Q&A with Renaults Giancarlo Fisichella and Heikki Kovalainen 21 Aug 2007
Renaults 2007 driver line-up was always going to be a battle between youth and experience - and a very close battle it is turning out to be. After a difficult start to his Formula One race career, Heikki Kovalainen has been making huge strides of late and has closed to within a point of veteran team mate Giancarlo Fisichella in the championship standings. Both men look ahead to this weekends Turkish Grand Prix
Q: Giancarlo, after a three-week break, you will be returning to action at Istanbul Park, the newest Formula One venue. Do ou enjoy this circuit?
Giancarlo Fisichella: Very much. It is a new generation circuit, everything is still very new and it is a properly challenging circuit. I have always raced well here in the past, and I hope it will be the case again this year.
Q: There is also the small matter of the circuit's signature corner, the impressive Turn 8
GF: It is probably the most difficult corner in the whole championship - a long-left hander, with an apex speed of around 250 km/h, for about 6.5 seconds. There are some high g-forces to contend with, on your body but especially on the neck, and it can be very difficult, especially at the end of the race. It is demanding for the drivers, but that is the attraction for us!
Q: On the technical front, what areas will you focus on in order to get the maximum from the car?
GF: Just like at every other circuit, the most important thing is to find a good handling balance. We need to find the correct compromise in terms of downforce, set the suspension quite stiff - and to work hard to get a good level of traction. Our work during practice on Friday will focus on trying out some different set-ups, to give us a competitive car for qualifying and the race on Sunday.
Q: Heikki, what is your opinion of the Istanbul Park circuit?
Heikki Kovalainen: I actually drove an F1 car here last year when we did a demonstration run as part of the World Series by Renault race weekend, so I have some idea of how the circuit feels in an F1 car. It is a very tough circuit and I must say, one of my favourites. Everything has been really well thought-out, they did a fantastic job to bring F1 to Turkey and the atmosphere is always special, because the Turkish fans seem to really enjoy the race weekend. I can't wait to race in Istanbul.
Q: What are the keys to a good performance in Istanbul?
HK: There are a number of high-speed corners, and that means we have to focus most of all on the aero balance of the car, because aerodynamic grip is crucial. The surface is still very new, so it's smooth and that makes life a bit easier on the mechanical side, helping keep the car stable. The other important parameter will be getting good traction. These are all areas we will be working on during our three hours of practice on Friday, and I think we can find a good set-up compromise, as we managed at the last race in Budapest.
Q: Does a big corner like Turn 8 make the circuit more difficult?
HK: I don't know about more difficult, but certainly more exciting! The conditions can be very hot as well, which makes the job tougher for the teams and the drivers. But in terms of Turn 8, it is a fantastic corner, and one of the most enjoyable of the whole year!
Q: You are returning after the summer break. Was it useful to be able to recharge your batteries for the final part of the season?
HK: It was nice to have a short break, but I think it was most important for the race and test teams to have a break, especially after the difficult start to the season that we experienced. On my side, I went back to Finland to see my friends and family, and to do some training ahead of the next races - and so I am ready for 58 laps through Turn 8! It is always good to have some time off, but it has only made me more impatient to get back in the car. I can't wait to start driving again.