Symonds: controversy devalued season
|By Jonathan Noble||Monday, October 23rd 2006, 11:55 GMT|
Renault's director of engineering Pat Symonds says that this year's controversial political decisions have devalued his team's successes for him.
Fernando Alonso had looked set to cruise to his second world title after the first half of the year, having opened up a 25-point lead over Michael Schumacher at the Canadian Grand Prix.
But the championship battle was turned on its head when the FIA banned Renault's mass damper system, and matters were not helped when Alonso was hit with grid penalties in Hungary and, most controversially, Monza.
Symonds admits that the controversy over those events has taken something away from Renault's success this year - as the team become only the fourth in history to win back-to-back title successes.
"I think as a sporting challenge I would look back on it and say it was one of the best I have been involved in," said Symonds when asked by autosport.com about the season.
"But there are other aspects of it that perhaps don't make it my favourite year."
Despite his feelings about the FIA decisions, Symonds has claimed that the title showdown in Brazil was the tensest moment he can remember from his career.
"It was so nerve wracking," he explained. "I have had 30 years in the sport and I can never remember anything as nerve wracking as today. We were fighting against a car that was unbelievably quicker than us.
"In a normal race, with the incidents that happen and the situations that happen, with a normal car and normal driver, you would have said by lap 20 that we were okay, we are comfortable.
"But I really didn't feel comfortable until Michael (Schumacher) got past Kimi (Raikkonen) and I looked at the gaps and thought he still had to overtake. That was the first time I thought that maybe it was there."
Thoughts have already started drifting towards next season, when Renault start preparing for life post-Alonso - and with a new tyre supplier following the departure of Michelin from F1.
"I was just saying to the Michelin guys that they are quite lucky – I've got to do it again next year, they can have a little rest," smiled Symonds about 2007. "There are so many changes it is going to be interesting who rises to the top, where it all goes.
"I guess I am looking forward to it, but right now I am looking forward to a bit of time off."