Rob White Q&A
"The season will be intensely competitive"
Renault technical director Rob White takes questions regarding Renault’s latest championship challenger - the R30 - and the challenges of the latest regulation changes...
Rob, how have preparations for the new season been going in Viry?
"Like always, the period between the end of one season and the beginning of the next is one of intense activity at the factory. Our goal is to arrive at the first race knowing that we have taken full advantage of the available time and resources to maximise the performance potential of the car. As a consequence there is some uncertainty in the early weeks of the year and as we speak today we are not yet race-ready, but we are on course to be ready for the first race in Bahrain."
What challenges does the refuelling ban present to the engine team?
"Firstly, with no refuelling, fuel consumption becomes a more significant performance differentiator during the race as the fuel in the car is carried for the entire race rather than being divided between pit stops. However, the performance effect of fuel consumption diminishes during the race as the fuel is used because the car obviously becomes lighter. On average the benefit of carrying 5% less fuel over the race distance will equate to a lap time gain equivalent to having 1% more power. So in 2010 fuel saving is an important development challenge in Formula One, just as it is for our road car colleagues.
"Second, managing the fuel in the car is a challenge. The car will be fuelled for the whole race so there will be no more ‘splash-and-dash’ pitstops at the end of the race. The challenge will be to get the car to the finish without running out of fuel, and without carrying excess fuel as contingency for measurement errors or systems malfunction, which would be a performance penalty. There are therefore development tasks to assure the accuracy of the on-board measurement and procedural tasks in the race team to extract the most performance from the car.
"A final factor in managing the fuel is its temperature: the fuel will be on-board for the entire race, and will get warm as it takes on heat from its surroundings. This is an additional challenge for our colleagues at Total and a further factor to optimise for the reliability and subsequently for the performance of the car."
The grid was so competitive last year. Can we expect more of the same this year?
"The season will be intensely competitive, I am certain. The grid has changed a lot since 2009, and everyone within and around Formula One, myself included, is impatient to see how it will shake out. In addition to the new teams on the grid, in the world of engines we welcome the return of Cosworth. I would dearly like to see Renault solidly in the leading group, but it’s going to be busy at the front."