The Renault F1 Team finished a dramatic Chinese Grand Prix in second and third positions this afternoon in Shanghai.
Fernando Alonso’s second place finish came after a race in which the Spaniard dominated in both the wet and the dry. However, two crucial periods of the race cost him vital track time. The first came at the end of the stint when, after discussions with Fernando and Michelin, the team chose to change the severely worn front tyres only. As Fernando returned to the track, he was unable to regain his previous level of performance – and was rapidly caught by Giancarlo Fisichella and Michael Schumacher behind. As a result of this he elected to stop early for dry tyres and fuel to the finish on lap 35. However, a pit-stop problem when a wheel nut came loose from the gun cost him vital seconds. The team is currently investigating the origin of the problem. After the leaders had stopped, he was 25 seconds behind with 15 laps to go. Although he subsequently closed the deficit rapidly, time ran out before he could catch leader Michael Schumacher.
As for team-mate Giancarlo Fisichella, he ran competitively on the heaviest fuel load among the front-runners during the opening stint, then led strongly through the middle stages as the circuit dried and Fernando Alonso struggled. He changed to dry tyres on lap 41, and eventually finished third behind his team-mate.
The Honda Racing F1 Team’s Chinese Grand Prix ended pretty much as it began today with drivers Rubens Barrichello and Jenson Button locked together as they brought home a fourth consecutive double points finish for the team. Having started from 3rd and 4th on the grid, they finally ended the 56-lap race with Jenson 4th and Rubens 6th after a race-long battle in the changeable wet-dry-wet conditions.
Two faultless pitstops for both drivers were well-timed to ensure a safe switch to dry tyres. Jenson had been struggling for grip in the latter part of the first stint, pitting much earlier than planned. At the same time, Rubens was really making up ground as his car and tyres were performing well. From the point of Jenson’s first pitstop he was in his element, edging closer to his team-mate to produce some real ‘edge-of-your-seat’ racing for the fans. Both drivers sat tight on dry tyres as the rain started to fall again in the last few laps before Jenson seized the moment and passed first a McLaren, then his team-mate and finally a BMW in quick succession to secure a hard-fought 4th position.
Crew photos-World Copyright: /LAT Photographic, Renault & Honda news used with permission.