The Renault F1 Team took its second double podium finish in seven days during this afternoon's Japanese Grand Prix, the last to be held at the magnificent Suzuka circuit in the immediate future. In the space of that week, fortune's wheel has ...
The Renault F1 Team took its second double podium finish in seven days during this afternoon's Japanese Grand Prix, the last to be held at the magnificent Suzuka circuit in the immediate future.
In the space of that week, fortune's wheel has turned full circle: Fernando Alonso's victory today, and Giancarlo Fisichella's strong drive to third place from sixth on the grid, put the Renault F1 Team back atop both world championships -- Fernando Alonso now has a ten point lead in the drivers' chase, while Renault leads Ferrari by nine points in the Constructors' title.
As predicted, the world championship battle will go down to a thrilling deciding race in Brazil. In the intervening fortnight, the team will continue to work flat out to ensure it can race strongly and aggressively at Interlagos. As the past week has shown, Formula 1 always has the potential to surprise -- and nobody can take anything for granted...
Fernando Alonso, Winner:
"This win is a surprise for us all, a beautiful surprise. After qualifying, Ferrari seemed to be a long way in front, but as soon as we started racing today, I could feel that the car was well-balanced, and that we had the same speed as Ferrari. I took a risk to pass Jarno at the start, because it was the only chance, and then later in the stint I could see Ralf was having problems -- and I got a run on him into turn 1."
"After the second stops, I still thought I could win, because the gap to Michael was only five seconds, so why not? Then I saw the smoke coming into turn 8, and I was watching the asphalt for oil. I thought it was a Spyker in front of me, and only when I went past did I realise it was Michael. After that, we turned the engine down, and just took things carefully to the finish."
"This win means a lot to the Renault team, and we have deserved it, and been waiting for it, ever since Hungary. The guys at the track, at the factories in Viry and Enstone, and at Michelin, have never given up all season. Now we feel confident for Brazil -- but we are taking nothing for granted. The races are long, and you have to get everything right to make sure you finish in front. We have a good situation for the championship, but we will be racing the same way at Interlagos, to win."
Giancarlo Fisichella, 3rd position:
"This was a great result for me, for Fernando and for the whole team. But psychologically, this has been a hard weekend for me. My best friend ever Tonino (Visciani) died last Thursday, and it hasn't been easy for me. I just want to dedicate this podium to him, and to say 'ciao'."
"In terms of the race, the car was not bad and we had a good strategy, because I was able to pass the Toyotas at the stops. The Michelin tyres worked perfectly as well, and we had the pace all the way through the race. Now, we need to go to Brazil and be aggressive. The team is determined to win the constructors' championship, and I want to make sure I get third in the drivers' championship. So we will be aggressive, be focused, and try to win.
Flavio Briatore, Managing Director:
"I want to say thank you to our team for this result. We have had some difficult weeks, losing races we should have won, but we stayed together, stayed close and stayed focused. This is a success for everybody to enjoy. Fernando did an incredible job, Fisico was perfect and made his strategy work for him, and the pit-stops were faultless. We will enjoy our victory this evening, but we haven't finished the job yet. That will be our sole focus for Brazil."
Pat Symonds, Executive Director of Engineering:
"This 2006 world championship is building up to be even more exciting than anybody had imagined! I am sure that last week in China, on Saturday evening, Ferrari were wondering how ever they could win. A similar thing was true of our team yesterday. But this season is throwing up surprises week after week, and we now go to Brazil with a statistically improved situation and, more importantly, the full belief we can win again."
"Fernando and Giancarlo managed their races perfectly today, and the Michelin tyres came good at the right time. We said yesterday that qualifying was only a means to an end and, when it counted in this afternoon's race, the tyres were perfect. This is not just a win for 80 people here at the track, but 800 in Enstone and Viry -- and for Michelin's employees as well in Clermont-Ferrand. Everybody has worked incredibly hard over the past months, and it only makes this win all the sweeter."