Renault RS27 engine takes win in Australia with Red Bull Racing
Renault Sport F1 had a perfect start to the season, as Red Bull Racing’s Sebastian Vettel, powered by the Renault RS27 engine, took a dominant victory from pole position in the Australian Grand Prix, held at Melbourne’s Albert Park circuit. After 58 laps the reigning world champion finished over 22 seconds ahead of Lewis Hamilton to take the championship lead. Renault’s strong form continued as Vitaly Petrov drove a faultless race to put his Lotus Renault GP – also powered by the RS27 – into third position, giving Renault two of the three podium positions.
Vettel’s team-mate Mark Webber came home in fifth position, giving Renault engines a total of 50 points from the first race of the year. Nick Heidfeld moved up four places from his grid starting slot to finish his first race with Lotus Renault GP in 14th position.
Renault Sport F1’s newest partners, Team Lotus, achieved their first finish with the Renault RS27 as Jarno Trulli came home in 15th overall. Heikki Kovalainen unfortunately retired on lap 20 with a water leak, but nevertheless the teams of engineers have gelled well and have developed a strong platform for the future.
Key race points:
Red Bull Racing
Vettel starts from pole position. He keeps the lead from the start and builds a cushion of 2.4secs over the first lap. He pits on lap 14 for another set of soft tyres and cruises past Button on the following lap. By lap 17 he is back in the lead, which he maintains until the end of the race, easing out a 22sec advantage over Hamilton. Webber gets a good start and holds third, however uses a three-stop strategy. After his final stop he drops behind Alonso and finishes in fifth.
Lotus Renault GP
Petrov starts on the soft tyres from sixth position, his best-ever qualifying result, and jumps to fourth at the start behind Vettel, Hamilton and Webber. He stays with the pack until his first pit stop on lap 16 but maintains his position until moving into third on lap 26. A second stop drops him back but he regains third three-quarters of the way through and withstands strong pressure from Alonso in the closing stages. Heidfeld uses a two stop strategy to finish his first GP for Lotus Renault in 14th.
Kovalainen starts on the option tyres from 19th position. He pits from 18th on lap 17 however his race comes to a premature end on lap 20 with a water leak on a radiator. Trulli starts one place behind his team-mate in 20th, but on the prime tyres. He uses a two stop strategy to move up five places and finish in 15th position.
Rémi Taffin, Renault Sport F1 track operations manager, gives his views on the race weekend:
A perfect start to the season for Renault Sport F1, with a pole position and win for the RS27 with partners Red Bull Racing. How did this race weekend go for the RSF1 team?
I think it went very smoothly and as planned for the team. We finished exactly on target, with a pole position and two out of the three podium positions with Red Bull Racing and Lotus Renault GP. The Renault RS27 engine performed very well and although it wasn’t easy throughout the weekend with the high level of competition, we achieved our aims and scored more points than any of the other engine manufacturers. It’s fair to say that everyone at Renault Sport F1 contributed to this result so thanks to all of them.
Sebastian Vettel won the race and Mark Webber also had a strong GP, coming home in fifth. Do you think Red Bull is looking as strong as last year already?
The Red Bull Renault partnership is very strong and is certainly building on the results of the previous years. Sebastian drove a perfect race and used the RS27 very well to easily win the first race of the year. Mark had a good race and it was unfortunate that he lost out in the last pit stop to Fernando. For sure there is more to come. If we look at the first race we know we are strong, but we know we will have to keep pushing on to stay ahead as the others will want to close that gap. There are a lot of competitive teams in the field today but all the elements are there for Red Bull to repeat this form in Malaysia.
Do you think there is more to come from the team and its partnership with Renault?
Yes, and it’s clear that we’re starting in really good shape this year. We need to keep on trying to stay ahead and get the best from the partnership. We will do our best for our partners.
And two Renault engines on the podium with Vitaly Petrov taking third position in the Lotus Renault GP car.
It was a very strong result for Vitaly and he and the team can be very proud of the result. It’s not easy to lose a team-mate in the off season but he has risen to the challenge very well and clearly did a very good job in the Grand Prix to score his best result so far, and bring Renault engines two of the three podium positions. He drove every lap like a qualifying lap and it shows just how good he can be and how strong the Lotus Renault and the RS27 package can be this year.
And Team Lotus achieved their first finish with the RS27, with Jarno Trulli finishing in 15th. How is this relationship developing?
We are very happy with the relationship with Team Lotus and are enjoying working together. It is clear it is going in the right direction and it’s obvious the steps that need to be taken on both our sides to get the team to where they want to be to achieve their goals. Unfortunately Heikki had to retire with a water leak, but the engine is OK for the next round in Malaysia. Jarno had a fairly trouble-free race and we were able to get an indication of the pace and how to build on this start in the coming races.
The RS27 performed reliably over the weekend and scored more points than any other engine in the field. Have you been encouraged by the performance this weekend?
For sure one race is not the end of an engine’s life and we know we have a long way to go yet, but the RS27 worked well within all of our partner team’s frameworks and proved we were well prepared over the winter. We will be able to reuse all the engines in Sepang again and all are in good shape as per our plan. We’ve been delighted with the entire weekend.