Japanese GP: Renault Saturday qualifying notes

A wet-dry qualifying and mixed fortunes for Renault; Fisico third with Fernando sixteenth. A wet-dry qualifying session in Suzuka means the grid for the 2005 Japanese Grand Prix has an unfamiliar look. For the third year in a row, qualifying in...

A wet-dry qualifying and mixed fortunes for Renault; Fisico third with Fernando sixteenth.

A wet-dry qualifying session in Suzuka means the grid for the 2005 Japanese Grand Prix has an unfamiliar look. For the third year in a row, qualifying in Japan was disrupted by the weather this afternoon and, as earlier this season in Australia, the Mild Seven Renault F1 Team experienced mixed fortunes.

The session began with a wet circuit, but no rain falling; the early runners benefited from steadily improving conditions until Giancarlo Fisichella began running, fifth from last. Rain had begun to fall during his out-lap -- as Michael Schumacher was on track -- and the circuit became steadily wetter as Fisico did his lap.

However, in spite of this he only missed pole position by 0.2s. For Fernando Alonso, running two cars behind his team-mate, the circuit conditions were significantly worse. He was forced to run extreme wet tyres rather than standard wets, and qualified 16th. Looking to tomorrow, when conditions are expected to be dry, Fisico will be aiming for a strong race to the podium, while Fernando will aim to score points.

Giancarlo Fisichella, 3rd position:

"I am quite pleased to be third to be honest. It was already raining as I left the pit-lane, and I knew the circuit would get worse as I did my lap. I was running on the normal wet tyres, which were the right choice, but the final sector was too wet by the time I got there."

"Otherwise, I think I could have got pole position quite easily, to be honest. But I am still happy with third, because we have a good strategy for tomorrow, and our rivals McLaren are a long way back. I will be aiming to get the best result possible.

Fernando Alonso, 16th position:

"Well, you would have to say that wet qualifying sessions haven't been my strong point this year! But seriously, the circumstances were very similar to Australia where I qualified when the track was wettest, and I am not too stressed -- I just hope to do a good job like we did in Melbourne, when I was able to come through the field."

"Obviously, it is good for the constructors' championship that both McLarens are behind us, but I will just do my race, push to the maximum and aim to get into the points. Hopefully we can do something good for the championship tomorrow.

Pat Symonds, Executive Director of Engineering:

"Give or take a few minutes, the rain fell exactly as we had predicted, and brought with it the usual lottery in terms of grid position. It has made things very interesting for tomorrow, as our team is collectively in a better position than McLaren, with Fisico sat in a very promising third position."

"I would like to congratulate him on his lap, which was truly exceptional in difficult and worsening conditions. Looking to the race, Fernando will have a tough afternoon, much like the two McLarens, as it can be difficult to make up positions here in Suzuka; as for Giancarlo, he will be looking for a very strong performance.

Denis Chevrier, Head of Engine Operations:

"So far, the weather has dictated the pattern of this race weekend. Firstly, the changing conditions since yesterday morning mean we have almost no idea of the genuine performance of our competitors. And secondly, it has given us an extremely unusual grid for tomorrow afternoon."

"We expect dry conditions, which will inevitably mean that the race will be part improvisation, part inspiration from the drivers' point of view, as they will be running with chassis set-ups that we have had very little time to work on."

"From the engine point of view, preparations were a little fuller, as we have been able to run in every type of weather condition and map the engine accordingly. From a team perspective, we have come out of qualifying in better shape than our rivals, and now need to make the most of Giancarlo's advantageous grid position tomorrow.

-renault-

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Giancarlo Fisichella , Michael Schumacher , Fernando Alonso
Teams McLaren , Renault F1 Team