The Renault F1 Team emerged from a busy and challenging qualifying session this afternoon at Magny-Cours with third and seventh positions for Fernando Alonso and Giancarlo Fisichella on tomorrow's grid for the French Grand Prix. In sweltering ...
The Renault F1 Team emerged from a busy and challenging qualifying session this afternoon at Magny-Cours with third and seventh positions for Fernando Alonso and Giancarlo Fisichella on tomorrow's grid for the French Grand Prix.
In sweltering conditions that once again saw track temperatures peaking at over 50°C, the R26 package proved competitive over a single lap -- although not the class of the field over these short runs. The third qualifying session was spiced up by an intriguing on-track battle between Fernando Alonso and Michael Schumacher, that the Spaniard will be looking to resume tomorrow afternoon.
As always, the team's primary consideration has been race strategy -- not qualifying position -- and the consistent performance of the Michelin tyres means both drivers go into the Grand Prix optimistic about their chances of making up positions during the 70-lap race.
Fernando Alonso, 3rd position:
"I am pleased with third position, because after Indianapolis I think it is important for me to be among the top cars in qualifying. We knew that Ferrari would be very competitive on a single lap, but I did my maximum today and I am feeling confident for the race."
"The conditions out there were very hot, and we expect similar temperatures for tomorrow, so we will need to see how the tyre performance evolves -- but so far, the Michelins have looked consistent on the longer runs.
"Qualifying was quite enjoyable today -- I had a little battle with Michael in the third part because we both wanted to have a clear track for the fuel burning laps, and it was fun to pass each other. The real business comes tomorrow though. The grip levels will be improving all the way through the race so we need to wait and see how things develop.
Giancarlo Fisichella, 7th position:
"We have been working with the race in mind all weekend, and I am confident that I have a good race set-up on the car. I had some understeer all around the lap in qualifying that we couldn't get rid of, and that definitely cost me time. But ultimately, the race performance is what counts and I think we are in a strong position with the consistency of our Michelin tyres."
"I am confident that even from seventh, we can use a good strategy to make up positions and score lots of points. It will be nice to make up some places at the start if I can, but I think things may well unfold in our favour tomorrow."
Pat Symonds, Executive Director of Engineering:
"The team's target for this afternoon was to get both cars on the front two rows, and we only partially achieved it. However, as is usual with our team, we have not compromised our optimum race strategy for grid position."
"So far this weekend, the Michelin tyres have withstood the demands of extremely hot track temperatures very well, offering good performance on a single lap and excellent consistency. We are certainly confident that Fernando can have a strong race against Ferrari, and that we can call on some strategic options that will help Giancarlo turn the race to his advantage.
Denis Chevrier, Head of Trackside Engine Operations:
"As always, the qualifying order brings with it several uncertainties in terms of strategy and tyre performance in race conditions. However, a first look at the times suggests that we will be starting the race as challengers rather than clear favourites. Fernando's third position means he is ideally placed to race the two Ferraris, while Giancarlo has more work to do to from seventh position."
"However, we have prepared thoroughly for the race without any unexpected incidents. The C spec engine is performing well, as our strong position in the speed charts suggests. We now need to wait for the first round of pit-stops to begin tomorrow afternoon in order to understand our true level of competitiveness.