Renault drivers look ahead to Turkey


Fernando, you have enjoyed a three-week break since Hungary. How was it?
Fernando Alonso: It was great! Everybody wanted a break to recharge their batteries, not just the drivers but the mechanics and engineers as well. We all need to have some time off, and it means we arrive in Turkey feeling better than ever. Myself and Renault are leading both championships, we have prepared well for this race and we are feeling fresh. It's the ideal way to go into the final races of the season.

Do you enjoy the Istanbul Park circuit?
FA: Yes, and parts of it are like a classic circuit such as Spa. It is a very wide, modern circuit and there are plenty of overtaking opportunities. It features some special corners as well, which are blind when you go into them, so it's quite different to what we normally find on a new track. And of course, there is turn 8, which is a very long left-hander where we will probably be flat out with the V8 this year, with lateral loadings of 4G. It's a fun circuit, and this will be one of the season's important races.

This is the second Turkish Grand Prix. Will that change anything compared to last year?
FA: I think it will just make everything that bit easier for everybody, from the drivers to the teams and the organisers. Everything was new last year, and we needed to learn about the circuit and the facilities… This year, I am sure it will be a bit easier for everybody and that we can put the experience from last year to good use.

Finally, you go into this race with a ten-point lead over Michael Schumacher – and five races remaining. Are you confident?
FA: Yes, I'm feeling very positive. I am in the position where everybody wants to be – leading the championship, with the races counting down. There was some pressure on us after Germany, but the race in Hungary showed that the R26 is still very competitive, and that you have to take every weekend one at a time. Turkey will be a new race with its own challenges, but I am feeling confident. This type of circuit suits our car, and Michelin will bring good tyres. So we need to concentrate on our job, put the package together and make no mistakes. Then let's see what the race brings…

Istanbul Park was a new circuit for all the drivers last year. Do you like it?
Giancarlo Fisichella: I like it a lot to be honest. It is one of the new generation circuits, and I felt comfortable straight away last year when I started running there. I started from the front row as well, and the car felt pretty good. I am confident we can be competitive in Turkey this year.

Turn 8 is the one that everybody talks about as the most impressive part of the circuit – and a tough corner for the drivers. Is this a physically-demanding track?
GF: Yes, there are some good corners and turn 8 is certainly the hardest on the whole circuit. It's a very long left-hander that we take at nearly 250 kph. We have between 4 and 4.5G on our bodies for about 7 seconds – which means that your neck is hurting by the end of the race! So you need good physical preparation for this race, maybe even more than the last few races.

How do you work to find a good set-up for this track, when you have very little data from past years?
GF: You have to find the right set-up as quickly as possible. We have the data from last season, and we know what the basic set-up of the car should be. Then, you just need to work efficiently during the sessions and understand how the track and tyres are evolving during the weekend, to make the car as competitive as possible. But the main thing is to start off with a good basic set-up, so you can do the best possible preparation for the race.

Hungary was a difficult outing for you – have you managed to recharge the batteries since then?
GF: Yes, Hungary was really disappointing for me. Normally, wet conditions like those are ones that really suit my driving style but the grip of the car was just not good in the race. After that, it was good to have a break and I have spent lots of time on my boat with my family. Now, I am really motivated for the last races of the championship. Renault wants to have a strong weekend and steal back the initiative in the championship battle. We have the package to do it, I think, so we are looking forward to racing aggressively, and hopefully finishing on the podium.

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Published: 21/08/2006
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