The Renault F1 Team began the Turkish Grand Prix weekend in low-key fashion today at the Istanbul Park circuit, with Fernando Alonso finishing the second practice session in P12 while team-mate Giancarlo Fisichella was P18. While the R26 ...
The Renault F1 Team began the Turkish Grand Prix weekend in low-key fashion today at the Istanbul Park circuit, with Fernando Alonso finishing the second practice session in P12 while team-mate Giancarlo Fisichella was P18.
While the R26 superficially seemed to be off the pace, the team's lessons from practice will yield fruit through the weekend in guiding tyre choice and set-up directions. After initially setting competitive times, both drivers struggled with severe tyre graining during the rest of practice, but were nonetheless encouraged by the underlying speed of the car.
With hot conditions forecast to continue until Sunday, the team's tyre choice is now relatively straightforward, and tomorrow's sessions will be spent honing the set-up of the R26 to provide the drivers with a driveable car for one of the most demanding Grands Prix of the season.
"It was a pretty normal Friday for me: we tried the tyres, did some laps to get comfortable with the circuit again and started to think about the set-up changes for the rest of the weekend. Obviously, we struggled with bad tyre graining after the first few laps, but the car initially felt competitive so I think we can be fighting for pole tomorrow, when the track rubbers in. Overall, we have learned some useful information today, and I am confident the car will be quick for the rest of the weekend.
"I had the same bad tyre graining as Fernando after the first timed laps -- except I also hit traffic when I was on the quickest laps at the start of the run. So I think the times make it look like we are a bit off the pace today, but Friday is never a reliable indicator of how things will shape up for the rest of the weekend. We need to work hard overnight to improve, but I am confident we can be back in our normal positions tomorrow afternoon.
Pat Symonds, Executive Director of Engineering:
"We found last year that the primary limiting factor on performance was tyre graining, and that is the case once again today. On a circuit such as this where there are relatively few traction events, the front tyres are heavily loaded -- and the cars also tend to slide a lot in the corners. That is a perfect combination for provoking graining, and we knew we had to get a handle on it today to avoid compromising our race on Sunday."
"We therefore took the decision to run the cars with very heavy fuel loads to provoke a worst-case scenario -- and, as the times showed, the graining was severe. Those factors explain our poor performance, but today's lessons will help us during the rest of the weekend. I am sure we can get the car back to the front tomorrow.
Denis Chevrier, Head of Engine Operations:
"Friday is always a working day, with each team going about its programme diligently and focusing on finding the best chassis and engine set-ups. That was what we did today and, as always, the final timesheets should be taken with a pinch of salt."
"On the engine front, our drivers remain out of step in their usage, with Giancarlo using a new unit here and Fernando re-using his V8 from Hungary. Giancarlo's engine includes a number of developments that will feature in the next specification upgrade that will debut in Monza, and they performed without incident today. Overall, we have completed our usual solid Friday preparations, and look forward to a competitive weekend."
Fernando Alonso: 12th
17 laps total
Giancarlo Fisichella: 18th
17 laps total