Q and A with Renault's Rob Bell
While Nelson Piquet is having a tough start to his Formula One career with Renault, team-mate Fernando Alonso has been able to pick up some points for the team as they look to close the gap to the front-running teams.
Bob, the team has taken a big step forward in the last couple of races and scored some valuable points in Turkey. How does it feel to see the result of all the hard work?
"I feel immensely proud of the team and the huge effort that everybody has put in, which has been well rewarded by the step forward we have made. There has been a lot of work behind the scenes with everyone working long hours, but it has paid off, and that is remarkably satisfying for everyone."
Fernando had a strong race in Turkey to finish 6th. What did that do for team morale?
"It’s done a lot for the morale of the team, but we are not under any illusion in terms of the magnitude of our progress. We made it clear that we would take a step forward in Barcelona and Istanbul, but we remained realistic and knew that we were not going to jump in front of the top three teams. It was a case of lifting ourselves clear of the midfield bunch. So as a team we have delivered on that promise, and that’s a good morale booster for everyone."
Is it fair to say that Renault has emerged as the fourth fastest team in the pecking order?
"I think that is a fair assessment and we will look to consolidate that position in Monaco. But as the next few races unfold our clear objective is to move ourselves closer and closer to the leading group of cars. The recent progress is just the first of several steps that we are going to have to take this season."
Nelson has done five races now. How is he settling into the race team?
"He’s settled in very well in terms of his relationship with the team and he gets on well with everyone. It’s also fair to say that as a rookie he has a lot to learn, and we must not forget that Formula 1 racing takes a lot of getting used to. At circuits that he knows well, such as Barcelona, he has done an exceptional job, but he has found it harder at other circuits that are slightly newer to him. His race in Turkey was compromised by his poor qualifying performance, but I’m quite sure that he will bounce back in Monaco. He’s young; he’s very capable and he will learn from his mistakes. I expect him to keep getting stronger and stronger."
What can you tell us about the continued development of the R28 – any revisions for Monaco?
"Traditionally there is a special package developed for Monaco because it is such a unique place. It’s a high downforce circuit; it requires additional steering lock, and we have to adopt a slightly unusual set-up to deal with its peculiarities. But on top of that we have some additional development items, which will be applicable to any of the forthcoming races and so we should see another small step forward."
How challenging is the Monaco Grand Prix?
"It’s a difficult circuit where it is very easy to make a mistake and experience counts for a lot. We always see a lot of incidents in Monaco anyway because the margins for error there are much smaller, and therefore the lack of driver aids may catch some drivers out more than we have seen in previous years. I think that is why Fernando will come to the fore because he’s so on top of his game – he will get the best out of the car."
What can we expect from the team in Monaco? Will it suit the R28?
"I think that we can do well in Monaco. It should suit the car and I think Fernando and Nelson will be able to get the most out of it. And with the developments that we have to help move us forward, we are all quietly confident about Monaco."