Renault drivers look ahead to Bahrain


Fernando, after an amazing race in Australia, you scored just a point in Malaysia…
Fernando Alonso: Yes, we scored a point for eighth place and it was not possible to do any better. It is only a point, but a point all the same. We know that our level of performance at the moment is not at the level of the leading teams, but we are working hard to move forward and close the gap. To finish in the points must be our goal at the moment and we must approach the season step-by-step and keep improving.

In the last four years you have won in Bahrain twice. Is it a circuit that you like?
FA: I do have happy memories because I won there in 2005 and 2006 with Renault. It is an unusual circuit because of the sand that can be blown onto the track and so driving the car can feel quite strange. You never really know what the track conditions will be like from one corner to another, and sometimes you can be taken by surprise. The temperatures are also high in Bahrain, but after hot races in Melbourne and Sepang, we are already used to this.

What in your opinion are the main demands of the circuit?
FA: Sakhir is renowned as a circuit that is demanding on the brakes. The wear can be very significant and it is an aspect that we have to pay attention to, especially in the race so that we can be sure that we do not have a problem that will cost us any positions. From the first free practice session on Friday, this will be something that we will keep in mind.

What will be the goal for the team this weekend?
FA: We don't know yet exactly where we stand, although we know that we are behind Ferrari, McLaren and BMW. Reaching Q3 is not easy and so scoring points in the race is also difficult. But we have scored points in the first couple of races and I think that is what we must aim for again this weekend in Bahrain. We must try and take advantage of the slightest opportunity that comes our way and each race must be seen as a way for us to progress.

Nelson, you had a difficult debut in Melbourne, but you bounced back in Malaysia were you showed good pace and finished your second Grand Prix…
Nelson Piquet: The weekend was certainly much more positive in Malaysia and I was in a position to do lots of running in each session, which allowed me to find a good rhythm for the whole weekend. Unfortunately I did not have an ideal qualifying session and that is something I have to improve. The race itself was difficult because my drink was not working and I was stuck in the traffic, but I did not finish too far away from Fernando and I am happy to have completed my first Grand Prix – that is very important for me.

You know the Sakhir circuit as you raced there in GP2 in 2005. Is it a circuit that you enjoy?
NP: To be honest it is not one of my favourites. But I do know the circuit and that is certainly an advantage for me. I will be able to start working on improving the set-up of the car with my engineers as soon as the practice sessions begin, rather than having to learn the circuit. That will allow me to approach my weekend more calmly.

The team must still improve the performance of the car, but what are you hoping for from your third Grand Prix?
NP: My goal is to be in the points. That was my target in Malaysia but unfortunately I was not in a position to do it on that occasion. Fernando has finished in the points twice in the first two races, and so I would like to follow this and score some important points for the team. I think that we can aim for seventh and eighth places and we must be ready to take any opportunities that present themselves.

The track is often slippery in Sakhir because of the sand which gets blown onto the circuit. Is there a specific area where you must work in order to improve the car?
NP: There is nothing special you can do – you just have to stay on the clean part of the circuit and try not to make any mistakes. I think that the race will probably be eventful, a bit like Melbourne, with the drivers making mistakes more easily as a result of the new regulations and the absence of driver aids.

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Published: 31/03/2008
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