Renault: We won’t throw in the towel
Fabrice Lom, the man in charge of the Renault V8 engine program at Red Bull Racing, analyses the Monza and Spa-Francorchamps weekends. Red Bull still suffers reliability problems and this while Williams is expanding its lead.
Fabrice, what are your views on the Italian and Belgian Grand Prix?
"Nothing very new I’m afraid! The level of performance is very close in the mid-field group immediately behind BMW, a group which includes Williams, Renault, Red Bull Racing and Toyota. One or other of these teams has an advantage according to their car’s characteristics and how it adapts to the track we’re racing on. At Monza, we were not in our element and we started from fairly far back on a circuit where overtaking is almost impossible. At Spa we were more at home and we scored a good seventh place. This only confirms that everybody has a chance in this group and that the tiniest detail can change the course of a weekend."
Was there a downside to the two weekends?
"Yes. Unfortunately, Nico Rosberg finished in front of us and Williams increased its lead in the championship. What’s worse is our reliability problems seem to have come back. We’ve retired three times in three races."
Have you pinpointed the problem?
"The failures are very often around the same zone of the car, but their origin is never the same."
The last races have shown that qualifying plays a major role in the final result...
"Yes, it’s true. On Saturday evening you generally have a pretty fair idea of what to expect next day unless some unexpected factor intervenes. This situation is reflected in the drivers’ championship. They are grouped according to the teams: the two McLaren drivers, then the two from Ferrari, the BMW pair and the two from Renault etc.."
Is there anything you can do to combat the tendency?
"The start is crucial. If you gain a few places once the lights go out, then you can take advantage of this throughout the race. Strategy is also an important weapon. If you’re tenth on the grid with a heavy fuel load you can move up the field. The other problem is that there are fewer and fewer retirements among the cars in front of us, so we can’t count on this factor to gain places."
Will you be able to take the fight to Williams in the championship?
"Aside from Rosberg’s excellent performances at the moment there’s also a mathematical problem. The first six places are generally monopolized by the two Ferraris, the two McLarens and the two BMWs. This means that there are only two left for Renault, Williams, Red Bull Racing, Toyota and the others. We could theoretically score a total of nine points in the final three races, but it wouldn’t be enough. We won’t throw in the towel but we know it’s going to be tough!"