29 May: European Grand Prix - Race Report - Renault F1
wins with Fisico sixth after a scintillating GP at the Nürburgring.
Fernando Alonso took a scintillating victory in this
afternoon's European Grand Prix, his fourth of the 2005 season and the Mild Seven Renault F1 Team's fifth, seizing the lead on the
final lap of the race after Kimi Raikkonen's McLaren spun out at the first corner. The Spaniard had hunted down the Finn during the
final fifteen laps of the race and, in spite of a costly off-track moment just before his final pit-stop, succeeded in maintaining
the pressure on the leader until the final lap. The Spaniard's two-stop strategy, running very long in the opening stint in order to
make up position, paid off handsomely in spite of a collision in the opening corner where the Spaniard half spun following contact
from Ralf Schumacher.
Italian Giancarlo Fisichella drove an equally strong race to sixth position, starting from the pit-lane
after his engine stalled on the grid. Employing a similar late-stopping strategy to his team-mate, he made up fourteen positions in
the 59 laps, especially around the second stop when he jumped ahead of a large group of competitors. His sixth place finish brought
the team a further three points.
The Renault F1 Team has stretched its lead in the Constructors' Championship, and now has 76
points, while Fernando Alonso sits atop the Drivers' Championship with 59 points. Giancarlo Fisichella is sixth with 17 points.
Alonso, Winner "I was afraid from the start of the race after Ralf hit me – I thought the car might have been damaged,
and that I would have to retire. After a few corners, though, it was clear that everything was OK so then it was a case of pushing
hard, doing the strategy and trying to get a good finish. The car was very good today, easy to drive, and the strategy was
definitely perfect. I was quite happy to settle for second before the last pit-stop, then the team said Raikkonen had a problem and
that I should push – that was when I went off because I was just trying 100% and made a mistake. But even so, I was catching Kimi
and then I saw him crash at the first corner. For me, the big worry was that I would get caught up in the debris, and then I just
had to stay calm for the last lap and take the flag. The most important thing about this victory is that is shows our team is
strong. After Monaco, the mood was quite low but we have shown we can bounce back. Today's performance shows we are still leaders,
and that both cars are quick – Fisi did a great job to be sixth, and he will be even quicker next time, I am sure. I think today
proved we are really going to fight for this title."
Giancarlo Fisichella, 6th position "I am very
disappointed after the problem I had on the grid – I don't know why the engine stalled when I engaged first gear. That meant I had
to start from the pit-lane and it was not easy from there. The car balance was pretty good though, but I spent a lot of the race
stuck behind Button, after they short-fuelled him at his first stop to keep track position ahead of me. That meant the laps around
the second stop were critical, and the team did a great job with the pit-stops and strategy to help me go ahead – I passed five
cars at the final stop I think. Considering my starting position, I think I did the absolute maximum today, and I feel confident for
Canada. I just want a bit more luck."
Flavio Briatore, Managing Director "This was a fantastic victory for
the whole team, and especially Fernando after a drive where he did not give up from start to finish. We thought before the race that
other cars were lighter than us with their fuel load, and the race proved us right; it also showed we had the right strategy as we
made up places on the other cars. Michelin provided great tyres, and we used them in the right way to keep pressure on McLaren until
the last laps – and it paid off. We showed today that our car is quick, as Fisico managed to climb fourteen positions from the
back to finish sixth. Congratulations to the whole team on a great win."
Pat Symonds, Executive Director of
Engineering "This was a fine win for the whole team, but our feelings go to Kimi and McLaren who did an excellent job today.
We took a very different approach with our strategy this weekend, which was designed to pay off at the end of the race, and in fact
we did better than expected. Fernando lost a lot of time in his first stint after being hit by Ralf in the first corner and losing
positions, which left him stuck behind Coulthard for the first twenty laps. However, he drove the kind of consistent race we are
used to seeing and the car was very strong at the end. Our apologies once again must go to Giancarlo – we don't know what caused
his engine to stop on the grid, but he drove a strong race and collected valuable points from a difficult position."