Renault's executive director of engineering Pat Symonds explains the impact of changes to the sporting regulations for 2006 Q: Pat, the most significant change to the sporting regulations comes in the form of tyre usage, both in the race and ...
Renault's executive director of engineering Pat Symonds explains the impact of changes to the sporting regulations for 2006
Q: Pat, the most significant change to the sporting regulations comes in the form of tyre usage, both in the race and through the weekend. What is your perspective on the change?
Pat Symonds: Going back to tyre changes during the race is not a step into the unknown because it marks a return to the sprint races we have seen since the mid-90s. The more interesting point is to do with tyre usage and selection. Unlike last year, we are now totally free and do not have to make our tyre choice until qualifying starts; indeed, we can now start the race on new tyres and fit new tyres all the way through the race, if we choose to. The key thing is that we only have seven sets in total. Managing tyre usage is now a key strategic choice during the weekend.
Q: What does this change for the set-up, and strategies?
PS: The car will be configured differently, we can be more aggressive in our set-ups if the tyres don't have to last for the whole race and we will be less worried about tyre wear in 2006. Conversely, problems like graining will become an issue once again. Finally, it has an impact on strategy. In 2006, I think we will see more pit-stops and more strategic variation, to take advantage of the performance gain from fitting new tyres.
Q: The weekend format has also changed -- will that affect the amount of running you do?
PS: I think it almost certainly will, especially regarding the Friday test sessions. Those teams with the advantage of the third car will run a lot, but for the top four teams, there will be much less activity. The tyre situation is one reason, but we also have a longer qualifying procedure -- which will use up engine mileage. We will be managing engine life very carefully once again in 2006, especially at the beginning of the year when all the teams will have brand new units. Everybody will look to limit their running on Friday.
Q: Do you expect the nature of the races to change?
PS: Each team will strike a balance between the optimum race strategy, and the fight for grid position. For the cars outside the top ten, the logical thing to do is to carry as heavy a fuel load, as your tyres will allow you to. This will allow you to pit later, and perhaps make fewer stops, in order to gain track position during the race. In the front half, the balance between fuel load and grid position will be more delicate. I certainly believe the qualifying format will split the race into two very distinct halves in 2006, at least in the opening stages of the Grand Prix.