Jacques, you spent two days testing the Renault this week. How did it go?
"It went extremely well and we had a very positive test. For the first day and a half, we worked on getting me comfortable in the car, altering the seat, the driving position, all the details you need to get perfect before you can start to be quick. Everything has happened very quickly - the seat was only made on Tuesday evening - so it was important to concentrate on that first of all.
"I also needed some time to play myself back in and get used to driving again, as well as adjusting my style to using a semi-automatic gearchange again. By lunchtime on Thursday, we started working on the set-up a little bit to adapt the car to my style, and it responded very well."
Formula 1
Chinese GP new star of F1 circuit
27/09/2004 AT 08:32
What was the welcome like in the team?
"The welcome has been fantastic - everybody has been very positive in their approach. Over the years that we worked together I built up a genuine respect for Renault, and I am very grateful to the team that they have recruited me at this time. I have good memories from working with Renault and there were some familiar faces in the garage when I arrived on Wednesday.
"The team has worked hard to adapt the steering wheel and other small details to my habits, because that is the easiest way for these three races, and they had even used my old throttle traces to adjust the engine mapping for my first runs. Little details like that make a difference. Obviously, we are still getting to know each other, but the approach has been very open and constructive."
How did you find the R24 to drive?
"Well, I used Fernando's set-up for much of the test but when we made some changes, I could already tell it was a very good car. It is not an easy car to drive but it is definitely quick. Once you have understood its characteristics then you can begin to really push and find the limit, which we started to on Thursday afternoon.
"The engine is very good and very smooth in its power delivery. We still have work to do, but my first impressions are positive."
China will be a new race for everybody: do you think that will play to your advantage?
"I am not sure whether it will be an advantage or not. There are two ways of looking at it: firstly, you can say that nobody else has been there before either so I won't be at a disadvantage, but on the other hand, in that situation, you could say that you need as much experience as possible the car and the tyres in order to concentrate on learning the track. You can choose to be optimistic or negative. I'm looking at it in a positive frame of mind."
Finally, what are your objectives for these three races?
"The team and I share a common goal: to beat BAR to second place in the championship. I am here to enjoy myself as well, but the priority is to contribute to Renault's fight in the championship. It will be tough, but sometimes you have to take the plunge. Once you have done so, there is no other option but to make it work."
Formula 1
26/09/2004 AT 20:41
Formula 1
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