Renault: 2009 Australian Grand Prix preview 

Written by Nick on March 23rd, 2009 at 2:20 pmLast Update: March 23rd, 2009 at 2:20 pm

Q. Nelson, you’re entering your second season of Formula 1 – are you excited about the year ahead? Nelson Piquet: Absolutely – I’m feeling much more confident this year and looking forward to returning to Melbourne. I learned so much with the team in 2008 and I now have a year of experience under my belt which will make things easier. It’s also a new era for Formula 1 with lots of changes, but we’ve made good progress with the car during testing and we are heading to Melbourne with high hopes.

Q. How difficult has it been adapting to the new rules introduced this season? Nelson Piquet: The cars are totally different to last year and so all the drivers have had to adapt to this. Learning about KERS has been a challenge for the engineers and drivers, just as the moveable front wing flaps have been because these are totally new systems that are being introduced this year. We’ve also had to adapt to the return of slick tyres, but I’m really happy to see them back as they are always more fun.

Q. What are your thoughts on the Albert Park circuit? Nelson Piquet: It’s a challenging track and quite a difficult place to set the car up as it’s a mixture between a permanent venue and a temporary street course with lots of tricky slow speed corners, as well as some quicker sections. As a city, I love Melbourne: the fans are great and the atmosphere of the race is always pretty special.

Q. Have you set yourself a target for Australia? Nelson Piquet: It’s still difficult to know how we compare to the other teams and so setting a target isn’t easy. We know we have a good race car that is consistent and so I think we will be competitive in Melbourne. I will do my best to try and reach Q3 in qualifying and hopefully finish in the points.

Q. Fernando, you ended the 2008 season strongly. Can you carry that form into 2009? Fernando Alonso: That is certainly our intention! We finished in a strong position last year and this year our goal is to fight for the championship. But we have lots of new regulations this year and nobody really knows what will happen when we get to Melbourne. From what we have seen in testing it seems all the teams are very close and so we will certainly have a fight on our hands.

Q. There has been less testing available this season, but are you pleased with the progress of the R29? Fernando Alonso: The first test in Portimao was tough as we had some bad luck with the weather, but when we introduced updates at the later tests we quickly improved the car. We’ve learnt how to optimise the set-up and we now have a car that is easy to drive and consistent. What is important now is that we keep improving and developing the car throughout the year.

Q. Are you excited about the new regulations introduced this season? Fernando Alonso: Yes, with the KERS and moveable wings the drivers now have more work to do inside the cockpit. During testing I have been working hard to adapt to these new systems so that I can get the most from them in Melbourne. I’m really pleased with the KERS system that we have developed and hopefully this will give us an advantage at the start of the season. I’m not sure if it will make overtaking easier, but it will certainly improve lap times.

Q. What are your expectations for Melbourne? Fernando Alonso: In the past Albert Park has been a good track for Renault and so I hope we can have a strong weekend. I think the order of the teams will probably be different from the last few years as we have got used to Ferrari and McLaren dominating, but with the new rules I think there will be lots of cars fighting for the win. Hopefully we will be in that fight.

source: Renault

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