APRIL 12, 2011
Renault: podiums on different tracks bodes well
Renault management believes that podium finishes on tracks as different as Melbourne and Singapore bodes well for the season ahead.
The squad has regrouped well after the huge blow of Robert Kubica's pre-season rallying accident, with Vitaly Petrov scoring his first podium in Melbourne and Kubica's replacement, Nick Heidfeld, repeating the feat at Sepang.
"I'm happy for the entire team," says technical director James Allison. "It's been a mega effort and I feel we've really got the most out of the car in the last two races. The car has performed well in the temperate conditions of Melbourne and the heat of Sepang. It all bodes well for the season ahead."
The R31 has, however shown stronger race pace than qualifying speed. "We've seen that twice now," Allison confirms. "It was a characteristic of last year's car that it performed well on high fuel and the same seems to be true of the R31. But we still have work to do on both qualifying and race pace before we can call ourselves properly competitive.
"It was good to see lots of overtaking and I think the FIA got the DRS (drag reduction system rear wing) settings just about right in Sepang. For China, they will need to choose the DRS activation point carefully because the DRS straight is around 300m longer compared to Sepang."
Heidfeld is hopeful that Renault can keep pace in F1's development race and continue challenging the front-runners.
"There was a lot of action at Sepang and it's clear the DRS is helping with overtaking. Of course, if you use the wing to overtake somebody, you like it, and if you are overtaken, you don't like it. I've always said that I don't like the idea of artificially improving the racing, but now that we have this rule we just have to make the best of it. China will depend on the upgrade packages the other teams bring, which might change the pecking order a little bit. We had a good upgrade in Sepang, and our package this weekend in Shanghai is not as big. But I think it's a circuit where our car will go well because we have good top speed, which should pay off down the long back straight."
Team boss Eric Boullier added: "I think the new rules have really spiced up the strategy. In fact, it's much tougher to plan the strategy from the pit wall and keep track of what everybody is doing in terms of tyres. Also the rear wing means that if you can get close enough, overtaking is now possible. I expect we will see a lot more overtaking using the DRS in China."