Renault: 2008 Turkish GP preview 

Written by David on May 05th, 2008 at 11:14 amLast Update: May 05th, 2008 at 11:14 am

ING RenaultQ. Pat, ultimately the Spanish Grand Prix was a case of unrealised potential, but the team took a big step forward in terms of performance. How do you look back on the weekend? Pat Symonds: “When we went testing in Barcelona before the Grand Prix, we only knew what improvements we had made to our own vehicle, and we had to keep in mind that all the other teams would have new upgrades coming for the first European race. So although we were confident that we had improved, all that really mattered was how much we had improved compared to the others. It was still not until Saturday afternoon and qualifying that we had a true idea of where we stood. So to get both cars into the top ten in qualifying was a big relief; we now know that the pace really is there relative to the others.”

Q. Fernando’s home race ended prematurely – how did he feel after the race? Pat Symonds: “Fernando was pretty upbeat after the race, which is a good attitude to have because although it’s terribly disappointing to have the promise unfulfilled, it’s better than not having any promise at all. That’s the attitude the whole team has taken to the result because we were racing a lot closer towards the front than we have been for a considerable period of time. But we need to start scoring points again and if we had not shown the potential we did in Spain, then I don’t think we would know how we were going to get those points. The fact is that we have shown the potential and therefore we can go out and race for the points.”

Q. As you say Nelson had another short lived race after a midfield collision, but how was his weekend overall? Pat Symonds: “It was very nearly a perfect weekend, spoiled by one mistake, which is a great shame because on Friday, when the track conditions were poor, he dealt with the car exceptionally well. He was quick on Saturday and his qualifying time in Q2 was very impressive and right up there with Fernando’s time. So it was great to see him reach Q3, where his fuel-corrected time was still impressive and was not far behind Fernando. And let’s remember that we are comparing a rookie with a double world champion, and so to be close to Fernando is a great credit. It’s just a pity that the race was spoiled by one silly mistake, which ultimately led to the collision with Bourdais.”

Q. Can the team deliver an equally strong performance in Istanbul? Pat Symonds: “Aerodynamic efficiency pays dividends at nearly every track, and so there is no reason to believe that we will not be in a similar position in Istanbul. I firmly believe that we are within 1% of the leading team now, which is a big improvement from where we were at the beginning of the season. But we must not be complacent because there is still a lot to do and so we will introduce further aero upgrades in time for Istanbul.”

Q. What about the mood in the team at the moment? Pat Symonds: “There is a great deal more confidence at the moment, although I think it’s fair to say that the belief that we would progress has always been there because nearly all the guys in the team have been through the winning experience of a couple of years ago. The last few weeks have been very hard for the team and so there is no better reward than seeing the evidence on the track of all the work that has gone on. It makes everybody upbeat and ready to put a lot more in for the coming weeks.”

Q. Fernando, it was a bittersweet weekend in Spain. But you were keen to focus on the progress the team made in time for the race… Fernando Alonso: “We undoubtedly lost an opportunity to score some important points, which would have been very good for team morale. Both cars retired from the race, but the performance was there; we showed good pace and I believe that this is what we should take from the weekend. As it was my home race I would have liked to finish and I think that fifth place was achievable.”

Q. Do you think that the team will have the same level of performance in Turkey? Fernando Alonso: “It was clear from the beginning of the weekend that we had made progress in Barcelona and I said that this was thanks to the efforts of the whole team who have worked very hard in the last few weeks to get us closer to the leading pace. This is only the first step and we will have an aggressive approach for the races to come with further new developments. I know it will not be easy, but I am sure that we will now be able to have some exciting races, and as a driver I want this more than anything.”

Q. Do you enjoy Istanbul Park?
Fernando Alonso: “Yes, and it reminds me of racing at other circuits, such as Spa, for example. The circuit is very wide and gives a good opportunity to overtake. There are also some special corners where you cannot see the exit and that makes Istanbul quite unusual. Turn 8 is especially interesting as it is a very long left hander where we experience more than 4g. It’s a fun circuit and I hope I can take the most from it.”

Q. The Turkish Grand Prix has previously been held during the summer, but this year it takes place earlier. Do you think that the track will be any different as a result? Fernando Alonso: “The conditions will probably be slightly different, especially in terms of the temperatures, but they will be the same for all the teams and so it will be important to make the most of the practice sessions on Friday to make sure we are happy with the set-up. This is not something that worries me, and we can work well on hot or cool tracks and this aspect will make the weekend interesting.”

Q. The last Grand Prix was a bit disappointing…Nelson Piquet jr: “Yes, it’s always disappointing to retire from a race, especially as a result of contact. The car was performing well and we were aiming to score points, which I think would have been possible. But we should not dwell on this, we must continue moving forward and I will keep learning. I will now try to put those lessons to good use in Istanbul so that I don’t make the same mistakes again.”

Q. You already know the Istanbul Park circuit and have some good memories there…Nelson Piquet jr: “I won there in GP2 and also took pole position and the fastest lap. It is therefore a circuit where I have some happy memories. So it will certainly be easier for me to attack this weekend and to get my car working well.”

Q. Do you think that Turn 8 will be a lot more impressive behind the wheel of a Formula One car?
Nelson Piquet jr: “Turn 8 is certainly one of the more interesting on the calendar. It is extremely fast and a tough test for the driver. I don’t know if it will be more difficult in a Formula 1 car; maybe on the contrary because of the superior performance of the car, especially with the aerodynamic grip available. To be honest I cannot wait to see what it is like from my cockpit.”

Q. The team seemed to have made good progress in Spain. What will be the objective for Turkey? Nelson Piquet jr: “We have progressed well, but there is still a lot to do and the whole team is working hard. I hope the weekend will allow me to keep learning and reaching Q3 will once again be my goal. I will need to work well with my engineers during Friday practice in order to get the most from my car so that we can approach the Grand Prix calmly.”

source: Renault 

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