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Pre-Malysia Q&A with Denis Chevrier

NEWS STORY
14/03/2006

Denis, we are one race into the season. Can you begin drawing any conclusions about the relative performance of Renault and the competition?
Denis Chevrier, Head of Trackside Engine Operations: We saw the first demonstration of the teams' true performance last Sunday, and it was immediately clear that the situation is highly competitive. A number of teams are quick on a single lap, able to maintain that speed in race conditions and, as we saw from Raikkonen, capable of running a different strategy and making it work. At Renault, we are pleased to be within that group, but the performance differentials are very small.

What was your impression of the state of play with the new V8 engines?
DC: Before the season, there were some thoughts that the new regulations might be the opportunity for one manufacturer to take a decisive advantage, and that does not seem to have happened. It is a little early to judge reliability with any certainty, but it was initially very good. The changes have seen the cards shuffled a little, with Ferrari jumping back to the front, Honda very quick and Renault and McLaren maintaining their performance. There are four potential favourites, so we can expect an exciting battle in Malaysia.

You seem excited at the prospect of the next race…
DC: Well, if Formula 1 was a wine, you could say we were in for a good vintage! I think we will see the points being shared widely this year, and in that environment, any weakness will be punished severely. We will need to have two cars performing at the highest level, and to maintain our levels of quality. In modern F1, quality means the combination of reliability and the ability to develop performance throughout the year. We did it in 2005. In 2006, we have a sound basis from which to work.

What happened to Fisico last weekend?
DC: We do not yet know the exact cause of the problem but with a power deficit of around 50 bhp, he drove a very impressive race. It is important to say the problem was not with the engine itself, rather with a peripheral component that led to a problem with how the engine was operating. In order to make a proper diagnosis in the best conditions, we have sent the engine back to Viry to be dyno tested this week with some very high performance diagnostic tools. As the rules allow following retirement, Giancarlo will use a fresh engine in Bahrain.

What about Fernando's engine? After one hot race, is the prospect of another in quick succession a worry?
DC: In actual fact, Bahrain was not as hot as expected, with ambient temperatures around 25C. We will see higher values than that during the European summer. From that perspective, the hot race is still to come. However, Fernando ran a normal weekend and stayed within the engine's allocated performance potential throughout the Bahrain weekend.

What about the challenges of Sepang for the engine?
DC: They have increased in severity relative to last year. The nature of the circuit layout, with the high speed corners, means the drivers will spend 15% more time at full throttle than last year. It will be a demanding weekend for the V8, and at its conclusion, we will have a much better idea of how things stand for the first iteration of the V8 engines in terms of performance and reliability.

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