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Bell and Symonds: Renault renaissance to start in Spain 10 Apr 2008

(L to R): Bob Bell (GBR) Renault Technical Director and Pat Symonds (GBR) Renault Executive Director of Engineering.
Formula One World Championship, Rd4, San Marino Grand Prix, Preparations, Imola, Italy, 20 April 2006 Fernando Alonso (ESP) Renault R28 leads Timo Glock (GER) Toyota TF108.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 3, Bahrain Grand Prix, Race, Bahrain International Circuit, Bahrain, Sunday, 6 April 2008 Nelson Piquet Jr. (BRA) Renault R28 retires from the race.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 3, Bahrain Grand Prix, Race, Bahrain International Circuit, Bahrain, Sunday, 6 April 2008

Renault’s engineering director Pat Symonds and technical director Bob Bell have spoken openly about the French team’s poor start to the season and outlined the areas in which the 2005 and ’06 world champions must improve if they are to catch their leading rivals.

At last weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix Renault failed to score a point, with former title holder Fernando Alonso finishing tenth after starting from the same grid position. Alonso’s rookie team mate Nelson Piquet, meanwhile, retired on Lap 40 of the Sakhir race with gearbox problems.

“I think Fernando’s qualifying performance probably flattered us a little bit,” said Symonds during a team podcast on Renault’s official website. “We were not the tenth quickest car out there all weekend probably more likely 12th or 13th. So qualifying performance slightly above race performance but neither of them near where we want them to be.

“We have got a lot of performance we’ve got to pull out of the car and we also need to bring some reliability to it. We’ve had a couple of non finishes now and that really doesn’t help the cause at all. It’s a tight championship and it’s very difficult to get points and you absolutely have to be there to pick up the pieces if the leading guys are failing.”

So far the combination of R28 and drivers Alonso and Piquet has gleaned just six points for Renault and the squad are currently sixth in the constructors’ standings, trailing leaders BMW Sauber by 24 points. Although aware of the mountain the team must climb, Bell is confident they can improve.

“We need a tidal wave of change to move us back but that’s what we’re here to do,” he added during the podcast. “Clearly our biggest deficit is in the aerodynamics of the car. We are putting the vast majority of our effort into not only improving the design of the car but also improving the way the organisation is structured and managed.”

“Quite clearly we’ve got some big steps to make and we need to make them in big steps not lots of little ones because we just don’t have the time. We need to take the first step (at the next race) in Barcelona and start to move ourselves back towards the leading three teams.”

Renault will be back in action next week for the multi-team test at Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya, ahead of the Spanish Grand Prix at the track later this month.