The ING Renault F1 Team endured a frustrating afternoon at Magny-Cours during the 2007 French Grand Prix. The team was unable to deliver on the promise of its best qualifying result of the season yesterday afternoon, with drivers ...
The ING Renault F1 Team endured a frustrating afternoon at Magny-Cours during the 2007 French Grand Prix. The team was unable to deliver on the promise of its best qualifying result of the season yesterday afternoon, with drivers Giancarlo Fisichella and Heikki Kovalainen finishing 6th and 15th respectively.
Heikki's afternoon ended almost as soon as it had begun: as the Finn was turning through the hairpin at turn 5, his car was hit by Jarno Trulli who had out-braked himself on the entry to the corner. Heikki's right-rear tyre was punctured and his car slightly damaged. He pitted immediately, but was almost a lap down as he rejoined. The subsequent blue flags disrupted his race but when running in clean air, his times were competitive.
As for Giancarlo Fisichella, he ran a competitive first stint in his starting slot of fifth position, and at the first of his two stops, the team took a strategic gamble to extend the length of his second stint -- hoping to gain position around the second stop, when other competitors put on the softer compound Bridgestone Potenza tyres, which were suffering from a performance deficit today owing to graining in the early laps.
However, the resulting high fuel load provoked severe understeer throughout this stint. Giancarlo lost time relative to Heidfeld and although he almost beat him out of the pits even so, it was not enough. He subsequently defended his position robustly against Fernando Alonso's McLaren to retain sixth place. The result leaves the team 20 points behind championship rivals BMW in the Constructors' Championship.
Giancarlo Fisichella, 6th position
"I did the best possible today. The pace was very close to BMW, and even closer to the other teams in front too, as I was able to keep Fernando behind me on equal fuel loads at the end of the race. So for sure, we are getting better and better, and moving forward all the time."
"Ultimately though, I lost one position this afternoon, and that's not good -- especially when it's a BMW that goes in front. The main problem was the understeer with the high fuel load in the second stint, which cost me too much time. I had a small battle with Fernando early in the race, but he was much lighter and got past. We were running together again at the end, though, and it was much closer."
"The soft tyres grained a little bit in the first few laps of the final stint, and he was much faster than me through turn three, so we had a good battle for a few laps. Then the tyre situation improved, and I was able to build a little gap. That was quite satisfying and it shows the car is getting better. Now, we need to try and close the points difference with BMW next weekend in Silverstone.
Heikki Kovalainen, 15th position
"Well, my race was over on the first lap really and it's a big missed opportunity for me. I was turning through turn 5 when Jarno hit me, spun me round and punctured the right-rear tyre. I had to pit, lost nearly a lap and then it felt like I was slowing down for blue flags almost every lap!"
"The times seemed quite competitive when I was in clean air, but it was hard to get into a rhythm to be honest. I was racing around the same group of leaders all race, which shows I was on the pace, but there's nothing you can do after an incident like that. But qualifying and practice showed we are getting on the pace step by step, so I am looking forward to Silverstone in seven days' time.""
Flavio Briatore, Managing Director
"Things looked good after qualifying, but the race showed us that we still have some way to go. Heikki had his race spoiled on lap one through no fault of his own. Giancarlo drove well but the car seemed too heavy in the middle stint, and it cost too much time. He showed good aggression to keep Fernando behind, but the story of the afternoon is that we still have work to do. The gap with BMW is almost nothing, but we need to convert the promise of Saturday afternoon into hard points on Sunday."
Pat Symonds, Executive Director of Engineering
"This afternoon's race failed to fulfil the promise of qualifying. In Heikki's case, he was pushed off by Trulli on lap one and from then on, it was bound to be difficult as we tried to shift his stops around to get him out of the inevitable traffic."
"Giancarlo's first stint was competitive, and on the softer tyres at the end he was also quick. But the middle stint did us a lot of damage relative to BMW. Looking forward, we have another race in seven days' time -- and the chance to repair the damage from this afternoon. Our Silverstone test went very well ten days ago, and we will be looking to fight back strongly."