Alonso expects Renault fightback in Australia

2014 F1 season

Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, Bahrain, 2014Fernando Alonso believes the Renault-powered teams will be competitive by the first race of the season in Australia.

Red Bull, Lotus, Toro Rosso and Caterham have endured a difficult start to the year due to numerous reliability problems with their engines. However there were signs of improvement on the sixth day of pre-season testing yesterday as they were able to complete more laps.

Alonso, who won the drivers’ championship twice while racing for Renault’s factory team in the mid-2000s, expects them to solve their problems quickly.

“We can say the Mercedes powered cars are competitive, and we can say we are competitive, but I’m sure that at the first race, the Renault runners will also be there,” he said after concluding his participation in the second test in Bahrain.

“This is only a test and we won’t get a picture of the hierarchy until we are on track for the first grand prix in Australia.”

Although Ferrari had covered more laps in testing than any team bar Mercedes as of yesterday, Alonso remains wary about the threat of unreliability.

“It’s hard to know what could happen in the first part of the season,” he said. “Reliability will be vital and I dare say that in the first races, getting to the finish will mean you have got a good result.”

“However, there has been so much work done at Maranello that we can definitely aim for that.”

Ferrari arrived in Bahrain still concentrating on reliability but Alonso says they will be seeking lap time improvements in next week’s test. “There are still some small problems which we must try and resolve, just like when you buy a new domestic appliance, but that’s to be expected, given the radical new design.”

“But every time we go out in the car, it gets easier and confidence grows and that’s why I think the most crucial test in performance terms will be the next one.”

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24 comments on Alonso expects Renault fightback in Australia

  1. Lucas Wilson (@full-throttle-f1) said on 21st February 2014, 9:27

    Renault will be on form in the first races and I expect RB to win one of the first 4 races.

      • sumedh said on 21st February 2014, 12:24

        WOW! So, Newey first tried exhaust-blown diffuser in 2003! And only in 2011-2013, did it really help him dominate championships!

        • HoHum (@hohum) said on 21st February 2014, 13:13

          Michael Schumacher was thought to be able to use exhaust gas to enhance downforce in corners useing left-foot braking, Rubens B drove with right foot braking which was considered as part of the reason he was not as fast as MSC (best wishes), so hardly surprising other designers were looking to capitalise on exhaust blowing.

          • For Sure (@forsure) said on 21st February 2014, 13:21

            Really? The early 2000s Ferraris had periscope exhausts. Would blowing exhaust gases onto the rear wing or beam wing add a lot of downforce?

            I’m asking because teams have been focusing on how to blow exhaust gases on the diffuser for the last few seasons, not the rear wing.

          • Robbie said on 21st February 2014, 14:00

            My understanding was that when RB joined Ferrari he had to teach himself to be a left foot braker because MS was, which meant the designers could have the steering column go between the drivers’ feet.

          • TMF (@tmf42) said on 22nd February 2014, 9:48

            @forsure – actually the blown diffusors we saw in 2011 capitalised immensely from guided airflow and were more or less optimised for that purpose.
            MSC and Senna (also others) mastered a technique to keep the foot on the throttle to control the slide into the corner better and smoothen the transitions between the brake, turn accelerate phases during a corner. Overall it made the car more stable around the corner.
            the aerodynamically benefits were that the overall airflow around the car didn’t change rapidly once a driver hit the brakes (mechanical grip and aero is always a balance act), so it was more or less a side effect that made it easier to find an aerodynamical solution that works in the various stages of a corner.

            over the years everyone adopted this driving style – that’s why a some drivers in the late 90s early 00s had to learn to brake with their left foot.

        • Fer no.65 (@fer-no65) said on 21st February 2014, 16:07

          exhaust blown diffusers were nothing new in 2011. But the way they got to manage the airflow, was the innovation. Renault back in the 80’s tried it too.

