For the Mild Seven Renault F1 Team, the Belgian Grand Prix was one of genuine frustration after missing a well-earned points finish by just eight laps. The overall story is simple: a double retirement owing to two different engine failures....
For the Mild Seven Renault F1 Team, the Belgian Grand Prix was one of genuine frustration after missing a well-earned points finish by just eight laps. The overall story is simple: a double retirement owing to two different engine failures. However, until Jarno Trulli was forced to stop on lap 36, points were on the cards with the Italian fighting hard to hold off the Williams of Ralf Schumacher.
Trulli made a good start, but suffered a slide on the entry to the first corner after accidentally hitting the neutral button, costing him the places he had gained away from the line. Running seventh, he maintained a consistent gap with the cars in front, and took advantage of Ralf Schumacher's spin on lap 17 to move up to sixth. He retained position during his two pit-stops, and was then elevated to fifth following Raikkonen's retirement on lap 36. However, his engine failed on the very same lap, forcing him to retire just eight laps from the finish.
Jenson Button drove a competitive race until lap 12, when a currently unidentified engine failure ended his race. Starting from tenth, he gained one position on the opening lap, and then found himself behind Irvine. Although he could have lapped faster, he was unable to attempt to overtake owing to his rival's superior straight-line speed.
Jarno Trulli, retired
"Once again, I got a very good start, but then accidentally hit the neutral button as I was going into the first corner. I caught the slide, but lost the positions I had gained at the start. I then pushed as hard as possible, and the gap held steady until Ralf's spin. After my last stop, I managed to keep Ralf behind - I think it would have been difficult for him to overtake, as I was quicker on the exit of the slow-speed corners. Obviously, it's extremely disappointing, and even more so because the team worked very well all weekend. Certainly well enough to have earned a few points."
Jenson Button, retired
"Honestly, there's not much to say. We had improved the balance of the car a lot by the start of the race - the car was better than it had been all weekend. Irvine was holding me up a bit, but I couldn't get close enough to try anything at the end of the straight. Then I heard something strange on the exit of Turn 7, and lost power. I couldn't do anything but retire."
Pat Symonds, Executive Director of Engineering, Mild Seven Renault F1 Team
"Although we were concerned by the cool track temperatures, in fact the tyres performed extremely well and we had achieved a good balance on both cars. We were setting competitive lap times which should certainly have led to a points finish. Unfortunately, to get those points, we must first finish."
Denis Chevrier, Head of Race Engineering (Engine), Mild Seven Renault F1 Team
"In the end, the race result was simple: two engine failures, each with a different cause. The positives from the weekend are Jarno's qualifying performance, as well as a race pace which saw us holding our position in the top six on merit. However, as the numerous retirements today demonstrated, this is a demanding circuit from every point of view, and especially for the engine."