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Renault: “attack the best form of defence” 22 Aug 2005

Pat Symonds (GBR) Renault Executive Director of Engineering.
Formula One World Championship, Rd5, Spanish Grand Prix, Preparations, Barcelona, Spain, 5 May 2005

Fernando Alonso’s second place in Turkey somewhat disguised Renault's struggle to match the speed of the McLarens. However, Executive Director of Engineering Pat Symonds was pleased with their performance and believes they took everything they could expect from the race, as he told their press office afterwards.

Q: Looking at the list of fastest laps, Montoya's best was eight tenths quicker than Alonso’s. Is that a worry?
Pat Symonds:
We are certainly concerned about McLaren's pace. Yesterday, we had a good balance on the cars and no specific problem, but there was a 0.8s gap to Montoya on similar fuel loads. We are not sure why, but our absolute performance was not too good yesterday.

Q: Even so, Fernando and Giancarlo finished second and fourth…
PS:
I think the result showed all the strengths of the team. We recognised the potential problems we might have last weekend, reacted to them, and made the absolute best of the situation.

Q: You ran an unusual race strategy…
PS:
Yes, we almost ran the race backwards: we did a short first stint, followed by two longer ones, and it was absolutely the right thing to do. Had we fuelled to lap 20 with our starting slots in qualifying, we would have been further back on the grid - and the race would have become much more complicated.

Q: What about the next race in Monza - will the status quo continue?
PS:
Monza is a real one-off race - completely different to anything else during the season. During recent years, we have run some great races there without a powerful engine. With the RS25, the engine situation is much closer - so I think it could be quite good for us.

Q: But the performance gap remains - what developments have you got coming?
PS:
Looking in order, Monza is a one-off race and Spa the type of circuit where McLaren are likely to be quicker than us. But we have a big aerodynamic update in Brazil, and engine development is ongoing: every fresh engine contains extra performance developments.

Q: Does yesterday's race show the value of an aggressive approach as the season comes to an end?
PS:
I think it demonstrates that the best form of defence is attack. That was the lesson we took from Hungary: it showed us we needed to be adaptable, and to try and take the fight to McLaren. This weekend, we did that and it worked: Montoya was under pressure from Fernando two laps from the end, and he made a mistake. We got the best possible result from the weekend - and that was very satisfying.