The Renault F1 Team will race on Bridgestone tyres for the first time during 2007. What has been the impact of
In simple terms, the consequences of the change have been two-fold. When we fitted the newshape Bridgestone tyres
to our wind tunnel model, we realised that we needed to look afresh at our aerodynamic packaging – and the optimisation of that
package will be an on-going process. Secondly, we have tuned the dynamic characteristics of the car to get the most out of the tyres,
re-evaluating parameters such as the weight distribution. Bridgestone have been very open with us, and we are building a strong
working relationship with them at the track. But we are keeping our feet on the ground, and we know that we are on a steep learning
curve up to the first race of the season and beyond.
The team fought with Ferrari for the championship in 2006, and McLaren in 2005. How do you expect the competitive situation to
evolve for the 2007 season?
I think we can expect an extremely close and competitive season. In recent years, the largest
differentiating factor in performance between the teams came from the tyres – and this has now been removed. In addition, the
homologation rules mean there is much less scope for gaining a significant performance advantage from the engine. To my mind, this
will have two consequences. The first will be that the difference in performance with the teams will be smaller, and the competition
closer. But the second is that it will show the real calibre of the different teams – and allow organisations such as ours, with a
proven track-record of winning world championships, to make the difference.
Will the R27 feature any major new developments?
Yes. For 2007, we will be running an ‘instantaneous gearchange’ (IGC)
gearbox. This is not a new technology in Formula 1 terms, as a number of teams are already using the system. But we chose to wait
until 2007 in to gain maximum competitive advantage from a fully reliable system. The gearbox has completed several thousand
kilometres since November in the back of a hybrid car, and it has brought a good performance step. What’s more, in a season when
gains are going to be hard to find for every team, it is a major boost relative to those top teams already running the technology.
It is often said that in times of success, it is best to change as little as possible – but the team has a new driver, and a
new tyre supplier. Does that change how the team will approach the coming season?
It hasn’t changed our approach in any way
at all. Every top team will be experiencing major changes for 2007, with new drivers, new technical structures and new tyres in some
cases; and the true quality of a team is revealed in how effectively you can manage those changes. At Renault, adapting to change
has been one of our major strengths in recent years, and we have blended continuity and regeneration for 2007: alongside an
experienced race-winning driver in Giancarlo and stable senior technical management, we have Heikki and a restructured trackside
team in which a number of young engineers are stepping up to larger roles. We are determined to continue winning races and fighting
for championships. Achieving those goals will be further proof of the pedigree of the team.
So what are your expectations for the coming year?
I think we are feeling very optimistic. As a team, our objective is
to provide our drivers with the best possible equipment to win races – and the best environment in which to do so. I think we have
done that for 2007. Our motivation is greater than ever, and we are expecting a very competitive season ahead.