We are not giving up on 2007 says technical director
When Renault arrived in Monaco for last season's Grand Prix, the French team were comfortably leading the constructors standings after taking four wins from the six opening races. Although the picture looks far bleaker this season, technical director Bob Bell is determined to remain optimistic as the team heads to Monte Carlo...
Q: The team appeared to make a small step forward in competitiveness in Barcelona, although that was masked by problems during the race. Is that a fair assessment?
Bob Bell: Yes, I think so. We certainly saw a small improvement during the weekend in Barcelona. Our new suspension and aerodynamic developments were clearly working well, and the drivers both felt more confident with the car than they had done at recent races. They were ultimately hindered by the refuelling problems we experienced, but I think it is fair to say that we managed to unlock a little more of the potential that we know is in the car. We hope to see the trend continue again this weekend in Monaco.
Q: Results during the first races of the season have clearly not met expectations, yet there doesn't seem to be any panic at Renault. Why is that?
BB: I think it comes down to honesty and discipline. We have completed a lot of detailed, targeted analysis to understand our problems. That has been an extensive programme, but it is well mapped-out, and we are making good progress. In difficult times, you have to go about you work in a logical manner, and adopt a very disciplined approach. When you have a nasty surprise with car performance, it is very easy to head off in many directions at once without a clear strategy. In contrast, we have taken our time and resisted the temptation to react in a knee-jerk manner. It is beginning to bear fruit.
Q: That must make you proud of the team that you are leading
BB: It certainly does. We have a racing heart at Renault, and even though we are not fighting at the front right now, the competitiveness and hunger of the team are constants. When we were leading during the last two years, we never coasted, never let up and never thought things were easy. This year demands even more of those same characteristics: we are fighting hard to understand the problems, and working to unlock the potential we know is in the car. The circumstances may be different, but there is the same deep drive pushing us forward.
Q: Does the team have the resources to cope with the problem solving, as well as continuing development of the car?
BB: Absolutely. It is no secret that we achieve very good results with sensible budgets at Renault, and that is a genuine source of pride. But we are lacking nothing in our efforts to rebound. Development is on going, our problem solving is progressing well, and as at this time every year, work is beginning on 2008. Does that mean we are giving up on 2007? Certainly not. But it also shows that we are staying disciplined, and determined not to let our current situation affect work on next year's car.
Q: How do you expect the car to perform in Monaco?
BB: It is often said that Monaco is a lottery. While it is true to say the circuit is unlike any other we race on, it is nevertheless easy to underestimate how important a role the car plays. There is no magic wand in Monte Carlo: a bad car doesn't suddenly become a good one. You need plenty of downforce but, more than anything, the drivers need to be able to trust the car. At the moment, the R27 is not the easiest car to take to the limit with confidence, so that may make life more difficult for Giancarlo (Fisichella) and Heikki (Kovalainen). As always, we will be going to the next race with our heads held high - and determined to take everything we can from the weekend.