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Renault GP preview 2011 Japanese GP

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Bruno Senna
Q: What was your verdict on the weekend you had in Singapore?
BS: For me personally, it was quite a positive weekend. In this latest part of the learning curve, I managed to cut out any mistakes which is a positive. I had a very full programme working with engineers, and the work I’m doing with them is getting better. Despite the Marina Bay Circuit not being a track where the R31 is naturally at ease, I have still been able to notice an improvement in my relationship with the car, and I feel there is a discernible direction in which we are going. I’m becoming more ingratiated with the team and with the car, which provides me comfort as I look forward to the next race.

Q: Having got three races under your belt, do you feel on more of an even keel with the other drivers?
BS: Not yet. Undoubtedly they (the other drivers) still have the upper hand because they have completed more races than me. I’ve driven at three very different circuits so far in very different conditions, and Suzuka will be another of the traditional races where I have limited experience. I’m learning and catching-up with the other drivers on the grid, but they have a considerable amount more experience than I do, and have greater knowledge about the tyres too.

Q: The Japanese Grand Prix – word has it Suzuka’s one of your favourite circuits…
BS: You’re right, it’s one of my favourites! The blend of high speed and mid speed corners makes it a very stimulating track. It’s one of the classics that has changed very little since the start. I’m really looking forward to driving there, and I’m confident that I can put my name back on the points board for the team.

Q: Is it a circuit that should suit the car better than Singapore?
BS: I’m convinced that will be the case. The low-speed nature of Singapore made it the worst circuit for us in terms of performance. That hurt us a little bit, but with the updates that we have planned for Suzuka we should be strong there, and get both cars in the points again – that’s where we belong.

Q: We are entering the closing stages of the season now with five races left – what do you expect?
BS: My prerogative is adding more points to my name. If we can still add to the car a little bit here and there, that will help. We need to stay ahead of the teams behind us, in particular Force India. If we can close the gap to Mercedes GP in fourth, that would be a real boost for the team but primarily we must hold on to fifth position.

Vitaly Petrov
Q: What are your feelings after a disappointing night race in Singapore…
VP: It was a challenging weekend for us and frustrating not to see our hard work translated into results. We didn’t perform at our usual level. We now need to show what we can do in the final five races.

Q: How did you spend your time in between Singapore and Japan – did you go back to England?
VP: Yes, I came back straight after the race. I went through my usual training routines, before returning to England to visit the factory, meet with my engineers and discuss what happened in Singapore. Of course, we have also been preparing for Suzuka and the engineers have given me some data from last year to look at, which should help stand me in good stead.

Q: Are you excited about going to Suzuka, one of the classic tracks on the calendar?
VP: Suzuka may be a famous circuit but it’s also quite a tricky one. Everyone knows it well, and all motorsport fans love it. I’ve only been to Suzuka once before, but racing there really is quite special. The track tests drivers in every way possible; it is challenging and very, very fast. If you count the number of high-speed corners that are taken in fourth gear or above, there are more than any other circuit on the calendar. The first sector is incredible: the ‘s’ curves are like a rollercoaster, flipping the g-forces from side to side through very long corners, and it’s tough to keep the correct line, particularly because if you get one corner wrong, you really suffer in the other corners.

Q: How do you expect to perform in Suzuka?
VP: I hope the car will be strong there. It’s important to have confidence in the high-speed corners because if your confidence is down you can lose a lot of lap time. There is a very small margin for error because there are very few run-off areas, so as soon as you make a mistake, you are in the gravel. Often, when you are outside the car you don’t realise that the drivers are making errors, because you see them put a wheel over the kerb and onto the run-off area, before they come straight back on track. But Suzuka doesn’t work like that – if you go off with one wheel, you don’t come back. It’s one of the most fearsome tracks, but when you get it right it gives you immense satisfaction.

Source: Renault GP


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