The ING Renault F1 Team looks forward to round seven of the season, the Turkish Grand Prix at Istanbul Park. Fernando Alonso: "It's important that we score points at every race" Fernando, you picked up a couple points in Monaco -- tell us ...
The ING Renault F1 Team looks forward to round seven of the season, the Turkish Grand Prix at Istanbul Park.
Fernando Alonso: "It's important that we score points at every race"
Fernando, you picked up a couple points in Monaco -- tell us about your race?
It was a tough race, just as it always is in Monaco and very demanding mentally. Starting ninth made it difficult to do much in the race and even with a good strategy we only managed to make up a couple of positions as the traffic did not work out well for us. To score two points is probably the best result that was possible on the day, although the car felt good and improved during the race. It's important that we continue scoring points at every race as they will all be important at the end of the year.
The next race is at Istanbul Park in Turkey -- is it a circuit you enjoy?
Yes, it's a fun circuit with good overtaking opportunities, especially turn 12 at the end of the back straight, which leads into the final complex of low-speed corners. There are also fast sections and some special corners like the long left-hander of turn 8, which is one of the most exciting of the year. The challenge of Istanbul Park is to find the right balance so that you have a responsive car that works well in the fast and slow sections.
Are you happy with the development of the R29 so far this season?
It's clear that we need to take another step forward. We will have new developments for the car over the next few weeks and that should help, but I'm not expecting to jump to the front of the grid in Turkey. However, I still believe that later in the year we can be back fighting for podiums and winning races, just as we did last year. We know it won't be easy, but the whole team is extremely motivated and determined to get back to the front.
Nelson Piquet: "I'm fully concentrated on getting the most from the car this weekend"
Nelson, you were out of luck in Monaco, but your race was looking promising...
It was a really frustrating race for me. I made a good start and had gained a place by the first corner, but a few laps into the race I got hit hard from behind by Sebastien Buemi, which damaged the car and ended my race. It's such a shame as I was running a good strategy: I was heavy on fuel and probably could have scored some points. Unfortunately there's nothing you can do in these situations and so I need to put the disappointment behind me and concentrate on getting the most from the car again this weekend.
Istanbul Park is a popular venue for the teams -- is it one of your favourites?
I do enjoy driving there as it's quite a varied track with some slow and fast sections. Turn 8 is the high-speed corner that everybody talks about as there's nothing else like it all season. It's a very physical corner which feels like it goes on forever and that makes it tough for the tyres. We will have less aero grip this year, but with slicks tyres I think we will still be able to take it almost flat-out.
What's your objective for this weekend?
My priority is to try and score some points to help the team in the championship. The track should suit the car and we will also have some new updates this weekend which should give us some extra performance. We need to qualify well, hopefully in the top ten, and choose an aggressive strategy so that we can move forward in the race.
Pat Symonds: "Turkey is a venue that we go to with confidence"
Pat, were you satisfied with the performance of the R29 in Monaco?
I was partially satisfied with our performance as we were still around 1% from the fastest car in qualifying, which is obviously a big improvement compared with where we were earlier in the season. We had the fourth fastest lap of the race, which was close to the leading pace, although that needs to be understood in the context of when it happened in the race. I'm satisfied with the progress we're making both aerodynamically and mechanically, but I won't be totally satisfied until we are on the podium.
Fernando and Nelson had mixed fortunes in Monaco -- how are they coping with the season so far?
Fernando has been working really hard and extracting the maximum from the car and every situation. He's really driving as well as I've ever seen him drive, although like all of us he's frustrated that we're not fighting in the position we'd like to be.
Nelson continues to improve and strengthen as the season unfolds. In Monaco he was very close to Fernando in qualifying and considering the high standard that Fernando sets, I think he can be proud of the work he is doing. He was very unfortunate in the race and there was absolutely no blame attached to Nelson and quite unusually we received an email from Toro Rosso apologising for the incident!
The team will introduce updates in Turkey -- what areas have you focussed on to improve performance?
As always the primary focus is on aerodynamics and for Turkey the attention has been on the front wing and the end plates with updates in those areas. The front wing is such an important area of the car because it's the first part to meet the air and the flow that comes off it determines the aerodynamics behind it. So that's where our focus is, but we aren't ignoring the other areas as we're continually working on the suspension and will do so again in Turkey. These won't be huge updates, nor changes to the geometry, but they focus on the fundamental way we set the car up in combination with the aerodynamics so that we can get the two to work in harmony.
Turkey has a mix of high and low-speed sections -- will that play to our strengths?
The car continues to improve and we've seen from the published apex speeds that we seem to be quite strong in the medium and high-speed corners. Turn 8 in Turkey is the really challenging corner and I think our car will be good through there. It's a quick corner and was almost taken flat last year so we'll have to see what it's like with reduced aerodynamics this year. Certainly Istanbul Park is a circuit that we go to with confidence.
What's team morale like after the first third of the season?
We're a team that has always had and continues to have strong morale. We're all very impressed with the work being done back at base to improve the car by the research and design teams and seeing how quickly we can introduce new parts, such as our new diffuser, does a lot for the morale of everybody in the team. We're fighting hard; we're very ambitious and we know where we want to be and we're working hard to get there.