Renault's director of engineering Pat Symonds and lead driver Fernando Alonso have admitted that the Regie
heads to Valencia for the European Grand Prix this weekend in buoyant mood as it seeks to try and secure fourth in the Formula One championship standings.
The team heads into the first event on the streets of the Spanish city buoyed by strong results in the two races prior to the summer break, with Nelson Piquet's podium in German being followed by a top eight finish for both drivers last time out in Hungary.
The latter of those two in particular has boosted confidence within the team after both drivers produced competitive performances on race day and Alonso said the team was now full of motivation for the remainder of the year as it seeks to secure fourth in the standings ahead of Toyota and Red Bull.
“We're certainly continuing to improve, which is very encouraging,” the Spaniard reflected. “We were on the pace in Hungary, the car felt good and we showed we are still moving forward and that we will fight hard to finish in fourth place in the championship. It was important also to get a solid result before the summer break: it's good for the mood in the team and means we can come back motivated for the rest of the year.”
The Valencia weekend will mark the second home round of the year for double champion Alonso, although he will hope for more luck that in Barcelona earlier in the campaign when he was forced out with an engine problem having qualified on the front row of the grid.
“I'm very happy to be driving at home for a second time: it's always a special feeling to race in front of my countrymen and I'm really looking forward to it,” he said. “In Barcelona we were having a strong race when I had to retire, but I hope this time I can get a good result as the circuit will be new for all the drivers.
“It will be interesting for me and also for the team, who have been working hard in preparation for this race for the last couple of months. As a new circuit, I think it gives the drivers a chance to show what they can do, but I am not under any illusions as I expect all the drivers to be quick. We must do our best to find our reference points quicker than the others in order to spring a surprise.”
Symonds meanwhile echoed Alonso's sentiments that the team will head to Valencia on a high after recent results, with its performances in relation to its rivals boding well for the final races of the campaign.
“We saw that BMW had a poor weekend [in Hungary] and Toyota had a good weekend, but I don't believe the pecking order suddenly changes,” he said. “There are certainly trends, and at the moment we have a very distinct upward trend, whereas BMW have a little bit of a downward trend and Toyota seem to fluctuate. So I don't think that the race itself shows a change to the status quo, but merely reinforces the trends which have been developing for a little while.
“While Nelson's finishing position in Germany was a better result on paper, we were the first to acknowledge that luck played a major part in that result. In Hungary things were very different as we had two cars racing competitively all the way, racing against strong competitors and racing them on equal terms. From the moment we arrived there the car was competitive: we qualified well, we raced well and had to use strategy to get our result. The points were very welcome and in the last two races only McLaren have scored more points than us.”