The Renault F1 Team locked out the front row for tomorrow's Chinese Grand Prix during the most exciting qualifying session of the 2006 season. After a damp morning practice in which both cars looked competitive on Michelin's intermediate and dry...
The Renault F1 Team locked out the front row for tomorrow's Chinese Grand Prix during the most exciting qualifying session of the 2006 season.
After a damp morning practice in which both cars looked competitive on Michelin's intermediate and dry tyres, the team began the wet qualifying session in confident mood. The rain continued on-off throughout the session, but the Michelin intermediate tyre performed exceptionally in every situation.
Fernando Alonso topped the times in every part of the qualifying session, ultimately taking his sixth pole position of the 2006 season, while Giancarlo Fisichella will line up second -- repeating the Renault F1 Team's front row lockout from the 2005 Chinese Grand Prix.
With weather forecasts remaining uncertain for tomorrow, the team is confident in its performance in all conditions but only too aware that today's performance is nothing more than a promising starting point for a crucial race in this season's championship fight.
Fernando Alonso, Pole position:
"It is fantastic to be back on pole for the first time since Canada. It was a difficult qualifying session, very busy and very complicated for all the drivers, but the Michelin tyres were fantastic and gave us exactly what we needed to do the job. Looking for tomorrow, nothing is certain with the weather, but I am confident we can be competitive in both conditions."
"We haven't done much dry running yet this weekend, but from what we have seen, the car seems to be very competitive. If it is wet, we know we are quick -- but also that many more things can happen. Obviously, this is a great team result when the championship is so tight, but we haven't done the job yet. I will stay focused, concentrate on doing a good race -- and race for the win."
Giancarlo Fisichella, 2nd position :
"The car has been quick all weekend, and I am really pleased to be on the front row with Fernando. This is a great result for me because I am in a good position to catch up Massa in the championship, and for the team it is the perfect starting point. The conditions were very tricky during the session, and I spun in the second session -- so the pressure was on to get my lap done."
"After that, it was a question of repeating the performance in the third part, and making the most of the opportunity to qualifying at the front. I think we have a strong strategy, and good performance in all conditions. I am looking forward to a very competitive race."
Pat Symonds, Executive Director of Engineering:
"A qualifying performance such as this is always particularly satisfying, but with the championship so delicately poised, it is an extra bonus. Our grid positions give us the opportunity for a very good race tomorrow, but above all this weekend has shown that the Renault is very quick here, irrespective of weather conditions. This afternoon's session was particularly fraught, and the whole team is to be congratulated on a disciplined and faultless performance."
"Thanks are also due to our partners at Michelin. Fernando's pole position once again demonstrated the quality of the Michelin tyre in wet conditions. We had seen it in Hungary, and today reinforced it. Even more gratifying is the fact that we also appear to have an extremely competitive dry tyre.
Denis Chevrier, Head of Trackside Engine Operations:
"This morning's damp and changing conditions in practice left us unable to make our usual calculations as to the relative performance of our competitors, and we went into qualifying with less information than usual as to our overall level of performance. Today's qualifying session was equally difficult to decode, but we are extremely pleased with the performances of both drivers."
"On the engine side, we were pleased to see the new evolution of the RS26 V8 gave the drivers both the power they needed to be competitive, as the straightline speeds showed, and the driveability that is so important in wet conditions. The car has been working well since the start of the weekend, and Michelin have done an exceptional job. We now need to maintain our concentration, and focus on the most important part of the weekend -- tomorrow afternoon's race. We start it from the best possible position."