Italy preview quotes: Renault
|Monday, September 6th 2010, 10:59 GMT|
Q. Robert, Monza is an important weekend for you. Do you think of it as a home race?
RK: In a way, it is. Poland is my home country but in go-karts, Formula Renault and Formula 3, I always raced for Italian teams and spent over a year living close to Monza, so this whole area holds good memories for me. Looking at my F1 career, this was also the track where I scored my first podium finish in 2006, so it's certainly a very special circuit and weekend.
Q. What are the characteristics of the circuit for the drivers?
RK: You have a lot of high-speed sections, like Ascari and Parabolica, plus the low-speed chicanes and it's difficult to balance these sectors so the car performs well in all of them. It's the quickest circuit on the calendar, which means we use a very low-downforce, low-drag configuration. In previous years, we tested at Monza the week before the race so we could get used to the feeling of the car, which is much lighter than normal. Now, we don't have that test, so it becomes a bit of a tricky weekend. The other important factor is good mechanical grip for braking stability into the chicanes, and good traction on the exit.
Q. Is it an enjoyable circuit to drive?
RK: I think so because the feeling is so unusual - it's like being at the wheel of a completely different car. At the start of the weekend, you think that the rear end is very unstable, but in fact that's how it stays all the time, and you never quite find the grip and stability you're used to at other circuits. That makes it a bigger challenge for the drivers, and I also enjoy the fact that there's a lot of heavy braking, where you approach the braking points at very high speed and need to be extremely precise. It's not easy to pick them up or to hit the apex of the corners.
Q. After a strong podium finish in Spa, what are your expectations for this weekend?
RK: It's hard to say and I think this will be a very interesting weekend to judge the performance of the cars. Spa was a good example of how powerful the f-duct can be and we were immediately more competitive and closer to the front when we fitted it. The effect will be less powerful in Monza because the cars run with less drag, but there will be still be an advantage, so we need to see which teams use it and if we are able to as well. This circuit can sometimes throw up some surprises, so I prefer to stay cautious when it comes to predictions. But if the car feels as good as it did in Spa, then there's no reason why we won't be competitive in Monza.
Q. Vitaly, you did well to score points at Spa, but do you feel you could have got even more from the weekend?
VP: Yes, it was good to score some points, but we could have done better. Because of my mistake in qualifying, I only started from 23rd on the grid, but we made a good recovery and it was a good race. However, we know that we are capable of finishing much higher. It's good to finish in the points, but we know that sixth place could have been possible.
Q. You had some good battles in the race - especially with Rosberg. Did you enjoy that?
VP: It's always a good feeling to be battling with the strong guys in the field, with Mercedes and Rosberg, who is an experienced F1 driver. Our car was very quick on the straights, so I waited for Sutil to pit in order to have a good slipstream and I was then able to pass Rosberg before Les Combes. It was a little bit risky because it was on the outside and it was really at the limit, but overtaking him was a good feeling.
Q. The car took a step forward in Spa – how did it feel to drive?
VP: The car was good to drive and it was quick on the straights thanks to the f-duct. We were able to use more downforce so it definitely was a big improvement.
Q. How did you find racing with the f-duct? Was it easy to adapt to?
VP: We used it all through Friday practice to first check it and then to practise using it. After that it was all good. I was able to use the f-duct without any difficultly, even through Eau Rouge where it was a little challenging to drive with only one hand.
Q. How will you approach the final six races of the season?
VP: Apart from Monza, I will need to learn all the other circuits where we will race in the last part of the season because I have never been to these places. I will study videos and maps, and look at data for those circuits.
Q. Have you got any special memories of Monza from GP2? Do you enjoy the challenge it presents?
VP: I was on pole position for GP2 in Monza last year. I was leading for the majority of the race, but finished second because I had to slow down when there was an accident in front of me and I lost the lead. Despite this, it remains a good memory for me, although now in Formula 1 I will need to learn it again and adapt my driving style. Monza is a great track with some famous corners like Parabolica and the Lesmos. What is important is not to make any mistakes, because even if you lose a few tenths, it could cost five places or even more. It will be interesting to race there and I look forward to it.
Q. What is your target for this weekend?
VP: My target again is to be in the top 10.