Renault: 2009 European Grand Prix preview 

Written by Nick on August 18th, 2009 at 2:36 pmLast Update: August 18th, 2009 at 2:36 pm

Q. Romain, you will race with the team for the rest of the season. How does it feel to have this opportunity? Romain Grosjean: “Of course I’m very excited and I want to thank the team for giving me this chance. I started dreaming about being a Formula 1 driver when I was seven or eight years old when I was watching the battles between Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna on television, so to make my debut in Valencia really is a dream come true.”

Q. Does it feel special to drive for the only French team on the grid? Romain Grosjean: “My goal has always been to become a Formula 1 driver and to do that with a French team makes it even more special. Renault has supported me since 2006 and it was only with their help that I could afford to continue racing. There is maybe a bit more attention because people have been waiting for a French driver in a Renault, but I will do my best to show that they were right to believe in me.”

Q. How valuable has it been to attend all the races as third driver this year? Romain Grosjean: “It has been really helpful as I’ve got to know everybody and seen how the team works. Attending all the meetings and debriefs during the last six months will certainly help me make the most of this opportunity.”

Q. How does it feel to be team-mate to Fernando Alonso – a double world champion? Romain Grosjean: “He is a great champion – maybe the best driver in Formula 1 – and I’m looking forward to working with him for the rest of the season. We already get on well and because he has so much experience I know there is a lot I can learn from him.”

Q. You raced in Valencia in GP2 last year – what did you think of the circuit? Romain Grosjean: “It’s a mix between a street course and a normal circuit because in some places the track is narrow and tricky and in other places it’s really wide with lots of run-off. It’s not the easiest place to make your debut, but I’ve always liked street races and enjoy the atmosphere of being in the middle of a city.”

Q. How have you been preparing for your debut? Romain Grosjean: “I’ve tried to make my preparation as normal as possible, although I have been training my neck muscles more than usual because Formula 1 is more demanding than GP2 on this part of the body. I’ve also taken some holiday time during the summer break to make sure I am fresh and 100 per cent ready for Valencia.”

Q. What are you hopes for the weekend? Romain Grosjean: “I’ve only driven the R29 in straight-line testing, so my first race will be a learning experience. It’s difficult to set myself an objective so my first priority will be to get comfortable with the car, build my confidence over the weekend and do the best job I can for the team.”

Q. The team had a disappointing end to a promising weekend in Hungary. Give us your thoughts on the race. Pat Symonds: “We wanted to show the potential of the car and confirm the step forward we had made in Germany, and I think to an extent we managed to do that. It was great to get pole position, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ve got the fastest car – and fuel-corrected it’s true that the Red Bulls were faster. Even so, we were pleased with our performance and I believe our aggressive strategy with Fernando would have paid off in the race had we gone the distance, but it wasn’t to be.”

Q. The performance of the R29 in Budapest confirmed the team’s recent progress. Can the team maintain this rate of development? Pat Symonds: “We can certainly push a lot more developments onto the R29 in the final part of the season and there is another big aero update for later in the year. We’re also preparing the specific medium and low downforce configurations that are needed for Spa and Monza. How much more we do after that will depend on how next year’s car, the R30, is progressing and whether we can transfer what we learn from that onto the current car.”

Q. The team has changed its driver line-up this weekend with Romain Grosjean making his debut. What has impressed you most about him? Pat Symonds: “I think Romain has a great racing ability and we’ve seen that demonstrated many times in GP2. He’s certainly one of the best in the series at overtaking and with the reverse grids he has shown that he’s good at fighting his way through the field. It will take him a while to settle into Formula 1, but I’m sure that he will adapt well.”

Q. How has the team been helping Romain prepare for his first grand prix? Pat Symonds: “In the past he would have done lots of testing miles, but that’s not the way of modern Formula 1 with the ban on in-season testing. However, he has done several aero tests already this year and has spent a lot of time with the team at races attending briefings and debriefings to learn the way we work and the personalities of the team.”

Q. What are your expectations for this weekend’s race? Pat Symonds: “The R29 has shown recently that it’s a good car in all types of corner and so I’m confident that we can be competitive in Valencia. Like any street course, it rewards brave and capable drivers and we’ve certainly got that in Fernando, who will have home advantage and massive support from the fans this weekend.”

Q. The race in Hungary was disappointing, but were there some positives to take from the weekend? Fernando Alonso: “Yes, our performance in Hungary was encouraging as the car was quick and we managed to get pole, which was actually a bit of a surprise. To retire from the race was disappointing, but I’m looking on the bright side because I think that the car can be just as competitive in Valencia.Last year my race there was very short – less than a lap – so I’m really determined to make up for that this weekend and hopefully we can fight for the podium.”

Q. How is the mood in the team after the summer break? Fernando Alonso: “I think the break was good for everyone and the team has come back refreshed and ready to push hard for the final part of the season. I also have a new team-mate this weekend and I’m looking forward to working with Romain who I’m sure will do a good job for the team. I already have a good relationship with him and hopefully he can help us score some important points for the championship.”

Q. How excited are you to be racing on home ground this weekend? Fernando Alonso: “Racing at home is always special and Valencia is a beautiful city and a great place to have a race. I’ve always enjoyed racing on street circuits as they have a special atmosphere and the whole city gets involved in the race. Also, as it’s a home race for me I know that there will be amazing support from the fans and I really want to reward them with a good result. As I’ve said, I would love to fight for the podium, but the main priority is to score points this weekend.”

source: Renault

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