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Q&A: Flavio Briatore - Renault.

Flavio Briatore, ING Renault F1 team managing director, looks back on 2008 and ahead to 2009, following the launch of the new R29 at the Algarve Motor Park near Portimao in the south of Portugal...



Q:
Flavio, during 2008 Renault produced a tremendous fight back. What was your verdict on last season?

Flavio Briatore:
I'm proud of the work that the team accomplished in 2008. We had a difficult start to the season, but nobody gave up – quite the opposite in fact! At both the factories in Viry and Enstone, everybody worked incredibly hard to improve the car and get us back to the front. The victories in Singapore and Fuji were a credit to the whole team and have been of vital importance for our preparations for 2009. We have shown that we are truly a top team – capable of winning again – and that gives us genuine hope for the year ahead.

Q:
You must therefore feel that Renault is in a strong position as the new season approaches…

FB:
We have paid great attention to the new regulations and started our preparations for the R29 project quite early. Having confirmed our competitiveness last year, the team is even more determined to get back to winning ways in 2009. There are lots of new things to deal with and that could shake things up, but Renault has shown that it is a top team and we certainly intend to continue fighting at the front. We will now concentrate 100 per cent on our final preparations for the start of the season so that we can arrive in Australia ready to fight for the podium.

Q:
What have been the main challenges during the winter?

FB:
Once the 2009 regulations were confirmed, we had to finalise our R29 programme to make sure the chassis was ready for the first test in January. Whether it has been the new aerodynamic regulations or the changes to the engine, this project has required a great deal of work by our engineering teams in Enstone and Viry. Dealing with these changes have been the main technical challenges to overcome this winter.

Q:
You have kept continuity in the driver line-up by confirming Fernando Alonso and Nelson Piquet for 2009. What are the main strengths of this partnership?

FB:
It's important to have some stability, especially when the environment around you is changing. Fernando and Nelson know each other; they worked well together last year and they feel comfortable in the team. They also know that we are doing all we can to give them a competitive package this season. Fernando is without doubt the best driver on the grid - he proved that again last year and we are delighted to continue our collaboration with him, which is a real boost for the team. Nelson has learnt an enormous amount and matured during his rookie season; we want to give him the chance to confirm the faith we have in him. Looking ahead to the season I am convinced that we have a particularly competitive driver line-up.

Q:
Renault has often benefited from regulation changes and shown its ability to adapt to change. The 2009 season sees new rules on the technical and sporting fronts – is Renault in a position to take advantage of this?

FB:
Renault has often benefited from regulation changes, distinguishing itself by its choices to gain an advantage over its competitors. This year the playing field will be very competitive and we will soon know if the technical decisions we've made will turn out to be the right ones. But we're not relaxing our efforts and with the start of the season just a couple of months away, we're concentrating fully on our development programme to try and find those vital hundredths and tenths of a second which make the difference. So we're approaching the 2009 season hopeful of having the strongest package, but well aware of the challenges that lie ahead.

Q:
Although the season hasn't started yet, who do you think will be the main challengers for the 2009 championship?

FB:
It's never easy to make predictions at this stage of the year. We know where we are in our development programme and we also have the feedback from the drivers and engineers, but I don't want to risk making any predictions, especially this season with so many new rules. We can probably expect some surprises, which will be interesting for the fans.

Q:
Where will Renault be on the grid next season?

FB:


Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Flavio Briatore with Fernando Alonso and Nelson Piquet Jr. ING Renault F1. R29 launch. Jan 19 2009. Algarve Motor Park. [Pic credit: Renault]
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