Ever since Nelson Piquet Jr. scored a morale-boosting second place in the German Grand Prix, Renault have been taking a slightly different look at the way they use their tyres during a typical race weekend. What prompted Renault to investigate the four boots on their R28 was Piquet’s sudden increase in pace that immediately followed a period behind the safety car. And now team mate Fernando Alonso wants the team to conduct a proper test to hopefully establish some more accurate findings.
It has been noted that during the Saturday free practice sessions in Hungary and Valencia, both Renault drivers started out lapping the circuits very slowly. It is believed the team were simulating a safety car period before telling the pilots to open the throttle and set a series of faster laps. However, Fernando Alonso believes that under a more controlled environment like a test session, the Enstone team would be better able to judge if this cooler-period is helping their Bridgestones or not.
When Autosport asked Alonso if he felt the mini-test during the practice sessions was of benefit and if any conclusions could be drawn, the Spaniard wasn’t entirely sure.
In Hungary the results were better than normal and we were quite happy with the performance of the tyres. But everyone was happy with the performance of the tyres on Sunday because in Hungary the grip was going up and Sunday was okay for everybody.
I think we need a test, maybe this week in Monza, to really compare the tyres because in the race weekends the conditions change so much from Friday to Sunday you never know if it is worth what we do or not. Fernando Alonso.
Other teams aren’t convinced of Renault’s idea yet, but it is fair to say that Renault themselves aren’t exactly brimming with confidence over the current findings either. Ross Brawn said that Honda will run their race tyres through a “gentle duty cycle” prior to Sunday afternoon so that they are more resiliant during the race. I too am not convinced that Renault’s theory holds up, because most drivers do not like safety car periods due to the fact that the pressures change in the cooling rubber boots and dramatically affect the car’s handling. Having said that, I have heard many an expert basically describe tyre control as a “black art” in the past.
I will keep an eye on this week’s test at Monza and I catch anything relating to this, I will certainly share.