The early months for the off-season were a worrying time for all of those associated with the F1 team. During this time, speculation was rife that the French manufacturer would follow BMW and Toyota and withdraw from the sport. In addition to the crippling world economic crisis, Renault was also disgraced by the “Spy-gate” scandal which damaged the team’s image and subsequently led to the loss of crucial sponsor ING.
However the Renault’s future was secured last December when the Luxembourg-based investment firm, Genii Capital, bought a considerable stake in the team. Following this Eric Boullier was installed as the team’s new team principal. With previous experience with the DAMS GP2 squad, Boullier hopes to lead Renault into the new decade and return Enstone-based squad back to the top of Formula One.
Interview conducted and provided by the Renault Press Office:
Q. Eric, you ve been Team Principal for just over a month. How have you settled into the team?
I ve received a very warm welcome from everybody. Of course, the last four weeks have been very busy for the entire team, but I ve been impressed with the motivation and work ethic of the factory. Now that the new season is approaching, we must keep focussed and push hard to deliver a strong performance from the first race. For me, the human side of the job is by far the most important.
Q. Has everything gone smoothly with the new car build?
On the whole the car build has gone to plan. Of course, there are always some issues to overcome during the winter, especially as the design office has taken some bold decisions with the design of the car. But, as I have said, everything has come together; we ve hit our deadlines; we re ready for the first test and we re all excited to see if the car performs as we think it will.
Q. The R30 features a classic yellow and black livery. Are you pleased to see the return of these iconic Renault colours?
For me it s definitely a good decision and I think the car looks stunning it s eye-catching and reminds people of Renault s heritage in the sport. It reminds me of when I was a kid, watching Arnoux, Prost… It also sends out a clear message about Renault s commitment to Formula One.
Q. Let s talk about Robert Kubica – how much are you looking forward to working with him?
We are delighted to have Robert on-board as he is clearly one of the best drivers on the grid. He s extremely quick, experienced, and is a real fighter who never gives up, which fits well with our attitude at Renault. Robert s approach will help push the team forward because he s just as hungry for success as we are.
Q. It s early days in the season, but what objectives do you have in mind for 2010?
We clearly want to be back at the front and capable of challenging for podiums as soon as possible. It would be too optimistic to say we want to be there from race one, but the progress and simulations wehave seen over the winter are encouraging. We also have the resources at Enstone to deliver good development steps during the season so that we continue to improve from race to race. The aim, then, is to fight regularly for the podium in the last part of the season.
Q. Talk us through the resources that will allow this aggressive development programme?
Most importantly we have just completed a considerable upgrade to the wind tunnel, which will play a major role in our aero development throughout the year. We also have a modern CFD facility, which complements the work done in the wind tunnel (and vice-versa). It s still a relatively new technology, but it s now starting to reach a level of maturity and is giving us the results we always expected from it. There s also the mechanical design team who have done an excellent job with the R30 and they will continue to feed upgrades to the car during the season.
Q. The first race in Bahrain is just over a month away. Are you looking forward to it?
Absolutely! It will be our first chance to see where we stand compared with our competitors in real racing conditions. We can go to Bahrain safe in the knowledge that the entire team has put in an enormous effort over the winter and determined to convert all that hard work into a strong performance on the racetrack. I would just like to take this opportunity to thank all the team members for their efforts over the last few months. I’m convinced that they’ll pay off on the racetrack.