Britain preview quotes: Renault
||Monday, July 5th 2010, 10:35 GMT
Q. Robert, Silverstone is one of the classic circuits in the F1 season. How much fun is it for the drivers?
RK: It's an exciting circuit, a very challenging track, especially the first six or seven corners which are just amazing with current F1 cars. Most of them are nearly flat out, or perhaps even flat - it depends on the wind direction - and as soon as you exit one, you're into the next one straight away: it's just amazing how much speed you can carry through them. Of course, there is the new section this year, as well, which I've seen on the internet and on TV when MotoGP raced there: it looks quite bumpy, and different to the previous version of the circuit, but I think overall that Silverstone is a place where all the drivers are happy to drive, because it really shows 100% of the potential of an F1 car in the high-speed corners.
Q. How do you think the R30 will perform at Silverstone?
RK: It's very difficult to judge. Silverstone is normally quite a tricky place for the set-up and for finding a good balance, because you have a big difference between the low-speed and high-speed corners, and there are not really any medium-speed corners in between. Downforce is a key point and with the changes we made to the car last race, it will be interesting to see if they bring us an advantage in the high-speed stuff. It will be a good test on Friday to see and feel the differences with the new package.
Q. In terms of overall competitiveness, where do you think Renault stands at the moment?
RK: A lot of it depends on the circuit characteristics and if you get everything right or not. We were very close to Ferrari in qualifying in Valencia, even though we were not 100% happy about how it went - but I think most people were struggling a bit in qualifying there. In the first stint of the race, I was behind Felipe and we had a slightly slower pace than him, but things might change. Mercedes struggled in Valencia, too, and we saw some cars having big ups and downs in performance during the weekend, so it's very, very difficult to judge. Silverstone has a completely different character to Valencia or even Canada, and the last time we raced at a similar circuit was in Istanbul. Since then, people have made big updates to their cars, including us, so we really will have to wait and see.
Q. Silverstone marks the halfway point in the season, and you're sixth in the championship. Has the first half of the year exceeded your expectations?
RK: I think there are two ways to look at it. Of course, as a driver you're always hoping for a winning car but, in reality, myself and the team went to the first race hoping to get into the top ten in qualifying and we felt this was our potential, after doing a good job to improve the car during winter testing. Until now, we've qualified in the top ten at every race, and apart from Bahrain, my worst finish has been seventh. All in all, we can be happy with the job we've done. Of course, we had more room for improvement in the beginning, but we managed to close the gap to the top teams, and the guys in the factory have worked really hard to keep up the pace of improvements. Now, the last few tenths to the front will be very difficult to find, but I think we can be happy and really proud of what we have achieved so far after starting quite far away. I don't think anybody was expecting us to achieve these kinds of results.
Q. Vitaly, at the last race in Valencia you had a mixed weekend. What did you learn from it?
VP: We had a lot of new upgrades to the car in Valencia and so the car felt very different and I had to adapt my driving style quite a bit. I was happy to get a good result in qualifying and make it into the top ten, but unfortunately I had no new tyres left for Q3 so I couldn't improve on tenth place. In the race I didn't want to risk too much at the start and I was lucky not to crash with the Force Indias, which were attacking hard. But the important thing is that I was able to finish the race, learn about the car, and get some more experience. Everybody knows how difficult it is to overtake in Valencia so I followed De la Rosa and was waiting for a mistake. He made one mistake in the race, but unfortunately I was not close enough to get by.
Q. After nine races, how do you look back on the first half of the year?
VP: It's difficult to sum up my feelings because so much has happened to me in the last six months. I'm still learning about Formula 1 and I feel that I'm improving at each race and working better with the team and my engineers. I've seen just how competitive Formula 1 is and it still amazes me to see how much effort goes on by the team to improve the car at each race. For the rest of the season I know that I must work hard with Robert if we are to beat Mercedes before the end of the year, and this is our clear objective.
Q. You've raced at Silverstone before in GP2, but the layout has changed for this year. Do you think the new arena section will add an extra challenge?
VP: Until we get there and drive the lap it's difficult to know what the new section will be like in an F1 car. My feeling is that it will just make the lap a bit longer because the main characteristics of the track have not changed. It was always difficult to overtake at the old Silverstone because of the quick corners and I think that will still be the case this year. There are some extra straights, but I don't know if they are long enough to allow overtaking.
Q. How will you approach the British Grand Prix?
VP: The first thing we need to do is to see how our upgrades work at Silverstone because it's a very different circuit to Valencia and much more high-speed. And because it's difficult to overtake, I know how important it will be to get the maximum from the car in qualifying. So I must try and avoid any mistakes over the weekend and aim to qualify inside the top ten so that we can get the most from the race. It's a local race for the Enstone factory so it would be extra special to get a good result for the team.