Renault has revealed that it plans to introduce further developments to its R29 ahead of this weekend's Monaco Grand Prix, although the extent of what can be upgraded remains limited by the current rulebook.
Since posting far from flattering times in pre-season testing, the regie
had made considerable strides with the car and, while not yet a contender for podium finishes, it is at least capable of scoring points in the hands of double world champion Fernando Alonso.
"We were a little bit disappointed with our pace in the final part of qualifying in Spain but, during the race, we saw the performance that we expected and, overall, we were pleased with the result," technical director Bob Bell said of the last raft on improvements, "We knew we weren't going to jump to the front of the pack, but we were determined to close the gap to the leading teams, and I think that's what we've done. Considering where we were at the start of the season, it was a nice reward for all the hard work and effort that has gone in behind the scenes."
Where previous years have seen specialised Monaco developments produced up and down the grid, this year's regulations mean that there is a lot less that the teams can do to find an edge around the Principality. Bell, however, admits that there will be a few key alterations made to the R29 this weekend.
"We have some minor updates because Monaco always needs a slightly different package - for example, it requires the most steering lock of any track we visit - but it won't be as big a step as we made in Barcelona," he revealed, "However, we are still hopeful of adding some performance to the car to keep closing the gap to the leaders.
"You can only do your utmost to develop faster than the competition and I think, as a team, we are good at doing that, as we demonstrated in the second half of last year. We're in a similar position this year, but it's even more challenging now with limited wind tunnel and CFD time available and no in-season testing.
"But it's the same for everybody, and all we can do is continue working hard, keep our motivation high, and keep pushing developments through and onto the car as fast as we can."
Alonso, meanwhile, is looking forward to returning to a circuit where he has triumphed twice in the past, even if he stops short of predicting a repeat in 2009.
"It's definitely the race that all the drivers want to win - and the first lap of free practice on Thursday is always a great feeling," he admitted, "You have to readjust and get used to racing on such narrow streets with the barriers all around you. Overtaking is difficult and it's a mentally demanding race, so the most important thing is to qualify as near to the front of the grid as possible - doing well in Monaco is all about having track position.