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Q&A with Bob Bell

NEWS STORY
06/10/2008

Bob, the R28 is now a race winning car. The whole team must be proud of what has been achieved?
Bob Bell: Absolutely. We started out the year over a second a lap behind the frontrunners and we said that by the end of the season we wanted to have developed the car to a point where we could compete for podiums, which is what we've done. We recognise that we're not going to overhaul McLaren and Ferrari this season, but we can be in the mix and fighting for podiums and that's a real credit to the enormous amount of development work and effort that has gone in over the course of the season.

Why was the R28 so competitive in Singapore?
BB: I think it was down to a combination of reasons, one of which was the new venue and the fact that Fernando and the team are both very good at dealing with new challenges. The team arrived in Singapore well prepared, which helped us get the best out of the car; we had an aerodynamic upgrade and we operated it differently in terms of set-up, which gained us a bit of performance. So it was just a step forward in all areas, which culminated in us having a car that really suited the track and the conditions.

Luck undoubtedly played its part in the team's victory in Singapore, but Fernando produced a brilliant tactical drive. What was your verdict on his performance?
BB: For me it was the Fernando of old – he never gave up and when the time came to really push hard to gain an advantage he did so and brought home the maximum points. There was certainly an element of luck with the safety car, but Fernando had been on it all weekend and after the second safety car he pulled out an immediate gap over Rosberg and Hamilton, which confirmed the pace of the car and what an outstanding job he did.

What does this result mean for the team and for morale?
BB: It's very important because this team has been through a very difficult period since the championship years of 2005 and 2006. We needed to bounce back and regain our self- confidence and demonstrate that as a team we could still produce a competitive car and win races. We've done that and the result has lifted everybody's morale for the final three races, but more importantly renewed our self-belief, which is so important for next year.

Nelson had a tough weekend. What is his mindset like at the moment?
BB: He struggled a little bit in Singapore with learning the circuit and he's probably not as quick as Fernando at learning a new track, but come Saturday he had got to grips with it and was in his usual position relative to Fernando. He struggled in qualifying and couldn't progress past Q1 and then had a difficult race, but he's a fighter and we know he'll do all he can to bounce back for the next race. There's no question he's got the talent, he just needs to deliver a consistent level of performance.

What was your overall verdict on F1's first ever night race?
BB: I think it was fantastic, especially for Renault! It was great for Formula 1 to be racing in that part of the world and wonderful to have a night race. Everything worked extremely well and ran smoothly so it's a credit to the organisations that made it all happen as they really did a great job. I think Formula 1 has come away from Singapore a lot better for the experience.

We head back to Fuji, a track where Renault finished second last year. How is the team approaching this race?
BB: After our result in Singapore we're certainly approaching Fuji with optimism, but we aren't putting any new developments on the car or doing anything special in terms of preparation, other than the normal rigorous approach that we take to each circuit. As we saw last year, rain in that part of the world is a distinct possibility and that could play to our advantage.

Heading into the final three races the team now has a five points lead over Toyota. How do you see that battle unfolding in the next few weeks?
BB: It's a battle we have to win and it means as much to us as the fight between Ferrari and McLaren for top honours means to them, so we're taking the fight very seriously. We stated very clearly at the start of the season that we intended to finish at least fourth and end the season as potentially the third quickest team and we intend to achieve that objective.

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