The Renault F1 Team took second and fifth positions this afternoon in qualifying for the 2006 Monaco Grand Prix, with Fernando Alonso leading team-mate Giancarlo Fisichella. This was the strongest combined team result of the afternoon. As ...
The Renault F1 Team took second and fifth positions this afternoon in qualifying for the 2006 Monaco Grand Prix, with Fernando Alonso leading team-mate Giancarlo Fisichella. This was the strongest combined team result of the afternoon.
As expected, the session proved frantic on the narrow circuit, with on-track incidents and traffic making it difficult to get a clear timed lap on new tyres. Both Renault drivers came through the opening two knockout sessions without difficulty, and the R26 was performing well.
With two runs on new tyres planned for the super-pole session, the drivers completed their first run without difficulty, both setting competitive times. They were in the middle of even quicker ones, in the final minutes of the session, when both were forced to back off in the final sector for the Ferrari of Michael Schumacher, which was positioned across the circuit in Rascasse. This certainly cost Fernando Alonso pole, and Giancarlo Fisichella a position on the first two rows.
Nevertheless, the team remains optimistic for tomorrow's race, and encouraged by the performance of the R26 and its Michelin tyres on long runs.
Fernando Alonso, 2nd position:
"I would have been on pole for sure today, without the problem on the final lap. I think we had a very good strategy for qualifying and the performance from the Michelin tyres was fantastic. So to lose my fastest lap through an accident for somebody else is not a good moment, but I suppose these things happen in Monaco..."
"For the race, I am optimistic that we have a good set-up, and something more in the Michelin tyres that will help us against our rivals. The car was excellent today, so I hope I can fight for the win tomorrow.
Giancarlo Fisichella, 5th position:
"This qualifying session turned out pretty much as we expected, with a lot of traffic and then yellow flags on the last timed lap, when I found Schumacher in the middle of the penultimate corner. Fifth position is not what I had expected from qualifying today, but this is a long race where everything is possible. The balance of the car is good for the race, and the R26 has been easy to drive. I am still very confident for the race.
Pat Symonds, Executive Director of Engineering:
"There was a lot of speculation before qualifying about how difficult the session would be in Monaco, and indeed it was a very fraught hour. A lot of judgement was needed as to when to use new tyres, but the management of the traffic was still largely down to luck. We were very pleased with the performance of the cars throughout the session, but extremely surprised to see Michael make a suspicious mistake at the end of the super-pole that looked as if it had come from a novice driver -- not a world champion."
"There is no doubt that this cost us pole position, and both our drivers had their fastest laps spoiled. Nevertheless, we have Fernando on the front row, and Giancarlo in fifth position. The car has been quick and easy to drive all weekend, and the Michelin tyres seem to be relishing the hot conditions. Everything looks extremely positive for tomorrow's race.
Denis Chevrier, Head of Trackside Engine Operations:
"The most encouraging part of today's running, was to see our drivers take the strongest team result on the grid for tomorrow's race -- even though we are certain it could have been even better, were it not for a very dubious incident involving Schumacher's Ferrari."
"The only thing we can now do is focus on the positives: we know the car has the pace to fight for the win, and we have completed a lot of incident-free laps in practice in preparation for the race. Overall, it has been a good day -- with some disappointment in the final minutes of qualifying. We expect tomorrow to be even better.