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Renault: we should have been on French podium 25 Jun 2008

Nelson Piquet Jr. (BRA) Renault R28 
Formula One Testing, Silverstone, England, Day Two, Wednesday, 25 June 2008 Alan Permane (GBR) Renault Race Engineer on the grid. 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 4, Spanish Grand Prix, Race, Barcelona, Spain, Sunday, 27 April 2008 Bob Bell (GBR) Renault Technical Director on the grid.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 6, Monaco Grand Prix, Race, Monte-Carlo, Monaco, Sunday, 25 May 2008 Fernando Alonso (ESP) Renault R28.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 8, French Grand Prix, Race, Magny-Cours, France, Sunday, 22 June 2008

Renault may have enjoyed their first double points-scoring finish of the season at the French Grand Prix, but the squad were ultimately left disappointed by their performance at Magny-Cours.

With both the McLarens largely left out of the running thanks to a trio of penalties, there was a strong chance that a mid-field team could score a podium. But in the end it was Toyota’s Jarno Trulli who finished ‘runner-up’ to the dominant Ferraris, while Renault team mates Nelson Piquet and Fernando Alonso had to settle for seventh and eighth respectively.

And although Piquet was pleased with scoring the first points of his Formula One career, former world champion Alonso was left frustrated by his pace during the opening laps, which saw him fall behind both Trulli and BMW Sauber’s Robert Kubica, despite his third-place grid slot and an ultra-low fuel load which meant he was the first of the field to pit.

“We’re a little bit confused at the moment,” explained chief race engineer Alan Permane during an official Renault podcast. “If it hadn’t have been for the poor pace in the first stint I think he (Alonso) would have been on the podium. We had to change our strategy - we were on a three-stop strategy but after our pace in the first stint was so slow, we moved to a two-stop, with a very short first stint, which isn’t ideal.

“His second-stint pace though was good - about half a second, six-tenths quicker (fuel-corrected) than his first stint. So we’re a little bit mystified and we’re just going through things to try and understand it. If you sum it up, I think the potential was there but we could have done better. Honestly I think we could have, should have, would have been on the podium.”

Despite the lack of podium, Renault’s technical director Bob Bell was pleased with how the modified R28 performed over the course of the weekend. And after introducing a revised front wing and a suspension upgrade at Magny-Cours, Bell is convinced the team are correct in continuing to develop their 2008 car, despite next season - with its raft of regulation changes - looming ever closer.

“We are pretty confident that the car was working as it should have and the drivers didn’t have any complaints,” added Bell. “And we aim to continue to develop the car to as far as the last race. We are totally focused on building the performance of the R28.

“We are not going to jeopardise the development of the R29. We have to do both together which means we have to work harder and get more out of what we’ve got and the whole factory is rising to that particular challenge. It’s a very important target for us, that perhaps irrespective of where we finish in the championship, that we clearly demonstrate to everyone associated with the team that the team is back in terms of its basic car performance and that’s what we’re focusing on every hour of every day.”

Renault are currently seventh in the championship with 12 points, four ahead of rival manufacturer Honda and three behind sixth-placed Williams.