Renault: 2009 Hungarian Grand Prix preview 

Written by Nick on July 17th, 2009 at 4:22 pmLast Update: July 17th, 2009 at 4:22 pm

Q. Nelson, you had mixed fortunes in Germany. Talk us through your weekend… Nelson Piquet jr: “It wasn’t an easy weekend as the weather kept changing, especially during qualifying. It was good to get through to Q3 but then I had a poor start to the race and struggled to get heat into the hard tyres, which cost me a lot of places on the first lap. After that I pushed hard, but my car didn’t have the new updates that Fernando had and it was difficult to make much progress or match Fernando’s pace.”

Q. Hungary is a circuit where you’ve been successful in the past. Are you looking forward to this year’s race? Nelson Piquet jr: “I enjoyed Hungary last year and it was probably one of my best races as I finished sixth. It’s also a circuit where I won in GP2. Although there are no quick corners, it’s a fun place to drive and the twisty layout makes it feel like a go-kart track. It’s still quite challenging and you have to find the rhythm of the circuit and be accurate through the slow corners as the exit of one corner is the entry to the next. Any mistakes therefore cost you a lot of time.”

Q. What are your aims for next weekend? Nelson Piquet jr: “I should have the same upgrades as Fernando in Hungary and I think I can be more competitive. As always I will be aiming to qualify in the top ten and hopefully score some points in the race. Qualifying will be vital as it’s so tough to overtake at the Hungaroring because the braking zones are small and it’s very dirty offline, so it’s important that we concentrate on getting the most from Saturday.”

Q. Fernando, despite scoring just two points in Germany, the R29 appears to have taken a step forward… Fernando Alonso: “We have definitely improved and the latest upgrades made us much more competitive. It’s just a shame that I lost out in the wet qualifying because starting down in 12th meant I was out of position and couldn’t show the true pace of the car in the first half of the race. When I did have some clean air, the car was really quick and I set the fastest time for 11 laps of the race so I think we had the potential to be on the podium. It’s always easy to say what might have been, but to come away with just two points was a bit disappointing.”

Q. The next race is in Budapest, the circuit where you won your first Grand Prix. Do you enjoy going back to where it all began? Fernando Alonso: “The memories of my win in 2003 are very special as it was also Renault’s first victory since returning to Formula One and it gave the whole team a lot of motivation and self-belief. I always enjoy visiting Budapest as it’s a beautiful city, the people are friendly and there is usually a relaxed atmosphere in the paddock as everybody is looking forward to their summer holidays.”

Q. Tell us about the track and how you will set the car up? Fernando Alonso: “It’s one of the slowest tracks of the season and you are almost constantly in a corner so the track is quite demanding mentally and physically, especially with the high temperatures. With so many low-speed corners you need a stable front end because if you understeer wide it will cost you a lot of time. Good traction and mechanical grip are also important to get a clean exit from the slow corners. Overtaking is really difficult and the only real opportunity is into turn one at the end of the main straight, so it’s important that we maximise our performance in qualifying so we can start the race well inside the top ten.”

Q. Bob, the team took a big step forward in Germany. What do you feel made the difference? Bob Bell: “The upgrades we introduced certainly improved the aerodynamic and mechanical performance of the car and allowed us to be much more competitive. When you develop the car to a level where the drivers feel really comfortable and confident with it, you often get a lot more gains than you would expect from the sum of those parts on paper. I think we saw a good example of that at the Nürburgring and Fernando in particular was able to raise his game and get the most from the new parts that he had on his car.”

Q. Despite coming away from Germany with just two points, the R29 was the fastest car in the race. You must be optimistic for the rest of the season… Bob Bell: “It is encouraging, but we need to be cautious and not get too excited by a single performance. We now need to go to Hungary and consolidate that performance improvement to confirm that the pace of the car is genuine and not simply due to unique circumstances in Germany, such as the track conditions or tyre performance.”

Q. Will there be more updates in Hungary? Bob Bell: “In Germany we only had the new updates on Fernando’s car, but next weekend Nelson will have the same upgrades as Fernando. There will also be some more bodywork updates that should take us another step further forward. Hungary will also give us more time to optimise all the previous upgrades in terms of car set-up, so I expect to see further benefits coming from the upgrade package we introduced in Germany.”

Q. Is the tight and twisty nature of the Hungaroring likely to suit the R29? Bob Bell: “The problems we have been experiencing with the car in the first half of the year have not been related to specific circuit characteristics and are more general as we were lacking a little bit of performance in all areas of the car. To some extent those deficiencies have been corrected by the recent upgrades and so there’s no reason why we can’t produce a similar level of performance in Hungary as we did in Germany. The Hungaroring is also a circuit Fernando enjoys and has always gone well at so I think he can be competitive again.”

source: Renault

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