Having gone extremely well at the Monaco street circuit, Eric Boullier is a little less optimistic for what's to come at the Istanbul circuit. Although Renault will once again bring updates to their R30 and Boullier hopes that both drivers will capitalize on their ability to score points with their increased performance.
Eric, looking back to Monaco, how rewarding was it to see Robert finish on the podium? "The Monaco Grand Prix is always a special weekend and so it was great to see the R30 performing so strongly. It’s one of the greatest driving challenges of the year which requires a very reactive car and tremendous driver skill. As soon as practice began on Thursday we could see that our car was very competitive and Robert in particular was able to capitalise on this and brought home a very special result. Of course, when you start on the front row you aim for the victory, but I think we can very proud of our performance."
Were you surprised just how strong the R30 was in Monaco? "It was a very pleasant surprise. We knew that the car would suit the circuit, but we were not expecting to be competitive enough to take the fight to Red Bull. Having said that, I know how much effort and hard work has been done to improve the car since the start of the season, and we have seen a clear upward trend with performance added race by race. The R30’s mechanical package is certainly one of its biggest strengths and that contributed to our pace in Monaco."
Can we expect a similar level of competitiveness in Turkey this weekend on a more traditional layout? "I never like to make predictions, but we have to remember that Istanbul Park is a circuit with completely different characteristics to Monaco. We know that the car works well on tight, twisty circuits, but, as we saw in Barcelona, we still need to find some performance on circuits with a more classic layout. We will have some more developments in time for this weekend and they should place us somewhere between our Barcelona and Monaco pace, which will give us a good opportunity to fight well inside the points."
Robert seems to be a natural fit at Renault and a real motivator of the team. How important is that for team morale? "It’s worth remembering that it’s still relatively early days in our relationship with Robert, but already he has an excellent understanding with the team and works well with everybody. I’ve spoken before about his work ethic and it’s such a pleasure to work with a driver who is as hungry for success as we are. Seeing his enthusiasm and commitment is definitely a big boost for the whole team, both at the track and the factory. And, as the season continues, I think we can expect Robert to become even stronger as our relationship develops and we get to understand him even better."
Vitaly has suffered a few disappointments in the last few races. What’s his mindset like at the moment? "The last few races have certainly been a little frustrating for him and it’s important that he puts that behind him, refocuses and concentrates on his driving. In Monaco he had a good start to the weekend and it was clear that he had the pace to qualify in the top ten until his accident in qualifying. Had he made it through to Q3, I’m sure he could have scored some points. So we know that he has the speed and it’s just a case of putting together the perfect weekend, and that’s the challenge when you are a rookie. The last few races have taught him a lot and I’m sure he will come back stronger this weekend."
Finally, what are your expectations for the race? "My hope is that we can get the maximum from our package and get both cars in the points."Interview courtesty of Renault F1.