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ALONSO Interview 1/31/08: Renault Must Find One Second

Discussion in 'F1' started by RP, Jan 31, 2008.

  1. RP

    RP F1 World Champ

    Feb 9, 2005
    17,667
    Bocahuahua, Florxico
    Full Name:
    Tone Def
    (from autosport)


    Q. What are the feelings for the new season?

    Fernando Alonso: At the moment, we need to close the gap to the top teams, McLaren and Ferrari, because we are a little bit too far behind them. At the moment, there is not any possibility to fight for podiums or wins, or things like that, so that is the first priority of this winter tests and the first race.

    To close the gap, and to be behind them two or three tenths is not such a big problem. But to be one second or eight tenths, like we are at the moment, is a little bit too much.

    Q. What do you think about the technical regulation changes this year? David Coulthard said recently that it could be dangerous?

    FA: Well, I don't think it will be any problem. Okay the first laps we do with no help, you feel a bit strange and it is difficult to drive the car. But after a few laps you forget how you were driving with TC on. You get used to the new system and the new car, so I don't think we will have any problems.

    It is true that in the wet races it might be a little bit more dangerous because there is always some aquaplaning, and the TC was always a help, but at the end of the day it will be the same for everybody. It just needs time to get used to the new regulations.

    Q. After the strange season you had at McLaren, do you think it would have been better to stay at Renault rather than go there in the first place?

    FA: I don't think so. The last year Renault was struggling to get to Q3 and McLaren was fighting for the title. So I had the opportunity to fight for the championship last year and I don't regret anything. I was lucky to be for the third consecutive time fighting for the title, and that is what a driver wants. It was a difficult season, but I was lucky also.

    Q. After the form of Renault last season, are you worried that they may not be able to give you a car that is capable of fighting for the world championship?

    FA: I think that is one of the main things to change, and they worry. That is no doubt. Renault last year was not competitive enough and that is the thing that we must change for this year. The team is very focused on changing this and they work very hard on this new car to sort out the problems they had last year, and I am here to help and to give my experience to them.

    All together we hope to work in the same direction and get Renault back in the fight. It won't be easy because all the other teams improve as well, and if Renault were one second behind last year we need to recover that.

    How? We need to work longer than the others, but that is not possible because there is one month to the first race and we cannot work longer than the others. So we need to work better. We will see what we can do. We need to be clever and we need to do the right things to the car to improve it. That is the target for this February's testing.

    Q. Everything learns something about themselves, through good and bad times. You said last year was difficult for you, but what did you learn?

    FA: Well, I think we all improve every year - and the drivers even more. You are one year more experienced and you are a better driver when you start the next season. For me it was a difficult season but for sure in the difficulties you learn even more and are even quicker. It is something that this year for sure I will be better.

    Q. Why did it get so personal with Lewis Hamilton last year?

    FA: I don't think I have any problem with Lewis. Sometimes I read some things, but I am sure they are exaggerated in Spain. Every time he has an interview he has two or three questions about me, and every time I have an interview I have two or three questions about him. And anything you say will be exaggerated the next day.

    So at the end of the day I am really convinced it is better not to say anything, because we cannot make a big thing of something that is not really a big thing. I don't have problems with anyone. I don't regret anything from 2007. I had some difficulties, but I am here in 2008 ready to fight again and happy. There is no big problem. It seems that everybody wants to put something there.

    Q. Is the chapter with McLaren-Mercedes closed for you?

    FA: Okay, the past is the past, so everything is closed. It is not only last year with McLaren, the past with Renault is closed as well, and with Minardi. It is time to move forward. We have enough problems with this year's car, and to improve it, and to develop it - and to try and get used to the new regulations. It is impossible to think about the past, we have to move forwards.

    Q. You have driven the 2007 car and the 2008 car. Can you give us your impressions of how they compare?

    FA: Well, I think it is better overall the 2008 car. It improved in all areas. The engine is exactly the same because of the engine freeze, and mechanically it is more or less similar to the 2007 car, and the main difference is the aerodynamics. The team put a lot of effort to improve it aerodynamically.

    Last year the team had problems with the wind tunnel and some calibrations, so they improve a lot that area and we need to keep improving – because that is the area to find performance.

