Symonds - no need to run risks in Brazil 09 Oct 2006
Renaults Executive Director of Engineering, Pat Symonds, was a happy man after Fernando Alonso and Giancarlo Fisichella gave the team a double podium finish at Suzuka on Sunday. The result put the blues in a commanding position in both championships heading to the season finale in Brazil, where Symonds expects a fascinating battle with Ferrari.
Q: Pat, all victories are equal in mathematical terms, but that must have been a particularly satisfying one
Pat Symonds: It was. Ever since Hungary two months ago, we have been threatening to win again, and it has been frustrating for the whole team that it hasn't happened. That makes today's win particularly sweet. Of course, it comes at a critical time of the championship, but it certainly feels like a reward for the disappointment of the past two months.
Q: Michael Schumacher has almost conceded the drivers' championship after this race. Does that make your life any easier?
PS: It doesn't change a thing! Today's result makes our approach for Brazil easier, but while Michael might be playing down his chances, it is still statistically possible for him to win and we must acknowledge that fact. I am sure he will be racing just as hard, as well. As always, our strategy for Brazil will be grounded in solid reliability, and giving ourselves the tools to finish races. We are in a position where we do not need to take undue risks.
Q: The key moment in today's race clearly came when Michael's engine failed. Looking in your crystal ball, what might have happened without that failure?
PS: Fernando seemed to be catching Michael quite convincingly in that middle stint, and the projection was that he would have caught him - but the performance differential between the two cars would probably not have been enough to overtake on a circuit like Suzuka. I think Michael's failure probably robbed us of a classic Alonso-Schumacher battle in the closing laps
Q: Fernando's race was flawless from start to finish. What about Giancarlo, who finished third?
PS: Fisi drove a brilliantly controlled race, he was really very good this afternoon. He pushed at the right times to make the strategy work, and a podium finish was a just reward for his efforts.
Q: This is the final visit to Suzuka for the foreseeable future. Are you sad to be losing this circuit from the calendar?
PS: I really am, yes, because it is such a fantastic circuit. And that sadness is compounded by the fact that the new venue does not seem to have anything like the same character or challenge. The facilities at Suzuka are not the best, but ultimately we go to any track to race. It is a special place and I think today's race gave it the send-off it deserved.
Q: Looking ahead to the championship decider, who will have the advantage in the final race at Interlagos?
PS: I think it is going to be very even, and the team with the advantage will be the one whose tyres are working better, on that track surface, on the day in question, with the ambient temperatures at the time. Both teams have had a lot of success there, including Fernando's championship win last year, and we know the circuit well. It will be a fascinating battle.