Pat Symonds has underlined that Renault aren't expecting miracles from new driver Romain Grosjean when the GP2 Series graduate makes his F1 debut in the European Grand Prix in Valencia this weekend.
The executive director of engineering at the Oxfordshire-based team admits that while the Frenchman clearly has talent, he'll need time to get used to competing at the top level.
“I think Romain has great racing ability,” stated the Englishman. “We've seen that demonstrated many times in GP2. He's certainly one of the best in the series at overtaking, and with the reverse grids he has shown that he's good at fighting his way through the field. It will take him a while to settle into Formula 1, but I'm sure that he will adapt well.
“In the past he would have done lots of testing miles, but that's not the way of modern Formula 1 with the ban on in-season testing. However, he has done several aero tests already this year and has spent a lot of time with the team at races attending briefings and debriefings to learn the way we work and the personalities of the team.”
Symonds also believes that the combo of car and two-time F1 World Champion Fernando Alonso should prove fruitful not only this weekend but in the coming races too, especially with more developments penciled-in for the rapidly-improving R29 – the machine that set pole position and led the first eleven laps of the Hungarian Grand Prix four weeks ago in the Spaniard's hands.
“It has shown recently that it's a good car in all types of corner,” the 56-year-old explained, “so I'm confident that we can be competitive in Valencia. Like any street course, it rewards brave and capable drivers and we've certainly got that in Fernando, who will have home advantage and massive support from the fans this weekend.
“[In Hungary] we wanted to show the potential of the car and confirm the step forward we had made in Germany, and I think to an extent we managed to do that. It was great to get pole position, but it doesn't necessarily mean that you've got the fastest car – and fuel-corrected it's true that the Red Bulls were faster. Even so, we were pleased with our performance and I believe our aggressive strategy with Fernando would have paid off in the race had we gone the distance, but it wasn't to be.
“We can certainly push a lot more developments onto the R29 in the final part of the season, and there is another big aero update for later in the year. We're also preparing the specific medium and low-downforce configurations that are needed for Spa and Monza. How much more we do after that will depend on how next year's car, the R30, is progressing and whether we can transfer what we learn from that onto the current car.”