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Last Updated: Sunday, 25 September 2005, 18:54 GMT 19:54 UK
Ferrari failure 'helped Renault'
By Andrew Benson
Motorsport editor

Fernando Alonso leads Michael Schumacher at the San Marino Grand Prix
Renault design boss Pat Symonds says his team's success this year is largely down to Ferrari's spectacular decline.

"The fact that Ferrari have taken such a massive hit this year has altered the landscape," Symonds told BBC Sport.

"Last year we didn't look like potential champions, but one of the reasons was Ferrari were so dominant.

"The fact our progress looks perhaps more spectacular is more to do with our competitors - or one particular competitor - than ourselves."

Symonds said he believed Renault's progress had been "quite steady progress year on year, and in absolute terms has been quite good".

It does annoy me a little bit when people say it's not so much you winning the championship as McLaren losing it
Pat Symonds
Renault engineering director
"Relatively we didn't look good (last year)," he added.

"If you took Ferrari out of the equation, which is sort of what has happened this year, you would have said it was a battle between ourselves and BAR last year, which is not unlike the battle between ourselves and McLaren this year."

Ferrari have dominated F1 for the last five years, but dropped dramatically off the pace this year.

This was largely due to their Bridgestone tyres, which have not been a match for the Michelins used by all the other top teams under new rules this year that say teams must use only one set throughout qualifying and the race.

But Ferrari technical director Ross Brawn has also admitted that the team did not cope as well with new regulations restricting aerodynamics as some of their rivals.

Symonds said that Renault were reaping the rewards of a decision made last summer to stop development on their 2004 car to concentrate on this year.

"We felt that we still needed a bit more of a push and needed to put things in place for 2005 that were going to affect 2004," he said.

"We couldn't say how much and I think all we can say is in retrospect it wasn't a bad decision we made. But part of evolving as a team is making sure you can do both, and that's something we're a lot better at this year."

Symonds admitted that Renault's car had not been as fast as that of title rivals McLaren, but rejected claims that the team had been lucky to win the drivers' title with Alonso.

Fernando Alonso talks to Pat Symonds in the pits
Alonso and Symonds have worked hard at Renault's reliability
"Probably one of the few things that does annoy me a little bit is when people say it's not so much you winning the championship as McLaren losing it because to me reliability is just part of the challenge of what you do," Symonds said.

"I have no doubt if I said to (Renault engine boss) Rob White: 'We're dropping behind McLaren a bit, can we have another 20bhp?' I've no doubt he could do it. In fact I know he could.

"But he'd say: 'You can have it for the first three practice sessions, but I doubt it will last until practice four.' Well that's not good engineering.

"We have got that balance a little bit better than McLaren probably this year. It is incredibly difficult to get right, but it is a question of organising yourself.

"Just because we have been better than McLaren doesn't mean we're good enough, and we're always trying to improve things that we hope will maintain our position at the top.

"It can be done - Ferrari have shown it. But equally they have shown it can turn around."



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