The China Grand Prix will be home to the final race of the season and is looking to be one of the most important for recent years. The Constructors Championship is hotting up with Renault leading ahead of their close rivals, McLaren, with only two points seperating them for top place. At the China Grand Prix, it will all be decided as both teams look to end Ferrari’s reign on the Constructors Championship of the past six years. “I am going to China to help win a championship,” commented newly crowned World Champion, Fernando Alonso at the Official Mild Seven Renault F1 Team preview for the 2005 Chinese GP.
Fernando, Suzuka must have been one of the best races of your career…
It was certainly pretty exciting! The car was excellent, and I felt as quick as the McLarens honestly. I did lots of overtaking, and took the risks that I avoided in the last few races. It felt so good to be really aggressive with the car, because there was nothing to lose.
Do you think you can be on McLaren’s pace again in China?
Let’s wait and see. Shanghai is a special type of circuit, and quite different to Japan. But we have a new engine there, so I think we can be maybe a bit closer. I quite enjoy the circuit, it has some challenging corners and for sure, the R25 will be better there than our car was last year. I am going there to help win a championship.
Giancarlo Fisichella is confident for the China Grand Prix, “We can put up a good fight in China.”
Fisico, you came so close to winning in Suzuka. How are you feeling?
Honestly, I am feeling positive. It was a hard race in Japan, and I did everything I could to keep Kimi behind at the end. But you know, we came away with more points than McLaren, so we are leading the championship with one race left: that is a fantastic position to be in.
How confident are you for China?
I am feeling good. It is another demanding circuit, where the car needs good speed, good efficiency in the aerodynamics and a stable balance for the long corners. The R25 has been a great car all year, and I am sure it will be competitive there as well. We can put up a good fight, no question.
Denis Chevrier talks about the E spec engine and the end of the V10 era.
Denis, the team will introduce its final engine specification of the season in Shanghai. Tell us about it…
The strategy throughout the season – be it with a new engine, or halfway through a two-race cycle – has been to provide our drivers with the best possible compromise between performance and reliability. Obviously, for China, the reliability demands are somewhat different, as the engine only needs to complete a single race weekend, and the specification of the engine takes account of that.
So, the team has developed a special one race engine…
No, that’s not the case – it isn’t a separate part of our technical programme. The idea of a one-race engine implies we have developed a different engine, which certainly isn’t the case. That would have been an inefficient use of resources, given that we couldn’t guarantee it would have been needed…
How do you describe the new E spec then?
Well, when it came to taking the decision on the specification to which the engines would be built, we had certain components that were capable of lasting 700 km – but not yet 1400 km. That meant they were not ready for any other races, but potentially were for China. Some of those parts are major enough to justify a change in its specification code – making it an “E”. But it has not been developed specifically for this race, rather it includes components that are currently appropriate for an engine life of 700 km.
What advantages does it bring?
Well, it gives us a better overall performance package. Which means, not only is it an intrinsically more powerful engine, but it gives us more options in how we use the engine over the race weekend. It will be a concrete step forward in lap-time.
At this stage, is it not a dead end to be racing a V10 with a one-race life, when next year’s rules call for two weekend V8s?
I don’t think so. The architecture of the engines may be changing next year, but they have the same DNA. We have parts that haven’t made it into this year’s engine that will certainly appear on next year’s V8. And this engine is part of that progression. It is not a dead end at all.
Talking of DNA, Renault’s history with the V10 stretches back to its introduction in F1. What will it be like, running the engine for the last time?
I think it will be an emotional moment when we are on the grid, or hearing it cross the finish line for the final time. It will be the end of an era. The noise of the V8 is very different, and it means our daily routine of fire-ups, hearing the engine in the garage, will change quite significantly. At Renault, we have been listening to V10 engines for 17 seasons now, and it will be a very different experience next year…
How much does this year’s success mean to the team at Viry?
First of all, we are delighted to have won the title with a 100% Renault for the first time, which is proof of our excellent collaboration with our colleagues in Enstone. There is also another great satisfaction: that the last driver to win a world championship with a V10 engine was one of ours. We were the pioneers of the V10, fighting against V8 and V12 competitors; then the V10 became the norm; and now an era is coming to a close. To have introduced this engine configuration to the sport, and to win its final championship, those are nice bookends on an era in F1 history.
Renault F1 Team