With Renault third and fifth on the grid, executive director of engineering Pat Symonds sat down to discuss the weekend so far, and the race ahead. "I think all the signs are there, that tomorrow will produce one of the best Grands Prix of the...
With Renault third and fifth on the grid, executive director of engineering Pat Symonds sat down to discuss the weekend so far, and the race ahead.
"I think all the signs are there, that tomorrow will produce one of the best Grands Prix of the season. Montreal is a circuit that often tends to produce good races -- the cars run close, and there are two overtaking opportunities, into the hairpin and the final corner."
"But what makes the prospects for tomorrow even more exciting is the fact that I believe we saw a strong likelihood emerge today that different strategies are being used at the front of the field."
With one or two exceptions this season -- most notably, recently, the second Ferrari of Barrichello -- strategies have been remarkably similar this year, in architecture although perhaps not execution. Why would that have changed?
"Well, Montreal is a circuit where, regardless of whatever else you do to the car, you always have to keep an eye on brake wear. The circuit rubbers in significantly during the race, because the initial grip level on the temporary surface is very low. This increase in grip brings a consequent increase in brake usage, and it therefore becomes critical to manage their wear over the race distance."
"With this in mind, it does appear to us that a number of teams have switched from an optimum two stop strategy to three stops, purely to keep brake performance good through the race."
If indeed the field does split between two and three-stop strategies, what then are the dangers for those running three stops?
"With the current format of qualifying, it effectively revolves around the timing of the first stop. Predictions suggest that the optimum point to make the first of three stops is around lap 10, while the window for the two-stoppers will open from lap 18."
"Making a stop as early as lap 10, the danger is that you get mixed up in the slower two-stop runners -- much as we found to our cost two weeks ago in Germany. Although it is easier to overtake here than at the Nürburgring, Michael (Schumacher) demonstrated last year that if you want to keep slower cars behind you, it is definitely possible at this circuit."
"The other thing to bear in mind, strategically, is that there are many places around the Montreal circuit from which it is difficult to recover a car that has stopped. Historically, we have seen more use of the safety car here than at most other circuits, and this can -- depending on its timing -- greatly assist or completely destroy a strategy."
Barring any such incidents, though, how does the Engineering Director think Renault will do tomorrow?
"Our performance through practice has been excellent, and on high fuel loads, we are very competitive. The team is very confident that we have the necessary pace, and we have not had to compromise our strategy. While we cannot take into account any unexpected incidents, if all things remain equal, we should have a very competitive day. But whatever the outcome, I think we are assured of one of the best, and most intriguing, races of the season."