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Q&A with Renault's chief test engineer, Christian Silk

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06/02/2007

Christian, how did you feel when you left Valencia after last week's test session?
Christian Silk: Overall, we were pretty satisfied. Our main aim was to test the reliability of the R27 and to rack up the miles. We didn't run into any particular problems and we were able to do at least one race simulation per car. That's the positive side. And the negative? The weather: it was really dreadful, and none of the teams present managed to carry out its full programme. For example, it was just impossible to work on the set-ups; conditions were far too changeable.

Did you look at all-out performance at any point?
CS: No. It wasn't our priority.

So you still don't know exactly what the R27 is capable of?
CS: Yes, we have a pretty good idea. But we haven't yet looked at this part of our programme. It's always better to look for performance with a reliable car rather than trying to make a quick car reliable.

You tested alongside your main rivals. Did you pay any attention to their programme, or did you just concentrate on your own?
CS: We're always keeping an eye on what our rivals are up to: how many laps they do on worn tyres, new tyres etc. That's also part of our job during testing.

What have you learned about them?
CS: Well, McLaren and Ferrari have both confirmed that they're quick. It's not really a big surprise! But we're a strong team too and these performances don't worry us. As I've already told you our programme was probably quite different. The out-and-out lap times during the winter are almost impossible to analyse. One is quicker at Valencia; another is in front in Barcelona. That's not what you need to focus on at this stage.

Are the mechanics beginning to get a feel for working on the R27?
CS: Yes. The new car is a logical development of the 2006 machine so it all feels quite familiar! Some of the components are a bit more difficult to work on but that's the only real difference. At this stage, I'm pleased to have nothing more to say: it shows that we haven't had to make any major repairs on site!

Have the manufacturing and engineering processes taken another step forward?
CS: For sure. You know, when hundreds of people work so hard to produce a racing car, things progress quickly. The R27 is a fantastic machine.

Soon, you'll be heading off to Bahrain to test. Is this very important?
CS: Yes, it is. It's certainly the most important test of the whole winter because we can run in high temperatures at last. We're in the process of putting the finishing touches to our programmes and producing the parts we need. We're working round the clock. We must be ready for the first race.

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