“F1 engine manufacturers did a fantastic job”” – Q&A with Denis Chevrier”

Wed, 8 November 2006, 04:42

The Renault F1 Team’s engine race engineering boss casts an eye back over the 2006 season, explains the challenges faced by the new V8 engines this season and agrees with some of our statements in V8 vs V10 Part II.

Denis, what are your strongest memories of 2006?
In all the time since I have been working in F1, I have rarely lived through such a tough, fascinating and demanding season. The tenacity of our rivals forced us to push ourselves to the limit all the way through the championship. Trying to beat Ferrari isn’t really like beating any other team…

What is your best memory of the year?
Without a doubt, the opening laps in Hungary, in the wet. Fernando gave a master class in driving an F1 car, and the only comparison I could find was with Ayrton Senna at Donington in 1993. It was an exceptional performance, he was on another planet. Even in the midst of the race, it felt like we should have been applauding this virtuoso drive.

And the worst…?
When I saw smoke coming from Fernando’s car in Monza. Initially, I was stunned. You watch the TV images, you scan the telemetry… and you suddenly realise that it’s not a dream, that it has happened. Immediately, you need to react, to try and understand why the engine failed, to work out how to get the engine back to the factory as quickly as possible… It only took a few seconds before we went into ‘crisis mode’.

Rob White admitted that the failure led to the team working night and day…
That’s exactly how it was. The calendar gave us a fortnight to react, given that the next race was in China in three weeks’ time. From that moment, the whole company was mobilised to understand what had happened, to find suitable solutions, to approve them, and then to decide which option to take. No part of the company was spared: suppliers, the design office, the production team, our R&D specialists, the dyno team, the assembly workshop… At dawn, we were inspecting parts that had been tested through the night…

What general assessment can you make of the first season with V8 engines?
The cars were clearly under-powered relative to the level of grip they had. That made life very tough for the engines this year, and much more severe than it had been for the V10s. The period of time spent at full throttle jumped significantly, the demands on the engine were much greater and all the engine manufacturers did a fantastic job to meet the challenge of the new rules. The V8s are wonderful engines. They were running at or near 20,000 rpm and you couldn’t afford even the smallest lapse…


You may also like