Bob Bell Q&A: Singapore was the boost Renault needed 02 Oct 2008
A few years back Renault were regulars on the top step of the podium. But since their 2006 world championship the French team have endured a long and disheartening dry spell. In Singapore, however, all that changed with Fernando Alonso sweeping to victory at the Marina Bay circuit. Technical director Bob Bell reviews the race and reveals how the win has already worked wonders in improving the teams morale
Q: Bob, luck undoubtedly played its part in the team's victory in Singapore, but Fernando produced a brilliant tactical drive. What was your verdict on his performance?
Bob Bell: For me it was the Fernando of old - he never gave up and when the time came to really push hard to gain an advantage he did so and brought home the maximum points. There was certainly an element of luck with the safety car, but Fernando had been on it all weekend and after the second safety car he pulled out an immediate gap over Rosberg and Hamilton, which confirmed the pace of the car and what an outstanding job he did.
Q: The gamble of an aggressive strategy certainly paid off...
BB: When you're picking a strategy much of it comes down to assessing the probability of events during a race. The most likely thing to happen in Singapore was for there to be a safety car because it was a street circuit with some difficult corners. We were starting in 15th and 16th and so we had to try something different with the strategy because we had little to lose and wanted to be able to benefit from any safety car periods. As a team, we don't necessarily follow set paths; we like to be daring when opportunities allow and that's what being a good racing team is all about. I think the race in Singapore was a good example of that.
Q: You spoke to Fernando after the race. What did this victory mean to him?
BB: He was absolutely thrilled to bits. He's a racer and he wants to win races and so to come away as the winner of the inaugural night race in Singapore is something special and something that will always be remembered. He was very pleased for the team as well and I think it showed him that we still have the potential to go out and win races. He saw us return to the sort of form that we used to enjoy and that meant as much to him as the victory itself.
Q: Why was the R28 so competitive in Singapore?
BB: I think it was down to a combination of reasons, one of which was the new venue and the fact that Fernando and the team are both very good at dealing with new challenges. The team arrived in Singapore well prepared, which helped us get the best out of the car; we had an aerodynamic upgrade and we operated it differently in terms of set-up, which gained us a bit of performance. So it was just a step forward in all areas, which culminated in us having a car that really suited the track and the conditions.
Q: What does this result mean for the team and for morale?
BB: It's very important because this team has been through a very difficult period since the championship years of 2005 and 2006. We needed to bounce back and regain our self-confidence and demonstrate that as a team we could still produce a competitive car and win races. We've done that and the result has lifted everybody's morale for the final three races, but more importantly renewed our self-belief, which is so important for next year.