The second 'super-pole' style qualifying session of the 2006 Formula 1 season, held in sweltering conditions this afternoon at the Sepang circuit in Malaysia, once again saw the Renault F1 Team experience mixed fortunes during the hour. While ...
The second 'super-pole' style qualifying session of the 2006 Formula 1 season, held in sweltering conditions this afternoon at the Sepang circuit in Malaysia, once again saw the Renault F1 Team experience mixed fortunes during the hour.
While Giancarlo Fisichella raced to pole position, a fuel rig problem between Heat 2 and the Super-Pole session left Fernando Alonso disadvantaged during the final twenty-minute session.
The World Champion qualified eighth, but will start seventh -- and on the cleaner side of the grid -- once Michael Schumacher's Ferrari has been demoted ten places following an engine change this morning.
With the Michelin tyres performing strongly in the oppressive heat, the team is optimistic that Giancarlo can aim for the race win, while Fernando will be looking to recover from his qualifying difficulties to score a maximum number of points.
"I want to dedicate this win to Pietro, a childhood friend of mine who died last Sunday. This is the best pole I have had so far. Last year it was thanks to the rain, but today, everybody was up there and fighting hard for it."
"The engineers made some changes to the car overnight that really improved the balance, and from the first run this morning, I could feel we had the pace to fight for the first two rows. After that, it was a question of doing the best possible job in the qualifying session, and performing to the maximum at the right time. We did it, and tomorrow, I will only be thinking about the win.
"It was obviously a very disappointing qualifying session for me. Fisico showed what the car can do at this circuit, and I should have been up there as well. We had a problem with the fuel rig before the final part of qualifying, and I didn't have the performance on my lap with new tyres at the end."
"Even so, I am not actually in too bad a position, and I will gain a place before tomorrow. The package actually feels good, and we are consistent with our pace, so I am not ruling anything our for tomorrow."
Pat Symonds, Executive Director of Engineering:
"It was fantastic for Giancarlo to grab pole in a very busy and exciting session. His performance this afternoon shows not just the innate performance of the R26, but also his own personal strength of character to bounce back from a difficult weekend in Bahrain."
"Unfortunately, Fernando was unable to make use of the car's full potential through no fault of his own. We suffered a problem with the fuel rigs which has meant his car does not have the optimum fuel load in it."
Denis Chevrier, Head of Trackside Engine Operations:
"It is always very satisfying to be on pole, and Giancarlo drove an excellent lap this afternoon in the high-pressure moments of the final session."
"From the team's perspective, we are in a similar situation to that we encountered in Sakhir, as our two cars were unable to express their full performance this afternoon after the fuel rig problem encountered by Fernando."
"From the engine's point of view, we have not had any unexpected incidents, and our measurements show that the car is coping well with the hot conditions, in terms of our choice of cooling level and gear ratios."
"We are ready for an aggressive race tomorrow, and starting from the front row, we have every hope of fighting for the win. As for Fernando, we have seen on numerous occasions that he is capable of extraordinary performances from less than ideal grid positions.
Heat 1: 1:35.752
Heat 2: 1:33.997
Super-Pole: 1:35.747, P8
Will start P7
Heat 1: 1:34.791
Heat 2: 1:33.623
Super-Pole: 1:33.840, P1