Bell: things will come right for Renault 17 Jun 2008
The Renault R28 showed plenty of promise at the last round in Montreal, but that promise failed to translate into points. Now, with another round of updates ready to be raced at Magny-Cours, technical director Bob Bell is confident of taking a further step forward in France this weekend
Q: Bob, the team was out of luck again in Canada. What will it take for the team's luck to change?
Bob Bell: I believe that you make your own luck; you can't just sit back and hope that it will change. When you analyse the last two races for the team, what on the surface may appear to be bad luck inevitably turns out to be an error on somebody's behalf. And, as is normal practice for this team, we need to look carefully at the race weekend: what we did; what we didn't do; and what we could have done better. We will be very self-critical to understand what we need to do to make sure that we don't experience anymore of those issues that rob us from fully exploiting our true potential.
Q: Fernando and Nelson both delivered spirited drives in the race. How did you view their performances in Canada?
BB: Fernando was fantastic all weekend - he was right there and consistently at the front of the pack. He was happy with the car, even though he didn't get as much running as he would have liked and did an outstanding job, especially in qualifying. Ultimately he did make a mistake and lost the chance of some points, but that does happen when you are pushing to the limit. Nelson's qualifying position was a bit disappointing and his performance did not really reflect what we thought he would do based upon practice. But then in the race he turned it around again - he was pushing hard, driving aggressively, although ultimately he retired with brake trouble.
Q: Despite coming away empty handed, the R28 looked competitive in low-downforce spec, just as it did at the higher end of the downforce scale. That must make you confident for the rest of the year?
BB: I think that is one of the real strengths that we draw from Canada. The car seems so be performing well on most circuits and that just reiterates that we've got a very strong platform now to go forward for the rest of the season. We're under no illusion that we're going to have to work very hard to keep that level of competitiveness up, but we have an aggressive development programme for the rest of the season, and we are confident that we have an adaptable baseline to work from.
Q: How will the R28 cope with the technical demands of Magny-Cours?
BB: It's a medium to high downforce circuit where you need a good change of direction in order to carry good speed through the high-speed chicanes. The driver needs to be able to use the curbs and feel comfortable in the car. It's also circuit where you need to change the brake balance between several of the key corners, so it could be a little bit more challenging now that we've lost the engine braking systems. Overall, it should be a good test for the car, but we've gone well there in the past and so I think we can put on a strong showing this year.
Q: What new developments can we expect in time for the French Grand Prix?
BB: We have quite a few developments that we evaluated at Barcelona last week for use in Magny-Cours. We've got some aerodynamic developments on the front wing, some aerodynamic parts at the rear of the car, and some developments to the suspension. It's a good package of upgrades, which will hopefully help us take another step forward.
Q: And finally, how is the mood in the team ahead of the team's home race?
BB: I think there is obviously a degree of frustration that we haven't been able to covert our competitiveness into points. But in the meantime, we take heart from the fact that the car seems competitive, we have a great driver in Fernando, and we just need to keep our focus and continue putting the developments on the car. The worst thing we can do is get spooked by it and start losing our attention to detail and commitment. We'll keep our heads down and things will come right for us.