Renaults Bob Bell: beating BMW our target 20 Aug 2007
Renault have not had the easiest of campaigns as reigning world champions. Fourth in the standings, their immediate aim is closing the performance gap to nearest rivals, BMW Sauber. Technical director Bob Bell evaluates Renaults season so far, as the team prepares for the final six races
Q: Bob, how would you summarise the 2007 season so far?
Bob Bell: It's no surprise to hear me say that this year has been a big disappointment. Our level of performance so far has been well below our expectations at the start of the season. But having said that, there have been a number of positives too, most importantly the way in which the team has handled, and responded to, what was a tough situation for all concerned.
Q: So what is the situation now, approaching race twelve in Turkey?
BB: We are not taking our foot off the pedal, and we are still working very hard for the final six races in the 2007 championship - and beyond.
Q: Does that mean you will still have major developments to come this year?
BB: We will have some minor aerodynamic upgrades in Turkey, and a new aero package in Monza adapted to the very low drag set-up we require there. We will also be working hard to extract more performance at the track from our most recent developments. Back at the factory, though, the moment has come to focus our energies on 2008. We have always said that our problems this year would not compromise next year's programme, and that remains the case.
Q: What are your expectations for the race weekend in Turkey after the summer break?
BB: No team has been allowed to test, but everybody will have been working hard back at the factory. We have made progress, and I am sure other people have too. I think that the overall picture will be similar to recent races, and indeed should stay relatively stable until the end of the season in my opinion. Turkey is not a race that presents any extreme challenges, apart from the high temperatures we will have to face. And our objective will, as always, be to get the most out of our package.
Q: In terms of your direct competitors, how would you evaluate the situation at this stage of the season?
BB: The top two teams are clearly still a step ahead, and it will be difficult for anybody to race with them. Looking at BMW, they have taken a definite step forward in the last few races and they remain, at this stage of the year, quicker than us. Williams and Toyota have moved forward too. I think that it we continue to work well and to get the most from the car, then we are capable of beating BMW on a number of occasions before the end of the year. That remains our target.
Q: You hinted that 2008 is already a priority for the team. How is the R28 project progressing?
BB: Our design and development resources are already focusing intently on 2008. We began work on the car early, and our approach has been quite different to recent years. First and foremost, we had to be certain that our development tools were working correctly. Once this was confirmed, we began putting a lot of energy into the design of the new car. The project is on time, and we have been exploring some very interesting new development paths.