After a breathtaking race, which saw both Renault F1 Team drivers start from the front row, Fernando Alonso and Jarno Trulli finished in 3rd and 5th places respectively. The start was a high-pressure affair for the Renault F1 Team:...
After a breathtaking race, which saw both Renault F1 Team drivers start from the front row, Fernando Alonso and Jarno Trulli finished in 3rd and 5th places respectively.
The start was a high-pressure affair for the Renault F1 Team: in temperatures higher than 35C, Fernando Alonso and Jarno Trulli started from the front row, Renault's best qualifying performance since 1983. The two R23's made a perfect getaway as the lights went out, but there was drama as soona s the second corner, with Michael Schumacher colliding with Jarno and spinning him into the gravel trap. Fortunately, the Italian managed to restart without damage to the car.
Fernando led the first thirteen laps, until making his first pitstop. He left the pits behind Kimi Raikkonen, defending second place. Unfortunately, the Spaniard suffered from technical difficulties: the automatic upshift failed on the car, and he then lost fifth gear. In spite of setting lap times below his true pace, he nevertheless managed to keep Rubens Barrichello behind. He lost second place as he made his second stop, with the Brazilian making the most of the empty track, but Fernando held third place until the finish. His podium was the first for a 100% Renault car since Patrick Tambay at Imola, 1985, and the champagne corks were soon popping in the garage!
For Jarno, the race was like one long qualifying run. After climbing back up the field and into the top eight, his pitstop cost him more than 20 seconds...and he then spun while attacking Jenson Button for fifth. However, his pressure paid off as he took fifth place on the last lap.
The result was ten more points for the Renault F1 Team, who now occupy third position in the Championship with 16 points.
"Today is the best day of my life. It's a great feeling to finish on the the podium, especially since halfway through the race I started to have problems with my gearbox and I was forced to shift manually until the end. Frankly, I thought I wasn't going to finish and instead I got this great result! I am sorry for Jarno because he could have had a podium finish as well but we both scored points and that's very good. A big thank you to everyone in the team to whom I dedicate this first podium."
"Honestly I think we missed a good opportunity today. Everything was going smoothly but then Michael pushed me out. He eventually apologised but at that point, my race had been spoiled. I incurred in other problems, such as a long pitstop and I had to fight till the end to keep my position. Certainly my fifth place brings some more points to myself and the team, however, I am disappointed because I feel I could have done better."
Flavio Briatore, Managing Director, Mild Seven Renault F1 Team:
"This was an excellent weekend for us. We proved that our choices in terms of strategy were correct. It's a shame for Jarno, who drove a very good race and, had it not been for his collision caused by Michael Schumacher, we could have a had a double-podium finish. Fernando drove a superb race and I am delighted of the good points that both drivers brought to the team. It's an important day for Renault: it's our first podium since the beginning of our re-entry challenge in Formula One as a full-work team and we are all very proud and happy."
Mike Gascoyne, Technical Director, Mild Seven Renault F1 Team:
"It's a fantastic result for the team. Jarno's first lap was spoiled by Michael Schumacher. He had also some problems in the pit-stop. Without this, I'm sure he would have finished fourth. Fernando drove a fantastic race considering that he had an electronic problem just before his last stop which meant that he had to shift manually. We had a very strong, competitive weekend and I hope we will achieve with the same good result again this season."
Denis Chevrier, Engine Operations Manager, Mild Seven Renault F1 Team:
"Both drivers did a superb job even though they had few problems during the race. The performance of both cars was excellent and it's a very encouraging sign to have scored valuable points in the first two races of the season."
Fernando Alonso: 3rd
best time: 1:37.078
best time: 1:37.484