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Australian GP: Qualifying notes - Renault

NEWS STORY
15/03/2008

It was a difficult afternoon for the ING Renault F1 Team and there were mixed feelings after seeing Fernando Alonso and Nelson Piquet qualify 11th and 21st for tomorrow's Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne's Albert Park. As expected, the competitiveness of the midfield pack was confirmed, making for an intense battle to reach the final part of qualifying. Fernando found himself on the cusp of the top ten, and due to some technical problems, narrowly missed out on the final part of qualifying. It was a case of unrealised potential for Nelson, with the effects of yesterday's problems depriving the young Brazilian of valuable mileage. He will start his first Grand Prix tomorrow and look to fight through the pack and gain valuable experience.

Fernando Alonso: As expected the times were very close and while I was reasonably satisfied with the performance of my car this morning, a failure of the differential upset the balance and made it extremely difficult to drive. I am sure we can bounce back in the race and we will work hard tonight to make sure that is the case.

Nelson Piquet: I was not able to do much running throughout the weekend for different reasons, and that was evident this afternoon in qualifying. I am disappointed because I was hoping to do better for my first Grand Prix, but I will try my best tomorrow to move through the field and above all to learn as much as possible.

Pat Symonds, Executive Director of Engineering: A very disappointing day. Nelson has really suffered from lack of mileage all weekend and we saw the result of that this afternoon. With Fernando we thought we were comfortably in the top ten and in good shape, but a problem with the differential appears to have compromised his lap and put him on the wrong side of what is a very competitive group of cars.

Denis Chevrier, Head of Engine Track Operations: The session was very competitive and I think that it will be like that for the rest of the season. The gaps were very small and all the drivers pushed hard, which caused some of them to go off the track and even interrupted the qualifying session. Fernando had some problems with the differential and despite giving his all was unable to make the top ten. Nelson did not cover as many laps as we would have liked over the weekend and that made it difficult for him today. We must now hope to make a good start tomorrow and try to make the most of our grid positions.

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