Renault technical director Bob Bell says he is happy with the continued progress of the new R29 following the latest Formula One group test in Jerez this week.
Nelson Piquet Jr and Fernando Alonso both spent time at the wheel during the five day session, although mixed weather conditions played havoc with the programmes put in place by the eight teams who made the journey to Spain.
Despite that, Bell said he was happy with the work carried out during the week as the team continues to prepare for the season-opening Australian Grand Prix.
“The weather at the beginning of the week was disappointing, but the sun came out for the final couple of days and we were able to put a lot of miles on the car,” he said. “This meant we could try out the new development parts that we hope to run at the first race in Melbourne, verify their performance and ensure their reliability. Overall it was a productive week for us.
“We had a new front wing and a new diffuser, which were the main items we were evaluating.
The results are encouraging and they are both giving us the performance gains on the track that we expected, which gives us a strong basis to move forward with. It also gives us confidence that we can use our systems back at the factory to design new parts, put them on the car and have them behave as we want them to.”
Bell added that he now feels the pieces are coming together for Renault to build on its fine finish to the 2008 season although he admits that the team will only really know where it stands when the first practice session at Melbourne gets underway.
“We feel reasonably comfortable that we have the foundations to have a good season, challenging for podiums and wins, and ultimately that means hopefully challenging for championships,” he said. “We have always said that has to be our objective; we're not here to make up the numbers, we're here to win. However, it is early days and we won't know where we stand until we get to Melbourne when everybody is acting under the same conditions with full-spec cars.
“The main priorities [before then] are to make sure that we get the new development parts tested and proven in time for Melbourne, while still maintaining the general reliability of the car. It will be a demanding period for the team at the track and for the people at the factories supporting all that effort, but we're all committed to achieving our goals so that we can arrive in Melbourne and deliver what is expected of us.”