The Renault F1 Team took nine points from a dramatic tactical battle in Imola this afternoon, during the 2006 San Marino Grand Prix. In a spectacular reversal of last year's result, Fernando Alonso's faster Renault R26 shadowed winner Michael ...
The Renault F1 Team took nine points from a dramatic tactical battle in Imola this afternoon, during the 2006 San Marino Grand Prix.
In a spectacular reversal of last year's result, Fernando Alonso's faster Renault R26 shadowed winner Michael Schumacher's Ferrari to the flag, having closed up a lead of almost 15 seconds that the German had built during the opening stint.
However, the Imola circuit is known for being one on which it is almost impossible to overtake, and the Spaniard's only hope was to try and pressure his rival into a mistake that never came. However, Fernando's second-place finish extends his championship lead over his nearest rivals, and he has scored 36 points from 40 possible.
Giancarlo Fisichella went into the race knowing he would have a difficult afternoon starting from 11th position on the grid. His R26 failed to show its true pace during the long opening stint of the race, when he struggled for grip, but after that he was able to make up ground on the competitors around him to take the final points-paying position.
The Renault F1 Team now has 51 points in the Constructors' Championship, a lead of 18 points over its closest rival.
Fernando Alonso, 2nd position:
"Second place and eight points is a perfect result for me this afternoon. We suspected that we had qualified with more fuel than the others, and the race showed we were right to pick that strategy. At a normal circuit, we could have won but this is Imola where overtaking is almost impossible."
"I could see that I was much faster than Michael in the second stint, and I was just trying to put pressure on him, hoping he would make a mistake. We did not plan to make our second stop when we did -- we pitted early to try and overtake him but it didn't quite work. So I stayed in his slipstream and in the last five laps, put all the revs on the engine and tried to overtake. But the Ferrari was a lot quicker again at the end, and it didn't happen."
"Looking at the championship, though, this is perfect. My closest rivals at the start of the weekend were Fisichella and Raikkonen, and I have taken points from both of them. I am happy with this, and I know we will be stronger again in the Nuerburgring.
Giancarlo Fisichella, 8th position:
"This was a race to try and recover what happened in qualifying yesterday afternoon and I cannot be happy to finish eighth, but I still got into the points. The start was fantastic but I got crowded out as others drivers closed the door, and then struggled with the grip in the first stint. We took off some front wing at the stop, and then the pace was in the car."
"I was much faster and started to make up a lot of ground because we ran further than the other cars, but in the end, there were only a couple of seconds in it at the second stop -- and I came out just behind Button and Webber. The race showed the speed is there in the car, though, and I think we can have a much stronger weekend in Germany in two weeks."
Flavio Briatore, Managing Director:
"The Renault was very competitive this afternoon, and we only just lost out to Ferrari on a circuit where overtaking is so difficult. Fernando did everything he could, but we just didn't quite have the answers we needed to beat Michael this afternoon."
"Fisico was always going to have a hard day, but did his best to get to the points, and managed it. We had both cars in the points, Fernando has a big lead in the drivers' championship, and it was another good team performance today."
Pat Symonds, Executive Director of Engineering:
"We saw a very typical Imola race this afternoon, and an interesting reversal of last year's result. I think the Renault was the faster car but in fact, this appearance was probably exaggerated by the fact that Schumacher had such a dreadful middle stint."
"With Fernando stuck behind him, we were left with very few options to try and capitalise on our performance advantage, as we believe our planned lap for the second stop was, contrary to what the figures on television seemed to indicate, very close to his."
"We pulled in early because running longer was unlikely to pay off for us, as the Ferrari's tyres seemed very quick at the start of a stint. So we tried to get Fernando a lap of clean air to beat Michael in the pits and it didn't quite work but as the phrase goes, "nothing ventured, nothing gained". And in this case, nothing lost either."
"Giancarlo had a steady race, and he was unfortunate not to get ahead of Button at the final stop. Realistically, though, his race was all about mitigating the effects of qualifying yesterday, and he did everything that could be asked of him."