Circuit de Catalunya
Renault RS27 engine scores fourth victory of season in Spanish Grand Prix
The Renault RS27 engine powered Red Bull Racing’s Sebastian Vettel to his fourth victory of the year in the Spanish Grand Prix held at the Circuit de Catalunya today. The 4.655km Spanish track demands driveability and responsiveness from engines, particularly through the flowing bends on the back section. The long pit straight however demands acceleration and power, which Sebastian used to great effect to secure his second consecutive victory and make it four out of five wins this season.
The reliability and performance of the RS27 also aided Mark Webber to fourth position, while Lotus Renault GP’s Nick Heidfeld crossed the flag in eighth despite starting from the back of the grid. Team mate Vitaly Petrov finished just outside the points in 11th.
Team Lotus’ Jarno Trulli claimed 18th however Heikki Kovalainen’s race came to a premature end when he made contact with the barriers on lap 52.
Red Bull Racing-Renault therefore retains the lead of the drivers’ and constructors’ titles, with Sebastian extending his advantage over Lewis Hamilton. The win is the 134th for a Renault engine in F1 and takes the RS27 points’ total in 2011 to 231.
Key race weekend points:
Red Bull Racing
Red Bull had a strong practice, with Mark Webber topping the timesheets in both FP1 and FP2. Sebastian Vettel was second and then third quickest. The final practice before qualifying again finished with the Red Bulls on top, however Sebastian was able to complete just six laps when his car developed an electrical issue connected to the engine. The problem was quickly identified and rectified. Qualifying saw the RS27 power Mark to his first pole of the season, with Sebastian Vettel second.
Mark however lost his advantage at the first corner when Alonso and Sebastian squeezed past into first and second respectively. An extra lap on new tyres was enough to give Sebastian the lead from Lewis Hamilton and despite strong pressure in the closing stages of the race the reigning world champion held on to secure another win. Mark remained in touch with the leaders and took Alonso for third at his final pit stop. Sebastian now has 118 points, with Mark third in the championship with 67.
Lotus Renault GP
The opening day of practice was a good one for Lotus Renault GP’s Nick Heidfeld, who brought the R31 home in the top ten in both sessions. Vitaly Petrov was 11th and 12th quickest, limited slightly by a KERS issue. Unfortunately Nick was not able to participate in qualifying after a dramatic fire in FP3. On inspection the team discovered a large hole in the primary right hand exhaust pipe and, with the increased heat, the bodywork caught fire. His engine was changed as a precaution to the unit used in China and Turkey.
Vitaly however had a very strong qualifying, putting his R31 into sixth position, equalling his best-ever qualifying performance in F1. Despite starting from the rear of the grid Nick made full advantage of having new tyres available for every stint and claimed eighth at the finish, within sight of Rosberg in seventh. Vitaly finished in 11th just outside the points. The team retains fourth in the constructors’ title race, with 46 points overall. Nick has 25 points with Vitaly 21, sitting in 7th and 9th respectively in the drivers’ title race.
Team Lotus, running a significant new aero package this weekend, again showed a step forward, with Heikki Kovalainen equalling the team’s highest ever qualifying slot in 15th and Jarno Trulli just behind in 16th. Both drivers demonstrated a strong pace throughout the race, with Jarno matching the times of the midfield, but Heikki’s race came to a premature end on lap 52 when he ran wide at turn four and made contact with the barriers. Jarno used a three stop strategy to finish in 18th, despite having a cracked exhaust pipe that affected overall performance.
Rémi Taffin, head of Renault Sport F1 track operations
Congratulations to Sebastian for another great victory, giving the Red Bull Racing - Renault Sport F1 partnership four out of five wins so far this season. Sebastian extended his lead in the drivers’ championship while Red Bull is still on top in the constructors’, so it’s been a good day overall.
Nick did a good job to score some more points
Nick did a good job to score some more points in eighth, particularly after sitting out qualifying yesterday. We tried to give Nick as much power as we could without sacrificing performance and having too much fuel in the end – it worked pretty well, Nick did a really good job and was even close to taking another place. Vitaly had a harder race, starting three of the four stints on used tyres, so unfortunately just missed out on the points in 11th.
The driveability of the Renault RS27 coupled with the aero upgrades brought to this race continued to edge Team Lotus closer to the midfield and Jarno in particular demonstrated a good pace in the early stages of the race. Later on a couple of issues occurred that compromised his overall speed but the potential is there and we’ve gathered a lot of data that will help us understand how to maximise the whole package over the coming races.
Renault statistics in F1:
134 wins, 180 poles, 253 podiums
Source: Renault Sport