          • Tifoso1989 (@tifoso1989) said on 21st February 2014, 16:40

            @fer-no65
            I don’t know about Renault but i know that the idea of the proper EBD came in the 80’s when the Lotus engineers figured that Ayrton was able to stay on gas even in slow corners (which produce that legendary sound in qualifying)

          • tifoso1989, the original Renault factory team definitely beat Lotus to the design – Migeot, the chief aerodynamicist at Renault at the time, developed an exhaust blown diffuser that was fitted to the RE40 for the 1983 Monaco GP. Lotus didn’t get there until the following year, and their blown diffuser design was a straight copy of Renault’s design.
            If anything, I would say that you have the cause and effect with Senna’s driving the wrong way around – the primary reason he could keep his foot on the throttle in the way that he did was because the team had a blown diffuser, giving him a noticeable increase in downforce (Migeot reckoned on about 500N of downforce on the rear axle line – which was a very sizeable advantage at the time).

            sumedh, Newey copied the trick of blowing the diffuser from other teams much earlier than that (Newey was working in sportscar racing at the time). If anything, the main criticism of him was that he was one of the slowest to adapt to the periscope design of the early 2000’s, something which might have actually hurt the competitiveness of his cars as it actively hindered the design of the air intake and exhaust systems of the Mercedes engine, part of the reason why Mercedes fell behind Ferrari in the power stakes in the early 2000’s.

            Robbie, Rubens’s struggles with left foot braking were, if I remember rightly, also down to injuries he picked up when he was younger, making it quite uncomfortable for him due to the physical effort required (it requires a fair amount of force to use the brakes on an F1 car).
            I might be mistaken, but I think that there are references to him right foot braking at least part of the time (usually for the heaviest braking zones, where the most force and delicacy would be required) even when he was driving for Honda (and possibly even when driving for Williams).

  2. OllieJ (@olliej) said on 21st February 2014, 10:09

    ‘just like when you buy a new domestic appliance’
    I wonder if he was looking at the nose of his F14T when he thought of that similie…

    • mantresx (@mantresx) said on 21st February 2014, 13:04

      @olliej Lol yeah what does that even mean? When you buy a new appliance it just works from the beginning, unless he meant it was similar to the process of designing and manufacturing it, in which case he might be right.

  3. The Renault powered cars won’t be sorted by the first race. If they can resolve the software problems and get some reliability from the power unit it most likely won’t be until late April or early May. Then we might see them at the pointy end of the field.

  4. smudgersmith1 (@smudgersmith1) said on 21st February 2014, 11:21

    Mercedes and McLaren to share the first ten races with Ferrari pinching a couple of the next few, Vettel to keep knocking out 3rds and 4ths, then winning the last three double pointers to snatch the championship by a point, Bernie will be wetting himself .

  5. BrawnGP said on 21st February 2014, 12:33

    But it doesnt really matter if Renault get their act together at the start of the season or not… if Bernie gets his way Redbull and Vettel can just win all the races with double points at the end and job done :-(

    • Robbie said on 21st February 2014, 13:37

      Except that he has told us that double points are to help Ferrari. But I think you are right that even though the thought of RBR dominating makes one imagine viewership dropping off dramatically, BE, and perhaps many others wouldn’t care if RBR won both titles yet again as long as it is in the last race, as anti-climactic as that will be. If it goes to the last race then that will mean someone will have won only because of double points and someone will have been robbed because of them.

  6. Robbie said on 21st February 2014, 13:51

    Have to laugh at these quotes from FA. I’m imaging him with much tongue in cheek. ‘Mercedes will be competitive, we will be competitive, and Red Bull will BE THERE’…as in…they’ll be on the grid. Competitive? No…just ‘there’.

    Of course it all remains to be seen but I have a feeling that for now FA is not worried about having to catch SV in the first part of the season. With the number of test days remaining I will be very surprised if Mercedes and Ferrari can’t translate the extra hundreds and hundreds of kms they have in the bank over RBR into an advantage at least initially. It’s not just about systems checks and reliability…Merc and Ferrari have had so much more opportunity to explore different setups while RBR has to concentrate on more core issues. They’ll be starting on their hind foot, but for how long obviously remains to be seen.

    • WilliamB (@william-brierty) said on 21st February 2014, 15:26

      I’m inclined to agree with you. It is becoming difficult to imagine how the RB10 will manage doing a grand prix distance as well as three practice sessions and qualifying without an issue in just a few short weeks, and even if they do, as you say, they will have spent the entirety of testing on the fundamentals, and not finding the car’s sweet spot like Mercedes, McLaren and Ferrari have been.

  7. Chad (@chaddy) said on 21st February 2014, 19:09

    It’s a heck of a lot easier to fight back at the end of a season when at the beginning you were getting 2-4-6-8 points, not 0-0-0-0 points per race because your car couldn’t go the distance.

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