The ING Renault F1 Team endured a disappointing qualifying session this afternoon at Interlagos. In stark contrast to yesterday's rain and overcast conditions, Saturday has seen a hot sun beating down on the freshly-laid track surface.
The ING Renault F1 Team endured a disappointing qualifying session this afternoon at Interlagos. In stark contrast to yesterday's rain and overcast conditions, Saturday has seen a hot sun beating down on the freshly-laid track surface. Track temperatures this afternoon were 25C higher than on Friday, and the circuit temperature climbed 10C between this morning's final practice session and qualifying.
The R27 failed to perform well in these hot conditions, with both drivers reporting poor overall grip during qualifying. The low-grip conditions meant the car balance was more inconsistent than it had been during final practice, and both drivers were penalised by this.
Heikki made a mistake in the final corner of his timed lap in Q1 that cost him over half a second, and meant he failed to make it into the top 16. Giancarlo got the most out of the car this afternoon, and in a tightly-fought second qualifying round (at a circuit where the lap-times are notoriously close), he missed out on a top ten position by just 0.08s.
While both drivers face an uphill task tomorrow, it became clear during today's practice session that managing the super-soft tyre compound will be one of the keys to the race. If teams experience similar levels of graining and blistering with this tyre tomorrow, as were seen today, there may still be some surprises in store.
Giancarlo Fisichella: 12th
"I was right on the limit this afternoon, and I think this was our maximum today. It was hard to do a perfect lap in the slippery, low-grip conditions and it is a shame to miss out on Q3 by such a small margin. I think we will see an interesting race tomorrow, especially when it comes to the tyre behaviour, and hopefully we can find a good strategy to take advantage of this."
Heikki Kovalainen: 17th
"I was very disappointed not to make it out of Q1. It was simply my mistake: I went too deep into turn 12, locked the front tyres, got a poor exit and it cost me over six tenths of a second. The grip level was poor compared to this morning, but everybody had to deal with the same conditions."
"We have been in this position before this year, though, and the results afterwards showed us how important it is to never give up. We won't, and we will be pushing hard for everything we can get tomorrow, but it's going to be a tough race."
Pat Symonds, Executive Director of Engineering:
"We seem to have lost a disproportionate amount of grip this afternoon as the circuit temperatures climbed. A small mistake from Heikki was enough to relegate him to the bottom third of the grid on a circuit where the qualifying gaps are always very close. Giancarlo got the maximum from the car, but the car's maximum simply wasn't sufficient today."
Denis Chevrier, Head of Engine Track Operations:
"We said yesterday that it would be important to get every detail right in order to qualify strongly at this circuit, and we didn't achieve that today. The times are very close, and that meant Giancarlo missed out on Q3 by 0.08s, while Heikki paid a heavy price for a small mistake in Q1."
"However, we saw today that tyre management will be critical tomorrow afternoon, especially if the conditions stay as hot as they were today, and we will try to take advantage of any opportunities that come our way."