Australian GP: Renault Saturday qualifying notes

Fisico second and Fernando third on the grid for tomorrow's Grand Prix. The Renault F1 Team secured its strongest starting positions of the 2006 season so far during qualifying for the 2006 Australian GP this afternoon at Melbourne's Albert Park...

Fisico second and Fernando third on the grid for tomorrow's Grand Prix.

The Renault F1 Team secured its strongest starting positions of the 2006 season so far during qualifying for the 2006 Australian GP this afternoon at Melbourne's Albert Park circuit. Giancarlo Fisichella qualified second, while team-mate Fernando Alonso will start from third position on the grid.

The knockout qualifying format once again proved action-packed, and extremely busy for the team as it worked to secure the best possible positions for the two drivers. The final positions were decided by the quick laps on new tyres at the end of the third session.

Giancarlo Fisichella set his fastest time on his second flying lap, in spite of some mistakes in the first part of the circuit, while Fernando Alonso was delayed by traffic in the final sector of his first timed lap after the car in front made a mistake, costing him half a second.

Even so, positions on the first and second rows represent a strong platform for tomorrow's race. Strong starts, such as the team has already produced this year, combined with the consistent pace of the R26, should see both drivers fighting for the win with Jenson Button and the two McLarens.

Giancarlo Fisichella:

"I am very pleased to be second for the race tomorrow, considering I made some small mistakes on my quickest lap. For me, the rain this morning was a bit worrying because I had lost set-up time yesterday, and I didn't get a chance to drive the car in dry conditions before qualifying. But we had made some good changes with the engineers overnight, and the car balance in qualifying was good."

"My second timed lap was faster than the first because the tyres were taking a long time to warm up, and second is a good grid position. The R26 has very good pace on the long runs, so if we get a good start, then I think we can be very strong tomorrow afternoon.

Fernando Alonso:

"I am pleased to be third because this is my best qualifying position so far this year. Even so, we still didn't achieve our maximum this afternoon, because I had Heidfeld's BMW in front of me during my quick lap, and he made a mistake in turn 13. That meant I caught him very quickly, and lost about half a second in the last two corners."

"The car felt very good though, and I am pleased with the consistent handling balance. In race conditions, I am confident we will be extremely competitive.

Pat Symonds, Executive Director of Engineering:

It proved to be another very hectic qualifying session. In addition to all the usual factors, we had to keep a close eye on the weather this afternoon. We are satisfied with our results: Fisi put in another faultless performance, while Fernando was unlucky to hit traffic on his quick lap."

"Nevertheless, we have strong starting positions and there is certainly a possibility of some strategic differences in the race. We are expecting it to come down to a three-way fight between Renault, Honda and McLaren."

Denis Chevrier, Head of Trackside Engine Operations:

"This is a very pleasing result after a day that was complicated by inconsistent weather conditions. The weather this morning meant we learned very little of use on the engine side, as the track was never properly dry. We therefore had to make our choices on gear ratios and cooling levels based on yesterday's running."

"When it came to qualifying, we have achieved a very strong team result, and it was pleasing to see both cars run trouble-free. We can legitimately hope our race strategy will prove extremely competitive, so the mood within the team is very optimistic this evening.

Giancarlo Fisichella: 2nd
Q1 1:27.765
Q2 1:26.196
Super-Pole 1:25.635

Fernando Alonso: 3rd
Q1: 1:28.569
Q2: 1:25.729
Super-Pole 1:25.778

-renault-

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Giancarlo Fisichella , Jenson Button , Fernando Alonso
Teams McLaren , Renault F1 Team