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Renault drivers look ahead to Japan

NEWS STORY
06/10/2008

Fernando, in Singapore you took your first win of the season and the team's first victory in two years. How did it feel?
Fernando Alonso: I was extremely happy. We had a difficult start to the season and so to be fighting for the win a few months later seemed unbelievable, but the team didn't give up and we never lowered our aims. From the first practice session in Singapore, we were on the pace; the car was working well, and we had high hopes for the weekend. Qualifying was a big disappointment, but in the race our luck changed and we were able to take advantage of the situation. It was an amazing feeling and I want to thank all the members of the team once again for their efforts over the last few months because it's thanks for them that this victory was possible.

Do you think that the R28 can be as competitive in Fuji or was the performance down to the characteristics of the circuit in Singapore?
FA: It's true that a street circuit is always unusual and your level of performance depends on the competitiveness of your car, the set-up and your ability to take risks. We worked hard to develop some new parts for Singapore, but also for the final three races of the season so I think that we can be on the pace in Fuji. We will give our maximum to try and make that the case and to benefit from the free practice sessions on Friday as much as possible.

What are the main things you will have to keep an eye on in terms of set-up?
FA: The circuit has a very long straight and so aero settings will once again be crucial. There are also several medium and low speed corners and the last few turns in particular are taken in second gear. So the team will have to work hard to determine the level of downforce and the mechanical grip which will be especially important in the slow sections. We will be running a similar programme to that which we run at other tracks that we visit once a year.

What are your ambitions for the Japanese Grand Prix?
FA: After our victory in Singapore, the whole team is determined to have those feelings again as soon as possible. We must remain focussed and try to repeat our level of performance from Singapore to fight at the front. However, I remain realistic as it will be difficult to race the Ferraris and McLarens, but we will give our maximum to score as many points as possible because the fight for fourth in the championship remains very close.

Nelson, the team took its first victory of the season in Singapore, but your race ended earlier than expected…
Nelson Piquet: It's a superb result for the team because everybody has worked hard to make this possible, so it's a nice reward. But I have to admit that I was disappointed with my race. From the start things were difficult and starting so far down the grid meant the race was always going to be tough. I had a long phase of graining and the situation only got worse. The team asked me to push, which I was trying to do, but I eventually lost the rear of my car and so it's a race to forget on my side.

The team remains in Asia for the Japanese Grand Prix this weekend. How are you approaching this race?
NP: It's another circuit that I don't know and that I will have to learn. I will try to get up to speed as quickly as possible on Friday and make the most of the three hours of practice available to me. The team has some data from last year and so I have been preparing with that and will learn more with my engineers during our circuit walk on Thursday.

The Japanese Grand Prix is always a popular race on the calendar. Are you looking forward to driving at Fuji?
NP: Yes, apparently the Japanese fans are very enthusiastic which makes for a very special atmosphere at the Grand Prix. I can't wait to drive at Fuji as the circuit seems interesting and I'm determined to have a good race, which is what I need.

We remember the poor weather conditions last year, which allowed Heikki Kovalainen to spring a surprise and finish on the podium. Do you like driving in those sorts of conditions?
NP: A wet weather race is always unpredictable and more tricky, but it can hep you get a good result, as Heikki did last year. I will cope with whatever conditions we get and in any case, the track conditions are the same for all of us and I will do my best whether it's wet or dry.

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