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R27 on time and on target say Renault 08 Dec 2006

Bob Bell (GBR) Renault Technical Director. Formula One World Championship, Rd 9, Canadian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Montreal, Canada, 23 June 2006. World ©  Sutton.

For the last two seasons, Renault have faced a major challenge - designing the following year’s car while fighting for the world title until the very last round of the championship. With the launch of the team’s 2007 car now confirmed for late January, technical director Bob Bell updates us on progress as the staff at Enstone work round the clock to ready their latest championship challenger.

Q: Bob, can you update us on progress with next year’s R27 programme?
Bob Bell:
Everything is running smoothly. Compared to the design of the R26, we are definitely ahead of the game at this stage. The new chassis successfully completed FIA homologation testing this week, while the rear end has already been running in a hybrid R26 chassis since last week’s test in Barcelona, and has so far completed several thousand kilometres.

Q: What are the next major steps in the project?
The first car will be built before Christmas, and will then complete several weeks of static testing here at the factory, while we progress with the build of the second chassis. We will conduct an initial shakedown on 16 January in Jerez, followed by three full days of testing at the same circuit. We will aim to run two chassis from that first test onwards, in order to maximise our track time with the car and give both race drivers the best possible preparation for the new season.

Q: How is work on R27 progressing in the wind tunnel?
We are in the third year of the current aero regulations, and it is a fact of life that it becomes harder and harder to find gains as time goes on. However, the aerodynamics of our cars have been a major strength over the past two championship-winning seasons, and our team in the wind tunnel is pushing very hard at the moment. They are making very encouraging progress.

Q: What is the motivation like in the factory?
The atmosphere at the moment is very good: the work rate is high, as always at this time of the year, and the team is more motivated than ever. Firstly, we are coming off the back of a title-winning season, which always brings a huge boost. And secondly, we have a number of major changes ahead. Change and challenges are sources of new motivation, they invigorate a team, and we are looking forward to the new car and the new season with real optimism.

Q: Looking at winter testing so far, the team has not topped the times at any point…
Our objectives for these winter tests are very clear: to find our feet with the Bridgestone tyres, while also building reliability and confidence with the 2007 rear end. Everything has gone to plan, and the R26 has been quick when we have run performance programmes. The new gearbox has been operating reliably, which has been a great source of motivation for the team. So far, all the signs indicate that we are making very good progress - and that we will be ready to hit the ground running when the R27 runs for the first time in January.