The ING Renault F1 Team came away with its best finish of the season today as a brilliant tactical drive saw Brazilian rookie Nelson Piquet take second place in the German Grand Prix at Hockenheim. Teammate Fernando Alonso endured an eventful race coming home in 11th place.
As the race got underway, both Fernando and Nelson had difficult starts, with Fernando dropping to the tale end of the top ten after a combative first stint. Nelson was fuelled heavy for a long first stint as the team adopted a one stop strategy and pitted just after half distance, shortly before the safety car was deployed on lap 36.
The majority of the field, including Fernando, headed for the pits to make their second stops under the safety car, while Nelson remained out on track, gaining track position and rising through the field. When the race resumed, Nelson's one stop strategy continued to play into the team's hands as he emerged in the lead of the race in the closing stages.
In an exciting climax to the race Nelson held strong at the front, but the pace of Lewis Hamilton's McLaren proved too much as he passed the Brazilian 7 laps from home. Nelson came home in 2nd, taking his first podium in Formula 1 and scoring 8 points for the team.
Attention now turns to the Hungarian Grand Prix and next week's test session in Jerez, where the team will look to carry this momentum into the next stage of the season.
Fernando Alonso P11
"That was a difficult race for me. I had a bad start and lost several positions. Then I was on the pace but it was difficult to recover. I think that we were simply out of luck today, but we must now look forward and concentrate on the next Grand Prix."
Nelson Piquet P2
"I am obviously very happy! After qualifying yesterday I was thinking that my weekend was over, but we opted for an aggressive strategy in the race and the team made some great decisions when the safety car came out. Then I had to concentrate to keep my pace up and look after my tyres as much as possible towards the end of the race. I knew that Lewis was much faster than me, so I did not want to take any pointless risks. This second place today is a great reward for the whole team."
Flavio Briatore, Managing Director ING Renault F1 Team
"Nelson had an amazing race. He proved to be very fast towards the end of the race and was able to remain strong under enormous pressure. He was not able to hold off Hamilton who was much faster, but he was able to defend his second place strongly. I am delighted for him and for the team who really deserve this result."
Pat Symonds, Executive Director of Engineering
"Today we were lucky, but I still believe we made our own luck and our decision to go long with Nelson paid off as the safety car came out at the ideal moment! Nelson's driving after that was impeccable. He was under pressure and did everything we asked of him. I'd like to congratulate him and hope this is the start of a better time for him. While Nelson had some luck today, it totally deserted Fernando. He had a difficult race and none of the breaks went his way, but we know Fernando always gives his best. Today's race will make him even more determined for Hungary."