Fernando Alonso is anticipating a strong performance from Renault in this weekend's Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps, as the French concern bids to fight back from a dismal European Grand Prix a fortnight ago and regain ground on Toyota in the fraught battle over fourth spot in the constructors' title chase.
Alonso was hit from behind by the Williams of Kazuki Nakajima on the opening lap of his second 'home' race of the campaign in Valencia, and with rookie team-mate Nelsinho Piquet failing to score into the bargain, the result marked one of Renault's worst of the season – and saw the Régie
slip to some ten points adrift of Toyota in the all-important constructors' scrap.
“I knew that my weekend would be difficult after qualifying,” the phlegmatic Spaniard reflected of his European Grand Prix outing. “Starting so far down the field at a street circuit is never where you want to be. I was hit on the first lap and lost my rear wing. My mechanics did everything to try and get me back out, but my race was already compromised.
“I was disappointed not to have been able to drive in front of my supporters as I wanted to give them a special race, but that's in the past now and I am looking forward to the race in Belgium.”
Spa is a favourite track of most drivers on the Formula 1 grid, and former double world champion Alonso is no exception. He has finished two of his four races around the spectacular Ardennes circuit up on the podium, and though he acknowledges a similar result is unlikely on this occasion, he is nevertheless optimistic of adding to his points account.
“Spa is one of those exceptional circuits on the Formula 1 calendar,” the 27-year-old, 19-time grand prix winner explained. “Like all the older circuits, there is always a very special and warm atmosphere.
“For the drivers, Spa is an unbelievable challenge and is a very enjoyable place to drive a Formula 1 car. I have never won at Spa, but I hope that one day I can add a win here to my list of achievements.
“It's a very long circuit, which generally emphasises the gaps between the cars. It requires a very complete car, so we will have to work hard on the set-up to make sure we are competitive in the quick sections as well as in the slower corners. The compression in Eau Rouge is still an impressive part of the circuit.
“Even though the European Grand Prix turned out to be a race to forget, we should not lower our aims. I am sure that the team is giving 100 per cent to achieve our objective, and I will also give my maximum to try and get a strong result and score some points. At the beginning of the season things were not easy, but we have improved and we are determined to continue in this direction.”