The Renault F1 Team leaves the most dramatic race of the 2006 season empty-handed after a torrid afternoon on Budapest's sinuous Hungaroring circuit. Giancarlo Fisichella was caught out by the tricky wet conditions in the early stages of the...
The Renault F1 Team leaves the most dramatic race of the 2006 season empty-handed after a torrid afternoon on Budapest's sinuous Hungaroring circuit.
Giancarlo Fisichella was caught out by the tricky wet conditions in the early stages of the race, while Fernando Alonso retired after his final pit-stop with a mechanical problem which has yet to be identified. However, the bare statistics fail to tell the true story of a dramatic afternoon of motor racing.
Fernando started fifteenth yet occupied third position by lap five as he scythed through the field on Michelin's excellent 'intermediate' wet tyres. He took the lead on lap 17 as Kimi Raikkonen pitted, and enjoyed a forty second lead when the Safety Car was called into action on lap 27.
Running with a heavy fuel load in the second stint of the race, he had a slender lead over Jenson Button when he pitted on lap 51 for dry tyres. However, as he exited the pits, a failure at the rear end of the car pitched him into a slide at turn 1, and finally out of the race at turn 2.
However, the final twist in a dramatic race came when championship rival Michael Schumacher retired from fourth position, meaning the gap between the two championship contenders remains identical at eleven points with five races remaining.
While Ferrari reduced the gap by one point in the constructors' chase, the pace showed by the R26 and its Michelin tyres throughout the weekend in widely-varying conditions means the team will approach the next race in Turkey in optimistic, aggressive mood.
Fernando Alonso, Retired
"These things happen in motor racing, but what an incredible race. The first part was fantastic, and the car felt really good in the wet conditions, even with a much bigger fuel load onboard than our rivals. After the safety car, we avoided taking too many risks and with the dry tyres, I think it would have been a comfortable win for us today. But as I came out of the pits, something broke at the rear end and I spun in turn 2."
"Even though I am disappointed, everything is relative and with Michael retiring, it means we haven't lost anything at all this weekend. Even better, the car was really competitive this weekend. We are starting the important part of the championship now, and I am confident we are in a very strong position after this race. I also want to congratulate Jenson on his first Grand Prix win, he did a great job this afternoon and deserved it."
Giancarlo Fisichella, Retired
"It was a tough afternoon for me. The wet conditions are usually very good for me, but the car was very difficult to drive in the early part of the race, with understeer into the corners then big snaps of oversteer as soon as I touched the throttle. I followed Michael for a long time and eventually managed to get past him, but then went off in turn 8."
"I was pushing hard to build a gap, lost the rear end and damaged the rear wing. I carried on because I could not feel any damage, but then it came off on the next lap and I spun at turn three. This was not a good race for me, but I am still fighting for third in the championship, and confident that we can be quick in Turkey.
Flavio Briatore, Managing Director:
"It was the team's mistake today that cost us the win with a car failure. It has not been a nice day, and I am sorry for the team and Fernando: they all did a fantastic job in very demanding circumstances. But on these days, you have to think in terms of the championship as well, and nothing has changed -- except we are one race closer to the end."
"What's more, we showed this weekend that we can bounce back strongly from a hard weekend like Hockenheim -- and even from Fernando's penalty on Friday. That gives the advantage back to us at Renault, and we will be fighting hard to make the most of it in Turkey in three weeks' time.
Pat Symonds, Executive Director of Engineering:
"Wet races often bring excitement, but nobody could have predicted how many times the tables turned this afternoon. As a team we have to look at it in two ways. Firstly, I am sure we lost the possibility of scoring eighteen points today. But on the other hand, the damage in both championships is minimal."
"Fernando was the class of the field this afternoon, and we know his retirement was caused by a failure on the car, although we will not know the exact cause until we physically see the parts. Finally, congratulations to Jenson and Honda: it is always good to see new winners in Formula 1."