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Renault drivers look ahead to Sepang

NEWS STORY
18/03/2008

The ING Renault F1 Team moves on to Sepang in Malaysia for the second round of the 2008 Formula 1 World Championship.

Fernando, you had a remarkable race in Australia, fighting your way to fourth place. You must be happy with the start to your season?
Fernando Alonso: Yes, the result is very important for the team and it gives us confidence and extra motivation to continue working hard. We know that we made the most of unusual circumstances, but we still had to be in a position to do that. However, this is only the first race and we must still make progress to get on terms with the pace of the other teams. There is work to do, but the result in Melbourne gives us all the belief that we can get there.

You are now ready for the Malaysian Grand Prix, a race where you have always been successful. You must be looking forward to it?
FA: I certainly am. Sepang really is my favourite track. I took my first pole position there in 2003 with Renault, and I have won this race twice. It's a circuit that I enjoy and I always tend to attack a little bit more. I hope that this year I will be able to do well and I'm really looking forward to the race.

Malaysia is renowned for being a difficult Grand Prix for man and machine. Is that a concern for you?
FA: No, not really. We have already experienced amazing temperatures last week in Australia and so we should not have any particular problems with the heat. In terms of the physical demands, I trained a lot over the winter and so I feel fit and ready, so there should not be a problem.

After Australia, what areas do you think you need to concentrate on during preparation for the next race?
FA: I think that we must certainly improve our performance level on a single lap in qualifying so that we can be in a better position on the grid to make things easier in the race. Then it is important to have good consistency so that we don't lose ground and can start to move forward. This is what we must keep in mind during the practice sessions on Friday in Sepang.

Nelson, your F1 debut did not unfold as you would have liked. What have you learnt from the first race?
Nelson Piquet: Yes, that is not how I had imagined my first Grand Prix would unfold, but I knew that it would not be easy and I was prepared for it. I did little running during Friday practice and that complicated things for the rest of the weekend. However, I learned a lot and I now know what a Grand Prix weekend is like – it passes very quickly and you need to be able to get comfortable straight away. I am now looking forward to the next race in Malaysia, so that I can put into practice all that I have learnt from my first race.

The second race takes place at the Sepang circuit in Malaysia, a circuit that you already know...
NP: Yes, I drove at Sepang in 2005 in A1GP so I therefore know the circuit and I have experienced the extremely high temperatures which we expect in this part of the world. So I think that things will be a little easier this weekend. I will be able to find my feet more quickly and to concentrate on the set-up of my car with the engineers. I hope to be able to push hard and avoid reliving a Grand Prix like I had in Melbourne.

After Australia, what are your expectations for this next race?
NP: I hope that I can make more progress. In Melbourne I did little running in practice, my qualifying was disappointing and at the start of the race my car was damaged and I had to retire – it was therefore difficult to make much progress at all. I hope to be in a position in Malaysia to have a strong qualifying session so that I can have a good race and continue my apprenticeship. Each race will be the opportunity for me to learn and progress.

Do you think that the R28 will suit the layout of the Sepang circuit?
NP: We will work hard to make that the case! This is an exciting circuit for F1 cars and interesting for the drivers. There are two long straights, some big braking areas into some slow corners, and some fast exciting turns. I will work with my engineers to try and have a well balanced car as early as the first practice session so that we can try different solutions and hopefully make good progress throughout the weekend.

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