Pat Symonds Q&A: the R29 should be quick in Turkey 01 Jun 2009
Although Nelson Piquets Monaco race ended in the barriers on Lap 10 and Fernando Alonso crossed the finish line in seventh, Renaults executive director of engineering Pat Symonds was pleased with the teams progress in Monte Carlo. And with the R29 gradually catching up with the frontrunners, Symonds believes that this weekends Turkish Grand Prix could be their best chance yet of a return to the podium
Q: Pat, were you satisfied with the performance of the R29 in Monaco?
Pat Symonds: I was partially satisfied with our performance as we were still around one percent from the fastest car in qualifying, which is obviously a big improvement compared with where we were earlier in the season. We had the fourth fastest lap of the race, which was close to the leading pace, although that needs to be understood in the context of when it happened in the race. I'm satisfied with the progress we're making both aerodynamically and mechanically, but I won't be totally satisfied until we are on the podium.
Q: Fernando and Nelson had mixed fortunes in Monaco - how are they coping with the season so far?
PS: Fernando has been working really hard and extracting the maximum from the car and every situation. He's really driving as well as I've ever seen him drive, although like all of us he's frustrated that we're not fighting in the position we'd like to be. Nelson continues to improve and strengthen as the season unfolds. In Monaco he was very close to Fernando in qualifying and considering the high standard that Fernando sets, I think he can be proud of the work he is doing. He was very unfortunate in the race and there was absolutely no blame attached to Nelson and quite unusually we received an email from Toro Rosso apologising for the incident!
Q: The team will introduce updates in Turkey - what areas have you focused on to improve performance?
PS: As always the primary focus is on aerodynamics and for Turkey the attention has been on the front wing and the end plates with updates in those areas. The front wing is such an important area of the car because it's the first part to meet the air and the flow that comes off it determines the aerodynamics behind it. So that's where our focus is, but we aren't ignoring the other areas as we're continually working on the suspension and will do so again in Turkey. These won't be huge updates, nor changes to the geometry, but they focus on the fundamental way we set the car up in combination with the aerodynamics so that we can get the two to work in harmony.
Q: Turkey has a mix of high and low-speed sections - will that play to the team's strengths?
PS: The car continues to improve and we've seen from the published apex speeds that we seem to be quite strong in the medium and high-speed corners. Turn Eight in Turkey is the really challenging corner and I think our car will be good through there. It's a quick corner and was almost taken flat last year so well have to see what it's like with reduced aerodynamics this year. Certainly Istanbul Park is a circuit that we go to with confidence.
Q: What's team morale like after the first third of the season?
PS: We're a team that has always had and continues to have strong morale. We're all very impressed with the work being done back at base to improve the car by the research and design teams and seeing how quickly we can introduce new parts, such as our new diffuser, does a lot for the morale of everybody in the team. We're fighting hard; we're very ambitious and we know where we want to be and we're working hard to get there.