JUNE 21, 2010
Renault hopes to challenge in Valencia
Renault is hoping for a strong showing in Valencia this coming weekend as it bids to close down the 29 point gap to fourth-placed Mercedes in the constructors' championship.
Robert Kubica was one of the stars of Monaco last month but was thwarted by higher than expected tyre degradation on the medium compound Bridgestone tyre at the last race in Canada, where he was also hoping to be a strong factor.
Speaking of Valencia though, Kubica says: "I know a lot of other drivers don't think the same way, but I enjoy driving there. It's quite an interesting circuit because it's half-street circuit, half-modern circuit. The characteristics are quite similar to Canada because most of the corners are slow speed, so you concentrate on braking stability and good traction which should suit our car because we are strong in these areas. We run a higher level of downforce than in Canada, but you still need good aerodynamic efficiency because the speeds are high at four points of the lap.
"The main difference will be with the asphalt: in Montreal the track surface was new and very slippery, whereas I think the grip levels will be better in Valencia. It's still a street circuit, so grip levels will be low on Friday morning but should improve quickly throughout the weekend, especially because we will have more categories racing and putting rubber down rubber than in Canada."
Rather than take a weekend off, Kubica prepared for Valencia with a spot of rallying in sourthern Italy over the weekend....
Team mate Vitaly Petrov is also hoping for a better showing in Spain. Having impressed strongly in Turkey, the Russian had a character-building weekend in Canada. As well as being a Valancia resident for the past three years, he also won the GP2 race at the track last year, so his optimism looks well-founded.
Renault's Valencia upgrade will include a new front wing - the eighth iteration in nine races! - as well as a new floor as the 2010 season continues its frantic pace of development.
"If we take the gap to pole position as a measure of how much we've improved, we've seen the gap steadily reduce race by race as we've developed quicker than some of our competitors," says technical director James Allison, "And with the updates we have planned for this weekend, that trend will hopefully continue. At the moment I feel we're slightly ahead of Mercedes and it was encouraging to see Robert qualify ahead of both Mercedes in Canada, especially Rosberg, who was on the option tyre. But we're well aware that we shouldn't underestimate Mercedes because they are pushing just as hard as us and are the reigning champions.
"Our car went very well at Monaco, the last proper street circuit, so we're optimistic of another strong showing this weekend. We will have the same tyre compounds that we had in Canada, but I don't expect anything like the same problems we encountered with degradation and tyre management."