It was an afternoon of mixed fortunes for the ING Renault F1 Team's drivers during qualifying at the Nürburgring. Heikki Kovalainen will start from P7 on the grid tomorrow, his fourth consecutive top ten start, but Giancarlo Fisichella narrowly missed out on the final session (by just 16 hundredths of a second), finishing in thirteenth position. While the balance of the R27 was stable, both cars have lacked overall grip through the weekend, and the midfield battle was even closer than we have seen at recent races, with eight cars from P6 to P13 separated by just half a second in the second round of qualifying. Heikki will be able to race strongly from the fourth row tomorrow, while Giancarlo will aim to climb through the field to try and score points.
Heikki Kovalainen: My final lap in Q3 was OK, so it was frustrating to lose out to Webber by just two thousandths little, as I could probably have found some more time in the first and final sectors. But our pace this afternoon wasn't good enough to fight with the BMWs, and that is our target at the moment. The new front wing is definitely a step forward for me, and the car is working better, but we are lacking grip, and missing something with the package this weekend. The balance is good, though, and we hope that our new developments will bring us better consistency in the race. The main thing this afternoon is that Lewis is OK. It was a nasty-looking accident, but we saw him giving the thumbs up, so hopefully he will be fine.
Giancarlo Fisichella: After a run of good qualifying sessions, it is really frustrating not to get through to the top ten. We spent the morning trying to find a good balance with the new front wing we are running here and made good progress compared to yesterday. We are still understanding how to find the best set- up with it, but the car felt OK in the first qualifying runs. On my first lap in second qualifying, I had traffic in the first sector and that cost me three tenths – enough to get through to the super-pole session. So I knew that everything was resting on the final lap and I just went over the limit in a few places, trying to make up the time. It is tough to be starting from so far back, but that is how it goes. We can certainly make up positions tomorrow, so now we need to find a good strategy to help us do that.
Pat Symonds, Executive Director of Engineering: It was very difficult to get the car and tyres working together the way we wanted today, and we saw a substantial difference in our relative performance between the two types of tyre. After a run of races where both drivers made it into the final part of qualifying, it is clearly disappointing that only one did so this afternoon. We will need to assess the reasons for this when we get back to the factory next week but at the moment, our priority is to race strongly and to try and get both drivers in the points.
Denis Chevrier, Head of Engine Track Operations: For any racing team, a good qualifying session in one in which both cars demonstrate an equal level of performance and perform to their potential. After a series of qualifying sessions in which we achieved exactly that, we were disappointed to fall short of our target this afternoon. The session demonstrated clearly that the top two teams are still ahead of the rest, and that BMW remain the third force. We are at the front of the next group, but the gaps are closer here than they have been at recent races. Now, we have to wait and see how consistently we can perform over 60 laps tomorrow afternoon and aim to continue our run of points-scoring finishes.
To check out our Nurburgring qualifying gallery, click here