The ING Renault F1 Team enjoyed a strong afternoon in Indianapolis at the 2007 United States Grand Prix.
Heikki Kovalainen raced aggressively from sixth on the grid to a fifth place finish. After making up a position at the start, and leading Kimi Raikkonen throughout the first stint, the young Finn led a Grand Prix for the first time from laps 22 to 26 before making his first stop. He subsequently raced hard against Nick Heidfeld's, pushing the BMW to breaking point, and then brought the car home in a strong fifth place.
Giancarlo Fisichella's one-stop strategy was severely compromised by a mistake on the second lap, when he spun on his way into turn 4 and dropped from 8th position to 19th. He subsequently began a determined fightback, overtaking every car up to 11th place before making his first stop. After this point, he was able to extend his advantage over the cars behind him, but unable to make ground on the next group, some 45 seconds in front.
The 2007 US Grand Prix saw the ING Renault F1 Team out-score championship rivals BMW Sauber for the first time this season, cancelling out the three point advantage they had gained last weekend in Montreal. The team will be aiming to build on this momentum at the next round of the championship, Renault's home race in Magny Cours.
Heikki Kovalainen: 5th position
"This was another strong result for me, and I am starting to get some good momentum now. I had a good start, and when the other cars went to the inside, I braked late on the outside line and managed to overtake Raikkonen. I kept him behind until the first stop, and when he pitted, along with Heidfeld, I tried to really put the hammer down and push home the advantage. I didn't even realise I was leading the race, until I came into the pits."
"Unfortunately, though, the tyre performance just wasn't there any more -- and I lost out to Heidfeld and Raikkonen coming out of the pits. I tried to pass Nick on the way into turn 4, but couldn't make it stick, and then the tyres started graining because I was sliding around in the slipstream. But I kept pushing him and when he retired, it was just a case of pushing the car and keeping the lap-times consistent."
"The balance felt really good on both types of tyre today, and it was nice to see that we can fight BMW on pure pace in race conditions. Ferrari and McLaren are still a step ahead, but we are moving in the right direction with the car. If we keep pushing like this, we will keep on making progress back towards the front."
Giancarlo Fisichella: 9th position
"I am just really sorry about the result today. I lost the rear end going into turn 4 on lap 2, and that compromised my whole race. We had planned to do a one-stop strategy, and even with the heavy fuel load I was able to pass guys quite easily on my way back through the field. The pace was very strong today, and I even managed to overtake a few cars off-line on the outside of turn 6. I had to be aggressive and I was, but we still ended up just outside the points."
"Without the spin, I could definitely have got P6 I think, so it's a missed opportunity. The results in these two races haven't been good, but the pace of the car has, and that is encouraging as we go back to Europe. We are heading in the right direction, and there are two important races for the team coming up now. I am confident we can race with BMW, and start closing the gap in the championship.
Flavio Briatore, Managing Director:
"This was a great race for Heikki, and he did a fantastic job at the end of a perfect weekend. He put pressure on BMW and was very competitive in every stint. Giancarlo could have done something similar, but unfortunately a mistake early in the race ruined his chances. Even so, it's a positive day for us. We took points off our direct championship rivals, and need to continue this trend in the next races."
Pat Symonds, Executive Director of Engineering:
"It was another controlled and effective race for Heikki, to build on his strong result last week. He has been very competitive all weekend, and these are four more well-deserved points. Unusually, we decided to split our pit-stop strategies at this race, putting Giancarlo on a single stop. Had he not spun on lap 2, he would have finished very close to his team-mate."
"Overall, our trip to North America has shown that we are pulling our performance level back to where we want it to be, and that is certainly encouraging for everybody working so hard at the track and back at the factories. But equally we are under no illusions, and there is still more to do when we return to Europe.