Renault Gain Spa Advantage

Renault have cleverly stolen a march over title rivals McLaren in the World Championship fight by running their car at Spa-Francorchamps, Autosport-Atlas has learned

Renault Gain Spa Advantage

Although testing at the Belgian Grand Prix's venue is not allowed, the French car manufacturer has managed to get valuable testing data with this year's car from the track after conducting shakedown runs on parts of the circuit.

On the Wednesday before the Turkish Grand Prix, Heikki Kovalainen conducted runs on the first half of the track from the pitlane down to Les Combes and in reverse. He completed around 30 kilometres - well within the 50-kilometre shakedown limit.

And next Wednesday it is believed the team will conduct their pre-Italian Grand Prix shakedown on the same part of the track.

The team have managed to run at Spa because the current agreement between the non-Ferrari teams only stipulates that shakedowns must be conducted at FIA approved venues - of which Spa-Francorchamps is one. It does not prevent teams from running at any of the approved tracks.

While rival teams may view Renault's actions as a breach of the 'spirit' of the testing agreement, the team insist that they have acted correctly.

"This does fall within the agreement - it is a shakedown day, less than 50 kms and these are allowed on FIA approved circuits," a Renault spokesman told Autosport-Atlas.

These 'shakedown' tests at Spa-Francorchamps will have provided Renault with valuable information on gear ratios, set-up data and provide some preliminary information on tyres.

This will give the team a slight edge ahead of the race weekend and limit the handicap they face by not having the advantage of a third Friday car like McLaren.

It is believed that Renault's idea of using part of the Spa-Francorchamps circuit was fuelled by rivals Toyota regularly using the venue for similar shakedowns with Franck Perera. The track is the nearest to their Cologne headquarters.

Autosport-Atlas understands that the first two times Toyota conducted these 'shakedowns' at Spa they used the track from the pitlane to Les Combes, and then in reverse. This format would have meant a spectacular drive through Raidillon and Eau Rouge backwards.

After those two sessions, Toyota then used the track from the Bus Stop to Les Combes and in reverse. Used together the two separate shakedowns have ensured the team have knowledge of the entire Spa lap.

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