    Q. The front end is quite new. How does it feel?

    FA: Well, it doesn't change too much when you are driving. The two cars feel quite similar in terms of balance and there is not a big difference as when you look at the car. It is just more performance, a bit quicker and more to come. There is a new direction the team went, a new philosophy, and now there is everything to discover.

    Q. Does the new front end suit the Bridgestone tyres better?

    FA: Let's hope so! At the moment there was not a big difference, but all the R28 is designed and thinking about the Bridgestone tyre. It was not like that last year, we arrived from Michelin and they got some bad surprised unfortunately. This year the car is more prepared to the Bridgestones.

    Q. After racing with Lewis all year, how talented do you think he is?

    FA: Again, the questions are about Lewis and I don't want to say anything more than what I had said all year. He is a very talented driver, and rookie of the year, surprise of the year, and everything everybody said last year nothing changed. The first year in F1, fighting for the championship.

    Q. How much do you think you can contribute in closing the gap, because there's a view that you were half a second faster than Giancarlo [Fisichella] and last year they were about a second off the pace of Ferrari, so half of their deficit was on the driver side...

    FA: I don't think Giancarlo was that slow, for sure – I was racing with him for two years and he won races in 2005 and 2006. When Giancarlo and Kovalainen were not able to get into Q3 sometimes last year, it was because it was not possible, the car was not good enough – I'm sure of that.

    It's something that for sure I will have to deal with, doing my maximum and hopefully being quick enough to bring some tenths.

    Also I have some ideas for developing the car, some things that I'm sure will improve the car – and hopefully at the end of this pre-season, late February and the beginning of March, we will introduce some of these on the car and hopefully we will improve quickly.

    Q. We will have two new street races this year – will they give Renault a better chance to compete at the front?

    FA: I don't think so, to be honest. The street races will be quite spectacular, because I think the Valencia circuit is looking really good and I'm sure they will do something great in Singapore as well. But they will be more like permanent circuits – the only real street circuit will be Monaco.

    And as we see every year, cars that win the championship win in Monaco as well. It's not a big change. Last year the two McLarens won in Monaco and they and Ferrari dominated the championship as well. So even if it is a street circuit, the best car will be dominant and win.

    Q. You made very fast starts when you drove for Renault – do you think that will still be the case with launch control now banned?

    FA: We'll see. I think I've been fast in the past because our system was better than the others. The Renault car used to start a little bit better than anybody else and I managed to take advantage of that system.

    Now that everything is controlled manually, it's up to the drivers. Okay, the engineers can help a little bit with some engine maps or whatever, but it's true that the starts will be quite open.

    Before if you did a bad start you'd lose one or two places; now if you do a bad start and you have too much wheelspin maybe you lose five or six, because the difference is much more.

    So I'm really looking forward to Australia to see how the starts are for everybody.

    Q. Last year you said you expected McLaren to pay more regard to the fact that you came there as a double world champion. How do you feel about the situation at Renault?

    FA: I feel very good. I always felt very good at Renault; I was not world champion when I came here, and they always supported me and respected me. I feel always really, really happy and comfortable here.

    Now I've come back and it's the same approach. Everybody respects me and helps me, and I'm 100% sure that they will do everything that is possible for both drivers.

    If everything is new in the car or whatever – for sure now in the pre-season tests – they will try to put [parts] on my car first, try to understand and develop that part, and then it goes to Nelsinho.

    It's something that I feel comfortable, and it's something that's quite easy.





    (secondary interview)


    Two-time champion Fernando Alonso reckons the Renault team are currently nearly a second behind rivals McLaren or Ferrari.

    "At the moment, we need to close the gap to the top teams, McLaren and Ferrari, because we are a little bit too far behind them," Alonso told reporters during the launch of the new Renault in Paris.

    "At the moment, there is not any possibility to fight for podiums or wins, or things like that, so that is the first priority of this winter tests and the first race.

    "To close the gap, and to be behind them two or three tenths is not such a big problem.

    "But to be one second or eight tenths, like we are at the moment, is a little bit too much," the Spaniard added.

    The French squad, world champions with Alonso in 2005 and 2006, endured a dismal season last year, finishing on the podium just once on their way to a distant third place in the standings.

    "Renault last year was not competitive enough and that is the thing that we must change for this year," Alonso added. "The team is very focused on changing this and they work very hard on this new car to sort out the problems they had last year, and I am here to help and to give my experience to them.

