The ING Renault F1 Team endured a tough afternoon today in wet-dry conditions at the 2007 Chinese Grand Prix. Starting from P13 (Heikki Kovalainen) and P18 (Giancarlo Fisichella), and with rain forecast for much of the race, the team chose to fuel...
The ING Renault F1 Team endured a tough afternoon today in wet-dry conditions at the 2007 Chinese Grand Prix. Starting from P13 (Heikki Kovalainen) and P18 (Giancarlo Fisichella), and with rain forecast for much of the race, the team chose to fuel the cars heavy for a planned one-stop strategy. The race began in wet conditions and intermittent showers doused the circuit for the first fifteen laps, meaning both drivers ran Bridgestone's wet tyres.
However, the heavy fuel load left both Heikki and Giancarlo struggling with an inconsistent handling balance, and they lost time relative to the lighter-fuelled cars around them. The team made the switch to dry tyres at the correct time, and at this point, with little hope of a points finish, decided to split its strategies: Giancarlo was light fuelled and therefore needed to make another stop before the end of the race, while Heikki was fuelled to the finish.
With his lighter fuel load, Giancarlo was extremely competitive and ran as high as P5 as he tried to build a big enough gap to his competitors to emerge in front after his final stop. Ultimately, he failed by several seconds, and the Renault drivers ran within five seconds of each other to the finish, chasing the Red Bulls of Coulthard and Webber to the flag.
While the team scored zero points today for the first time since the 2006 Hungarian Grand Prix, the R27 proved encouragingly competitive in the dry conditions at the end of the race (with Giancarlo setting fourth fastest lap of the race), while results elsewhere confirmed the ING Renault F1 Team's final position in the 2007 constructors' championship.
Heikki Kovalainen: 9th
"The start of the race was a disaster for me: I made a good start and climbed three positions, but the understeer was just really bad, with low grip. Four cars passed me, and I lost too much time. We changed to dry tyres at exactly the right time, and after that the car was pretty good."
"In the middle of the race, I lost time in a very strange way: Kimi had just lapped me but he was on old wet tyres, while my dry tyres were new. I couldn't pass off-line because it was wet, and I didn't want to have an accident with a front runner, so I lost about seven or eight seconds until I could overtake him. After that, I pushed as hard as possible, but I couldn't get past David at the end: I was quicker, but not by enough."
"The car ended up running pretty well in the dry, but this result is because of my mistake in qualifying yesterday: without it, I would have been in the top ten, with a better result. The team deserved a better result than we got, as the potential was in the car to be fourth, and I'm sorry we couldn't do it for them today. Now we need to go to Brazil, and just go for broke."
Giancarlo Fisichella: 11th
"I did my best all the way through today, but I think we could have done better with the strategy. The car was very heavy and inconsistent at the start, and we could have been much faster on a lighter fuel load. We changed to dry tyres at the right moment, and after that, I knew I had one more stop to make so I just pushed to the limit. It nearly worked for us, but we just ran out of time. It is frustrating to finish only eleventh after overtaking so many cars today, especially because we were capable of more."
Pat Symonds, Executive Director of Engineering:
"The difficult, changing conditions and our poor starting positions made for a challenging afternoon. We tried to cover all angles with two different strategies midway through the race, and they turned out to be very similar. Ultimately, though, we did not have the pace when it mattered at the critical points of the weekend. However, our position in the constructors' championship is now sealed, and we will aim to round the year off strongly during what promises to be an exciting weekend in Interlagos.
Denis Chevrier, Head of Trackside Engine Operations:
"The weather played a critical role in the strategic choices we made yesterday afternoon and this morning, and the unexpected, changeable wet-dry conditions meant those choices failed to pay off today. Clearly, we were not helped by our starting positions of thirteenth and eighteenth, and it is frustrating to fall just short of the points and miss out on the opportunity to take advantage of the conditions. We must now move on to Brazil, learn what we can from this race, and look to finish the year with a strong race where we achieve our full potential."