Bahrain GP: Renault Saturday qualifying notes

The Renault F1 Team completed an exciting first qualifying session under the new-for-2006 format disappointed to see its drivers only 4th (Fernando Alonso) and 9th (Giancarlo Fisichella) on the grid for the 2006 Bahraini Grand Prix. As expected,...

The Renault F1 Team completed an exciting first qualifying session under the new-for-2006 format disappointed to see its drivers only 4th (Fernando Alonso) and 9th (Giancarlo Fisichella) on the grid for the 2006 Bahraini Grand Prix.

As expected, the format created both surprise and incident during the hour, which intensified when Kimi Raikkonen brought out the red flag with just 5 minutes to go of the first session. In spite of this, both Renaults successfully negotiated the first two Heats of qualifying, but were unable to extract maximum performance during the final Super-pole session.

Fernando Alonso set his fastest time on his second quick lap at the end of the Super-pole, thus sacrificing some tyre performance, while Giancarlo Fisichella suffered a loss of performance from the moment he fitted new tyres, which left him only ninth at the end of the hour. However, in spite of this disappointment, both drivers remain confident in their race strategy, and the innate pace of the R26. Only as the race unfolds tomorrow, will the true state of play emerge.

Fernando Alonso:

"A pretty disappointing result for me really. The qualifying session was very busy, like we expected, and as I had said before the weekend, it didn't change too much for me because the aim was still to complete three quick laps during the hour."

"The car felt good, and we didn't make any changes to the front wing or anything, but I made a mistake on my first timed lap at the end of the session, and that meant I had to do another one. Obviously, the tyres weren't in such a good condition by then, which meant I ended up only P4. Still, the second row is not too bad, we know the car is quick, so let's see what happens tomorrow."

Giancarlo Fisichella:

"I am really disappointed to be only ninth. We saw the car was competitive in the two qualifying Heats, as we could set good times quite easily. Things were running smoothly, until I put the new tyres on and suddenly the performance was not there -- I lost a lot of speed, and just couldn't do the times we should have been capable of. We don't know why yet, so we will be looking carefully tonight."

"Still, I think it was quite an exciting hour for the spectators with lots happening on track, and we have a good strategy. Even from ninth, we can have a strong race.

Pat Symonds, Executive Director of Engineering:

"There was a lot for the teams to learn today to maximise their performance under the new rules and as always, we did some things well, and there is still room to improve on others. With Fernando, we fortunately left ourselves a safety margin at the end of the Super-pole session. This meant that when his first lap on new tyres was not competitive, he was able to continue on a second quick lap."

"Giancarlo lost speed as soon as he put new tyres on, and we do not yet know why. From a team point of view, we are on the second row with what we believe to be a competitive strategy which bodes well. Our main concern is with identifying and resolving the problem with Giancarlo's car before assessing his chances.

Denis Chevrier, Head of Trackside Engine Operations:

"We saw plenty of incident during the new qualifying format but in the end, for the Renault team, the deciding factor was once again the ability to extract maximum performance over a single timed lap -- just like last year. Fernando made a mistake on his first lap and set his fastest time on the second, which puts his relatively high grid position in a favourable light."

"Things were less positive for Giancarlo, who did not have a normal level of performance at his disposal as his car lost speed during the final part of the Super-pole session. We will be investigating this closely tonight to find the reason. As for the overall picture, we find ourselves in a very similar situation to last year, with the same question marks at the same point of the weekend. I think the real picture will only begin to be clear after the first dozen laps of the race.

Fernando Alonso
4th, 1:31.702
Giancarlo Fisichella
9th, 1:33.496


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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Giancarlo Fisichella , Kimi Raikkonen , Fernando Alonso
Teams Renault F1 Team