GRAND PRIX INTERNATIONAL, 09.09.1981
There's one "silly season" rumour that I can clear up for you right away. I've made up my mind. I've signed for another year with Renault. To be honest, it wasn't a difficult decision to make. I had a number of offers, some of them tempting, from a number of other teams (space doesn't permit me to list them all here!) but in spite of those offers, I still have tremendous confidence in Renault. Anyway, I hadn't really thought of quitting the team.
All the same, it was two months between Gerard Larrousse posing THE question and my signing. During that time, I weighed up the pros and cons of the Renault team, and our competitors such as Brabham and Williams. I wanted to evaluate our chances for next year. Gerard Larrousse was honest with me, which made my task easier. He told me the team's plans for next year.
I can't reveal all our secrets, but I can tell you that what he said makes me very confident for the coming year. I'm not saying we're going to win everything, that would be putting the cart before the horse, but what he told me makes me impatient and optimistic.
The members of the team feel the same as I do, and I must admit that that makes me even more confident. They're already working hard for 1982. It's always good to feel that one's team is working as hard as they can, with as much determination and ambition as oneself. I think that their work is already beginning to bear fruit. We're going to be competitive right from the start of next season, because we're already working to be one jump ahead of the rest.
The doors of our design shop and workshop at Viry-Chatillon are usually hermetically sealed for the ultimate protection, but I've managed to do a little spying and can give some idea in which direction the team is working for next year.
On the engine side, the technicians are working to improve power at low revs, and also to improve .fuel consumption so we don't have to carry so much fuel. At the same time, they're trying to trim 20 kilos off the chassis to bring us down to the minimum weight limit. Our current cars weigh 605 kilos at the start, which is 20 kilos too heavy. This means that we're asking more of our tyres than we should.
So I'm optimistic, as I've said. The future looks rosy, but the present isn't so bad either. Remember one thing: our car made its race debut only four months ago at Zolder. See how much progress we've made in those four months. The car wasn't competitive. Now it's not only competitive, but also reliable. René and I had no mechanical problems throughout practice and race in Holland. What's more, at Zandvoort we used the same revs and turbo boost pressure throughout the weekend. Such progress means that we won't have to suffer the same disappomtment as we did at Österreichring where for reliability's sake, we were unable to use the same boost and revs as in practice. Consequently, we weren't as competitive in the race as we had been in practice.
The two makes of car currently in the lead of the championship, Williams and Brabham, are two years old. They've now reached a very high level of development and reliability. In comparison, we're positive beginners with our four month old RE30. And yet things are going well for it already. Now if I'd won at Silverstone and Österreichring, both races I led, I would be leader of the championship, with a relatively new car. Two more wins would have given me 46 points. But I must stop talking in ifs and buts: next year I'm going to drop them altogether.