Fernando fifth and Jacques tenth in a disappointing Japanese Grand Prix for the Mild Seven Renault F1 Team. It was an unusual day for Formula 1 in Suzuka, with qualifying for the Japanese Grand Prix being held this morning prior to racing in ...
Fernando fifth and Jacques tenth in a disappointing Japanese Grand Prix for the Mild Seven Renault F1 Team.
It was an unusual day for Formula 1 in Suzuka, with qualifying for the Japanese Grand Prix being held this morning prior to racing in the afternoon. Both Renault drivers found themselves on track when conditions were worst during the qualifying session, with the circuit still wet, which resulted in ninth (Villeneuve) and eleventh (Alonso) positions on the grid.
However, in the race both cars made good starts to gain positions on the first lap and then quickly got into their race rhythm. Employing a two-stop strategy, Fernando Alonso climbed the field by leapfrogging drivers on three-stop strategies and benefiting from the incident between Barrichello and Coulthard, finishing fifth having extracted maximum performance from the R24 on the day. Jacques Villeneuve suffered from understeer during the opening part of the race, which cost him time and track position in a critical phase of the race, and finished tenth.
"It was a good performance in the race today. Qualifying didn't really favour us today: I suppose that sometimes we get lucky with the conditions, like we did in Spa, and sometimes not. From eleventh position, the only thing to do was to go maximum attack. Unfortunately, when you start back in the field, you never have a clear track in the early laps - and it was only at the end of my first stint that I could run at my true pace. That meant I was no longer able to fight for the podium. I think I did the best I could have done today but unfortunately, the points I scored will be more useful in the drivers' championship than the constructors."
"When the race started, we quickly found that the set-up was not ideal for the dry conditions. The car was understeering a lot, so we added front downforce at both pit-stops, but I could not increase my pace in the final stint. It's a disappointing result, especially as our main rivals scored points with both cars this afternoon."
Flavio Briatore, Managing Director:
"Overall, this was a disappointing result after a difficult weekend for everybody. I think Fernando did the maximum today but the car was not quick enough to allow him to fight the cars in front. Looking to Brazil, it is hard to remain hopeful about our championship chances but as long as we have a possibility of re-gaining second position, then we will be motivated to try and seize it."
Pat Symonds, Executive Director of Engineering:
"It was a very different day to normal and we had to choose strategies and tyres with a minimum of information, but of course everybody found themselves in the same situation. Fernando drove a strong race and had he not lost time early in his third stint, he might have been able to beat Sato. Jacques struggled with significant amounts of understeer, owing to the lack of time we had to set up the car, and that penalised him in the race."
Fernando Alonso: 5th
Jacques Villeneuve: 10th