Eric Boullier Q&A: Renault will bounce back in Japan 03 Oct 2011
Renaults performance in the recent Singapore race was by their own admission a bitter pill to swallow. With their car simply not suited to Marina Bays endless slow corners, the team came away empty handed for only the second time this season after their worst result of the year. However, with Suzuka sure to be a much happier hunting ground for the R31, and with recent race recruit Bruno Senna learning fast, team boss Eric Boullier is expecting better things from this weekends 2011 Formula 1 Japanese Grand Prix
Q: Singapore must still be a painful memory for you
Eric Boullier: Yes, but to be honest weve all put this experience behind us. We fully understand why we performed so poorly and the explanation is simple: slow corners in the 60-100km/h range just dont do it for the R31. It is written in its DNA. We could have worked three weeks on the set-up but we would not have found a second in lap time. This is what we know, and our mid-term mission is to make sure that we solve this issue with the R32 which should not be a problem.
Q: What is the shorter-term mission?
EB: Things should get better for us on quicker tracks and Suzuka is one of them. In Japan, we expect to return to the level of performance we saw in Belgium and Italy. Our mission will be to focus on getting both cars into Q3. From then on, the weekend should be pretty straightforward.
Q: Are you happy with Bruno Sennas and Vitaly Petrovs level of performance so far?
EB: Yes, neither of them had a clear race in Singapore but this was not the main issue for us. The car was a much bigger worry. Bruno is learning fast. Hes always asking the engineers to push him, he wants to increase his knowledge and get better. He also loves the technical aspect of the job. This is the right approach. Hes a very friendly person and everybody in the team likes him. Vitaly has scored 34 points since the beginning of the season. We have all seen how much he has improved since last year and he keeps getting better. As a driver there is always a little something to be gained here and there. He also gets on very well with Bruno. Both of them were at the factory after Singapore, meeting their engineers, and the way they collaborate in order to make the whole team better is very good to see.
Q: There have been some changes to the race team recently following (former sporting director) Steve Nielsens departure - how is it structured now?
EB: Its very simple. Part of what were Steves responsibilities will be taken over by Alan Permane, who is now track operations director. In addition, John Wickham is part of our team and further changes will be announced shortly. I expect this transition to be very smooth.
Q: Suzuka is one of the drivers favourite tracks - would it mean something special to perform well there?
EB: Suzuka is one of the big names in F1. It is up there with Monaco, Silverstone, Spa and Monza. Weve seen so many amazing races there. I still remember, as a teenager, waking up early to watch the battling between Prost and Senna on TV at the end of the 80s. The fans in Suzuka are quite incredible, too. Bruno is very popular there, so he will have quite a lot of autographs to sign!
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