Formula 1 News

Renault with plans to go back to the podium

The team Principal, Eric Boullier and Technical Director James Allison, comment on the upcoming GP of Spain.
Tuesday, May 17, 2011

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See what the team top managment have to say ahead of the Spanish Grand Prix.

Eric Boullier interview – ‘A word with the boss’
After 10 more points in Turkey, Eric discusses the merits of having two drivers battling for position.

Both drivers scored points in Istanbul however post-race you said that the team must push harder - what are your feelings after Turkey?
It is good to have both cars competing at the same level and scoring points together but obviously when you have chased podiums each time with different drivers you would expect to have a better finish than 7th and 8th. This is why there was maybe an expectation to do a bit better.

Nick and Vitaly fought hard for position in Turkey - what is your opinion on the team’s drivers battling it out at a race?
My opinion is very clear. They have the same car so if they compete together throughout the race that means we have a good pair of drivers. This has to be done fairly, and it is always tricky when they have to battle against each other because they’re racing drivers and they don’t want to give their position away. We have now cleared the situation up but it is good to see them battling.

Teams are very familiar with the Circuit de Cataluña, especially with all the running done there during winter testing - will it suit the R31?
Since we last drove there in testing, we have added upgrades to the car so we will be performing well than in the winter. The situation is also different: it is a race weekend and the way we approach this is different from testing. We hope to make another step forward to fight again for the top six.

We have witnessed some great F1 racing with lots of action, overtaking maneuvers and pit stops recently - surely this is positive for the sport and for the fans?
As long as the sport stays understandable for the fans, it’s good. I think everybody was asking for a better show and for more overtaking maneuvers. For a number of years now I have heard people complaining about the lack of overtaking so we shouldn’t complain about the situation now! We have to balance things to make sure the sport remains understandable but that’s it. I think we have found a good compromise now.

Spain is not known for its overtaking opportunities – will we see any now?
I think that with the DRS, anything is possible. Mainly because of the tyre degradation, there is a need for some aggressive strategies that allow overtaking on track and of course a very good race finish too.

James Allison interview – Tech Talk
“Our aero upgrade will be worth around 10 seconds over the whole race”. James looks ahead to the Circuit de Cataluña and predicts another breathless race

James, both drivers scored points for the first time this season in Turkey – you said after the race that it was a satisfying result?
Having both cars in the points, nose to tail is satisfying. All of us would have preferred it to be closer to the front, but it’s okay and probably a fair reflection of the pace of the car.

The team continues the development race – what’s new for Spain?
We bring another handful of aerodynamic upgrades for the next race – the development race never lets up. None of them are individually large, but there are six in total and they add up to another 0.15-0.20 secs/lap. It isn’t a huge upgrade but if we can keep that up for every race then it starts to tell.

This year, we have also seen that preparation in terms of tyres has been key to the race weekend…
At some tracks these tyres are really on the edge – Turkey was one of them and Barcelona will be another. So having a very careful plan on Friday to prepare for the race is very important. Also, it has increasingly become clear to everybody that to conserve tyres during qualifying in order to maximize results on Sunday.

Pitstop executions have always been highly important; we have been witnessing an increased number of stops – are they still key to a good race outcome?
Making fast and reliable pit stops is as important as developing the car aerodynamically. Our aero upgrade for Barcelona will be worth around 10 seconds over the whole race - one bad pit stop and the value of that upgrade is entirely wiped out. Even if you avoid a single very poor stop, but make four stops around 1sec slower than the opposition then it is the same as taking a reasonable upgrade off the car. So yes, pit stops are important and they are an area where we haven’t been as strong as we would have liked this season. The Race Team, supported by several engineering functions back in the factory are putting a big effort in to bring our stops up to the required level. We are not there yet, but we took a noticeable step forward in the last race and we will to continue to make progress in the coming races.

Barcelona is a circuit the teams know well, what is its main challenge?
The Barcelona track places a very high premium on aerodynamic efficiency, so the main challenge is designing a car that is efficient aerodynamically! A string of long, high-speed corners and the nature of the asphalt make it very hard on the tyres. Although we will have a revised hard tyre from Pirelli at Barcelona, which may change the picture somewhat, it is likely that the race will be loaded with pitstops in Spain.

Will DRS and KERS play a key role here?
By far the biggest influence over the ease of overtaking in Turkey was as a result of the track being very tough on the tyres. Barcelona is likely to be similar, with soft tyres that degrade up to 0.3 of a second per lap. This means that small variations in strategy yield very large differences in performance at different times in the race. Stopping just three laps different to another car will give nearly a 1sec/lap difference in performance. Set against that, the DRS and KERS have only a second order effect on the ease of overtaking. We can expect another breathless race with a lot of on track action – not a traditional hallmark of the Spanish GP.

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