Comments from the Renault team ahead of the Turkish Grand Prix Giancarlo Fisichella: "Focused on the weekend ahead" Q: Giancarlo, you endured a frustrating weekend in Hungary, with a tough race stuck in traffic and a penalty after ...
Comments from the Renault team ahead of the Turkish Grand Prix
Giancarlo Fisichella: "Focused on the weekend ahead"
Q: Giancarlo, you endured a frustrating weekend in Hungary, with a tough race stuck in traffic and a penalty after qualifying...
GF: Yes, it's true. My race was decided there and then on Saturday afternoon because as everybody knows, it is very hard to overtake in Budapest. What's more, my strategy had been calculated for a top ten starting spot. But the race is now in the past, and I am focused on the weekend ahead. We will be trying to have a strong race, it's important for me and for the team's championship position as well.
Q: After a three-week break, you will be returning to action at Istanbul Park, the newest F1 venue. Do you enjoy this circuit?
GF: Very much. It is a new generation circuit, everything is still very new and it is a properly challenging circuit. I have always raced well here in the past, and I hope it will be the case again this year.
Q: There is also the small matter of the circuit's "signature corner", the impressive turn 8...
GF: It is probably the most difficult corner in the whole championship. A long-left hander, with an apex speed of around 250 kph, for about 6.5 seconds. There are some high g-forces to contend with, on your body but especially on the neck, and it can be very difficult, especially at the end of the race. It is demanding for the drivers, but that is the attraction for us!
Q: On the technical front, what areas will you focus on in order to get the maximum from the car?
GF: Just like at every other circuit, the most important thing is to find a good handling balance. We need to find the correct compromise in terms of downforce, set the suspension quite stiff -- and to work hard to get a good level of traction. Our work during practice on Friday will focus on trying out some different set-ups, to give us a competitive car for qualifying and the race on Sunday.
Heikki Kovalainen: "I can't wait to get back on track this weekend"
Q: Heikki, what is your opinion of the Istanbul Park circuit?
HK: I actually drove an F1 car here last year when we did a demonstration run as part of the World Series by Renault race weekend, so I have some idea of how the circuit feels in an F1 car. It is a very tough circuit and I must say, one of my favourites. Everything has been really well thought-out, they did a fantastic job to bring F1 to Turkey and the atmosphere is always special, because the Turkish fans seem to really enjoy the race weekend. I can't wait to race in Istanbul.
Q: What are the keys to a good performance in Istanbul?
HK: There are a number of high-speed corners, and that means we have to focus most of all on the aero balance of the car, because aerodynamic grip is crucial. The surface is still very new, so it's smooth and that makes life a bit easier on the mechanical side, helping keep the car stable. The other important parameter will be getting good traction. These are all areas we will be working on during our three hours of practice on Friday, and I think we can find a good set-up compromise, as we managed at the last race in Budapest.
Q: Does a big corner like turn 8 make the circuit more difficult?
HK: I don't know about more difficult, but certainly more exciting! The conditions can be very hot as well, which makes the job tougher for the teams and the drivers. But in terms of turn 8, it is a fantastic corner, and one of the most enjoyable of the whole year!
Q: You are returning after the summer break. Was it useful to be able to recharge your batteries for the final part of the season?
HK: It was nice to have a short break, but I think it was most important for the race and test teams to have a break, especially after the difficult start to the season that we experienced. On my side, I went back to Finland to see my friends and family, and to do some training ahead of the next races -- and so I am ready for 58 laps through turn 8! It is always good to have some time off, but it has only made me more impatient to get back in the car. I can't wait to start driving again.
Bob Bell: "Continue our hard work"
The ING Renault F1 Team Technical Director evaluates the season so far, as the team prepares for the final six races.
Q: Bob, how would you summarise the 2007 season so far?
BB: It's no surprise to hear me say that this year has been a big disappointment. Our level of performance so far has been well below our expectations at the start of the season. But having said that, there have been a number of positives too, most importantly the way in which the team has handled, and responded to, what was a tough situation for all concerned.
Q: So what is the situation now, approaching race twelve in Turkey?
BB: We are not taking our foot off the pedal, and we are still working very hard for the final six races in the 2007 championship -- and beyond.
Q: Does that mean you will still have major developments to come this year?
BB: We will have some minor aerodynamic upgrades in Turkey, and a new aero package in Monza adapted to the very low drag set-up we require there. We will also be working hard to extract more performance at the track from our most recent developments. Back at the factory, though, the moment has come to focus our energies on 2008. We have always said that our problems this year would not compromise next year's programme, and that remains the case.
Q: What are your expectations for the race weekend in Turkey after the summer break?
BB: No team has been allowed to test, but everybody will have been working hard back at the factory. We have made progress, and I am sure other people have too. I think that the overall picture will be similar to recent races, and indeed should stay relatively stable until the end of the season in my opinion. Turkey is not a race that presents any extreme challenges, apart from the high temperatures we will have to face. And our objective will, as always, be to get the most out of our package.
Q: In terms of your direct competitors, how would you evaluate the situation at this stage of the season?
BB: The top two teams are clearly still a step ahead, and it will be difficult for anybody to race with them. Looking at BMW, they have taken a definite step forward in the last few races and they remain, at this stage of the year, quicker than us. Williams and Toyota have moved forward too. I think that it we continue to work well and to get the most from the car, then we are capable of beating BMW on a number of occasions before the end of the year. That remains our target.
Q: You hinted that 2008 is already a priority for the team. How is the R28 project progressing?
BB: Our design and development resources are already focusing intently on 2008. We began work on the car early, and our approach has been quite different to recent years. First and foremost, we had to be certain that our development tools were working correctly. Once this was confirmed, we began putting a lot of energy into the design of the new car. The project is on time, and we have been exploring some very interesting new development paths.
Over at Red Bull Racing with Fabrice Lom
Q: Fabrice, how did you prepare for the forthcoming race during the summer break?
Fabrice Lom: Unlike many of the other teams, we have been running during the summer break, with an aero test and a shakedown before sending the cars to Istanbul. That allowed us to calibrate some components ahead of the weekend, and to be in a position to get the most out of our package this weekend.
Q: Turkey is a challenging circuit for the drivers, particularly through turn 8. Is that also true for the engine?
FL: We are preparing for three very demanding races for the engines, with Istanbul, Monza and Spa. Each circuit is challenging in its own way. In Turkey, there are a number of long straights, which means long periods spent at full throttle -- which is always a challenge. Secondly, there is a fine dust all round the circuit, and that can pollute the engine unless precautions are taken. And finally the temperatures are generally very high, which must be taken into account when planning how to run the engine. All of that makes the Turkish Grand Prix an interesting challenge for our engine team!
Q: How do you think the RS27 will respond to the different challenges this weekend?
FL: We don't have any particular worries. At this stage of the season, we know the engine well, and its reliability has already been well tested. The drivers want a tractable, powerful and reliable engine at Istanbul, and the RS27 meets those criteria. So we should be able to perform strongly this weekend and, of course, will be doing our maximum to achieve that.