The Mild Seven Benetton Renault Sport team had a hectic Malaysian Grand Prix, in an incident-packed race that was governed by dramatic weather conditions. After an aborted start when Giancarlo Fisichella made a mistake finding his position on...
The Mild Seven Benetton Renault Sport team had a hectic Malaysian Grand Prix, in an incident-packed race that was governed by dramatic weather conditions.
After an aborted start when Giancarlo Fisichella made a mistake finding his position on the grid, heavy rain hit the circuit after just five minutes of the race, sending many runners spinning off the track or into the pits for an early tyre change, while the pace car came out to lead the field for six laps.
Jenson Button finished 11th with a race time of 1hr47m44.939s, while his team-mate Giancarlo Fisichella failed to finish after a fuel-pressure problem cut his race short on Lap 31.
Technical Director Mike Gascoyne explained the team's day, saying:
"This was certainly a very eventful race. Giancarlo made a mistake at the start which sent him to the back of the grid, but then after that both he and Jenson made very good starts and pulled up a lot of positions.
"When the rain began, the team made the right decision to bring both cars in at the same time. Giancarlo benefited by making up a few places, but Jenson lost time as he was second into the pits and was caught behind the pace car, which didn't wave him past.
"Giancarlo ran strongly until he stopped with a fuel pressure problem. We are very pleased that Jenson finished the race, as this reflects the hard work Renault Sport has put in on reliability since Melbourne."
His colleague, Engineering Director Pat Symonds, congratulated the team afterwards and added:
"I think today is just another step on the long path to our comeback and as I said after qualifying, we need to look for speed as well as reliability.
"We achieved some reliability today and although the cause of Giancarlo's retirement was the failure of a very small part, it was nevertheless significant enough to stop the car. Jenson drove a steady race under very difficult conditions and the team worked very well all weekend."
Jenson Button described the hazardous conditions on track, saying:
"These were really difficult to drive in. The team did a great job to get us both in to the pits when the rain started, but I got caught up behind the pace car which pulled out in front of me for some reason so I lost time while everyone else came in for their stops.
"Then I made a mistake and went off, which left me at the back, but I pulled up to finish eleventh so it was good to get the car to the finish."
His team-mate Giancarlo Fisichella had an event-packed grand prix and explained his view of the proceedings afterwards, saying:
"Well my race didn't start well as I made a mistake finding my position on the starting grid, which caused me to have to start the race from the back. Then I got a good start and managed to pull up to thirteenth.
"When the rain set in, I was lucky to get in for an early pit-stop for wet tyres, then even behind the safety car it was almost impossible to drive as the track was so wet and the rain so intense.
"After my second stop I had fuel to run to the end and was quite competitive, but a fuel pressure problem brought my race to an early end."
Finally, Managing Director Flavio Briatore summed up the team's feelings, saying:
"This is a satisfactory result as it shows we have improved on our reliability since Australia and while this is not a result to be proud of, it is some reward for the hard work done by the whole team over the winter."
He also looked ahead to the next round of the FIA 2001 Formula One World Championship in Brazil in two weeks' time, adding: "We are introducing some improvements to the car which we hope will increase our competitiveness."