The Renault F1 Team scored its second double podium finish of the 2006 season this afternoon, as Fernando Alonso won the Spanish Grand Prix from pole position, while team-mate Giancarlo Fisichella finished third. The result marks Fernando's first...
The Renault F1 Team scored its second double podium finish of the 2006 season this afternoon, as Fernando Alonso won the Spanish Grand Prix from pole position, while team-mate Giancarlo Fisichella finished third. The result marks Fernando's first ever win at his home Grand Prix, and delighted the 130,000 strong crowd that packed the Circuit de Catalunya this afternoon.
The Spanish Grand Prix was always going to be a race about tyres. After proving their first lap performance in yesterday's qualifying session, the Michelin tyres in fact revealed their strongest suit to be consistency in race conditions, as Fernando Alonso made the most of the speed of the R26 to beat Ferrari on pure pace. Team-mate Giancarlo Fisichella struggled with inconsistent handling in the opening stint, and lost ground to his team-mate, but drove strongly after the stops to take the final podium position.
The Renault F1 Team's total of 16 points from this race extends the Constructors' Championship lead over Ferrari to 19 points. Fernando Alonso now leads the Drivers' Championship by 15 points on a total of 54 from six races, while Giancarlo Fisichella took his score to 24 points, and is now just 3 points behind Kimi Raikkonen in third place. This victory also marked Renault's 100th Grand Prix victory with Elf, a series begun back in 1979 at the French Grand Prix.
Fernando Alonso, Winner:
"This has been a day of so many emotions for me, and I think I will remember every moment. The first highlight was my drive with the King around the circuit in a Renault Megane this morning, then the start, the first laps when I could see we had the pace, around the pit-stops with the crowd jumping in the stands when Michael came out behind me, the final laps with so much emotion in the car. And finally the in-lap, soaking up the amazing atmosphere made by these brilliant supporters, my people."
"The R26 was perfect today -- we only made one small change for the balance, but I could push all the way through the race. I didn't get a good start and Fisico reacted better than me, but after that, everything was perfect. I expected Ferrari to be stronger in the race, but today, I think we got the maximum from the Renault-Michelin package. Thank you to everybody at the team, this is another dream come true.
Giancarlo Fisichella, 3rd position
"We arrived in Spain looking to get on the podium and we did exactly that, even though Ferrari were strong this weekend. I got a fantastic start and things were close with Fernando into the first corner, but he had the advantage and I let him go. After that, the balance of the car was not perfect, and so even though I was pulling away from Michael in the stint, it was not enough to stay ahead at the stops."
"We made some changes to give less oversteer and so when I came out behind him, I was pushing hard, and made a small mistake which put me in the gravel at Turn 3. But I didn't lose a position, and then just pushed hard to keep Massa behind in the second stops. We had a good pace in that stint, and I kept third quite easily, then looked after everything to the finish. This was a good race for me, and a strong way to bounce back from the last races. I am very optimistic for Monaco, one of my favourite circuits."
Flavio Briatore, Managing Director:
"Renault scored an incredible team result this afternoon. Fernando and Giancarlo were perfect, we made the right choices with the strategy and beat Ferrari fair and square. Apart from Renault and Ferrari, the other teams just didn't seem to have the pace to stay with us today. This is a fantastic day for all of Renault, to win in Spain with Fernando, and to have both our drivers on the podium: it is a real team win. We must thank Michelin as well."
"I had been a bit pessimistic coming here, but this race showed they are pushing hard to win the championship, which is what we need through the summer. Congratulations to Elf also on their hundredth victory with Renault. We know there are many more still to come.
Pat Symonds, Executive Director of Engineering:
"To be perfectly honest, I was not too optimistic about our chances before this afternoon's race, as Ferrari had looked extremely competitive on their long runs in practice. This afternoon's double podium was all about the pace of our car and drivers, not strategy."
"Fernando drove faultlessly today. We knew the Michelin tyres had strong first lap performance, but we had only had one new set left to use with Fernando, and therefore the victory would be dictated by the consistency of the tyres. They held up fantastically, and allowed us to beat Ferrari on outright speed."
"Giancarlo also put in an excellent performance, and backed up Fernando perfectly during the race. He was driving on the limit throughout and apart from one excursion after his first pit-stop, he was faultless. This result is a great credit to our drivers, and to the whole team both here at the track, and back at Enstone and Viry."