Allison: Renault have taken heart from Spa pace 06 Sep 2011
Technical director James Allison is hopeful Renaults quest to reclaim their early season pace could be back on the right track after an encouraging performance at the recent Belgium round. Drivers Vitaly Petrov and Bruno Senna both qualified in the top ten and, after a tumultuous race, eventually finished in ninth and 13th respectively.
The team performed extremely well on Saturday in very challenging conditions, Allison explained in an interview on Renaults official website. The race was less satisfactory in terms of points garnered, but in terms of competitiveness this was our strongest race for some time. We looked much more on the pace in Spa than in the previous four Grands Prix.
Neither driver had an unimpeded race, but the underlying pace of the car was capable of earning P5-P6 given a freer run to the flag. We will know for sure whether we have turned the corner once we have a couple more Grands Prix under our belt, however I am taking some heart from the fact that our competitiveness looked fair throughout the weekend whether on wet, dry or intermediate rubber.
We have been plagued with extremely poor wet performance in recent races, and to have seemingly put this behind us gives me faith that the upgrades brought to Spa will continue to deliver at other circuits.
Allison was particularly pleased with Sennas performance in Belgium, after the Brazilian had been drafted in at short notice to replace Nick Heidfeld. He will continue to race for Renault for the rest of the 2011 season.
I dont think anyone needs insider information from the team to know that Bruno had a remarkable weekend, he explained. The current regulations place a very high hurdle in the path of any driver coming in mid-season, as there is no opportunity to get up-to-speed in the relatively unpressured environment of the test track.
On top of that Bruno had to make his debut for us at Spa, a circuit which definitely separates the men from the boys. Finally, he had to manage qualifying in exceptionally difficult track conditions. To face all these challenges and to place the car P7 on the grid is a fantastic achievement on any scale.
I know Bruno was kicking himself for the incident at the first corner in the race, but my view is that it was a completely understandable error; it was the first time that he had ever felt the R31 on full fuel and he was surrounded by competitors already 11 races into their season. His subsequent race was run at a very respectable pace and Im looking forward to seeing him in the car again.
Renault are currently fifth in the constructors standings, 33 points ahead of sixth-placed Sauber and 30 adrift of fourth-placed Mercedes. The team will be back on track at Monza this weekend for the Italian event, which gets underway on Friday.
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