The Renault F1 Team emerged from a demanding French Grand Prix with a strong second place finish for Fernando Alonso after a consistent, attacking drive and sixth position for team-mate Giancarlo Fisichella. Conditions remained exceptionally hot...
The Renault F1 Team emerged from a demanding French Grand Prix with a strong second place finish for Fernando Alonso after a consistent, attacking drive and sixth position for team-mate Giancarlo Fisichella.
Conditions remained exceptionally hot throughout the afternoon, as they had been all weekend, and prior to the Grand Prix the team had hoped to exploit the consistent performance of the Michelin tyres to its advantage over the race stints.
Going in to the Grand Prix, the team gave itself the option of running either a two or three-stop strategy according to the drivers' track position as the first stop approached. In the end, they opted for two stops to gain ground over three-stopping competitors and this strategy worked well for Fernando Alonso, who was able to move ahead of Felipe Massa to take second position.
Unfortunately, Giancarlo Fisichella was hampered by graining in his second stint and was therefore unable to take advantage of the car's performance during this long middle part of the race.
Fernando's second place finish means he concedes just two points to Michael Schumacher, and his championship lead now stands at 17 points. The Renault F1 Team maintained its strong scoring record with a haul of 11 points, and possesses a 21 point advantage in the Constructors' Championship.
Fernando Alonso, 2nd position
"That was a long, tough race for me but in the circumstances, a perfect result. We went into the race with two possibilities on the strategy, and once we saw that Ferrari would be three-stopping then we knew it would be hard to pass them on the track. So we chose to rely on the consistent tyre performance, and make two stops. The car balance was consistent all the way through the race, and I pushed hard to make sure I could get ahead of Felipe in the final part of the race."
"Given where I started on the grid, I think second is everything I could have hoped for because we knew that Michael was a bit quicker this weekend -- like in Imola and the Nurburgring. Back then, everybody thought that Michael would win all the races after two wins in a row, and we responded very strongly. Hopefully, we can do the same at Hockenheim in two weeks' time."
Giancarlo Fisichella, 6th position
"This wasn't a great race for me to be honest. The car was getting more and more difficult to drive during the race, with tyre graining in the second stint that meant I couldn't build a gap over Ralf and Kimi to stay ahead, and then a lot of problems under braking in the final part of the race as well."
"We need to have a look at what happened, but you have to take the positive part from the results. I finished in the points, I am still third in the championship after a tough weekend and we completed a second race on the C spec engine without any problems. I am optimistic for the next races, and confident we can regain our advantage."
Flavio Briatore, Managing Director:
"This turned out to be a difficult weekend for us, and Fernando got the best possible result from it. Giancarlo struggled in qualifying and in the race too, but he still scored valuable points. Of course, it is disappointing not to win the race in front of the 6000 Renault personnel who were at the race today, but we are staying calm about the championship and we still have a good advantage."
"The team is working hard to develop the car and engine at Enstone and Viry, and we know what is coming in the next few weeks. Michelin will be pushing even harder to regain the advantage in Hockenheim, and I am confident we can come out on top in Germany.
Pat Symonds, Executive Director of Engineering:
"Fernando's race this afternoon was essentially determined by the time he had completed the opening lap. He fought hard to find a way past Massa, but wasn't able to do it and therefore lost any chance he might have had of challenging Schumacher. We had gone into the race with an open mind about doing two or three stops, but having lost time in the first stint, it was obvious that two stops was the way to go to ensure we at least finished second."
"Giancarlo's race was always going to be hard from seventh, and the graining he experienced in the second stint meant he was unable to exploit the strategy to make up ground. We are now looking forward to Germany, where we will have substantial revisions to the aerodynamics and engine. We lost two races to Ferrari earlier in the season, and bounced back strongly. That's what we intend to do again, beginning in Hockenheim."