The Renault F1 Team scored a strong double-points finish this afternoon at the Nurburgring in the 2006 European Grand Prix. Fernando Alonso took his third second-place finish of the season after starting from pole position. The Spaniard made a...
The Renault F1 Team scored a strong double-points finish this afternoon at the Nurburgring in the 2006 European Grand Prix.
Fernando Alonso took his third second-place finish of the season after starting from pole position. The Spaniard made a clean start to lead the opening two stints of the race, but Michael Schumacher shadowed him throughout, and was able to respond each time Fernando pushed to open a gap.
Ultimately, the Ferrari ran a longer second stint and made the most of its performance advantage to emerge in the lead after the second pit-stops. Fernando then turned down his engine to preserve it for its second race weekend, and held his position.
Giancarlo Fisichella had an eventful race from eleventh position, and came out on top from a number of wheel-to-wheel battles with his rivals. The Italian found himself blocked behind rival cars for most of the race but, thanks to some aggressive driving, excellent pit-stops and a couple of retirements, climbed to sixth position at the finish.
After five rounds of the 2006 season, the Renault F1 Team leads the Constructors' Championship with a total of 62 points from five races. Fernando Alonso has scored 44 points from a possible fifty, and holds a thirteen-point advantage over Michael Schumacher. Giancarlo Fisichella has scored 18 points, and remains in fourth position in the championship.
Fernando Alonso: 2nd
"It was an interesting race for me this afternoon. I had a good start from the pole position, and controlled the pace during the first stint. The first stop went OK, but we came in a couple of laps earlier than the Ferraris on the second stop, and they had the speed to move ahead. After that, I just turned down the engine to look after it for next weekend in Barcelona."
"I think second place is a fantastic result from this race, though. Ferrari were a bit faster than us today, and while our tyre performance was OK, they certainly had more speed. However, I am optimistic we can turn that around in Barcelona, and I can't wait to race in front of my home fans."
Giancarlo Fisichella: 6th
"It was not an easy race for me. Starting from eleventh position, you always know that it will be hard to get through the field and you can spend a long time stuck behind slower competitors. That is what happened to me today. I only had one or two clear laps in the entire race, so it was hard to show my real pace, but we had a good strategy and managed to gain positions."
"The second pit-stop was a really nice point: I was very aggressive on the pit-entry because I knew it was my only chance to pass Villeneuve, then the team did another fantastic job with the pit-stops and got me out very quickly. I had a nice fight with Montoya in Turn 1 as well, it was not easy, but I managed to hold my position. At the end of the race, I was quicker than Barrichello but not by enough to overtake. Still, I have added more points to the total, and I hope we can have a smoother weekend in Spain in five days' time."
Flavio Briatore, Managing Director:
"This was a good race for us overall, but a weekend where we were fighting against rivals who were just a bit faster. We took points from McLaren-Mercedes, only lost a few to Ferrari and Fernando limited the damage in the drivers' championship by finishing right behind Michael. Fernando didn't put a foot wrong today, and Fisico did a great job to gain places on this track."
"We have to admit, though, that the combination of Bridgestone and Ferrari was too strong for us today -- and in those conditions, finishing second is like winning. Congratulations to Ferrari, but we hope to be fighting for the victory again in Barcelona.
Pat Symonds, Executive Director of Engineering:
"As we had expected, it was a very tough race this afternoon but it unfolded much as we had predicted. We knew that by taking the fight to Michael, we would also have to be looking over our shoulders for Massa and Raikkonen, and that was exactly how it turned out for Fernando. The critical part of his race was before the second stop."
"We needed a gap of several seconds but however hard we pushed, Michael was able to respond and close up again. It was therefore well before the second stop that we were aware he would come out in front of us, barring problems. After that, we turned down Fernando's engine because we knew the threat from behind could be contained. Overall, his second place is not too disappointing when we take the long-term championship view."
"As for Giancarlo, he had a very busy afternoon. As is normal when starting eleventh, we left a very open strategy to try and make up ground. Although it allowed us to jump ahead of a few people -- including Villeneuve who had put us there in the first place -- a power steering problem on the car in the closing stages meant it was hard to achieve much more."