chassis for Shanghai
Renault Chinese GP preview - I
September 20, 2004
Fernando Alonso heads to China keen to put the Italian Grand Prix
firmly from his mind and together with new teammate Jacques
Villeneuve, use the new lighter Renault chassis to good effect and
score championship points.
Fernando, how much preparation can you do before visiting a new
FA: To be honest, there is not so much you can learn from maps of the
circuit – the real time when we learn about the track, in its real
finished form, is when we walk the circuit with our engineers in the
week before the race. But I think the driver’s role is even more
important at a new circuit than elsewhere. Not only do we have to
learn the track, but there is more work to do with the engineers,
explaining how the circuit is, what the secrets of the track are and
how the car is behaving, because none of us have any experience or
reference points. A driver has to be very adaptable at a new circuit,
and I believe that is one of my strengths.
What do you enjoy about visiting a new circuit for the first time?
FA: First of all, it is a brand new experience: I have never been to
China before, so it will be fascinating to see the country for the
first time, and the reports of the circuit say it is incredible so I
am looking forward to seeing what it is like in reality. The layout
looks exciting, and I am sure it will have been designed to encourage
good racing. I expect the crowd to be very supportive of everybody,
and I think the R24 will suit the circuit well. We are hoping for a
Finally, are you confident that the team can regain its
FA: I think we can do it, certainly. This a strong team, with a strong
spirit, and we love to be aggressive when we go racing. That is my
style, and that is the team’s attitude as well. We need to be
aggressive between now and the end of the year to overtake BAR again,
because it will be a big fight. We have a very good car, that we
expect to be competitive at the next three circuits, and although I
haven’t finished in the last two races, we were very quick. We will
all be intent on bouncing back from the Monza result in style, and
taking the fight to BAR in China.
Bob Bell, Technical Director
Bob, there seems to be a perception that the team’s season has
tailed off in the second half. Do you agree?
BB: Although we lost second place in the championship to BAR after the
last race, we are very confident in our ability to regain that
position. We have not scored as many points as we would have hoped to
in the second half of the season, but I think this actually belies the
fact that our package is extremely competitive at the moment: we have
had some small reliability glitches, but also our fair share of bad
luck and racing incidents We did not expect to be as strong in Monza
as Fernando proved to be, and we continue to make good progress with
both the chassis and the engine. The R24 is definitely good enough to
achieve the goal of taking second place: while BAR have the edge over
us at some circuits, we hold an advantage at others – and we believe
we are heading to some circuits where we can demonstrate our
Will you be running any new developments in China?
BB: We will run new front and rear wings for this race, and also
introduce two new lightweight chassis that we have tested successfully
at Monza and Silverstone, all of which represent a useful step forward
in terms of performance. The new chassis is part of our on-going
weight reduction program aimed at optimizing the car’s performance,
and the fact that we are introducing such major developments at this
stage of the season indicates how hard we are pushing to regain our
position in the constructors’ championship. I said at the start of the
season, that we expected the championship battle to come down to a
matter of several points at the end of the season, and it has turned
out exactly that way.
Rob White, Engine Technical Director
Could you tell us a little about the motivation of the team at Viry
to regain second place in the championship?
RW: The battle for second place in the constructors’ championship will
go down to the wire. There are still fifty four points to play for and
to win back second place, we need to score four points more than BAR
in the three races to come. At this stage of the season, we know that
we have the performance to score points on all types of circuit and to
fight for podiums on those that favour us. The team will focus its
efforts on getting both cars to the end of the races and extracting
maximum potential from them. If we are able to make the most of all
our opportunities, we can certainly fight back to second in the
Will engine development continue for the final three races?
RW: The RS24 continues to evolve. The main elements of the engine are
now fixed to the end of the season, but there are still small
improvements to come. Reliability remains the first objective: we must
work to minimize the risk of new incidents. We will continue to work
to improve the performance, in order to capitalize on the results test
work completed at Viry. The individual demands of the final three
circuits will contribute to the definition of the performance spec.
China is a brand new circuit: how much work can you do to prepare
for its challenges?
RW: The race in China will be interesting for everyone – a new event
in a fantastic country with unique culture. The Shanghai circuit
combines elements similar to other circuits on which we race, so along
with analytical and simulation work, the teams should be able to be
well prepared. In terms of duty-cycle, Shanghai sits in a group with
the majority of circuits we visit, so is not a high duty-cycle circuit
like Monza or Spa, but not a low duty-cycle like Hungary or Monaco.
Defining and verifying the operating conditions for the engine is an
important part of our preparation, and will allow the drivers to use
the engines to their maximum potential according to the demands of the
particular circuit. In concrete terms, this means estimating the
duty-cycle based on previous experience, and then dyno testing to
simulate the conditions of the race weekend.
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