The Renault F1 Team locked out the front row for the Canadian Grand Prix during qualifying today at Montreal's Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, with Fernando Alonso on pole position and Giancarlo Fisichella second. This was the team's second all-Renault front row of the 2006 season, following on from the Spanish Grand Prix last month, and Fernando's fifth consecutive pole position, continuing a run that began at the Nürburgring.
Qualifying confirmed the strong performances both drivers had put in throughout the weekend. They tuned the car set-up throughout practice to adapt to changing circuit conditions as the track rubbered in, and the R26 has performed faultlessly. The car balance has been neutral, giving them confidence to attack the chicanes and braking zones.
Tomorrow's race is expected to be run in hot conditions which will suit the team's Michelin tyres. They have performed excellently all weekend, offering a competitive blend of first-lap performance and long-run consistency, and both Renault drivers hope to make best use of those qualities to fight for the race win tomorrow.
Fernando Alonso: Five pole positions in a row is something I have never experienced and it is a fantastic feeling. The competition between myself, Fisico and Raikkonen has been very close all weekend, and that was how it turned out in qualifying this afternoon. The car has felt very good from the first lap we did on Friday, and we have only had to tune it to adapt to the changing grip conditions. We needed to run at the end in qualifying because the track was improving all the time, and this result was perfect. To have an all-Renault front row at the ninth race shows how hard the whole team is pushing to develop the car at the moment, and they can be proud of the work they are doing. Now, we need to finish the job tomorrow.
Giancarlo Fisichella: I was really pleased with the performance today – it's fantastic to have a Renault one-two in qualifying. I made a change to the car right before my last flying lap to add a bit more front wing and after that, the balance felt really good. Now we have to see what tomorrow brings, but I know that we have a good strategy and the perfect starting position. We have a great chance to win the race, and maybe we will want a one-two finish there as well.
Pat Symonds, Executive Director of Engineering: It was a fabulous achievement to lock out the front row this afternoon, with Fernando's fifth consecutive pole position and a very good performance from Giancarlo. It will be a long, tough Grand Prix but we are in a position to race hard, and the car is clearly competitive. The Michelin tyres have been absolutely perfect, both in terms of their single lap performance and on the longer runs we completed yesterday and today. This circuit has not been kind to us in the past two years, and we will hope to put an end to that with a strong result tomorrow.
Denis Chevrier, Head of Trackside Engine Operations: We are delighted with our qualifying positions this afternoon, especially as they have not come at the price of compromising our race strategy. We spent the practice sessions evaluating the tyres and tuning the aero balance, while also completing our normal checks on the RS26 engine. Qualifying showed that we are competitive in terms of straightline speed, and we have prepared well for the race. This has been an excellent start to the weekend and we intend to finish it off in the same fashion.
To check out our Canada qualifying picture gallery, click here