any reason why we should suffer; overall, the decision has benefited the drivers at the race-track, as well as making the team a more efficient operation."
Development of the R23 will continue under the guidance of Chief Designer Tim Densham until the very last race. At Enstone, though, design of the 2004 car is also well underway, under the supervision of Mark Smith, the team's second Chief Designer, and his team.
"The twin-shift system we have put in place will allow Tim to concentrate on R23 right up until the end of the season, and we still have a lot of new things to come on the car," explains Mike. "However, Mark and his group have been working full time on next year's car for over six months already. The procedure worked excellently this year, when we made a big step forward from the R202, and we are confident that will be the case for 2004 as well."