Renault: 2008 British GP preview 

Written by David on June 30th, 2008 at 5:48 pmLast Update: June 30th, 2008 at 5:48 pm

ING RenaultQ. Bob, the team came away from France with its first double points finish of the season. Happy with the result? Bob Bell: “Although we’re obviously very pleased to see both cars finish the race in the points, I don’t think we can be totally satisfied with the result. I think Nelson got as much out of the race as he was ever likely to given his starting position, but it was obviously a great disappointment that Fernando was unable to bring home a potential podium finish, which is ultimately what we were aiming for.”

Q. Fernando’s qualifying form was again exceptional, but he struggled in the race. Is it fair to say that the team needs to work on improving its race pace? Bob Bell: “We were fairly confident that we could convert Fernando’s grid position into a podium finish, but he lost pace in the race, primarily in his first stint, and after that it was all over in terms of our hopes for a podium. We don’t fully understand yet why that was the case and so we are examining the data to try and get to the root cause of why he lost performance. So, yes, overall it is fair to say that we have seen more improvement in terms of our qualifying pace than we have seen in race conditions, and we need to address that.”

Q. Nelson had a great weekend and scored his first points in Formula One. How did you assess his performance? Bob Bell: “I think that Nelson did a very creditable job and he kept improving throughout the race weekend. In the practice sessions on Friday he was quite a way off Fernando, and yet by the end of the weekend he was right up there with him and ultimately brought home more points. So it was a really positive weekend for him, which is great for his self-confidence. Hopefully it will act as a launch pad for the second half of the year as we travel to some of the European tracks that he has raced on before. I think this is a real opportunity for him to show his true colours.”

Q. Looking ahead to the British Grand Prix, what can we expect from the R28? Bob Bell: “I think we’re pretty upbeat about Silverstone. It’s a medium / high down force track with some high-speed corners – a bit like Barcelona – and the R28 has generally gone well in this configuration. You need good change of direction; good traction; good high-speed performance and so I think it will suit the strengths of the car. And having tested at Silverstone last week we should be able to dial the car in quickly to the circuit and find a good set-up.”

Q. Will there be further developments in time for the British Grand Prix? Bob Bell: “We hope to have some new parts on the car for Silverstone, but they will probably be very late additions and we cannot say for sure whether they will make the car. We ran them in the test last week and hopefully they will allow us to take another small step forward.”

Q. Silverstone will be the second home race for the team – is it a special feeling to race there? Bob Bell: “Yes it is. It’s pretty much the home Grand Prix for Enstone, and it’s a special race for everyone who works in England in the Formula One industry. With our factory being so close to the circuit, we are always determined to put on a special show there.”

Q. We’re approaching the half-way point of the season. What is the target for the second half of the year? Bob Bell: “It’s very much as it was for the first half of the season. We have got to keep developing the R28 to put us in a position were we’re regularly challenging BMW and McLaren and fighting for podiums by the end of the season. We need to do that so that we can go into 2009 feeling confident that we can move on from our current position to where we should be, which is at the front.”

Q. Nelson, you scored your first points in France. How special was that? Nelson Piquet: “It felt great to score my first points as I have been waiting for this moment since the beginning of the year. It took a bit longer than I would have liked, but the early races were not easy for me or the team. In France everything just came together for us – we ran without any problems and improved the car throughout the weekend, and so I was well prepared for the race and felt comfortable with the car.”

Q. Has the result given you more confidence for the second half of the season? Nelson Piquet: “I hope I can carry this momentum into the next part of the season, starting with the next race at Silverstone, but this result hasn’t changed anything inside me – I knew what I was capable of and that things would come right eventually. I think I will have a stronger second half of the year as I have more experience to draw on and I have learnt an enormous amount from the first eight races. Every second you spend in the car, you learn a bit more, and you become a bit more confident: it’s just a natural learning process and it takes time.”

Q. What are you hoping for from Silverstone? Isn’t it one of your favourite circuits? Nelson Piquet: “Yes, I like the track and we tested there last week so we have the car quite well sorted already. Obviously the aim is to score more points, and to be matching my teammate, but, as we saw in France, the midfield pack is very competitive and a lot of the cars are fighting on the same level: just a few tenths can be the difference between qualifying in 8th or 16th. And qualifying will be especially important at Silverstone because overtaking is not easy due to the high-speed nature of the track.”

Q. Silverstone is the second home race for the team, and you also live in the UK. Does that make it more special? Nelson Piquet: “I guess it will feel a bit like a home race for me, and it’s also nice for the members of the team who are based at the factory in Enstone to come and support the team. But all the races are just as important as each other, and I will approach the race in my normal way by pushing to the maximum all weekend and aiming for another points finish.”

Q. Fernando, you scored a point in the French Grand Prix, yet you had other hopes for Renault’s home Grand Prix? Fernando Alonso: “Yes, after the qualifying session I thought that for the first time this year we could aim for the podium, so I was understandably disappointed with the final result. My race didn’t start well as I lost some ground, and after that I was not able to find the pace I had shown on Saturday. The car had good straight-line speed, but I still couldn’t make any progress. I scored a point, which is something, and I’m determined to do better this coming weekend.”

Q. How are you approaching the British Grand Prix this weekend? Fernando Alonso: “I am positive because we saw in Magny-Cours that we are making progress, although we know there is still a lot to do. We did three days of testing at Silverstone last week with Nelson when we worked on the set-up of the car, tested some new parts, evaluated the tyres, and so we now have a good feeling for the track. That will certainly help for the first practice session and for improving the car throughout the weekend.”

Q. The factory in Enstone is less than an hour down the road from Silverstone… Fernando Alonso: “After Magny-Cours, this is another home race for us and there will be lots of members of the team there to support us on Sunday. A good result there will be very important for the whole team.”

Q. What can you tell us about the Silverstone circuit? Fernando Alonso: “It really is a classic circuit on the F1 calendar. The track is very demanding for the cars, just as it is for the drivers, especially through the quick corners where the chassis needs to be well balanced. It’s also quite a physical circuit with lots of G-forces for the driver to cope with. A good lap at Silverstone is always exhilarating because the car and the driver must both be at their optimum.”

source: ING RenaultĀ 

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