The ING Renault F1 Team leaves the 2007 Brazilian Grand Prix empty-handed after a tough weekend concluded with both drivers retiring from the race before half distance. After qualifying P12 and P17 yesterday, the team expected a tough race and,...
The ING Renault F1 Team leaves the 2007 Brazilian Grand Prix empty-handed after a tough weekend concluded with both drivers retiring from the race before half distance.
After qualifying P12 and P17 yesterday, the team expected a tough race and, with nothing to lose, was planning some calculated risks with strategy in order to try and make up ground in what was expected to be an unusual race dominated by tyre management issues.
However, events on track ultimately decided otherwise, as the team suffered its only double retirement of a 2007 season which had until then been notable for its impeccable reliability record; nevertheless, the R27 was classified a total of 30 times out of a possible 34 finishes.
Giancarlo Fisichella's race was brief: he was hit from behind braking for turn 1 on the opening lap, and then ran off the road at the start of lap 2, colliding with Yamamoto as he returned to the track. The consequent damage meant he was only able to limp back to the pits before retiring.
As for team-mate Heikki Kovalainen, he was the only driver to start the race on the super-soft tyre, and was set for an aggressive drive from P17. However, he collected a left-front puncture after being hit on the way into turn 1 on the opening lap, lost a lap as he returned to the pits to change tyres, and then looked set to complete a full finishing record for the season before a suspected car failure on lap 35 pitched him into retirement in turn 3. When the team recovers the car, it will investigate the cause of the accident.
Heikki Kovalainen, retired lap 35 (accident following suspected car failure)
"We were planning to run a very short first stint, and with the car light on fuel, I made a good start. I went right on the way to turn 1, hoping it would then give me the inside line through the next corner, and was running alongside Ralf Schumacher. I think Fisico got hit because his car suddenly moved over, setting off a chain reaction and Ralf hit my car."
"At first, I thought the front left suspension was broken, but as I drove back to the pits I thought it was maybe just a puncture. That proved to be the case, so we fuelled the car longer and went back out. Unfortunately, the time I had lost put me right in a group of cars lapping me, so I drove with blue flags all the time for the first stint: I was quicker than the guys in front, but because they were a lap ahead, I had to let them all past!"
"Eventually, I got out of the traffic, and was just looking to bring the car home to the finish. But then, going through turn 2 I felt a vibration at the left rear, and as I lifted off, the back end snapped and put me in the wall. It's a real shame to retire like this and not manage to finish all the races, but that's the way it goes."
"All I want to do now is move on to the next challenge: firstly the New York Marathon in November, and then focusing on next year. If I want to become world champion, which is my aim, I need to be even better prepared mentally and physically than I was this year. I want to start working towards that goal as soon as I possibly can."
Giancarlo Fisichella, retired lap 2 (damage from collision)
"This has been a difficult season for the whole team, but I had hoped that the last race would last for a bit longer than two laps. I got hit in the rear at the start, which damaged the car. Then, on lap 2, I went off fighting with a Williams on the way into turn 1. The car was very hard to control or slow down on the grass, with very low grip, and that meant that when I came back onto the track, I was involved in a collision with another car."
"It was just a racing incident, and I am sorry that it ended both of our races. It is a shame to leave the final race empty-handed, after a year when we had to fight so hard. But thank you to all the guys: no matter how hard it got, they never stopped working, and they deserved more from the end of the year."
Flavio Briatore, Managing Director:
"We have had a difficult season, and it finished with a hard race. The team expected a tough end to the year because we have been working towards 2008 for a long time already, and when you start in the midfield, the kind of incidents we saw today can happen. In spite of this, though, we were prepared to take some risks today and perhaps they could have paid off."
"The most important thing after a year full of challenges is that we demonstrated our character and determination. The support from Renault, from ING and our other partners never wavered, and we thank them for their commitment. Our next challenge is to show that we can come back stronger next year, and regain our place at the front of the field. I am confident we can deliver."
Pat Symonds, Executive Director of Engineering:
"Giancarlo's race was very short: when you have two accidents in two laps, it's probably a sign that it's not going to be your day. As for Heikki, after his problem in qualifying we decided to do things a little differently as there were no points to be had from a conventional approach."
"We intended to run a very short stint on the supersoft tyre, and it turned out to be even shorter than expected, as he was forced to pit with a puncture on lap 1. He continued to race hard, even when a lap down, but ultimately he crashed at turn 3. We need to find out why, but it appears to have been the result of a car problem."
"We set our standards high at Renault and while our championship position is nothing to be ashamed of, it doesn't meet the goals we set ourselves. It only makes us more determined than ever to come out fighting in 2008."