Q & A with Renault's Pat Symonds

Conducted and provided by the Renault F1 Team press office

Q & A with Renault's Pat Symonds

Q. Pat, the tyre regulations have changed significantly for 2006. What will be the impact?

PS: The most interesting change comes in how we use the tyres through the weekend. Unlike last year, we are now totally free and more importantly, we do not have to make our tyre choice until qualifying starts. In previous, years, we had to do so by Saturday morning. We can even start the race on new tyres and fit new tyres all the way through the race, if we choose to. The key thing is that we only have seven sets in total. Managing tyre usage is now a key strategic choice during the weekend.

Q. What compromises will this involve?

PS: We need to balance the performance advantage that a new set of tyres can bring in the race, against getting all our set-up work done in practice. So first we have to decide how many sets we use in practice. We then need to decide how many sets of new tyres you want to use in qualifying - one, two or three? Ideally, we will use as few as possible, to keep them for the race, but will we be quick enough to get to the final qualifying session without them? How much advantage can we gain from fitting new tyres at a pit-stop in the race? The strategic benefit of this varies from circuit to circuit, so in some places we will want a new set in every stint - which could be up to four sets. There are many factors to consider in planning the structure of our weekend.

Q. You will be using softer tyres throughout the race weekend - what does this change for the set-up, and strategies?

PS: The use of shorter life tyres requires a fundamental change to tyre development. We will be less worried about tyre wear in 2006, but factors like graining will become an issue once again. The car will be configured to use the tyres differently - we can be more aggressive in our set-ups if the tyres don't have to last for the whole race. Finally, it has an impact on strategy. Last year, everything converged to a standard "rearward biased" two-stop strategy, with longer opening stints. In 2006, I think we will see more pit-stops and more strategic variation, to take advantage of the performance gain from fitting new tyres.

Q. The weekend format has also changed - will that affect the amount of running you do?

PS: The most significant change is that we no longer have to make our tyre choice on Friday evening. Track conditions are not generally at their best on Friday, but last year we had to run in order to understand the tyre behaviour and make an informed choice. That is no longer the case, as we only have to make our decision before qualifying, allowing us to run when track conditions are most representative.

Q. Does that mean we will see less running on Friday?

PS: I think it almost certainly will. Those teams with the advantage of the third car will run a lot, but for the top four teams, there will be much less activity. The tyre situation is one reason, but we also have a longer qualifying procedure - which will use up engine mileage. We will be managing engine life very carefully once again in 2006, especially at the beginning of the year when all the teams will have brand new units. Everybody will look to save their running on Friday.

Q. But presumably, you still have to run to establish a good set-up for the car...

PS: Of course, so what we are talking about is a change in the timetable of how we run the car. With a dry weather forecast, I expect we will do very little on Friday morning, a little more in the afternoon, and the majority of our work on Saturday morning, when track conditions will be at their best. That one hour session will be very busy!

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Symonds predicts little running on Fridays
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