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

NEWS STORY
26/09/2016

Cyril Abiteboul, managing director: Everyone in the team was delighted to finally get some more points on the board in Singapore. We've been knocking on the door of the top ten for the past four races so to cross the chequered flag and get them was extremely satisfying. Moreover, the result came on merit and not due to good luck. Kevin raced hard, the pit stops were excellent and we got the strategy spot on.

We hope for more of that in Malaysia and believe it should be within our grasp. The faster circuits suit us better than the slower ones and we should be able to take full use of the small power unit and mechanical upgrades introduced for the first time in Singapore. We are now focussing on the smaller details for the end of the season, and making sure we are exploiting everything to its maximum, including within our operations. We're on a positive trend and want to take this momentum forward into the final rounds in Asia.

Fred Vasseur looks forward to the next race in the Far East for round 16 of the Championship, the Malaysian Grand Prix.

The team enjoyed its second highest finish in Singapore - was it a boost for everyone?
Fred Vasseur: We scored a point, which meant much more than a single digit to all at Viry and at Enstone and for sure it is a lift for all in the team. The motivation is always there but it's that much more rewarding when the outcome of a race weekend is positive. This has been a long and hard season so far and we're all at the start of a long journey so a positive result is warmly welcomed.

The team now heads to Malaysia. What's the challenge for the team for the last six races of the season?
FV: We must continue to work on improving all areas, however we have particular focus on those areas of car and team performance which are relevant for next season. So for the car, areas like reliability and improving our systems of understanding tyre performance are applicable. Also, for the team, areas like pit stops are crucial and we saw how well we are performing in this area with some exceptional stops from our crew in Singapore.

Are there particular targets for the drivers?
FV: Every single race weekend is important and each venue we visit presents its own challenges. Of course we always expect the best from the drivers and that they deliver the best they can. Together as a team our sole ambition is to make progress at every opportunity. In Singapore we saw Kevin run a great race and Jolyon had quite a challenge through circumstances out of his control. We know how hard both drivers are pushing and we're equally pushing as hard as possible to give them the best opportunity to deliver on track.

From your perspective, how have you seen the evolution of the team this season?
FV: What we can witness during a race weekend is only the visible part of the iceberg. There is a huge amount of work going on behind the scenes from recruitment to restructuring and physical infrastructure improvement and expansion. This is a long term project and we have to go through this planning and development phase in order to reap the benefits in the future. What everyone sees on television on a Sunday afternoon is just one aspect of a Formula 1 team. We are happy that there is strong progress being made.

Chief Technical Officer Bob Bell previews the Malaysian Grand Prix

What type of circuit is Sepang?
Bob Bell: Sepang is a modern circuit with a mix of high and low speed sections where a reasonable high speed balance is required, but at the same time low speed braking stability and traction are equally important as well.
Traditionally, it has been a track that's very smooth which obviously helps with ride. The circuit has been resurfaced which hopefully will make it even better. We'll discover the new surface when we get there in a few days' time. Pirelli have allocated the hard, medium and soft compounds in Malaysia which is probably a bit on the harder side than what we'd prefer but let's see how they will fare.

What type of set up are we anticipating?
BB: It tends to be one of those circuits where we will be working on fine tuning the car as it isn't a track that requires an extreme set-up focusing on any particular challenge.

Is the team's focus solely on 2017 now?
BB: We still continue to work on development in Malaysia, a carry-on from what we've done in Singapore and some of that is relevant for next year. Next year, of course, there are big changes coming into force with completely different aero packages, so it's more the direction of the concepts rather than the physical changes we make to this year's car.

How is the development going for next year?
BB: Back at the factories, we are meeting milestone deadlines with the practical process of drawing the components, getting them made and bringing them together. This is a very involved and complex process and is largely on-track at the moment. The hunt for performance in those components continues unabated!

Where is the current focus for development for the team?
BB: As a team we have progressed well since the beginning of the year. Recruitment has been key these past few months, and still is. Although the aim is to have around 650 employees it is always about quality not quantity. We can see visible signs of change even walking around the sites compared to what it was six months ago. You can see the increased headcount and renewed facilities. The changes are palpable and we feel a sense of achievement which at the moment is not yet visible on track. Beneath the surface wheels are most certainly turning.

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