Renault: 2009 Belgian Grand Prix preview 

Written by Nick on August 26th, 2009 at 2:14 pmLast Update: August 26th, 2009 at 2:14 pm

Q. Romain, you made your Grand Prix debut in Valencia – did you enjoy your first race? Romain Grosjean: “Yes, it was very exciting for me; I enjoyed every second of my first race I want to say a big ‘thank you’ to the team for their support and help through the weekend. Everything was new and I had to learn quickly, but I managed to get comfortable with the car and gradually built my confidence over the weekend. Overall I was pleased with my performance and glad to finish the race and gain some experience. When I crossed the line all my mechanics were on the pit wall cheering me on, which made me really happy. My aim now is to continue in the same way this weekend, working well with my engineers and making progress.”

Q. How did you spend the days after your first grand prix? Romain Grosjean: “I stayed in Valencia for a day to enjoy the city and get some rest before I went home to Geneva. Then on Tuesday I went back to work at the bank to keep in touch with reality! I think it’s important to continue like this as I enjoy working there and this routine has always worked well for me in the past.”

Q. Is Spa-Francorchamps a circuit that you know well? Romain Grosjean: “Yes, it’s one of my favourites and I know it very well as I won the GP2 feature race there last year. Spa is one of the classic circuits of the world and I can’t wait to experience corners like Eau Rouge in my F1 car. After a street circuit, it will be nice to go to a more traditional track with fast, flowing corners as I continue to learn about the R29.”

Q. What’s your target this weekend? Romain Grosjean: “So far the team has been very helpful and not put any pressure on me, but I would like to be more competitive in Spa and closer to Fernando. I know that I still have a lot to learn and so I will take things one day at a time and see how I feel after free practice before I start setting myself objectives. You also have to remember that in Spa the weather can be unpredictable and there’s usually a chance of rain so we need to be ready to react quickly to any opportunities in the race.”

Q. Fernando, you came away from Valencia with three points – do you feel you got the most from the weekend? Fernando Alonso: “We were certainly disappointed after qualifying as we thought we had the pace to be higher up the grid, but we had an issue with the brakes and all the teams are so competitive this year that every tenth counts and qualifying is especially tight. We were happier with the performance of the car in the race and to come away with three points was not a bad result considering that we started eighth. I would have loved to reward my Spanish fans with a better result, but being totally honest I think we got the maximum that we could from the race.”

Q. Spa is one of your favourite tracks – what makes it so special? Fernando Alonso: “It’s one of the traditional circuits that has a lot of history and a special atmosphere. All the drivers love to race there and it’s the greatest driving challenge of the year. The high-speed corners are amazing, especially Eau Rouge and Pouhon, and it’s always a pleasure to drive there in an F1 car.”

Q. What are you expectations for the weekend? Fernando Alonso: “Spa is a circuit where you need a complete car because it’s a very long lap and you need to find a set-up to cope with a lot of different challenges. There are quick corners, slow corners and long straights where you need good top speed to overtake or defend position, especially on the approach to Les Combes. Our car has been strong in the last few races so I think we can be quick in Spa too where I will continue pushing hard.”

Q. Bob, Fernando picked up three points in Valencia – were you satisfied with that? Bob Bell: “It was good to be back in the points, but overall we were disappointed as we had hoped for more from the weekend and believe we could have been fighting for a podium. Fernando was quick in practice and we were quite confident that he had the potential to get on the front row in qualifying, but unfortunately he had a brake problem which meant he started eighth. To make up two places in the race on a street circuit where overtaking is difficult was probably as much as we could have hoped for from the race.”

Q. Romain Grosjean made his debut for the team – how did you assess his performance? Bob Bell: “Romain did an excellent job during his first grand prix. He settled in very well with the team, has a good relationship with the engineers and was sensible and consistent, which is as much as we could expect of anybody making their debut with little Formula 1 experience. I’m sure he’ll continue to mature and progress with each of the remaining races.”

Q. Tell us about the technical challenge of Spa and how you expect the R29 to perform… Bob Bell: “It’s a technical circuit with a wide range of challenges: both high and low-speed. We haven’t got the quickest car on the grid, but that’s because the R29 is still missing a little bit of performance in all areas rather than a specific weakness that is likely to show up at certain circuits. Based on our performance in recent races, I’d expect to see a similar level of competitiveness in Spa.”

Q. What new developments will be on the car this weekend and is the team planning to use KERS? Bob Bell: “We’re always adding new developments and for the next couple of races we’ll be using a low downforce package on the car. As for KERS, we don’t plan to use it in Spa, but we’re considering it for Monza as we believe it will provide a real advantage there.”

Q. How is the team balancing the development of the R29 with next year’s car? Bob Bell: “Pushing the development of the R29 late into the season while also working on the R30 is stretching our resources to the limit. We’re managing things on a week-by-week basis and gradually allocating more and more resources onto next year’s car whist still pushing hard to improve the R29. We’re fortunate that the aerodynamic regulations next year remain the same and we can transfer what we learn from the R30 onto the current car, but it’s fair to say that the majority of the effort is now going into next year’s car.”

source: Renault

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