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Renault targeting P2 Down Under with 'innovative' R31

Having picked itself up again from its pre-season turmoil, Lotus Renault GP has the podium in its sights in the F1 2011 curtain-raising Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne this weekend - only this time, on merit
Lotus Renault GP is targeting a repeat of its runner-up finish in last year's Australian Grand Prix as the F1 2011 World Championship campaign belatedly roars into life in Melbourne this weekend – only this time, reveals Eric Boullier, the aim and intention is to reach the podium on merit.

For the second winter in succession, Renault has been in the wars, with lead driver Robert Kubica's career-threatening rallying accident last month the major drama this time around, and one that threw the team's plans – which had hitherto looked so encouraging – into utter disarray.

Underlining the new, calmer approach that permeates the corridors at Enstone now in the post-Flavio Briatore period, however, the team has picked itself up again, hired the perfect replacement for the Pole in the shape of experienced Sauber refugee Nick Heidfeld and got back on with the business of refining the aggressive new R31 and preparing itself as best as possible for the hostilities to come.

Despite some early reliability niggles – the product of having pushed the envelope arguably further than any of its rivals in an era of renewed technological upheaval – Lotus Renault GP managing director Boullier affirms that the team is fighting fit and ready to go.

“I feel excited,” the Frenchman enthused. “We had a tough winter with a lot of unfortunate and unexpected news, but we have reacted quickly and we are ready for the season. We usually say that everybody in the team has been working very hard over the winter to prepare for the new season, but it's never been so true.

“We have done an enormous amount of work over the last few weeks to really understand this car and get the performance from it. We have some interesting and promising developments on our car, and what I can say is that we are clearly in better shape in terms of ultimate performance compared to last year, which was our target.

“We had to build and produce lots of new technology for the car, but our resources are not unlimited and there were a couple of issues which reduced our mileage. We have addressed those problems, though, and I'm now feeling more confident than I was three weeks ago. The number one priority given this winter to our engineers [was to] first of all make us a quick car, take risks [and] be innovative. The R31 is very different from anything the team has produced before, and we're very proud of that. Now it's time to go racing!”

Kubica was the architect of an impressive and characteristically gritty performance in inclement and changeable conditions to clinch the runner-up spoils in Australia twelve months ago, but Boullier is convinced that in Heidfeld and team-mate Vitaly Petrov, Renault remains in positive shape arriving Down Under.

“I think Nick has settled in as well as we could have expected,” he confirmed. “The more he works with the team, the easier things become and he has already built a good relationship with everybody. Vitaly now knows the people, the car, the tracks – and obviously that makes a big difference compared to last year. We can expect him to deliver strong races from the start of the season, just like he ended last season in Abu Dhabi.

“Last year we finished second [in Melbourne], with the help of the weather. I would love to do the same this year, without any help!”

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
24.03.2011- Vitaly Petrov (RUS), Lotus Renault GP, R31
10.03.2011- Vitaly Petrov (RUS), Lotus Renault GP, R31
09.03.2011- Vitaly Petrov (RUS), Lotus Renault GP, R31
09.03.2011- Vitaly Petrov (RUS), Lotus Renault GP, R31
09.03.2011- Vitaly Petrov (RUS), Lotus Renault GP, R31
08.03.2011- Vitaly Petrov (RUS), Lotus Renault GP, R31
20.02.2011- Vitaly Petrov (RUS), Lotus Renault GP, R31
24.03.2011- Nick Heidfeld (GER) Lotus Renault GP R31
10.03.2011- Nick Heidfeld (GER) Lotus Renault GP R31
21.02.2011 - Nick Heidfeld (GER) Lotus Renault GP R31
21.02.2011- Nick Heidfeld (GER) Lotus Renault GP R31
Nick Heidfeld, Lotus Renault GP, F1 2011 pre-season Jerez test
13.02.2011- Nick Heidfeld (GER), Testing for Lotus Renault GP and Bruno Senna (BRA), Test Driver, Lotus Renault GP R31
10/2/2011- Eric Boullier (FRA), Team Manager, Renault F1 Team
24.03.2011- Eric Boullier (FRA), Team Manager, Renault F1 Team
24.06.2017 - Qualifying, Valtteri Bottas (FIN) Mercedes AMG F1 W08
24.06.2017 - Qualifying, Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W08 pole position
24.06.2017 - Qualifying, 3rd place Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Scuderia Ferrari SF70H, Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W08 pole position and 2nd place Valtteri Bottas (FIN) Mercedes AMG F1 W08

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sokudo - Unregistered

March 24, 2011 11:01 PM

It really is difficult to gage who wlil be up front this race because with the new tyres and regulations etc. this GP is truly a lottery. It seems fairly obvious Red Bull and Ferrari are the fastest and cars and that both (particularly Ferrari) are reliable. It's all about how the drivers handle the conditions though and I think Heidfeld will be one of the guys who benefits the most. He seems to have a somewhat similar driving style to Jense in that he's smooth, consistent and looks after his tyres very well. Melbourne has a track record of raining though just to make it even more unpredictable and exciting. Fortunately for Renault, 'Quick Nick' is rather quick in the wet.

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