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Renault drivers look ahead to Monza

NEWS STORY
04/09/2006

Fernando, two weeks on from the race in Istanbul, what are your thoughts on the Turkish Grand Prix from Renault's perspective?
Fernando Alonso: I think the team did a fantastic job in Turkey. We have had a strange summer, with the mass damper decision and some poor results, so it was good to prove to everybody that the car is competitive regardless. We really fought hard in that race, and it shows we are ready to fight with Ferrari all the way to the end of the championship.

You kept Michael behind you for fifteen laps – was it revenge for Imola earlier this year?
FA: You try and finish ahead of your competitors in every race. It is always difficult to overtake in F1, and we had the luck to do it in the pits. From that point, I knew it wouldn't be easy for Michael to get back past, so I defended my position in the normal way. It was an important result.

Monza is one of the mythical F1 tracks. What would it mean to win there?
FA: This year I have won in Silverstone, in Monaco, in Spain – and for sure, I want to win Monza too. It is one of the legendary circuits, so it would be special to win there, and even more so to beat Ferrari at their home race. We know how important the championship is, but this is a big race as well.

You run with the lowest downforce levels of the season – how does it feel to drive?
FA: It feels like a different car when you drive in Monza. You have such low downforce that by the time you get to the end of the straight, it feels like you could fly! The steering feels light, the movements are a bit lazy, and you don't quite feel like you have everything under control. It's not a nice feeling for the driver, but it's what you need at Monza to be quick on the straights.

So is straightline speed what you focus on in practice?
FA: No, it's more than that. You need the speed but when you are running low downforce, it's hard to get good braking stability and ride over the kerbs. That's what we are always asking the engineers for – better ride on the kerbs, and more stable braking.

What are your goals for the race weekend?
FA: There is only one target for the Renault team at the moment: to finish in front of Ferrari. They have been quite dominant in the last races, so beating them means winning races. That is our focus.

Giancarlo, you finished sixth in Turkey after a strong race – but Renault lost ground in the championship. What are your feelings two weeks later?
Giancarlo Fisichella: Turkey was a difficult race. I lost control of the car at the first car because I was very close to Fernando and wanted to avoid an accident. After that, we changed strategy and the race pace was very good – with the help of the Safety Car, I went from 17th to 6th. They were important points for the team, and I did my best. But we know it is important to be fighting for the podium at every race now.

Tell us about Monza...
GF: Well, it's my home race, so obviously special for that reason. I have a good feeling with the track: I won there in Formula 3, and got on the podium last year, being the first Italian to do it since Alboreto 17 years earlier. That was a great result, but a win would be even more special.

Can you describe the good feeling you have there?
GF: We run with very low downforce, the grip level is low and it's not easy to slow the car down from 350 kph to 60 kph for Turn 1, the slowest chicane. When the grip conditions are poor, I generally have a good level of confidence, like in Canada, and I am able to be consistent. That will be especially important for the race.

This year, you go to Monza locked in a battle with Ferrari. As an Italian driver, fighting an Italian team at the Italian Grand Prix, will it be a strange feeling?
GF: It is going to be interesting! There will be lots of tifosi pushing Ferrari along, but as an Italian, I know I will have support as well. I am looking forward to the weekend!

You are fourth in the championship, ten points behind Massa. Is your target for the season to finish third?
GF: Yes, absolutely, and I know I can do it. I lost ground to Massa at the last race, so now I have to do the maximum and catch up the ten points I am missing at the moment. I have really high motivation to do it.

And what will be your main assets in that battle?
GF: Number one, the team, the car and the tyres. We have a really strong package and it is being developed all the way to the end of the year. After that, I need to score the maximum points, try to get four podiums – and win at least one of the races. If I can do that, then it can help Renault take the championship at the end of the year.

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