Q&A with Renault's Eric Boullier
Q. Would ‘satisfied’ or ‘pleased’ be the best word to describe the team’s exploits in Japan?
Eric Boullier: I would have to say that I was satisfied. We set foot in Japan with high hopes just a fortnight after what can only be explained as a weekend of misery in Singapore. We thought Suzuka would be a circuit that the R31 would take to naturally. In some respects we were right; we were on the pace all weekend long, but unfortunately we didn’t make the headlines as we might have hoped. After a good qualifying performance I was hopeful, even confident, that we would make real inroads in the top 10 and could push for a double points finish but, as it turned out, it was tale of two halves. On one hand, Vitaly drove well on a two-stop strategy and everything seemed to work for him. On the other hand, Bruno had a tricky start and never really recuperated the lost time – even the emergence of the safety car didn’t help. It was one of those days for him.
Q. You must view Vitaly’s points as important in the team’s quest for fifth place in the Constructors’ Championship…
EB: Absolutely, yes. I have to look at the weekend in Japan practically. We are nearing the end of the season and our objectives are narrowing. We know what is within the realms of possibility in the next seven weeks or so, and our sights are set on that fifth place in the championship. The two points in Japan brought us much closer to achieving that, but there will not be an ounce of complacency from the team.
Q. Korea is very new on the F1 scene – how does it rank as a venue?
EB: I fully maintain that for Formula 1 to consider itself a global sport it needs to cross borders, and showcase itself in new territories. Korea joined the F1 calendar only last year and I was very pleased to see it put on a good show. Japan may well be well-established in the motorsport world but Korea is not, and the country deserves the chance to build its own brand in F1, too. I am looking forward to returning and seeing how the venue and organization has progressed from last year.
Q. With only four races remaining, how much thought are you giving to 2012?
EB: Frankly speaking, a lot of my thoughts have now turned to next year. Whilst the priority remains securing fifth place in the Constructors’ Championship and helping nurture Bruno and Vitaly’s opportunities to score highly at the next four races, an increasing amount of my time is devoted to seeing how we can raise the bar. In many ways, 2011 has been a transitional year for us with a whole range of changes. However, sport throws up many difficulties and it is a test of character as to how one handles them. I like to think we have dealt with things in the right manner and that there will be brighter times ahead. Make no mistake, this team’s number one goal is to bring silverware back to Enstone.