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Renault's Singapore GP preview with Fred Vasseur and Bob Bell

NEWS STORY
09/09/2016

Cyril Abiteboul, managing director: We are looking forward to the final part of the year and visiting tracks that should play to our strengths a lot more. In previous races and particularly in Spa we've shown that the performance potential is there, but sadly we haven't had the opportunity to convert into results through various incidents. Singapore's twists, turns and short bursts of acceleration should give us the platform we need to finally get onto form.

Other than working hard on finishing the end of the 2016 season on a high, we are entering an interesting phase in development for the 2017 car. We will also inaugurate new facilities and welcome new faces so it's a very busy time, but we are all very motivated to keep moving forward and make the most of the opportunities we have.

Fred Vasseur looks forward to getting going in the buzz of the Singapore Grand Prix.

Fred, we leave Europe after a tricky last Grand Prix in Monza. What are your conclusions for that race?
Fred Vasseur: The last two races have been challenging and character-building for the team in terms of results. Our global performance was good in Spa and we achieved our best qualifying results of the season so far, but unfortunately in the race we had Kevin's accident and we couldn't convert our qualifying pace into a deserved good result in the end. We expected Monza to be a tricky weekend and we are now fully concentrated on Singapore and beyond.

What are our hopes for Singapore and is it a circuit that should suit us?
FV: Singapore is a type of circuit that should suit us better than the ones visited recently. We can hope for results that are more in line with those achieved at circuits such as Budapest or Spa.

What are our objectives for these coming races?
FV: We are all very much focused on 2017 and yet we must continue to strive for the best results possible in the upcoming races.
It is tough for the team of course but we can clearly see progression in areas that are not always visible externally. This is all part of the building of this team. We must concentrate on this and work on areas that can make a difference in the longer term: for example tyre management, how we manage our race weekends and improving the car's regular performance.

Any good work and improvements made on track are useful for 2017 and beyond. We must keep this motivation - we have a great team of mechanics and engineers and we are doing positive work in areas such as pitstops - we did the fastest pitstop in Monza with 2.1s! For me this is proof of the hard work done by all in the team, their commitment and resilience in tough times.

After the misery of Monza the streets of Singapore could offer some solace for Renault Sport Formula One Team, as Chief Technical Officer Bob Bell explains.

What's your preview synopsis of the Singapore Grand Prix?
Singapore's a night race on a street course with 23 corners surrounded by a lot of barriers. It's a race where drivers really have to be on their mettle. It's tough for everyone as it's hot and humid. For the drivers, it's a long race on a bumpy circuit.

What are the engineering challenges of the event?
It's tough on brakes and requires high downforce but that said, there's nothing to say that we shouldn't put on a reasonable show. Over the course of the weekend one of our biggest challenges is understanding the car with the moving target of track surface evolution. This is the same with any street course and you can find yourself chasing your tail somewhat as it's difficult to ascertain if any lap time improvement is from a change made to the car or just from the track surface improvement. For this reason you don't want to change too much of the car set-up over the practice sessions. To have a strong Grand Prix you need to arrive with a good set-up out of the box so the drivers can gain pace through both their confidence and circuit evolution.

What kind of base set-up do you use as a starting point?
Most of the corners are low speed so that's what we target with the set-up. It's quite bumpy so you need to get a good set-up for ride then it's fine tuning around that. If you have a solid base set-up the pace will come to you over the sessions as the grip from the surface improves and driver confidence grows.

A topic of conversation has been cumulative penalties for replacing parts of the car. Where does the team lie in this regard, are there any potential hits to be had later in the year?
We're actually looking pretty strong in that regard. One of the real success stories of this year has been how strong the power unit has been, not only though being able to exercise enhanced performance but in the reliability we've seen. It's been a tremendous job from everyone in Viry. It's likely we'll run Kevin's Spa power unit on Friday in Singapore or Sepang as it looks like there was no serious damage to it in the accident.

How's everything looking on the build-up for 2017?
Everything's on course with chassis patterns released for manufacture and the schedule for the impact testing campaign starting soon. As we get into the next couple of months everything starts intensifying. There's a lot of heart and soul going into next year's car as we all are hungry to take a strong step forward in performance.

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