Renault RS27 engine takes second consecutive win of 2011 season
The Renault RS27 took its second consecutive victory of the 2011 FIA Formula One World Championship in the Malaysian Grand Prix, with Red Bull Racing’s reigning world champion, Sebastian Vettel, winning a dramatic race, three seconds ahead of Jenson Button. To further demonstrate the performance of the RS27, Lotus Renault GP’s Nick Heidfeld took third position, with Red Bull’s Mark Webber fourth, giving Renault three of the top four positions.
Vettel’s win is the 17th for the Red Bull Racing-Renault partnership and the 132th F1 win for a Renault engine. In fact if you go back to last season, a RBR-Renault has won the last four races.
Team Lotus, also powered by the RS27, finished with Heikki Kovalainen in 15th position, not far from the Scuderia Toro Rosso of Buemi, marking a strong performance from the Anglo-Malaysian squad on its home ground. Jarno Trulli however retired with a clutch failure on lap 32.
After a highly impressive race that confirmed his Australia performance, Lotus Renault GP’s Vitaly Petrov, raced strongly in the top 10 and until the closing stages looked set to give LRGP its first double points finish of the season, however ran slightly wide on the rubber marbles on lap 49 and onto a kerb. He was dramatically lifted into the air and came to rest on the grass on the other side of the track. A retirement did not pay justice to his race performance however his pace confirmed the competitiveness of the R31 chassis-RS27 package this year.
Key race points:
Red Bull Racing
Sebastian Vettel kept the lead from pole position, easing out a gap of seven seconds over Nick Heidfeld until his first pit stop on lap 13. On his second stint he came under pressure from Lewis Hamilton before making a second stop on lap 25. Jenson Button then came close to the German although a third and final stop put him definitively ahead. Although coming under increased pressure from Button in the final stages he finished over three seconds clear to put himself 24 points ahead of Button in the drivers’ championship. Mark Webber used a four stop strategy and came within touching distance of Heidfeld in the last laps. The Australian had a hard start, falling to ninth but however graduated to a strong fourth and was less than one second from his securing his first podium of the season.
Lotus Renault GP
Nick Heidfeld achieved his first points finish with LRGP after a stunning race performance. The German moved up to second at the start, which he held until his pit stop. He remained in touch with the leading pack and was fourth for his third stop on lap 39. He pulled off a bold move on Lewis Hamilton through the first turn with four laps to go and then withstood sustained pressure from Mark Webber in the closing stages to take his first podium since the 2009 Malaysian Grand Prix. Vitaly Petrov similarly had a great start, putting his LRGP into fifth on the opening lap but lost two places on lap six when he ran off line. He looked set to finish in fifth but retired on lap 49 when he went off line and damaged the steering column mount.
Heikki Kovalainen made up two places at the start and used a two stop strategy to graduate to 15th position at the close of the race. He pitted on lap 16, remaining on the option tyres, and then again on lap 33 to move to the harder prime tyres. Running as high as 13th at points in the race, his pace demonstrated the improved pace of the Lotus-RS27 package and he finished on the same lap as the Toro Rossos on pace. Jarno Trulli similarly tried to employ a two stop strategy but retired before his scheduled stop with a clutch sensor problem.
Rémi Taffin, Renault Sport F1 track operations manager, gives his views on the race weekend:
"We thought the Australia result was fantastic, but I would say this feels even better, with the win, another podium and three of the top four positions. The high temperatures, humidity and long straights always put the engines under pressure but we were really pleased with how the RS27 behaved over the race weekend. Even though each of the engines were on their second race, we were able to deliver the same driveability to our partners.
RSF1 took a total of 52 points from this race, again the most of any other engine manufacturer, and now have two teams in the top four of the constructors’ championship. With this result we’ve shown that all our teams are still making progress and the respective chassis-engine packages are working in harmony.
Congratulations to all at Red Bull and Lotus Renault GP for great races for all four drivers. It wasn’t an easy run for anyone out there today. Sebastian had to fight to the end of the race and Mark also had a tough ride, but a 1-4 finish demonstrates the package is working as competitively as in Melbourne. It was fantastic to see Nick back on the podium as well, he really showed great form. Vitaly also and it was a shame for him to lose out on points in the final stages of the race.
We’ve now got two races under our belts with our newest partners Team Lotus and have seen them make very steady progress. The results are really showing on the track now and it was encouraging to see Heikki racing with the Toro Rossos. I think they are not far from the midfield now at all. It was a shame Jarno couldn’t make it to the finish, but I think everyone can be very proud of the progress that is now being taken.
For the RSF1 team at the track and at Viry it’s made us even more motivated to keep this form going and we’ll be working even harder in preparation for the Chinese Grand Prix in just a couple of days’ time."