Both Renaults were hampered by debris during the German Grand Prix last weekend. Executive director of engineering Pat Symonds discusses a strange set of circumstances. Q: Pat, both cars had disrupted races, but the team still scored six ...
Both Renaults were hampered by debris during the German Grand Prix last weekend. Executive director of engineering Pat Symonds discusses a strange set of circumstances.
Q: Pat, both cars had disrupted races, but the team still scored six points. What were things like from your perspective?
Pat Symonds: We were pretty busy from start to finish. When you have that many incidents, we have to adapt to each one, and we had to work pretty hard up on the pit-wall yesterday. All in all, in light of the different incidents both cars experienced, third place is not too bad a result.
Q: What exactly happened to Fernando?
PS: He lost his right-front forward barge-board, although we did not know it at the time, and this lodged under the car. It had a dramatic impact on the distribution of the downforce, pushing it backwards by about 8%. We could also see on the telemetry that the car was not touching the ground as it should at the front, because the temperatures in the skid blocks were much lower than usual, so there was clearly something stuck under there. Suddenly, though, everything went back to normal, and Fernando's lap-times were right back where they should have been. It is not often you see cars fix themselves!
Q: From the outside, Fernando's speed looked to tail off: presumably, that was not the whole story.?
PS: I think it was a stunning drive from Fernando, because the car must have been practically undriveable in the condition it was. But he adapted very quickly, and his lap-times were improving even as he was fighting the problem. Fernando showed once again that he is very good at adapting to an imperfect car.
Q: What about Jarno? His race never seemed to recover from problems in the second stint.
PS: Jarno looked very strong until the first stops, and indeed when he emerged from the pits after his first stop, he had almost managed to jump ahead of Fernando. Unfortunately, though, he hit the rear wing flap from Raikkonen's McLaren and this lodged beneath the car in a similar fashion to Fernando's problem. However, Jarno was particularly unlucky to have this happen so early in the race, with so many competitors close behind him. By the time he had pitted, we had lost time and position. Even so, he continued to push and when he was not caught in traffic, his lap-times were actually very similar to Fernando's.
Q: Finally, before the race you had said tyres would be a key factor: how pleased were you with the tyre management during the race?
PS: We spent a lot of time testing at Jerez the week before the race, looking specifically at how we could protect the tyres, and that work paid off: we handled it very well. Hockenheim is a massively hard circuit for the tyres and apart from a small amount of blistering on Fernando's second set, we experienced no problems at all.