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Q&A with Renault's Bob Bell: we need to lift our game 01 Apr 2009

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 R29.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 1, Australian Grand Prix, Race, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, 29 March 2009 Nelson Piquet Jr. (BRA) Renault R29 and Robert Kubica (POL) BMW Sauber F1.09.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 1, Australian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Saturday, 28 March 2009 Fernando Alonso (ESP) Renault R29 runs wide.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 1, Australian Grand Prix, Race, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, 29 March 2009 (L to R): Flavio Briatore (ITA) Renault F1 Managing Director talks with Alan Permane (GBR) Renault Race Engineer and Pat Symonds (GBR) Renault Executive Director of Engineering.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 1, Australian Grand Prix, Race Day, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, 29 March 2009

Although Fernando Alonso managed to save Renault's blushes with his fifth place, the French team didn’t enjoy a particularly stellar race in Melbourne. However, technical director Bob Bell isn’t letting the R29’s Australian pace get him down too much. And with no specific problem at fault, he believes some clever tweaking could boost the car’s aerodynamic performance ahead of this weekend’s Malaysian Grand Prix…

Q: Bob, what was your verdict on the team's performance last weekend in Australia?
Bob Bell:
I don't think we lived up to the expectations that we set ourselves before Australia. We thought we would be more competitive than the performance we actually delivered, although I suspect part of that is due to the nature of the track. Albert Park is a circuit that didn't really suit the characteristics of the car and so we suspected we might be in for a difficult weekend. We now have to work to try and understand why that was the case and rectify it as best we can in time for Malaysia.

Q: Were you surprised by how closely matched all the teams were? Could this be a result of the new 2009 regulations?
BB:
Yes, it was a surprise as there was a group of teams behind the Brawn cars that were particularly closely matched. That's surprising as we expected the new regulations to spread the pack out a little bit more, which is what normally happens following a change of regulations. Normally you only get such parity when the regulations have been in place for a year or so as it allows the teams to converge on the optimum design solutions. It's just surprising how close it was in Melbourne and it will be interesting to see if this continues in Sepang this weekend.

Q: The team needs to improve its competitiveness, how can this be done?
BB:
I don't think we have a specific problem. I think that we need to lift our game in several areas to get more aero performance from the car. We've also got to get the balance of the car a bit more to the drivers' liking and work on the tuning of the KERS system to get more from it. So it's a question of maximising what we already have in all areas rather than a specific problem to resolve.

Q: What are your expectations for Malaysia - will the circuit suit the car?
BB:
The Sepang circuit is very smooth which should be more to our advantage compared with the bumpier surface that caused us problems in Melbourne. I also think the KERS system will be more of a benefit in Malaysia as the circuit has a couple of long straights and so I'm confident we can do a better job this weekend. With Australia and Malaysia being back-to-back races, we won't be able to introduce any new developments in such a short space of time and so we need to concentrate on getting more performance out of our existing package.