With Renault languishing in fifth place behind McLaren, Alonso and Piquet talk us through their feelings from the past few races, what they expect to achieve at Fernando's home Grand Prix. Renault's Pat Symonds explains what's to come from the R29.
Fernando Alonso: Driver
Fernando you had a physically draining race in Bahrain, but you still came away with a point.
Yes, my drink pump failed and so it was a tough race and I was a bit dehydrated when I got out of the car. It was good to score a point, but we were hoping for more after all our hard work over the last couple of weeks. I didn’t make a good start and lost ground which decided my race because all the cars around me were running similar strategies. I think it’s fair to say that we were the eighth fastest car and so finishing eighth is representative of our performance at the moment.
This weekend it’s your home Grand Prix in Barcelona. How special is it to race in front of your home crowd?
It’s always very special to race in Spain and I’m lucky to have two races at home this year in Barcelona and Valencia. Seeing the support of the fans always gives me a boost and I just hope that I can make them happy and have a strong weekend. It will be difficult to fight for the podium, but hopefully we can qualify well and score some big points in the race.
Tell us about the Barcelona circuit and how you expect the R29 to perform there?
All the teams know the track well as we do so much testing there in the winter. We tested there in February, but obviously we have developed the car a lot since then so we will need to work on the set-up during free practice. We are still missing some performance at the moment but the team has really improved the car already this season so we are certainly moving in the right direction. Hopefully we can take another step forward this weekend.
Nelson Piquet: Driver
Nelson, we’re a quarter of the way into the season. Sum up your feelings as we return to Europe for the Spanish Grand Prix…
It has been a difficult start to the year for me, but I feel I’ve learnt a lot from the first four races. The wet races in Malaysia and China were quite frustrating and we couldn’t really judge the performance of the car, but I’m feeling a lot more positive after Bahrain where I raced with the new diffuser. It would have been great to finish in the points, but all the cars are very competitive and reliable this year so to finish tenth was probably the best result that was possible on the day.
Barcelona is probably the track where you’ve driven the most. Do you enjoy racing there?
It’s the circuit that I know the best, but it’s not one of my favourites because it’s not especially challenging for the drivers. It’s all about having a good aero package and a well balanced car to cope with the high-speed corners. It’s therefore difficult to overtake, so you need to qualify well to be able to choose a sensible strategy for the race. Barcelona is also really demanding for the tyres and so we need to see how the different compounds perform during long runs on Friday.
How much has the R29 improved since the start of the year?
We’ve definitely improved the car by fitting the new diffuser and the team did a great job to react quickly and adapt the car. We also had an update to the front wing in Bahrain and the car is now much easier to drive than it was at the beginning of the year. I know the whole team is working really hard to find more performance and now that we are back in Europe it will be easier to bring new developments to the races.
To find out what Pat Symonds thinks of the R29, and the new updates coming this weekend, visit the F1 Times website.