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Symonds: we are optimistic but realistic 28 Jul 2008

Pat Symonds (GBR) Renault Executive Director of Engineering.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 1, Australian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Friday, 16 March 2007 Renault celebrate second position for Nelson Piquet Jr. (BRA) Renault.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 10, German Grand Prix, Race, Hockenheim, Germany, Sunday, 20 July 2008. © Sutton Nelson Piquet Jr. (BRA) Renault celebrates his second position with the team.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 10, German Grand Prix, Race, Hockenheim, Germany, Sunday, 20 July 2008 Fernando Alonso (ESP) Renault R28 leads Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing RB4.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 10, German Grand Prix, Race, Hockenheim, Germany, Sunday, 20 July 2008 Nelson Piquet Jr. (BRA) Renault R28.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 10, German Grand Prix, Race, Hockenheim, Germany, Sunday, 20 July 2008

After a disappointing start to the season, Renault took a significant step forward at the last round in Germany thanks to Nelson Piquet’s second-place finish. And although there’s a lot of work still to do, Piquet’s eight points have given the squad a much-needed boost ahead of this weekend’s Hungarian race. Here director of engineering Pat Symonds reviews the team’s performance...

Q: Pat, Nelson scored the team's first podium of the season in Germany. The whole team must be delighted…
Pat Symonds:
Obviously the result was welcome, as were the points. So far this season we seem to have been talking about unfulfilled promise with the car, and, although luck played a part in this result, we certainly feel that it makes up for some of the times in the last few races where the luck hasn't gone our way. It's great for Nelson as he's had a tough time in the first half of the year, and I certainly hope that this is a turning point for him. But, we have to be realistic, there's still a tough fight ahead of us, and Toyota and Red Bull Racing are still very competitive so we need to continue working hard. But at least we have grabbed a bag full of points, and the performance of the car should allow us to fight for fourth position in the championship.

Q: What impact do you expect this result to have on Nelson's confidence for the rest of the season?
PS:
Very often when a driver has had a difficult start to their career, they get a good result and after that nothing seems to stop them. I've seen it happen so many times before and hopefully it will be the same for Nelson because we know he has the ability and we know how quick he is. It's fair to say that he has found the pressure quite difficult this year, but the result in Hockenheim is the perfect response from him.

Q: What has the podium done for team morale?
PS:
I think it has given everybody a boost because no matter how strong you are as a team, it's always nice to have the reinforcement of a good result. But I think the team is also being quite analytical because we accept that the car needed luck to get a second place, and we know that realistically our challenge is to fight BMW, and that's what we must aim to do. But, at the same time, we do feel that the points that we grabbed in Germany make up for some of the disappointments earlier in the season.

Q: Fernando Alonso had an eventful race, but luck was not on his side. Sum up his weekend for us…
PS:
It was a tough race for Fernando. Together we probably hadn't got the best out of the car throughout the weekend, so the car was not easy to drive and it was difficult to race in close proximity with the others. Just as Nelson had some very lucky breaks, nothing seemed to go Fernando's way. So it's one to put behind us and I'm sure he will come back stronger in Hungary. We know what the car can do and we know what Fernando can do.

Q: Looking ahead to this weekend's race, can you tell us about the challenges of racing at the Hungaroring?
PS:
It's a difficult track, which is often quite dirty for the first day of practice, and so you spend a lot of time sliding around with the car, understeering mid-corner and oversteering on corner entry and exit. But you just have to stick with it and wait for the track to come to you. In terms of downforce it's a very high downforce track and it's also pretty hard on the tyres due to the traction zones out of the low-speed corners. The tight and twisty nature of the track makes overtaking extremely difficult and so getting a good grid position for both cars will be a higher than normal priority for all teams.

Q: Hungary requires some of the highest levels of downforce of the year. Will there be any special updates for the R28?
PS:
There has been quite a big development programme recently, part of which was on the car for Hockenheim, and part of which was left for Hungary. But these are not Hungary- specific updates and are part of the ongoing package, which we will be able to carry forward through the rest of the season.