Symonds: R28 did not meet expectations

Renault's director of engineering Pat Symonds says the performance of the team's R28 car has failed to meet their expectations despite making a huge gain in performance over the winter

Symonds: R28 did not meet expectations

The French squad, world champions in 2005 and 2006, endured a disappointing 2007 and decided on an early shift of focus that they hoped would help them fight back this year.

However, Renault have so far been unable to match the pace of the leading teams and have scored just six points in the first three races.

Speaking ahead of this week's introduction of new mechanical and aero parts, Symonds said this year's R28 has no significant problems, but he admits the car is just lacking the speed they had hoped for.

"It (the car) doesn't appear to have a particularly difficult sweet spot - so early indications say there's nothing much wrong with the car other than it needs more aero efficiency, could do with slightly better ride, but nothing beyond that," Symonds told Autosport.

"You have to say it's not on target for performance but it's not as if there's an area that's deficient that we didn't expect. In other words, nothing's gone wrong we just haven't achieved the levels we need to be at the front."

Although Fernando Alonso had a promising first race in Australia, where he finished fourth, he could only manage eighth in Malaysia and 10th in Bahrain.

Symonds admitted the team were expecting more before the start of the season.

"Absolutely," he said. "But it goes back further than that - we started pulling development off last year's car in August and pushing it onto this one because we knew that once we'd solved our problems from last year we had a huge deficit.

"In doing that, we set ourselves a very aggressive target of what we had to do in terms of development - we didn't quite meet it but we've certainly made improvements that have been more than a normal year-on-year."

Renault introduced several new updates for their car in this week's test at Barcelona, hoping that they would allow them to take a step forward.

Despite that, Symonds says the team are not redefining their goals for the season, as he reckons all their rivals will have improved too.

"No, absolutely not," he said when asked if they had new targets after the introduction of the upgrades. "We've got some big upgrades for both aero and chassis coming for Barcelona.

"But I think there are 10 other teams saying exactly the same thing! We have some quite interesting chassis stuff coming as well which we hope will push us a little bit further."

The Briton also confessed that Renault will have a tough time to decide when to shift the focus to the 2009 season, when a lot of new regulations will come into play, making the cars very different.

"It's a very difficult one to weigh up. We're not alone. Everyone in the pitlane's wondering about that. As the year wears on, one's relative position in this year's championship will play strongly on that.

"No matter what position you're in, as that position becomes established and safe you can afford to switch more and more resource onto the new car, whether that's a winning position or a third-placed position."

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