Renault: 2009 German Grand Prix preview 

Written by Nick on July 06th, 2009 at 3:47 pmLast Update: July 06th, 2009 at 3:47 pm

Q. Looking back to Silverstone, how do you rate your weekend? Nelson Piquet: “The end result was disappointing although I think I managed to get the most from the race as our one-stop strategy worked well. Unfortunately my problems started in qualifying as I had a technical issue and had to abort my final run in Q2, which meant I started the race from 14th. Starting so far back makes it difficult to score points, but I still pushed hard and made up some ground in the race. Overall it was a pretty frustrating weekend for the team.”

Q. Will this be the first time you’ve driven a Formula 1 car at the Nürburgring? Nelson Piquet jr: “Yes, because last year the German Grand Prix was at Hockenheim where I finished second behind Lewis Hamilton. However, driving at the Nürburgring won’t be a new experience for me as I raced there a couple of times in GP2 and I’ve always gone well and enjoyed it. I’m definitely looking forward to driving there in my Formula 1 car.”

Q. What are your expectations for the weekend? Nelson Piquet jr: “The team have been working hard since Silverstone with some upgrades, mainly to the aero which should give us a boost. After Silverstone I said that it was down to me to improve in qualifying and so I’d love to make it into the top 10, which would give me a realistic chance of scoring my first points of the year. You also need to keep an eye on the weather at the Nurburgring as it’s near the mountains and conditions change very quickly, a bit like at Spa. We can probably expect at least a couple of showers over the weekend.”

Q. How do you look back on the team’s performance at the last race at Silverstone? Pat Symonds: “We had certainly hoped for a better result. In free practice we were more or less in our usual position, but in the third part of qualifying we did not perform at the level we expected to. Then we had a poor start to the race and spent a lot of time stuck in traffic, which made it very difficult to recover. However, when we did have some clean air the car’s pace was about where we expected it to be and so while the result wasn’t good enough, it’s perhaps not as bad as it appeared.”

Q. Where is the team concentrating its efforts to improve competitiveness? Pat Symonds: “As always we are concentrating our attention on aero as it’s still the fundamental element that brings the most speed to the car. But rather than just putting parts on the car, we’re also working on the usability of that aero: exploring the aero mapping so that we get the most from the car in every corner.”

Q. What upgrades can we expect for the Nurburgring? Pat Symonds: “New developments are introduced at every race and we’ve got a reasonable upgrade for the Nurburgring, which includes a further version of the new front wing that we evaluated at Silverstone. We’re also hoping to have some new rear wheel fairings and an updated engine cover as well as some mechanical upgrades.”

Q. It’s been a couple of years since we raced at the Nurburgring, does that change your approach or preparation at all? Pat Symonds: “Not really because preparation for a race always involves looking back over many years. We also have to remember that we are dealing with quite a different car this year and so our knowledge of how we ran last year’s car is not as relevant as it has been in the past. One area we will look back on is tyre behaviour because, even with the switch from grooved to slick tyres, we can see if the track causes graining or has particularly high wear rates.”

Q. Is the Nurburgring a technically challenging circuit? Pat Symonds: “It’s a circuit with a bit of everything: fast corners, slow corners, chicanes and heavy braking areas. We therefore use a very typical set-up as we have to compromise through the speed range, as we do for most circuits.”

Q. What are the realistic targets in the second half of the season? Pat Symonds: “We are in a similar position to last year when we said that we wanted to end the season with the third fastest car. Doing that this year is probably more difficult as the middle bunch of teams is much tighter and we have limitations on where we can develop. But finishing the season with the third fastest car still has to be the target, although where that leaves us in the championship standings is difficult to predict.”

Q. You had high hopes for the British Grand Prix, but things didn’t work out in the race. Fernando Alonso: “We thought that Silverstone would suit the car, but after qualifying we realised that we were not as competitive as we had hoped. In the race I made a poor start and got stuck behind [Nick] Heidfeld who was heavy on fuel, which ended my chance of finishing in the points. I still had some fun battles, especially with Lewis [Hamilton], but I prefer to be fighting at the front.”

Q. Are you optimistic that the team can make up the performance gap to the leaders soon? Fernando Alonso: “The position we are in at the moment is similar to last year, but this time all the teams are much closer together and so it’s more difficult to take a big step forward. If you can find three of four tenths with an upgrade, it can make a huge difference and put you five or six places higher up the grid. That’s what the team is looking for – that magic component which gives us a big boost, but we know it’s not easy to find.”

Q. It has been a couple of years since you’ve raced at the Nurburgring, are you looking forward to going back there? Fernando Alonso: “It’s not the most exciting circuit of the year, but it’s a good place to go racing as the track has a bit of everything and so the car has to work well in every part of the lap. There are fast corners where you need a lot of downforce and slow corners where braking stability and good traction are important. We have some new developments for this race, which will hopefully improve our situation and allow us to get some points in the race, but we know all the other teams will have improved as well. We also need to work on our starts because if you lose ground on the first lap it’s very difficult to recover.”

source: Renault

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