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Renault duo looks ahead to Interlagos

NEWS STORY
15/10/2007

Heikki, your run of points-scoring finishes ended in China...
Heikki Kovalainen: I know, and it couldn't have been closer: Coulthard was right in front of me, but I couldn't get past him in the dry! It was a tough afternoon for the whole team, and disappointing not to score points because we had the pace to do it. But I made a mistake in qualifying, our strategy didn't work out in the early laps, and that was enough to mean we didn't score. But as always, you have to find the positives: the car was actually pretty quick on Sunday, we made the right choices in reacting to the conditions, and the reliability was perfect once again. I have finished every race this year, and that's something we are all proud of.

Tell us about Interlagos...
HK: It is a very physical circuit for the drivers: the surface is bumpy, and it runs anti-clockwise which means it is hard for the whole body but especially the neck. So I have been training hard to prepare for it, and I will be in peak condition for the final race.

In terms of set-up, what will your priorities be when working with the engineers?
HK: I think the suspension is one of the most important factors. The cars needs to ride the bumps well, and also the kerbs in the slow middle sector, which we use quite a lot. If you can find a good suspension compromise to give smooth ride and good mechanical grip, then it is a big plus in terms of lap-time.

Does the fact that this is the last race of the year change anything in your approach?
HK: It gives me extra determination. This is our last chance of the year to show what we can do. You are only as good as your last race in Formula 1, so it is important to score a good result to take into the winter, and hopefully give the team some momentum too. This has been a tough year for everybody at Renault, but we have made progress in the last few weeks and not been able to show it in dry race conditions. Brazil is a circuit where the team has had a lot of success in recent years and while that doesn't mean anything for 2007, maybe it can bring us a bit of luck. I hope we can have a normal race, take the fight to BMW and finish the season with a strong, aggressive drive.

Giancarlo, how does it feel to be racing in Interlagos once again?
Giancarlo Fisichella: This is one of the special circuits in Formula 1, and I am really excited to be going back there again. We have won championships there in the past two years, and for me it was the venue for my first ever F1 win in 2003. I enjoy the country, I enjoy the city and I like the circuit: it is challenging, and there is always an amazing atmosphere there. Hopefully, we can have another good experience there in 2007.

You had a tough afternoon in China...
GF: Yes, it started on Saturday really: we only found a problem with the car at the end of morning practice, then I made a small mistake on my timed lap in qualifying, and it was so close that we didn't even get through Q1. After that, we knew it would be a hard race, but I drove to the limit, passed a lot of cars and showed that the car was actually pretty competitive by setting fourth- fastest lap. But we ran very heavy at the start of the race, expecting heavier rain, and that put us on the back foot from the first stint. It was a shame because the potential was there for much more.

What is the Interlagos circuit like to drive?
GF: It is a very challenging circuit. It is twisty, with a good mix of slow and medium speed corners. There is a lot of gradient change as well, and of course the anti-clockwise direction that makes it hard physically. It is never easy to find the right set-up, because the two halves of the circuit need opposite things from the car: you want good speed on the long main straight, but lots of grip in the slow-speed infield section with the hairpins. Add in the bumpy surface as well, and you have a real challenge for the engineers to find the best compromise. We tend to run with quite light wing levels, and then work hard to get good mechanical grip, especially under traction.

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