The Renault F1 Team today experienced its most unusual qualifying session of the 2006 season so far, at Budapest's Hungaroring circuit. Superficially, with drivers Giancarlo Fisichella and Fernando Alonso starting seventh and fifteenth on the ...
The Renault F1 Team today experienced its most unusual qualifying session of the 2006 season so far, at Budapest's Hungaroring circuit.
Superficially, with drivers Giancarlo Fisichella and Fernando Alonso starting seventh and fifteenth on the grid, the outcome appears to be a negative one; however, the complex technical and political background to this thirteenth qualifying session of the 2006 season (which included a mandatory two second penalty for Fernando in each part of qualifying) set them in a more positive light.
With both drivers expecting to make up positions thanks to the consistent performance of the Michelin tyres in the unexpectedly cool conditions, the team seems set for a dynamic, attacking race tomorrow afternoon in what could prove to be the most topsy-turvy Grand Prix of the year so far.
Giancarlo Fisichella, 7th position (following Button's engine penalty):
"We said yesterday that the grip level was very low out on the circuit and with the cool temperatures continuing today, it hasn't changed much. The balance of the car on new tyres was a bit different in qualifying compared to practice and I struggled with low grip, but things felt much better when we had some fuel onboard in the final fuel-burning part of the session."
"In terms of my timed laps in third qualifying, I put in one solid lap then made some mistakes on the second one, so couldn't improve my time. But I am on the clean side of the track for the start, and feeling very positive for tomorrow -- much more so than in the last few races. The car is getting better and better with every lap we do this weekend, so I am expecting a fun race.
Fernando Alonso, 15th position:
"This was a really unusual qualifying session for me, but everything went well. It is a shame to have lost positions with the penalty, but now is the time to stop talking about it and look forward to making the most of the race. It hasn't changed anything for me, apart from the starting position, but with Michael penalised as well we have not lost so much."
"We know the Renault is working well with the Michelin tyres because I was able to set competitive times, and I think it will be even better tomorrow. Nobody has really done any long runs at all yet this weekend, so it will be a learning experience for us all in the race. I have the feeling we will be quite strong thanks to the tyre consistency, so let's keep our fingers crossed, stay positive and focused, and see what the race brings."
Pat Symonds, Executive Director of Engineering:
"Giancarlo will have plenty of work to do tomorrow in making up ground from seventh on the grid, but the strong performance of the Michelin tyre meant we adjusted our strategy accordingly, so his relative position once we have taken fuel loads into account may not be as bad as it might seem."
"As for Fernando, he was obviously limited in what he could achieve with the imposition of his two-second penalty. He did everything possible to mitigate its effects and put in some exceptional laps in the first two sessions. Once again, we hope the tyre consistency will pay for him tomorrow, and I hope his fight with Michael will be as enjoyable as if it had been happening at the front of the field.
Denis Chevrier, Head of Trackside Engine Operations:
"Even more than usual, the early stages of the qualifying session today served as the best clue as to the balance of power in terms of single-lap performance this weekend. The penalties applied to Fernando and Schumacher in the session have left us with the two strongest cars starting in the midfield -- and the promise of a spectacular race."
"The cornerstone of the team's work this weekend has been achieving strong race performance and concentrating on the management of our tyres. We believe we have found a good compromise and on the engine side, every session has run smoothly. Looking to tomorrow, there are still plenty of question marks -- particularly in terms of the true race performance of our competitors and the weather. I think we can expect an action-packed afternoon."