The Renault F1 Team departs Monza with mixed feelings after enduring a controversial and difficult weekend at the Italian Grand Prix. Fernando Alonso had climbed from tenth position on the grid to third place following his second and final ...
The Renault F1 Team departs Monza with mixed feelings after enduring a controversial and difficult weekend at the Italian Grand Prix.
Fernando Alonso had climbed from tenth position on the grid to third place following his second and final pit-stop, when an engine failure -- his first in nearly three years -- forced him to retire on lap 44. In the second R26, Giancarlo Fisichella drove a strong, consistent race with a one-stop strategy to finish fourth. The Italian's five points saw him gain ground on Felipe Massa in the drivers' championship, and he now sits in fourth position, trailing the Brazilian by just five points.
Although the final round of the European season presented the team with numerous obstacles, it also contains reason to be optimistic for the final races of the championship. Michelin's strong qualifying and race performance would have been sufficient for Alonso to race for the victory had his weekend not been handicapped by off-track events, and the overall competitiveness of the R26 was extremely encouraging as both drivers made up a significant number of places during the race.
As the teams head to the final three flyaway races of the year, each championship is delicately poised, with Alonso leading the Drivers' title by two points -- and Renault trailing Ferrari by three points in the Constructors'. It promises to be a fascinating final leg of the championship as Renault races flat out to secure both titles.
Giancarlo Fisichella, 4th position:
"This wasn't an easy race by any means, starting from ninth position and running with a heavy fuel load for long parts of the race. But the Michelin tyres were extremely consistent, the car balance was good and I managed to make up five positions. Obviously, this has been a tough day for the team, with Fernando retiring and Renault losing the lead of the championship. "O
"n a personal level, I have made up ground on Massa for third in the drivers' title, and the encouraging thing is that our performance was very strong at this circuit. We have a small deficit in the constructors' championship, but will keep on fighting to the end. The team will be doing everything to win both titles."
Fernando Alonso, Retired (engine failure):
"There is not too much to say on a day like this. When you start from tenth, you have to push everything to the limit -- yourself, the car, the tyres and the engine. I was going to easily finish on the podium today, and we showed that without the penalty, the car had the pace to fight for the victory."
"Michelin have shown a great response with the tyres for this race, and I am not worried about the title. We have three rounds to go, and we will be getting stronger and stronger with new developments for the car, the tyres and the engine. But the verdict on this weekend is simple: the race was decided off the track on Saturday afternoon."
Flavio Briatore, Managing Director:
"Nobody is ever happy to break an engine, but that is part of the sport. The problem comes when it is not just the sport that influences the outcome of races and championships. Fernando did the maximum possible from his grid position, and would have finished on the podium easily. The team did a fantastic job in the pit-stops to get him out in front of Kubica; in fact, they performed faultlessly all weekend."
"Giancarlo drove a strong race too, and his points will be important in the constructors' championship. Now, we have to prepare properly for the three final races of the season. The team is strong, and we are still fighting very hard."
Pat Symonds, Executive Director of Engineering:
"This was a tough weekend for the team in every respect. We all feel very sorry for Fernando, who endured troubles on and off the track here in Monza. It was a bitter blow to lose an engine for the first time in nearly three years with a failure in the bottom end, and especially after he had overcome his qualifying penalty to secure a podium finish. Fisi drove a strong race today, and his fourth position is well deserved."
"Looking at the standings, things are clearly very tight. At Renault, we have nothing to lose, and will be racing aggressively until the last lap of the last race. We know the car is quick, and that we have plenty of upgrades coming in the weeks ahead. To all intents and purposes, the World Championship starts here.