Renault F1 technical director Bob Bell has said that Fernando Alonso's success in Sunday's Japanese Grand Prix justified the team's decision to continue refining its 2008 car alongside the design and build of next year's challenger.
Locked in a battle with Toyota for fourth place in the constructors' championship, the regie
opted to prolong the development of the R28, even though it did not expect to take wins this season. The car, however, has continued to make inroads into the early season advantage enjoyed by its rivals, with Alonso taking back-to-back victories in Singapore and Japan to propel Renault to a comfortable 16-point cushion over its rivals.
"I think the wins in Singapore and Fuji have vindicated the decision to continue the development of the R28 late into the season," Bell claimed, "We could easily have taken the decision to give up on this season and concentrate entirely on next year, but we took a different decision as we felt actions spoke louder than words. While many teams made brave promises about delivering performance next year, we were determined to get results this
"You need results to keep up your self-belief and motivation, to keep the support of your partners, and to secure the right drivers. So, from the team's point of view, it was very important to prove to ourselves and everybody around us that we were capable of coming back and being serious contenders.
"It's a feeling of immense pleasure and satisfaction for a job well done, thanks to the efforts of the whole team at the track and in the factories of Enstone and Viry. Everybody has made a direct contribution to these results and it's a fantastic reward for the whole team. I'm elated by it."
While he admits that victory in Singapore owed more than a little to good fortune, as Alonso came from 15th on the grid after problems in qualifying and benefited from an early safety car, Bell insists that last weekend's success in Japan underlined the new-found performance of the R28.
"People would have always looked back at the Singapore result and probably focused on the luck element of it," he admits, "But the result in Fuji has put that to bed and demonstrated that the car clearly has the performance, and the drivers the ability to exploit that performance and bring home race wins. It's a very satisfying result that was achieved on merit, which at this stage of the season is a fantastic performance."
Despite taking 25 points from the two 'flyaway' events, however, Bell is reluctant to believe that the team's aim of being fourth in the constructors' championship has been achieved.
"I never think like that," he stressed, "It's not mission accomplished until the chequered flag falls in Brazil, and we will continue to push and assume that we can still be overhauled. In F1, you should never rest on your laurels and we will keep that in mind when we determine our strategies and approach to the final couple of races.