Q&A with Renaults Nick Heidfeld & Vitaly Petrov 16 May 2011
Things couldnt be closer between Renault team mates Nick Heidfeld and Vitaly Petrov, locked together in the drivers table on 21 points apiece. After a relatively disappointing outing in Turkey, the German and the Russian reflect on Istanbul and consider their chances for this weekends Spanish race
Q: Nick, seventh place in the race in Istanbul and six points for the team - what did you make of the last race?
Nick Heidfeld: The race in Istanbul was good, we had good pace and I think generally weve got the speed to compete with the teams ahead. If we have stronger qualifying sessions, well definitely give ourselves a good chance each Sunday. This is my main focus now.
Q: You tested in Barcelona pre-season and youve raced there a number of times down the years. How do you like the Circuit de Catalunya?
NH: During testing, we had updates on some days and other teams brought some new parts on other days - it was difficult to draw too much from that experience. This time we will be bringing some more new parts, which will help us improve our performance. This is all part of our ongoing aggressive development strategy. Also, we will get into the swing of things quickly because the whole team knows the circuit well, and teams using a simulator wont have such an advantage here.
Q: Do you have any special memories of racing at the track?
NH: Over the years I have enjoyed some good races in Spain - its a challenging track and it will be interesting to return. I have got many memories - one that I particularly remember is a pit-lane battle with Jenson (Button) when we were both exiting at the same time, both at the highest speed limit you are allowed and I think I just got out ahead of him.
Q: We saw a high level of tyre degradation in Turkey - as a driver, how do you feel this can be limited when on track?
NH: Well, with these new Pirelli tyres, there is not too much you can do to limit the impact of degradation from a driver point of view. However, the good thing is the R31 is quite gentle on its tyres compared to the other cars, which is a real positive for us. I think that through good general usage of the car the driver can help the situation, but what is more important is how the car is set-up. If the car is prepared well beforehand then it can put us in a good position.
Q: You are currently seventh in the drivers championship standings - how much can you achieve in the R31 this season?
NH: This season requires a real team effort from everyone. I will need to concentrate on getting the most out of it, but I think its too early days to speak about final championship positions just yet. Nico (Rosberg) is only a point behind me now and Mercedes have improved a lot over the last two races. However, we scored as many points as they did in Turkey so we can stay clear of them. The Ferraris are not far away - Felipe (Massa) has finished behind me in a couple of races and he is not many points ahead so my aim is to start challenging him in the standings very soon.
Q: Vitaly, you achieved eighth position in Istanbul and scored four more valuable points for the team
Vitaly Petrov: Firstly, it is of course very important that we both finished the race - if you achieve that, you will have a lot more data and information on tyres and other technical aspects. It was also good that we both finished reasonably well and took some good points for the team. On the other hand, I was a little disappointed about the incident with Michael (Schumacher) because that cost me some time and points.
Q: You are currently seventh in the drivers championship standings with equal points to Nick - how much does this team competition help?
VP: Its good. We are both fighting for the points, which can only be good for the team because it helps bring our performance up a level. Its very important to get as many points as we can for the team and to fight for the constructors championship. Mercedes are now quite strong and taking some points, so we must stay focused and work even harder to try and stay ahead of them. Well now look to the next race and both of us drivers will be trying to get the maximum number of points we possibly can.
Q: You tested at the Circuit de Catalunya before the season started - do you enjoy driving at this track?
VP: Ive been at this track many times before, and I have a lot of experience of racing here in GP2 and F3000 when I won some podiums. Ive also driven here in Formula One, and of course the testing earlier this year. However, the weather then (during testing) was quite cold so the preparation this time around will be different. Its going to be an interesting weekend because everyone knows this track quite well, so it will be a close fight and the lap time gaps will be quite small.
Q: Weve had four races this season already - how far can Renault go in Barcelona and throughout the rest of the season?
VP: F1 never stays the same, it is always changing. Things change on a daily basis, with teams building new parts and working on new aspects. In Turkey, Red Bull were quickest, but before that McLaren won and of course weve been third quickest in two races already this season so things never stay still. It is impossible to predict what will happen throughout the season because anything is possible. Well be bringing new parts each weekend to try and improve the car further; we will take it race by race and stay focused.
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