Q and A with Renault’s Bob Bell
Q: Bob, how has the factory been working to find the cause of the problems the R27 is suffering from?
Technical director Bob Bell: "We have areas of investigation that are now pretty clear. However, it's not the work of a moment to get to the bottom of the problems.
"It is a complicated process, but a clearly-defined one. We are applying the techniques that brought us success in recent years: approach things logically, methodically and pragmatically."
Q: Around the paddock, everybody seems to have an explanation for the problems. Among them, people are saying that the v-keel on the front suspension is now outdated. Others think the aerodynamics are not working... What's the truth?
Bell: "You're right. People are saying a lot of things at the moment, and everybody seems to have their own ideas. There are a lot of false rumors surrounding the R27 and the only thing that you can be sure of at the moment is that it's all speculation.
"Among the supposed theories that are being bandied about, those that mention the v-keel are completely unfounded. This part of the car is absolutely not the cause of our difficulties, that much is very clear."
Q: So how would you describe the problems?
Bell: "The car lacks overall grip. It is not working as well as our data from the factory suggests it should. Among the tools at our disposal, the wind tunnel is without a doubt the most effective.
"However, we are improving our understanding of the wind tunnel all the time, and it's a fact that it can never reproduce every detail of the conditions we encounter out on track.
"It is a very difficult area to get right, and sometimes the most insignificant of changes can harm the performance of the whole package."
Q: Are you still optimistic though?
Bell: "Of course. We know that when we have corrected the problem we are suffering from, we will be back at the front. It's not as if we are sat around scratching our heads wondering how we can develop the car..."
Q: In tough times like these, as the leader of the design office, is it hard not to feel personally responsible?
Bell: "As technical director, I do feel responsible towards the team, our colleagues and Renault for the situation we are in. But this is no time to wallow in it.
"In circumstances like these, you have to get your head down, work unrelentingly, and not let personal feelings disrupt your approach. It's the attitude that everybody at Renault is taking."
Q: Are there positives to take from the situation?
Bell: "I don't know if I would say it quite like that, but more than anything, I would like to prove to everybody that we can bounce back.
"I want to demonstrate that Renault is a tough team, and in a way, I would get more satisfaction from reversing the trend of our performances so far this year, than I would have done from successfully defending our championship. We will solve our problems, and we will fight for race wins again."
Q: Is the car running with new parts at Barcelona?
Bell: "There are several. Firstly, there are new suspensions components, which improve the mechanical grip. In terms of the aerodynamics, we have a new deck wing, revised exhaust outlets, and new brake ducts as well. It's a start..." Renault