The ING Renault F1 Team endured a challenging 2007 ING Australian Grand Prix. A mixed performance in qualifying saw the team's drivers start 6th and 13th, with the hope of making up ground through stronger race pace. Both drivers made clean...
The ING Renault F1 Team endured a challenging 2007 ING Australian Grand Prix. A mixed performance in qualifying saw the team's drivers start 6th and 13th, with the hope of making up ground through stronger race pace. Both drivers made clean starts, and Heikki Kovalainen made up two positions to be running P11 at the end of the first lap.
However, as the relative performance of the teams emerged during the race, it became clear that, on this circuit at least, the car was not competitive enough to make significant gains relative to other teams.
Both drivers ran a two-stop strategy, using the harder Bridgestone Potenza tyre compound through the first two stints before fitting the softer compound for the final shorter stint. Giancarlo gained a position through Kubica's retirement to finish fifth, defending his position stoutly from Massa in the final laps. Heikki was running in the points towards the end of his second stint, but mistakes cost him positions, and he eventually finished tenth.
The first race of the season gave the team a clear indication of the work ahead of them during the 2007 season, which will begin with a three-day test in Malaysia from 27 - 29 March.
Giancarlo Fisichella, 5th position:
"The race proved more difficult than we had expected. We knew that we were not on the pace of the leaders, but we had hoped to make up some ground -- and now, I think we realise there is a lot of work to do. From a personal point of view, I got the best that I could from the package today, but I was struggling with overall grip from the start. The car was handling well, and we had good reliability -- but so did the other teams at the front. Hopefully we can begin catching up from the next race.
Heikki Kovalainen, 10th position:
"This may have been my Grand Prix debut, but to be honest, there is very little to remember from it -- and lots to forget. I didn't have a great race: there were too many mistakes, and my performance just wasn't controlled enough. I had hoped to be able to move up through the field and gain positions. Straight away from the start, though, I was struggling even to hold on to other cars."
"My feeling right now is that the next race cannot get a lot worse. But I will stay positive, work hard and try to make sure I have a better weekend in Malaysia. I will be driving all three days of the Sepang test in ten days' time, which will help me learn the circuit and give me a good starting point for the race weekend. Then, my objective will be to improve in every area for my second Grand Prix."
Flavio Briatore, Managing Director:
"This afternoon showed us that we have a lot of work to do to be competitive again. It wasn't a strong race for the team in any department. Giancarlo drove hard to defend his position at the end, and did a good job, while Heikki had a very tough start to his career. But we were expecting more at every level, and we need to work hard to find the performance."
Pat Symonds, Executive Director of Engineering:
"Today's race reflected the trends we have seen in winter testing but, contrary to our expectations, somewhat magnified them too. As a team, we clearly have some work ahead of us before we can challenge at the front. Giancarlo's race was well-structured and he resisted well against intense pressure from Massa at the end."
"Heikki spent most of his race in traffic, but he pushed hard all the way. A couple of mistakes cost him positions, and he found the car particularly difficult to drive on the last set of tyres. We now have a much clearer idea of the car's performance, and three days of testing ahead of us in Malaysia before the next Grand Prix. Our focus must be on improving our performance so we can take the fight to the current pace-setters."