Fernando Alonso has pronounced himself optimistic for the upcoming Spanish Grand Prix, the first of two home races this season for the Spaniard.
Although Renault have not been as near the front as they might like so far this season, Alonso hopes to give a big performance in front of an adoring home crowd this weekend.
“It’s always very special to race in Spain and I’m lucky to have two races at home in Barcelona and Valencia,” the Oviedo-born ace said.
“Seeing the support of the fans always gives me a boost and I just hope that I can make them happy and have a strong weekend. It will be difficult to fight for the podium, but hopefully we can qualify well and score some big points in the race.”
“We tested there in February, but obviously we have developed the car a lot since then so we will need to work on the setup during free practice. We are still missing some performance at the moment, but the team has really improved the car already this season so we are certainly moving in the right direction. Hopefully we can take another step forward this weekend.”
Renault director of engineering Pat Symonds explained that the Renault team is bringing new parts and upgrades to the Circuit de Catalunya, as part of a continuous and ongoing development package that will emerge over the season. Symonds made it clear he expects the approach to pay dividends as soon as this weekend, however.
“The whole team is still pushing hard with development, and the diffuser and floor that we took to China was very much a first attempt; over the course of the year we will see several more versions, the first of which we hope to have in Barcelona.
“In addition, we’ve got new wheel fairings this weekend with quite a major design change, to give us an increase in downforce, and a new rear wing. On top of that we’ve got a few small aerodynamic tweaks that we will introduce on a race-by-race basis – overall, we can expect a reasonable step in performance for Barcelona.
“We weren’t particularly satisfied with our performance in Barcelona during winter testing and I think that was probably because our aero performance was significantly below that of the cars with twin diffusers (Williams, Toyota and Brawn). Now that we have hopefully improved our performance with our own new-style diffuser, we certainly hope that Barcelona will be a bit more favourable for us,” said Symonds.
Alonso is always well-supported at the Spanish race, with a large contingent of his fellow Asturians making the long journey to Barcelona to back their man. Memorably, he qualified on the front row last season, but turned out to be light on fuel.