US GP Benetton technical preview

Director of Engineering, Pat Symonds The Mild Seven Benetton Renault Sport team's technical staff looks ahead to this weekend's United States Grand Prix and explain their preparations and strategy for the Indianapolis race. Technical...

Director of Engineering, Pat Symonds
The Mild Seven Benetton Renault Sport team's technical staff looks ahead to this weekend's United States Grand Prix and explain their preparations and strategy for the Indianapolis race.

Technical Director Mike Gascoyne says the team are expecting a strong performance after a positive Silverstone test last week, and also explains how the team have overcome the problems in getting to America.

"In preparation, we conducted a three-day test at Silverstone last week, which proved reasonably useful in spite of the (poor) weather.

"We feel the Indianapolis track will suit the B201, particularly with our recent chassis and engine improvements. Tyres will be critical throughout the weekend, and with new dry and wet compounds from Michelin, we are confident of a good level of competitiveness.

"After the traumatic events of the last few weeks, the team are determined to put on a good professional show for the enjoyment of the American fans. The difficulties in travel at the moment have presented us with a number of logistical problems, but everyone has worked extremely hard to ensure that it causes us a minimum of disruption."

Director of Engineering Pat Symonds explains that the experience gained at last year's inaugural Indianapolis race will prove invaluable as the team return to the challenging American circuit.

"Last year posed many new challenges and questions. With a year's experience, we now have answers to some of these questions. The circuit itself is quite unique: the section utilising the existing oval is extremely fast and includes the famous banked corner, whereas the new part of the track, located in the infield is quite tight and twisty.

"Last year, thanks to the sophistication of computer simulation, a number of teams arrived with different solutions to the compromises the circuit requires. By the end of the weekend, all the teams seemed to have found a common approach to achieving the optimum lap time."

Symonds also predicts the use of softer tyre compounds, and hence faster lap times, this year after last season's race proved to be less taxing on tyres than expected.

"Teams were concerned about the loads which would be imposed on the car by the high-speed banking, but in the end the computer simulations were vindicated and the loads imposed on the tyres no higher than at many other circuits.

"For this reason, we expect lap times to drop considerably this year as the tyre companies take a more aggressive attitude with softer, and hence quicker, compounds.

Finally, Symonds adds that reliability and a strong qualifying performance will be essential to achieving a good result at Indianapolis this weekend.

"The circuit can also be very hard on engines: between the last and first corners, the cars are on full throttle for 24 seconds, which is the longest single period experienced at any current grand prix circuit. However, even taking into account the high-speed section, it is a very difficult track to overtake on, and a high premium is placed on grid position.

"We used a single stop race strategy last year, although the weather played a part in altering the teams' plans. This year, with softer tyre compounds, the situation will have to be re-evaluated."

-Benetton-

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Mike Gascoyne
Teams Benetton