...but Ferrari probably still the strongest team
Renaults technical director Bob Bell has promised further enhancements to the teams R25 car for the next round in Malaysia, but admitted that Sepangs searing heat will present something of a voyage into the unknown.
Bell was naturally delighted with the teams performance in Melbourne, where drivers Giancarlo Fisichella and Fernando Alonso finished first and third respectively. Afterwards he spoke to their press department about the significance of the win and their prospects for the coming races.
Q: What does this result mean to the team?
Bob Bell: Its a fantastic pat on the back for all the hard work that the teams in Enstone and Viry put in through the winter. It was a difficult challenge to meet these new rules, so this is a just reward for all their work. It will also provide us with the motivation to continue the momentum through the season.
Q: It seems that the technical programmes, on both the engine and chassis sides, are well synchronised
BB: I firmly believe that the hallmark of a good car is that it is a well-balanced package, by which I mean that it should not possess and obvious weak spots, and the same is true for the team. If you have a problem in one area, it can seriously hamper the overall performance. So far, we have not seen any obvious weaknesses with this car and engine.
Q: Presumably, the other key factor will be to consistently add performance to the car throughout the season?
BB: Certainly. We already ran new developments on the car in Melbourne, and there is more to come for Malaysia. Our aero department, led by Dino Toso, responded extremely well to the regulation changes last year, and has now put in place a very aggressive development programme to maintain our performance until the end of the season. Under the new rules, there are plenty of new ideas coming out of the wind tunnel and lots of potential for more. We anticipate that we will be taking an improved car to every race this season.
Q: How would you assess the drivers performances?
BB: They drove flawlessly and not only that, but they work together and with the team fantastically well. It was an excellent job from both of them.
Q: What is your reaction when people begin talking about the championship after just one race?
BB: We are not under any illusions - Ferrari are probably still the strongest team, and dont forget they only ran with a modified version of last years car yesterday: there is still the new car to come. They will be very strong all season, and I expect McLaren and even Williams to be up there too.
Q: Finally, looking to the next race, what is your feeling at the moment?
BB: It is a race full of unknowns. First of all, we will have to re-use the engine, which is something that we have simulated, but never had to do before in race conditions. Indeed, the weather conditions in Melbourne were not at all extreme - it was more like the end of winter testing than a Grand Prix. Malaysia, for sure, will be extremely hot and humid as well. That will make it a completely different challenge for the tyres, and until we get there, we do not know how the car will cope with that.
Renault are due back on track at Jerez on Thursday when they begin a two-day programme with Franck Montagny and Heikki Kovalainen at the wheel.