Q. James, how different is the R30 compared with last year's car, the R29?
James Allison, Technical director: It's very different and even my mom could tell the exterior differences! The R30 is a considerably more svelte and attractive car than its predecessor. These changes are not made for aesthetic appeal, however; they are the result of the intensive aerodynamic development that the R30 has benefited from. Under the skin too the changes are considerable. The largest differences are the result of accommodating the much larger fuel tank for the 2010 rules and re-optimizing the car without KERS, but there are hundreds of other improvements across the whole of the vehicle.
Q. What were the main challenges the technical team faced over the winter?
JA: Although this is the second season with the current aero regulations, adapting to the refueling ban in 2010 has required a completely different architecture to the car. Furthermore, the rear of the car has been considerably reworked to allow the car to make the most of the "double-decker" diffusers that were first seen last year.
Q. What more can you tell us about the aero package? Is it a case of evolution or revolution?
JA: As with any year of stable aero regulations, the aero development is a mixture of both of these. The wind tunnel always offers a certain amount of reward for painstaking iterative development, but the bigger steps emerge from introducing new concepts. The R30 has been no different in this regard.
Q. How important has the team's CFD facility been to the design of the new car?
JA: CFD plays a bigger part in the development of the car every year. The Renault F1 CFD center has had 12 months to bed in and is now really delivering results ranging from the detail of brake-cooling design to broad aerodynamic concepts for the layout of the car. We are evermore reliant on the CFD engineers to feed the wind tunnel with a stream of new aerodynamic concepts.
Q. How big an impact do you expect the refueling ban to have and how has the team reacted to this?
JA: Accommodating a much larger fuel tank has the obvious effect of making the survival cell that houses the tank larger. The overall effect on both the design and operation of the car is much larger, however. For example: Heavier fuel loads mean much more challenging conditions for the brakes. Also, running the car from absolutely full to absolutely empty gives a larger range of conditions that the suspension must be able to cope with.
You also have to consider that without the opportunity to replenish the car with fresh fuel at the pit stops, the fuel in the tank has to endure the heating effect of the engine for much longer. Hot fuel reduces the performance of the car and, if it gets too hot, it can vaporize in the tank preventing the pumps from feeding the engine correctly.
No refueling also changes completely the strategic priorities during the race from what we have been used to in recent years. Just one example of this is the different way that the car must be run behind a Safety Car. Under last year's rules all teams placed the cars into extreme fuel-saving mode as soon as the Safety Car emerged. Under 2010 rules we need to do exactly the opposite: we must adapt the car to burn off the excess fuel that would otherwise accumulate when running slowly in order to make sure we are not carrying excess fuel once the Safety Car goes back in.
Q. What do you feel are realistic objectives for the season ahead?
JA: We aim to start the 2010 season in considerably better shape than we finished 2009. Time will tell how successful we have been in this regard. Whatever our initial level of competitiveness, however, we have a very aggressive development program planned for the car and we are confident that we will be returning to fight for podiums and race wins very soon.