    "All together we hope to work in the same direction and get Renault back in the fight. It won't be easy because all the other teams improve as well, and if Renault were one second behind last year we need to recover that.

    "How? We need to work longer than the others, but that is not possible because there is one month to the first race and we cannot work longer than the others. So we need to work better. We will see what we can do.

    "We need to be clever and we need to do the right things to the car to improve it. That is the target for this February's testing."

    Alonso left Renault at the end of 2006 but returned to the French team after just one season at McLaren. The Spaniard parted company with the British outfit after a turbulent season.

    Despite his problems, Alonso said he had no regrets about his move.

    "I don't think so," he said when asked if leaving Renault was a mistake. "Last year Renault was struggling to get into Q3 and McLaren was fighting for the title. So I had the opportunity to fight for the championship last year and I don't regret anything.

    "I was lucky to be for the third consecutive time fighting for the title, and that is what a driver wants. It was a difficult season, but I was lucky also."
     
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  3. barbazza

    barbazza Formula 3
    Rossa Subscribed

    Sep 10, 2006
    2,082
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    John
    Is that in addition to the 0.6 second he will bring to the team or do they only need 0.4 now? ;)
     
  4. ferraridude615

    ferraridude615 F1 Veteran

    May 4, 2006
    5,534
    Texas
    It must be great for team morale when your driver says your car sucks, good job Fernando.
     
  5. Senna3xWC

    Senna3xWC F1 Rookie

    Nov 30, 2006
    3,151
    NYC
    I think Renault is going to surprise this season, as will Honda. I look for both to make significant improvements in competitiveness.
     
  6. smart_alek

    smart_alek Formula Junior

    Jun 12, 2005
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    Alex
    Maybe BMW will pull a BAR, and have a disappointing season right after they had a stellar season.
     
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  8. Lexdiamonnyc

    Lexdiamonnyc Formula Junior

    Dec 5, 2004
    505
    North NJ
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    Lex
    I don't think that he said anything about last years car that wasn't true, the team knows the car wasn't front row stuff......and have moved on from that, I bet they have learned quite a bit from last year and will definately suprise a few people this year.

    I'm hope to see Alonso score a couple of podium finishes and maybe challenge for 3rd place or even 2nd if Ferrari or McLaren have problems......
     
  9. senna21

    senna21 F1 Rookie

    Jul 2, 2004
    3,317
    Los Angeles, CA
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    Charles W
    That's quite a nice compliment to Fisi. I think many underrate Fisi and this quote makes it sound as if Fisi beat Alonso outright in those races that he won. IMHO Fisi>Massa. Fisi was a great no. 2 to Alonso and certainly helped him win his two WDC.
     
  10. kescape

    kescape Karting

    Nov 11, 2003
    100
    I don't understand that if the engine freeze from 2007 to 2008, and the old engine's design sux, then the team cannot improve it? They would be stuck with the bad design engine for another year?
     
  11. senna21

    senna21 F1 Rookie

    Jul 2, 2004
    3,317
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    Charles W
    They can work within the parameters given buy working with the ECU controls but, if the basic design sucks then yes, they are stuck with a sucky engine.
     
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  13. Senna3xWC

    Senna3xWC F1 Rookie

    Nov 30, 2006
    3,151
    NYC
    My understanding is that last year's chassis was very unsuited for the Bridgestones. Some of the Michelin runners adapted reasonably well to the new tires, others, Renault in particular, did not.

    I am sure with a season's experience under their belt, and the fact that they began developing the 2008 car earlier than many of the other top teams, will likely help. having Alonso back will certainly boost the team, though I am pretty pessimistic about Piquet Jr.
     
  14. barbazza

    barbazza Formula 3
    Rossa Subscribed

    Sep 10, 2006
    2,082
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    John
    Piquet Jr. seemed to do fairly well against Hamilton in GP2. If I remember correctly, he had a slow start to the season but came on strong and pushed Lewis pretty well to the end. You follow things more accurately than most here. Is that your recollection of the 2006 GP2 title fight? And if so, do you see that peformance as being an accurate assesment of Piquet's abilities in comparison to Hamilton? Or did the car maybe flatter Piquet a bit?
     
  15. DM18

    DM18 F1 Rookie

    Apr 29, 2005
    4,725
    Hong Kong
    Agree
     

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