The ING Renault F1 Team produced a solid, improved performance in this afternoon's Malaysian Grand Prix to take a double points finish at the Sepang Circuit. In sweltering conditions with track temperatures hitting 50Ã‚Â°C, the two R27s started...
The ING Renault F1 Team produced a solid, improved performance in this afternoon's Malaysian Grand Prix to take a double points finish at the Sepang Circuit.
In sweltering conditions with track temperatures hitting 50Â°C, the two R27s started from the sixth row of the grid -- and then followed similar two-stop fuel strategies, making late first stops to take full advantage of the free fuel load afforded by their qualifying positions outside the top ten.
Both drivers used the same tyre strategy, running the soft tyre for the first two stints before fitting the hard compound for the final, shorter part of the race. After 56 punishing laps, Giancarlo Fisichella finished in sixth position (a gain of six places) while Heikki Kovalainen took his first ever Formula 1 point in only his second Grand Prix, with an eighth-place finish.
While the overall level of performance remains well below the team's expectations, this afternoon's performance represented a step forward relative to Melbourne -- and the team will continue working hard on improvements in the coming weeks. After two rounds of the championship, the team sits in fourth position in the standings, with a total of 8 points.
Giancarlo Fisichella, 6th position:
"This was the maximum I could do today -- and in our situation at the moment, it feels like a podium finish. I am proud of the race I drove today, and the pace was better than during the rest of the weekend, and the car balance more stable and consistent."
"The start was particularly good, I was able to be aggressive in turns 1 and 2, and gain four places. The team is realistic about the position we are in at the moment, but they are working hard to understand why we are not on the pace -- and everybody is still really motivated to improve the car and start moving forward."
Heikki Kovalainen, 8th position:
"This was my first F1 point, so it's a nice feeling after such a tough race. I attacked every lap today, just pushing as hard as possible to try and make up positions. The balance was similar to qualifying, and a little unpredictable in the high speed corners which meant I had some moments in turn 6, but that happens when you are on the limit."
"For me, the race was a definite step forward compared to Melbourne, and our competitiveness was better than we showed in qualifying. I think we are moving in the right direction, and I know the team will stay strong and keep their heads up, even though we are not winning at the moment. Hopefully we can take another step in Bahrain next weekend."
Flavio Briatore, Managing Director:
"This is our level at the moment -- and we got everything possible from the race this afternoon. I think our result was the one we deserved, and there is no other answer for us than to carry on working hard to climb back to the top."
"Fisico was perfect today, with a strong, consistent race, while Heikki got his first point, erased the memory of Melbourne and did an encouraging performance for himself and the team. We have achieved our maximum today, now we need to carry on working to improve our potential for the next races."
Pat Symonds, Executive Director of Engineering:
"This was the best result we could achieve with the car we have at the moment. Giancarlo drove a very impressive race, moving up six positions, which included four places gained with some incisive, aggressive driving at the start and in the first corners."
"Heikki was very unfortunate to get boxed in at the start, but after that he drove a good race, and came home with a well-deserved first point in his F1 career. It goes without saying that we cannot be satisfied with our level of performance, but I believe we raced well with what we had today."