The 2005 World Champion, Mild Seven Renault F1 Team, enjoyed an encouraging debut with its new R26 last week in Jerez. The team's Technical Director Bob Bell tells us more about how the team feels after the first days of testing
Interview with Bob Bell
Bob, were you pleased with the debut for the R26 in Jerez?
"Very much so. Both drivers were very happy with the car, and complimentary about its capabilities during the initial running."
The team also ran reliably - there were 27 red flags owing to on-track stoppages, and none were caused by the team. Was that a priority?
"Absolutely. Last week was primarily a reliability test, to check that all the parts on the car were functioning correctly. It was a great feeling of satisfaction to complete over 1000 km without any serious incidents."
How pleasing was it to see the V8 engine run on track for the first time, and to run without problems out of the box?
"I think it is a measure of how well the team has worked on the project, and of the close integration between the engine and chassis teams, that a brand new engine ran so well on its debut. We focused closely on the detailed design, did our homework on the dyno, and worked hard to ensure the engine had no problems when it hit the track."
Did you begin looking at the car’s performance capabilities last week?
"That was not our priority. The drivers were both cautious because the number of spare parts for the car is currently limited, so we couldn’t afford any ‘offs’. Even so, the initial signs seemed very positive in terms of the car’s performance."
The team is not testing this week – why?
"We planned this down-time in order to deal with the many small problems that arise in the first week of running. It gives us time to put proper solutions in place, that will hopefully ensure the rest of our winter testing is as effective as possible."
When will you begin running again?
"Testing begins again in Barcelona next week, on 25 January. We will have two R26 chassis ready by then, and both race drivers in action. It will give us six consecutive weeks of testing, to make intensive preparations for the first race in Bahrain. We are all looking forward to getting stuck in to the programme."