Bell - Renault morale at an all-time high 03 Oct 2005
With one title already sewn up, Renault head to the last two flyaway races ready for a final showdown with archrivals McLaren for the constructors' championship. Ahead of this weekends Japanese Grand Prix, technical director Bob Bell spoke about life at the team since Fernando Alonsos triumph in Brazil
Q: Can you tell us about the atmosphere within the team at the moment?
Bob Bell: It is just fantastic. There was a great function at Enstone on Sunday, with 150 people watching the race, and the feeling spilled over into Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday. Morale is at an all-time high.
Q: Have people forgotten about the other championship?
BB: That is what has been interesting: there is no sign anybody is now thinking they can relax. We are determined to go win the constructors' title, to do whatever it takes, but also happy in the knowledge of what has already been achieved. There is a lightness to the approach, but it hasn't undermined our determination and resolve.
Q: Fernando was in the factory on Tuesday - that must have meant a lot
BB: It did - it meant a huge amount to people. He came in earlier this year after the win in France, and that was really appreciated. It really is special for the people who don't get to travel to the races, and there was a fantastic atmosphere on Tuesday.
Q: Are there still technical developments coming on the car?
BB: We have got a suspension update in Japan, and some new aero parts - we are transferring things we find during the development of the R26 where possible. Of course, the main update to come is the E spec engine in China, which should be a good step forward.
Q: Will the team's approach change in the final races?
BB: I think our risk management may change a little, but not much. The reality is that the team which drops a race finish from either car in the last two races will probably lose the title. So we cannot afford to forget any of our attention to detail, or compromise our reliability in an attempt to be more aggressive on performance. But we will certainly push harder than we have in recent races.
Q: And how about Fernando? Surely he can drive differently now?
BB: Certainly I think he will be more aggressive in his driving style now - he won't be an easy man to overtake in Japan and China. But his real strength is that he is an intelligent guy, and knows when it is right and safe to push. He will carry on doing that, I am sure.
Q: What about Giancarlo (Fisichella) - his result in Brazil seemed slightly lost amidst the celebrations
BB: I don't think Fisi had a great race, but that happens sometimes. For whatever reason, the way the tyres performed during the race suited him less well than Fernando. But Fisi has clearly proved that he is as good as anybody on his day. His driver at Spa was stunning - he may have gone off, but he was really on it in the opening laps. He had a good race in Japan last year, and he will have a big role to play in these last races.
Q: Finally, the wind tunnel model of the R26 now sports a number 1 on its nose, painted on Sunday night - how is development going?
BB: It is progressing well. The project timing is on schedule. On the performance side, the stable aero regulations mean that gains are harder to find than they were this time last year, but the development is ticking along nicely.