Pat Symonds Q&A: Renault working hard to turn the tide 06 Jul 2009
Despite failing to score a single point at the last round, Renault are confident ahead of this weekends German Grand Prix. And with a revised version of the front wing they ran at Silverstone, new rear wheel fairings and an updated engine cover all set to be introduced in Germany, the team have certainly been working hard during the break between races. Executive director of engineering Pat Symonds reveals his expectations for the Nurburgring race and beyond
Q: Pat, how do you look back on the team's performance at the last race at Silverstone?
Pat Symonds: We had certainly hoped for a better result. In free practice we were more or less in our usual position, but in the third part of qualifying we did not perform at the level we expected to. Then we had a poor start to the race and spent a lot of time stuck in traffic, which made it very difficult to recover. However, when we did have some clean air the car's pace was about where we expected it to be and so while the result wasn't good enough, it's perhaps not as bad as it appeared.
Q: Where is the team concentrating its efforts to improve competitiveness?
PS: As always we are concentrating our attention on aero as it's still the fundamental element that brings the most speed to the car. But rather than just putting parts on the car, we're also working on the usability of that aero: exploring the aero mapping so that we get the most from the car in every corner.
Q: What upgrades can we expect for the Nurburgring?
PS: New developments are introduced at every race and we've got a reasonable upgrade for the Nurburgring, which includes a further version of the new front wing that we evaluated at Silverstone. We're also hoping to have some new rear wheel fairings and an updated engine cover as well as some mechanical upgrades.
Q: It's been a couple of years since we raced at the Nurburgring, does that change your approach or preparation at all?
PS: Not really because preparation for a race always involves looking back over many years. We also have to remember that we are dealing with quite a different car this year and so our knowledge of how we ran last year's car is not as relevant as it has been in the past. One area we will look back on is tyre behaviour because even with the switch from grooved to slick tyres, we can see if the track causes graining or has particularly high wear rates.
Q: Is the Nurburgring a technically-challenging circuit?
PS: It's a circuit with a bit of everything: fast corners, slow corners, chicanes and heavy braking areas. We therefore use a very typical set-up as we have to compromise through the speed range, as we do for most circuits.
Q: What are the realistic targets in the second half of the season?
PS: We are in a similar position to last year when we said that we wanted to end the season with the third fastest car. Doing that this year is probably more difficult as the middle bunch of teams is much tighter and we have limitations on where we can develop. But finishing the season with the third fastest car still has to be the target, although where that leaves us in the championship standings is difficult to predict.