Comments from the Renault drivers ahead of the Spanish Grand Prix
Q: Fernando, what’s your verdict on the race in the Nurburgring?
Fernando Alonso: I am very happy. You know, when you are fighting for the victory and get pole position, then of course you want to win as well. But we did a good job. Our performance was not as strong as we hoped, and even with that, we got eight points. So for sure, when everything is OK during the race weekend, then we can win more races.
Q: Barcelona will have a record, sell-out crowd of 130,000 people on Sunday. You must be looking forward to it?
FA: Of course, yes. It is a very special feeling for me to be at my home Grand Prix, it is something unique in the whole championship. It can be a bit stressful too, but the main emotion for me is that I really enjoy the whole weekend, seeing the fans from Wednesday and Thursday onwards. There are so many of them, it is a shame we only have one race in Spain!
Q: Inevitably, for a home race, people will wonder if it brings more pressure. Does it?
FA: I think that pressure comes when you don’t do your maximum, then you have pressure in your head. In my case though, I always do the maximum, in a test or a race, at Barcelona or any other track. If I am doing the maximum, then I don’t have pressure. As soon as the visor goes down and the race starts, it really doesn’t matter at all.
Q: Will the Renault be strong at the Circuit de Catalunya?
FA: I think we are always good there. It is an aero circuit, which is good for Renault, and the team was on the podium every time in the last three years. We saw in Germany that the car is competitive, but Ferrari were a little bit stronger. The next races in Barcelona and Monaco will be dominated by tyres I think and in the past years they were both Michelin circuits. I think there are some good opportunities coming up for us.
Q: Finally, we don’t want to tempt fate, but what would a victory mean to you at your home race?
FA: Well, last year I think it was not quite so important for me, because I was so focused on the championship and just wanted to win races, it didn’t matter which ones. This season it is a bit different. Of course, I am fighting really hard for the title. But now, it is true that if I have to pick two or three races in the year I want to win, then Barcelona is definitely one of them!
Q: What were your thoughts after the race?
Giancarlo Fisichella: It was a difficult race, but we had a good strategy, the team did a fantastic job during the pit-stops and I was very aggressive — which got me up to sixth position. It is still a frustrating result, but I have still scored important points for the championship, for myself and the team.
Q: In just five days’ time you will be in Barcelona for the Spanish Grand Prix. What are you expecting?
GF: Barcelona is a circuit we all know very well because we do so much testing there, especially in the winter. I enjoy the circuit a lot and I know the Renault will be quick there. I am very optimistic for the race weekend, and I hope it will be a bit easier than the last one!
Q: How do you expect the Michelin tyres to perform?
GF: Barcelona is a very tough circuit for the tyres, as we all know. The asphalt is quite abrasive and there are some high speed corners that are hard for the tyres, like the last two corners. But I know Michelin will bring good tyres for this race. They know the circuit well and they are working very hard. I am feeling very confident for Spain, we know the Michelins will be quick!
Q: The race sees massive support for your team-mate. Does that have any downsides for you?
GF: No, the opposite in fact! The Spanish fans are always really good with me, and give me a lot of support. Italy and Spain have similar cultures, the people there are like brothers for us I think! And it is always a big boost to see their fantastic support for the whole Renault team!
Spanish GP Tech File
Barcelona is a circuit that every F1 team knows well as they complete thousands of miles there in testing throughout the season. The mix high-speed corners, a very long straight and an abrasive track surface, makes the Circuit de Catalunya a uniquely complete circuit. Finding the right set-up compromise is always a tricky business at the Spanish Grand Prix.
Aerodynamics: Aerodynamic efficiency is always a key factor at this circuit. Barcelona offers every type of corner in its layout, and the straights are invariably preceded by quick corners. This means the team actually runs quite high downforce levels, in spite of the long main straight, as it is important to get good exit speed from these corners. That, ultimately, is what conditions the car’s speed on the main straight. That means this a race where we use a high downforce set-up.
Suspension: When we look at suspension settings, we have to find the best compromise to give the drivers a well-balanced, responsive car. This means we will use relative stiff settings at the front of the car to get a good change of direction, while the rear will be slightly softer in order to get the best possible traction out of the slow corners. Ride height is also an important parameter to consider — generally we can run the car quite low, which allows optimum aerodynamic performance.
Tyres: The Circuit de Catalunya is well known for being a particularly tough circuit, particularly because it includes so many long, high-speed corners. These put the tyres under high loadings, and particularly the front left tyre which has to work very hard in all the quick corners. We will therefore pay particular attention to tyre degradation when making our choice, and we may alter settings such as camber angles to limit tyre wear if necessary.
Performance: Barcelona is not generally thought of as an engine circuit as the engine is not under particular stress at any point. There are relatively few hard accelerations from low revs, and the main priority is for the power delivery to be progressive and driveable in order to maintain the best handling balance, and limit tyre wear. 69% of the lap is spent at full throttle.
Gearbox: Given the length of the main straight at this circuit, the choice of gear ratios is quite tricky. In fact, for top gear we have to contend with possible over-revving if the wind blows down the main straight, or if the driver is in a competitor’s slipstream. Similarly, a headwind can cost performance. Choosing the final drive is an important part of the work during the practice sessions.