French Throwback - Q&A with Rémi Taffin

Rémi Taffin has happy memories of the French Grand Prix, having engineered Fernando Alonso to victory in 2005 at Magny Cours on the way to the team’s first world championship title. Thirteen years on, the now Engine Technical Director is aiming to taste more success at his home Grand Prix in Le Castellet.

What do we know about Circuit Paul Ricard?
Circuit Paul Ricard is a real mix of sectors, probably more so than any other circuit this season. We shouldn’t expect too many surprises and we’re not going in blind. There are two long straights, as well as some heavy braking zones. Signes, at end of the back straight, should be taken flat out in a similar fashion to Silverstone’s Copse Corner so that will put the Power Unit and drivers alike under a lot of forces, but shouldn’t be too much of an issue for either.

What’s the verdict on the B-spec engine from Canada?
It’s doing what we expected. All six Renault-powered cars had the engine upgrade in Canada. It demonstrated good performance and driveability. We had four cars inside the top ten, including a podium and the fastest lap of the race.

And what else is there in the pipeline for engine development?
The C-spec engine is already on the dynos at Viry and we’ll soon be at a stage for its deployment with races coming thick and fast over the weeks ahead, especially with Formula 1’s first triple-header on the horizon.

What memories stand out for you with the French Grand Prix?
When you’re a French company, and you race at the French Grand Prix, it’s always a pleasure. You’re in your home country and there are a lot of spectators, so it’s always a good audience. It’s a special feeling, especially winning, which we achieved in 2005 with the very fast blue cars and Fernando Alonso! We always had good fights in the French Grand Prix, the 2004 race was another good battle between Fernando and Michael [Schumacher] for the win, even if unfortunately, we lost it to them on that occasion. We were on a three-stop strategy, to their four-stop! These are good memories, good on-track fights and of course we’ll always remember that 2005 victory. Hopefully there are more memories to come of battling for the top step of the podium.

What’s the feeling like at Viry ahead of the home race?
They can really feel it’s their home Grand Prix and that’s special. If you see where Viry is located, it’s close to Paris and you could argue Spa is closer to Paris than Circuit Paul Ricard! But it’s still our home country and we can feel it, and we are all looking forward to it.