The Mild Seven Benetton Renault Sport team had a satisfactory start to the 2001 Formula One season at the Australian Grand Prix, in a race that was marred by the tragic death of a safety marshal. The marshal died from injuries sustained after an...
The Mild Seven Benetton Renault Sport team had a satisfactory start to the 2001 Formula One season at the Australian Grand Prix, in a race that was marred by the tragic death of a safety marshal. The marshal died from injuries sustained after an accident on lap six involving the BAR of Jacques Villeneuve and the Williams of Ralf Schumacher.
Mild Seven Benetton Renault Sport Managing Director Flavio Briatore summed up the sombre feelings of everyone in the paddock when he said afterwards:
"The thoughts of the whole team go out to the family of the marshal who tragically died in the race. This extremely sad event clouds the results today."
The race itself was one of attrition, which saw Giancarlo Fisichella come home 13th in chassis no. B201/03 after completing 55 laps in 1hr38:50:501s.
His team-mate Jenson Button failed to finish, stopping in the closing minutes of the race after completing 52 laps in chassis no. B201/01 in a time of 1hr33:33:401s.
Team Technical Director Mike Gascoyne said afterwards that he was satisfied with the result.
"We are very pleased to have got one car to the finish and the other so close to the end," he explained. "Our cars were running competitively until they both suffered what we think were exhaust failures, which meant we lost a lot of power, but I am very pleased as Renault Sport introduced a new spec. engine for this race with the aim of increasing reliability and this was certainly achieved today.
"Jenson was forced to stop shortly before the end due to an electrical problem from overheating," he added, "which was caused by the exhaust problem."
Button's team-mate Giancarlo Fisichella explained his lack of speed in the second half of the race, saying:
"I did a good start and was very careful as it was important to finish the race. The car was running well and it felt good, but then it developed a problem that we are looking into, which meant I lost power and so could only cruise to the end of the race."
Meanwhile Jenson Button had a hectic afternoon and afterwards told the story of his race, saying:
"I was very impressed with how good the car was off the line at the start. I pulled up to eleventh and then I had a little battle with Verstappen, which resulted in me running over the kerb and losing quite a few places.
"After that, the car felt well balanced and I was competitive," he continued. "After my stop/go penalty there was a problem, which we think was the exhaust, which meant I couldn't push at all and it was a shame as this meant I had to stop so close to the end of the race."
The Mild Seven Benetton Renault Sport team now fly to Malaysia ahead of the second round of the FIA Formula 1 World Championship, which takes place at Sepang on March 18th.
Visit benettonf1.com for all the latest news and gossip on the team, plus a full Malaysian Grand Prix preview and exclusive interviews with Giancarlo Fisichella and Jenson Button.