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Q&A with Renault’s Bob Bell 10 Sep 2008

Fernando Alonso (ESP) Renault R28.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 13, Belgian Grand Prix, Race, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Sunday, 7 September 2008. © Sutton Fernando Alonso (ESP) Renault on the grid.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 13, Belgian Grand Prix, Race, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Sunday, 7 September 2008 Nelson Piquet Jr. (BRA) Renault R28.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 13, Belgian Grand Prix, Race, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Sunday, 7 September 2008 Bob Bell (GBR) Renault Technical Director on the grid.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 6, Monaco Grand Prix, Race, Monte-Carlo, Monaco, Sunday, 25 May 2008 Nelson Piquet Jr. (BRA) Renault R28.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 13, Belgian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Saturday, 6 September 2008

While Nelson Piquet’s Belgian race ended in early retirement, former world champion Fernando Alonso took a well-deserved fourth place for Renault, adding a further five points to the French team’s championship tally. For technical director Bob Bell, it was an outstanding performance, and while the R28 may not suit the Italian track of Monza quite as well as Spa, Bell is still hopeful of points this weekend…

Q: Bob, the team came away from Spa with a fourth place finish. Were you satisfied with the result?
Bob Bell:
Yes, I think we were. If it had been a normal dry race, then fourth place is probably about as much as we could have hoped for. We were happy with the car all weekend, our pace was good in the wet and the dry, and the team coped well with the changing conditions. To come away with a fourth place from such an unpredictable race like that is a real credit to the whole team.

Q: As you say, the R28 looked strong throughout the weekend - do you feel that Renault was the third strongest team in Spa?
BB:
I think we probably were. The circuit particularly suited the car and Fernando was happy with it from the first practice session. That was particularly rewarding because our objective is to finish the season in fourth place and to end the season with the third quickest car.

Q: The team gained five points on Toyota - that must reinforce your belief that the team can secure fourth in the constructors' championship before the end of the season?
BB:
Yes it does, but we're also well aware of how difficult it is to score points at the moment. McLaren and Ferrari are clearly in front of us and so, if they have a good day, there are not many points left to go around. So it's hard to close a gap of even five points, but I'm confident that we can do it and finish ahead of Toyota in the remaining five races to take that fourth spot.

Q: Nelson had a difficult weekend. Can he bounce back in Monza?
BB:
He needs to bounce back and put that race behind him. Monza is a track that he knows and he drove there in the pre-race test a few weeks ago, which will have helped his preparation. Hopefully he can be there picking up points because with such a close championship battle we need points from both drivers.

Q: Monza is the fastest track of the season. Will the R28 have some special updates?
BB:
Yes, like all the teams we will be running with a special low downforce package, which we evaluated in the pre-race test. Most of the developments are exclusively for Monza because it's such a unique race. I think it's probably fair to say that the R28 was more suited to Spa than Monza, but I still feel that we can go there and get a good result.

Q: How is the team approaching the remaining five races?
BB:
At this stage of the season, we are pretty much fully focused on the 2009 car, but we still have developments for the R28, which we will take to Singapore. After that we will examine whether there are any more chances to develop the R28, but we are very mindful that we need to concentrate the vast majority of our energy on the R29.