The Renault F1 Team negotiated a trouble-free qualifying session this afternoon at Intelagos to place its cars fourth and sixth on the grid for tomorrow's season-ending Brazilian Grand Prix. In the highest track temperatures seen so far this ...
The Renault F1 Team negotiated a trouble-free qualifying session this afternoon at Intelagos to place its cars fourth and sixth on the grid for tomorrow's season-ending Brazilian Grand Prix.
In the highest track temperatures seen so far this weekend, the Renault drivers showed competitive form throughout the hour-long qualifying session, consistently setting times among the top 6 fastest runners. As ever in Interlagos, the short lap means the gaps are extremely close: for example, the six hundredths of a second separating Fernando and Giancarlo equated to two grid positions this afternoon.
After the session, both drivers said they were pleased with the handling balance of the R26, and the weekend's practice sessions have shown the car is competitive on long runs on used tyres. As ever, the shape of the grid reflects varying fuel loads as well as the pure pace of the different cars, and the team is confident that its solid work throughout the weekend will pay off in tomorrow's race.
Fernando Alonso, 4th position:
"The target this afternoon was to be in the top five, so I am very happy with this position. Starting from the second row is perfect for our approach this weekend, and so far everything is going to plan. Obviously, the problem for Michael is another bit of help for us, not just for me but for the team as well in the constructors' championship, and we will take anything we can get."
"So things are looking better for us, for sure, but we cannot write him off and it doesn't change my approach. Tomorrow, my aim will be to get a good start and fight at the front. We know that the R26 has the pace to do it."
Giancarlo Fisichella, 6th position:
"The times are really, really close this afternoon, and I am not totally happy to be back in sixth because the target was the second row. Obviously, I am fighting with Massa for third place in the drivers' championship, so it means I have a harder job for the race."
"Considering what happened in Suzuka, I managed to finish on the podium starting from sixth, so we are confident that the car will have good race pace. It is a long and demanding Grand Prix here and there are usually plenty of incidents, but we cannot count on that. I will need an aggressive race tomorrow to try and beat Felipe."
Pat Symonds, Executive Director of Engineering:
"Our day went reasonably to plan -- the aim was to have the cars around the second row and we are in a good position. I think both cars are on competitive fuel loads relative to those around us, and they demonstrated strong pace in practice. Considering our targets this weekend, it is naturally pleasing to see Fernando starting ahead of his main rival."
"But we have sympathy for Michael's situation, and plenty of respect for him as well. We know that he can still be a danger to us from tenth position and we are not discounting him at all. Tomorrow's race has all the ingredients to make it a worthy finale to a thrilling championship."
Denis Chevrier, Head of Trackside Engine Operations:
"This morning's running in practice, coupled with the early stages of the qualifying session, made it clear that we were not able to fight for the front row. Once we had recognised this, the second or third row was our logical objective, unless we were going to seriously compromise our race strategy in a bid for glory. We did not do so, and as usual focused our work on tomorrow's race."
"We saw that the car was quick in the early stages of qualifying, and the performance was also there in practice, so we can be confident of a strong showing in the Grand Prix. From an engine point of view, the cars demonstrated competitive top speeds and we had no incidents on either V8. But this afternoon's qualifying session gave us another object lesson in how quickly the balance of power can shift, and there will be no complacency as we work towards our target tomorrow.