Renault F1 technical director Bob Bell has admitted that this weekend's Monaco Grand Prix will be tough for the team, despite renewed confidence after a better showing in Spain ten days ago.

After a troubled opening to the campaign in Australia, Malaysia and Bahrain, where the R27 appeared to have fallen off the front-running pace set by its title-winning predecessors, changes produced in the four-week gap leading up to Barcelona at least allowed Giancarlo Fisichella and Heikki Kovalainen to show more competitive promise. A fuel rig problem prevented either from recording a result better than the Finn's seventh place, but Bell was encouraged by what he saw on track.

"We certainly saw a small improvement during the weekend," he confirmed, "Our new suspension and aerodynamic developments were clearly working well, and the drivers both felt more confident with the car than they had done at recent races. They were ultimately hindered by the refuelling problems we experienced, but I think it is fair to say that we managed to unlock a little more of the potential that we know is in the car. We hope to see the trend continue again this weekend in Monaco."

Despite the optimism, however, Bell also expressed caution, claiming that he was not expecting a sudden return to the front in the Principality.

"It is often said that Monaco is a lottery and, while it is true to say the circuit is unlike any other we race on, it is nevertheless easy to underestimate how important a role the car plays," he explained, "There is no magic wand in Monte Carlo - a bad car doesn't suddenly become a good one. You need plenty of downforce but, more than anything, the drivers need to be able to trust the car. At the moment, the R27 is not the easiest car to take to the limit with confidence, so that may make life more difficult for Giancarlo and Heikki. As always, though, we will be going to the next race with our heads held high - and determined to take everything we can from the weekend."

Morale and pride are recurring themes no matter who you talk to at Renault, and Bell echoes previous claims that there has been no dropping of heads at Enstone or Viry.

"I think it comes down to honesty and discipline," he said of the refusal to panic about the lack of results in 2007, "We have completed a lot of detailed, targeted analysis to understand our problems. That has been an extensive programme, but it is well mapped-out, and we are making good progress. In difficult times, you have to go about you work in a logical manner, and adopt a very disciplined approach. When you have a nasty surprise with car performance, it is very easy to head off in many directions at once without a clear strategy. In contrast, we have taken our time and resisted the temptation to react in a knee-jerk manner. It is beginning to bear fruit.

"It is no secret that we achieve very good results with sensible budgets, and that is a genuine source of pride. But we are lacking nothing in our efforts to rebound. Development is on-going, our problem-solving is progressing well and, as at this time every year, work is beginning on 2008. Does that mean we are giving up on 2007? Certainly not. But it also shows that we are staying disciplined, and determined not to let our current situation affect work on next year's car.

"We have a racing heart at Renault and, even though we are not fighting at the front right now, the competitiveness and hunger of the team are constants. When we were leading during the last two years, we never coasted, never let up and never thought things were easy. This year demands even more of those same characteristics. We are fighting hard to understand the problems, and working to unlock the potential we know is in the car. The circumstances may be different, but there is the same deep drive pushing us forward."

 

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