The Renault F1 Team made a solid start to the Chinese Grand Prix weekend in Shanghai, with Fernando Alonso and Giancarlo Fisichella finishing sixth and tenth respectively in the second practice session – and as the third and fifth fastest race drivers. Neither driver ran in the morning session as changing track conditions were not suitable for accurate testing, while unsettled weather conditions and light rain in the afternoon made it hard to draw firm conclusions from the times. However, both drivers were pleased with the consistent performance of the Michelin tyres, and the R26 felt stable to drive – although overnight tuning will further improve the balance. All in all, the team has enjoyed a promising opening day of the Grand Prix weekend.
Fernando Alonso: We had to adjust our programme a little bit because of the rain in the afternoon session, but we have a good baseline to work from with the car. It felt comfortable to drive straight away, so while we need to fine-tune things overnight, I am quite happy at the moment. This is a track I always enjoy, especially with the good memories from the championship win last year, and even with the V8 engines and the other changes since 2005, it still felt very good to drive today. I think we need to be a bit cautious analysing the times, because the conditions today are quite different to what we expect for the race. So we will wait for tomorrow until we get a final judgement for the tyre performance, but so far the Michelins seem to be working well.
Giancarlo Fisichella: This was a promising start for me today. We improved the car a little bit during the session, in spite of the changing conditions owing to the rain, and the performance felt good. I didn't put together a full clean lap, so the lap-time could have been better, but the car felt consistent straight away and the tyres seemed good as well. It is hard to be certain in the judgement so early in the weekend, but I have a good feeling so far.
Pat Symonds, Executive Director of Engineering: The changing weather conditions meant that our Friday programme was a little more challenging than normal. We chose not to run in the first session as the track conditions were changing a lot, which meant that it would have been difficult to get reliable answers on the tyre performance. However, the deteriorating weather in second practice made it hard to get much significant work done. In spite of this, the runs we managed to complete showed that, as usual, the initial balance is good – but not quite where we would like it to be for the race. However, our usual programme of overnight tuning should put us in a strong position for tomorrow.
Denis Chevrier, Head of Engine Operations: The changing track conditions this morning, and weather conditions this afternoon, mean that there are a number of question marks over the final times and how well they represent the relative performance of the different competitors. However, we completed our baseline work for the rest of the weekend, and both the lap-times and top speeds seem competitive. Both RS26 engines ran without any incident, and we now need to complete our usual overnight work before seeing how today's times translate in terms of absolute performance for the rest of the weekend.
To check out our Shanghai practice gallery, click here