The ING Renault F1 Team prepares for round fourteen of the 2008 Formula 1 World Championship: the Italian Grand Prix at Monza.
Fernando Alonso: "Each point will be important at the end of the season"
Fernando, Spa lived up to its reputation and gave us an unpredictable race, largely due to the changeable weather...Yes, it was a very eventful race! For me, everything went smoothly until the final couple of laps. At the start of the race, the track was still quite damp in places, but I made a good start and quickly took fourth position, where I remained until the end of the race, in spite of the rain shower. We scored five points, which is a good result in terms of the championship and we were pleased to see that we were on the pace and the third strongest team in Spa.
We're now looking forward to the Italian Grand Prix in Monza – another legendary and unusual circuit. Is it a track that you like?It's an outstanding, fast circuit and drivers always like to go fast! The feeling in the car is always a bit strange for the first few laps because we run the cars with very low downforce and so it feels very light and uncertain, and that makes the chicanes quite challenging. But it's an interesting circuit, and there is always a special atmosphere so I am looking forward to it.
It will also be the last race of the European season...Yes, after Monza we leave Europe for the final few fly-away races. It would be good to score points in Monza so we can attack the final part of the season in the best shape possible.
What areas must you concentrate on with the set-up the R28? We drove in Monza three weeks ago and completed our programme without any problems, which means we are well prepared for this race. The aerodynamic performance will be the decisive factor in Monza and tyre evaluation will probably take up most of our technical programme on Friday.
Do you think that you can have a similar performance to Spa in Monza and aim to score points?That's how I will be approaching this race. Our objective is clearly to finish in fourth place in the constructors' championship and I'm determined to do all I can to help the team do that. The battle is very close, as it has been since the start of the year, and each point will be important at the end of the season. We are five points behind Toyota with five races to go, so I think that is an achievable target.
Nelson Piquet: "I want to help the team finish fourth in the championship"
Nelson, your Belgian Grand Prix ended in retirement – you must have been disappointed on Sunday evening? Yes, of course. I love Spa and was disappointed not to finish the Grand Prix. After a difficult qualifying session, we opted for a one-stop strategy for the race. I made a really good start, but I was very heavy on fuel and I couldn't really fight with the drivers around me, and then I made a mistake and finished in the tyre wall. It's a shame because I think I could have scored some points, especially as the end of the race was so eventful and might have played into our hands.
We are in Monza this weekend: a fast circuit where you have tested a few times with the ING Renault F1 Team? Yes, I've done a couple of sessions – once last year and then again three weeks ago. It's valuable to have driven in Monza recently because it gives the team an idea of the R28's behaviour in low downforce trim and also because I have some experience of driving in these conditions. I should be more comfortable on Friday when we begin free practice.
You have also driven at Monza in GP2 and just missed out on the winning the title there. Is it a circuit that you like?There are some circuits that I really enjoy, such as Spa and Silverstone, and although Monza is not among my favourites, it's still an unusual circuit and an interesting challenge for the drivers. It's like no other track and so it's an enjoyable race on the calendar, particularly as the atmosphere there is always very special.
What are your hopes for the final European race of the season?To do better than in Spa – that goes without saying! Qualifying will be important and I really hope to be fast enough to reach Q3 so we can approach this race calmly, with a more straightforward strategy to hopefully fight for some points. I want to help the team finish in fourth place in the constructors' championship so it's important to finish in the points.
Bob Bell: "We can go to Monza and get a good result"
Bob, the team came away from Spa with a fourth place finish. Were you satisfied with the result?Yes, I think we were. If it had been a normal dry race, then fourth place is probably about as much as we could have hoped for. We were happy with the car all weekend, our pace was good in the wet and the dry, and the team coped well with the changing conditions. To come away with a fourth place from such an unpredictable race like that is a real credit to the whole team.
As you say, the R28 looked strong throughout the weekend – do you feel that Renault was the third strongest team in Spa?I think we probably were. The circuit particularly suited the car and Fernando was happy with it from the first practice session. That was particularly rewarding because our objective is to finish the season in fourth place and to end the season with the third quickest car.
The team gained five points on Toyota – that must reinforce your belief that the team can secure fourth in the constructors' championship before the end of the season?Yes it does, but we're also well aware of how difficult it is to score points at the moment. McLaren and Ferrari are clearly in front of us and so, if they have a good day, there are not many points left to go around. So it's hard to close a gap of even five points, but I'm confident that we can do it and finish ahead of Toyota in the remaining five races to take that fourth spot.
Nelson had a difficult weekend. Can he bounce back in Monza?He needs to bounce back and put that race behind him. Monza is a track that he knows and he drove there in the pre-race test a few weeks ago, which will have helped his preparation. Hopefully he can be there picking up points because with such a close championship battle we need points from both drivers.
Monza is the fastest track of the season. Will the R28 have some special updates?Yes, like all the teams we will be running with a special low downforce package, which we evaluated in the pre-race test. Most of the developments are exclusively for Monza because it's such a unique race. I think it's probably fair to say that the R28 was more suited to Spa than Monza, but I still feel that we can go there and get a good result.
How is the team approaching the remaining five races?At this stage of the season, we are pretty much fully focussed on the 2009 car, but we still have developments for the R28, which we will take to Singapore. After that we will examine whether there are any more chances to develop the R28, but we are very mindful that we need to concentrate the vast majority of our energy on the R29.