“Win or lose, the effort never changes,” says chief race engineer
With Heikki Kovalainen scoring his maiden Formula One podium and Giancarlo Fisichella finishing fifth, last weekends Japanese Grand Prix was the best race in what has been a difficult year for 2005 and 2006 champions Renault. Chief race engineer Alan Permane reflects on the Fuji round and looks ahead to the imminent Chinese race
Q: Alan, the team achieved its best result of 2007 last weekend in Japan. What was the feeling afterwards?
Alan Permane: It was very satisfying, because everything worked out right. We had a good strategy, the pit stops went well, and both drivers did a great job to stay on track in very tricky conditions. We scored twelve points, more than any other team has managed in a single weekend this year apart from McLaren and Ferrari. It was a very good result for the entire team.
Q: Heikki scored his first career podium too with a tenacious drive
AP: He did a great job holding off Kimi in the closing stages. He and the team had a tough start to the season, and it was nice to see him rewarded for all his hard work on Sunday. A lot of people were writing him off earlier this year, but we worked together and he has bounced back from it all. He just doesn't ever give up and he stayed calm all the way through a pretty chaotic race. His racing is going from strength to strength at the moment.
Q: What are your expectations for the forthcoming race in Shanghai?
AP: We are feeling very positive, not just because of the result in Japan but also thanks to the basic performance of the car. We looked competitive in dry conditions at Fuji on Friday, and Shanghai is not too dissimilar in its demands. We have continued adding performance to the car over the last races, and I am confident that a straightforward weekend, in dry conditions, will allow us to transform that improved potential into results.
Q: And presumably, the team is on a high after Sunday's race
AP: The effort never changes, whether you are winning or losing. Both factories, the test team, the race team everybody has been working at full capacity this year. When you are winning, it is easy to see the rewards. When you are not, it makes life tougher, but our commitment has never wavered. Our result in Fuji was a good first reward for all the efforts that have been made this year but everybody is still pushing hard, both for the end of this season and especially for 2008.