Renault expects gains from wind tunnel upgrade
Renault has upgraded its wind tunnel in the hope of seeing some significant performance gains on track in the coming weeks.
Renault's form has dropped off since the start of the season when it secured two podiums at the first two races and at the British Grand Prix it lost fourth place in the constructors' championship to Mercedes. The team recently lost out on 12 days of development time as it upgraded its wind tunnel at Enstone to accommodate a bigger model, but technical director James Allison believes it will start reaping the rewards soon.
"Our upgrade has allowed us to switch from a 50% model to a 60% model," he said. "It doesn't sound like a big thing when you say it like that, but any F1 aerodynamicist would nod in agreement at the huge workload involved.
"This involved stopping the tunnel for 12 days, stripping the entire working section back to its bare skeleton and then building it back up for the new model. This is a huge budget of work, but I am proud that we have achieved it without impact on the program other than 12 days of lost development. I am also happy that the weeks that have followed its installation have justified the investment as they have been very rich in terms of downforce gained. Our challenge now is to get these gains to the track."
Nick Heidfeld is hoping the improvement will see a more competitive car roll out of the garage at the Nurburging for the German Grand Prix next weekend.
"I know, as James Allison has confirmed, that there are some bigger developments coming than we had at the last couple of races," he said. "There has been a tremendous amount of work going on in the wind tunnel so I am very hopeful that we will take a significant step forward. We have had to demonstrate our patience during what were a couple of challenging races recently (Valencia and Silverstone), but now is the time for us to take that step forward and compete with the top teams again, which is where we belong."
Vitaly Petrov said it was imperative that the upgrades yield results soon.
"As usual, aerodynamic efficiency will be the key [at the Nurburgring]," he said. "It [the car] hasn't performed at the level we know it can, and it has been off the pace for a few races now so we must get it right quickly to turn our season around. Additionally, it's very important we reach Q3 in qualifying so that we can score more points come Sunday afternoon."
Team principal Eric Boullier is confident Renault will hit its targets.
"There will be some upgrades on the car [at the Nurburgring] which will help considerably," he said. "Also, on the race team side, we must not miss any opportunity that we are provided with. We know we haven't been fast enough recently, but with the hard work we are all putting in, it will get better. It has to get better."