Renault engineering director Pat Symonds was among those people honoured at the 2005 British Racing Drivers Club awards at Silverstone, as he collected a Special Award in recognition of his work in helping both Renault and Fernando Alonso to F1 titles during the season.

After collecting his award, Symonds spoke to about the award and about the current situation surrounding engines in F1 for the 2006 season...
How proud are you to have collected this award?

Pat Symonds:
It's fantastic and it's nice that engineers get recognition. This is a brand new award from the BRDC and if it lasts as long as some of the other awards we have seen handed out today then I will be very proud to be the first name on it.
The award is of course in recognition of a great season in Formula One for the Renault team. You must also be very proud to have got to the end of one of the most competitive seasons we have had for quite a while as both the top team and with the leading driver?

Pat Symonds:
Yeah, absolutely. The drivers' championship was looking good through the summer and we were quietly confident - things can always go wrong, but we were quietly confident.

The constructors' championship we knew was going to be difficult. The McLaren was faster than us for a large part of the summer and we really had to have a super-human effort to come back at them and I think that is something which makes it even more satisfying.

We had a great race in China, we were quicker than them and we outraced them and it was good enough to bring the championship to us. I think that was one of the most satisfying days of my career.
You won world titles back in the 1990s with Michael Schumacher and Benetton. How do the two compare?

Pat Symonds:
It's hard to say really. It's such a wonderful thing to win a world championship that I think each one is unique. They are equally enjoyable but I suppose, like everything, that the first one is that little bit more special because we hadn't done it before.

But to be honest it was ten years since I won the world championship so it almost feels like the first title all over again!
For 2006 we have the switch to V8 engines. How are preparations for that change going at Renault?

Pat Symonds:
They're going well, we are very, very busy. We decided we would get the 2006 car out a little bit earlier than normal and we are aiming to finish that just before Christmas. It'll be out on track testing in the New Year and will be doing a lot of rig testing over the Christmas break. That is a little bit earlier than normal and of course we had to push hard with the development of the 2005 car all the way to October so there are a lot of guys working very hard back at base at the moment.
In the new season there will be some teams still running with restricted V10 engines and there have been comments from various technical people about how those cars will perform. What's your view on that?

Pat Symonds:
I think it is a great shame that there will be two types of engine. A move was made to allow the V10s to remain in F1, really for Minardi as they were the only team that needed that help.

A lot of people talk about equivalence, the idea wasn't to have equivalence, it was just to allow Minardi to go racing. Unfortunately that rule was written in and there is nothing we can do about that, but I think that Toro Rosso, having taken over Minardi, aren't in the same situation.

The rules say that a V10 can be used by a team that doesn't have access to a competitive V8 but I think it is very arguable as to what Toro Rosso has. They have the money, they are a Red Bull team, and Cosworth have the engines so to my mind they should be running a V8.
So you feel that if the season starts and Toro Rosso are fighting up near the front that it is something that the FIA would need to look into?

Pat Symonds:
There is no doubt about that and they have said that if the V10 looks too quick then they will revise the rules that it has to run under. To be honest I don't think anyone is particularly worried about Toro Rosso and, yes they may gain a little bit of an advantage, and if I was a team like Midland then I might be worrying about it.

I think what we are all more worried about is the situation that could arise, for example in Monaco, where you have the torque of the V10 which could be a considerable advantage. We don't want everyone arriving at Monaco with V10s and then switching back to V8s and doing things like this.

We have this vague regulation about 'access to a competitive engine'. Well if your V8 keeps blowing up in the opening races can you turn round and say 'Our V8 isn't competitive' and then switch to a V10? It's all very vague and unnecessary.
In an ideal world then, you would like to see the FIA come out and say Formula One is a championship for V8 powered cars or for cars with a restricted V10 engine.

Pat Symonds:
Yeah, absolutely. Equivalency has never worked; we can remember that from the days with the turbo cars and normally aspirated cars. A racing series like Formula One should be for one type of car and one type only.


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