Renault's top engineer Pat Symonds discusses Jarno Trulli's pole lap -- and the potential strategies for tomorrow. Q: Pat, Renault will start the race from first and third tomorrow: what was your view of the drivers' performance this ...
Renault's top engineer Pat Symonds discusses Jarno Trulli's pole lap -- and the potential strategies for tomorrow.
Q: Pat, Renault will start the race from first and third tomorrow: what was your view of the drivers' performance this afternoon?
PS: During qualifying at Monaco, the biggest problem comes from over-driving, and I have seen some very good drivers come here and do exactly that. Fernando put in an excellent lap to go fourth -- it was very clean, and the data showed no mistakes at all. That puts into perspective how well Jarno drove. It was an exceptionally good lap, and he really got the maximum possible from the package. It was an outstanding performance.
Q: And what about the R24 -- the drivers have said it has been difficult to drive in the early part of the season. How has the car performed?
PS: We have been the first to admit this year that we have not been satisfied with the chassis performance, and the drivers have complained of inconsistency in its handling. This has led to a lot of work at the factory and during testing to try and understand, then cure, the problems. We do feel we have made gains recently but, having said that, we are not forgetting that Monaco is a very unique circuit. While we are pleased with the car's performance this weekend, we must strive to improve it further and confirm that progress at other circuits.
Q: The other key part of the package is the tyres. How are they performing this weekend?
PS: We are very pleased with the performance of the tyres Michelin has given us. Tyre degradation is minimal here at Monaco because of the low grip levels, and our tyres have given both very good first-lap performance but also excellent consistency. Even on Thursday when the circuit was very green, we did not experience any graining. The tyres are another factor that makes us confident for tomorrow.
Q: In terms of strategy, how do you expect the race to unfold?
PS: Strategy at Monaco is unique -- and more so than anywhere else, starting at the front is critically important. However, although it is unique, it is also true to say that there was not much variation in strategies last year. In 2003 most of the first stops came in the high twenties in terms of lap number, and I would expect that in common with the pattern this year, we will see this move forward, with cars stopping anything up to ten laps earlier. I think it is still likely that most people will make two stops. From our own point of view, I prefer to consider strategy as applying to how we conduct the entire race weekend. We have got two good qualifying positions, but also are confident that our work in practice has given us a good car in race trim.
Q: Finally, what are your objectives for tomorrow's race?
PS: Given the importance of qualifying well here, our prospects for tomorrow must be the most favourable so far this season. We will aim to have a clean, trouble-free race and concentrate on minimising the loss of time when we encounter the inevitable traffic. Our pit-stops this year have been the best at every race and of course, this is something we hope to use this to our advantage once again. However, Monaco is always an extremely circumstantial Grand Prix: the way the race unfolds depends in large part on traffic. Whatever plans or predictions you make, it is still very much down to the luck of the draw.