Renault's engineering director Pat Symonds was obviously a happy man after qualifying for the Monaco Grand Prix, but insisted that the team had not compromised its race effort in order to sit at the front of the grid.

Having seen Jarno Trulli take his maiden F1 pole and Fernando Alonso take third - both ahead of Ferrari's Michael Schumacher - Symonds was confident that both drivers could carry their Saturday form into Sunday's long and arduous race.

"Given the importance of qualifying well here, our prospects for tomorrow must be the most favourable so far this season," he said, "We will aim to have a clean, trouble-free race and concentrate on minimising the loss of time when we encounter the inevitable traffic.

"Our pit-stops this year have been the best at every race and, of course, this is something we hope to use this to our advantage once again. However, Monaco is always an extremely circumstantial grand prix - the way the race unfolds depends largely on traffic. Whatever plans or predictions you make, it is still very much down to the luck of the draw.

"Strategy at Monaco is unique - and, more so than anywhere else, starting at the front is critically important. However, although it is unique, it is also true to say that there was not much variation in strategies last year. In 2003, most of the first stops came in the high twenties in terms of laps, and I would expect that, in common with the pattern this year, we will see this move forward - with cars stopping anything up to ten laps earlier.

"I think it is still likely that most people will make two stops. From our own point of view, I prefer to consider strategy as applying to how we conduct the entire race weekend. We have got two good qualifying positions, but also are confident that our work in practice has given us a good car in race trim."

Symonds was particularly pleased to see that his drivers responded well to the pressures of qualifying on the street circuit.

"The biggest problem comes from over-driving, and I have seen some very good drivers come here and do exactly that. Fernando put in an excellent lap to go fourth - it was very clean, and the data showed no mistakes at all. That puts into perspective how well Jarno drove. It was an exceptionally good lap, and he really got the maximum possible from the package. It was an outstanding performance.

"We are also very pleased with the performance of the tyres that Michelin has given us. Tyre degradation is minimal here at Monaco because of the low grip levels, and our tyres have given both very good first-lap performance, but also excellent consistency. Even on Thursday, when the circuit was very green, we did not experience any graining. The tyres are another factor that makes us confident for tomorrow."


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