After a year of absence on the Formula One calendar, the Renault Formula One Team returns to the Gilles Villeneuve Circuit in Canada this weekend. James Allison previews the race at Montreal and looks back on another good showing in Turkey.
James, it was another strong showing from the team in Turkey and more points for Robert. Were you satisfied with the team’s performance? "It was obviously very encouraging to have both cars qualify in the top ten and to see them both perform well in the race. But it was frustrating to see both our drivers penned in for the whole afternoon behind the Mercedes and it would have been interesting to see their speed in clean air. In the end we narrowly missed out on getting both cars in the points, but on the whole it was a pretty satisfying weekend."
Talking of the battle with Mercedes, you must be pleased at how the team has closed the gap compared to the start of the season? "We started the year a reasonable amount behind Mercedes and we’ve gradually been hunting them down. Robert was ahead of both Mercedes for the first time in Monaco, but it’s not a typical track, so it was encouraging to see us breathing down their necks at Istanbul Park. It confirms the progress we’ve made to get on terms with them and if we can maintain our current development rate, I’m confident we can move ahead of them soon."
Robert continues to show amazing consistency this year. It must feel great to have such a dependable driver… "I don’t think Robert has made a single significant mistake so far this year. He’s locked up the odd wheel here and there, but during the races he has been pretty much faultless. Having a driver who can maintain a very fast and consistent pace is just what any team needs and it’s something we’re very happy about."
Vitaly delivered a very mature drive in Turkey, although he just missed out on points. Are you happy with how he is developing as an F1 driver? "Vitaly’s performance in Turkey showed us what he is capable of. He was on the pace from the opening laps in free practice and he maintained that all the way through the weekend. He managed to keep Robert pretty honest during the race and he can be very proud of his performance."
We often talk about the effort going on back in Enstone, but can you give us an idea of just how busy it is from day to day? "It’s absolutely flat out all the time. Over the last few months it has been every bit as busy as the most intense period of the new car build during the winter. And that intensity will continue for the rest of the year. This workload is felt at all levels in the team: the factory take up the continuous, unrelenting pressure of delivering the new parts, and the race team then shoulder the burden of fitting them at the circuit and ensuring that we get the most from them in the races. It’s tiring work for all concerned and we don’t underestimate how much we’re asking from people, but the rewards come from seeing the fruits of all our labour on the track as we creep forward race by race."
Looking ahead to Montreal, how do you expect the R30 to perform there? "I think we will be in reasonable shape. There are aspects of the track that will suit us very well. Most of the corners are low speed and you need to be able to hammer across the kerbs quite aggressively, which is something the R30 is good at. The circuit is also very demanding on the brakes, but we are confident that we will be able to attack the circuit even on the very heavy fuel loads that are run in 2010. We will have further updates to the car and I would hope that we can take another step forward in Canada."Source Renault