Podium finish for Renaultsport F1 RS27 in Hungarian Grand Prix posted on 01 August 2011
A thrilling Hungarian Grand Prix saw one Renault RS27 engine claim a podium position as Red Bull Racing-Renault’s Sebastian Vettel took second place behind race winner Jenson Button. Mark Webber finished in fifth position to give Renault engines a double points finish. Lotus Renault GP’s Vitaly Petrov passed the flag in 12th position, however team-mate Nick Heidfeld retired on lap 24 when his left hand sidepod caught fire on exiting the pitlane.
Team Lotus had a double retirement, with Heikki Kovalainen and Jarno Trulli retiring with suspected water leaks on laps 56 and 19 respectively.
Sebastian Vettel continues to lead the championship with 234 points to Mark Webber’s 149. The points’ table is close behind Webber, with Hamilton on 146, Alonso on 145 and Button on 134. Red Bull leads the constructors’ championship by 103 points, while Lotus Renault GP sits fifth.
Key race weekend points:
Red Bull Racing
Sebastian Vettel took pole position for the eighth time this season, with Mark Webber starting sixth. Sebastian had a strong start but Lewis Hamilton was right on his tail in the opening laps. Lewis took the lead on lap five when Sebastian ran wide at turn two and built up a small cushion of four seconds before the first round of pit stops. The evolving track and weather conditions played a defining role in the race results, with Jenson Button passing Sebastian for second when he made his first stop for dry tyres. The two McLarens held the lead for the middle part of the race with Sebastian third before Fernando Alonso was able to pass the Red Bull on his third pit stop. Sebastian retook the position on lap 45 and was elevated to second when Hamilton served a drive through penalty. Mark Webber fell to eighth at the start but some aggressive driving and canny pit stop decisions put him back into fifth behind Lewis.
Lotus Renault GP
Vitaly Petrov was engaged in some tight on track battles within the top ten, however finished just outside in 12th position. He retains ninth in the championship behind team-mate Nick Heidfeld. Nick dropped back at the start to 17th position, but had regained some ground before his second pit stop on lap 24. However on exiting his pit box, the left hand sidepod of his car appeared to smoke and then quickly caught fire. The German had no choice but to pull over to the side of the track just after the pit exit and jump out of the car.
Heikki Kovalainen and Jarno Trulli had a strong qualifying, lapping within 0.3secs of the Toro Rosso of Sebastien Buemi to start 18th and 19th. Jarno had to retire the car on lap 19 with a water leak, and then Heikki stopped on lap 56 with an identical problem. The cars were stopped, causing no damage to the engines.
Rémi Taffin, head of Renault Sport F1 track operations, gives his views on the race weekend:
That was anything but a typical Hungarian Grand Prix! It is one of the tougher circuits on the calendar to us to prepare as the average rev range is low but the engine has to be responsive out of the low speed corners onto the short straights. You need an engine that’s driveable and responsive but we can use engines that are on the third or fourth race of their lifecycle as they aren’t put under high stress. Cooling would normally be a major concern here, but the temperatures were much lower than usual with the rain and the cloud cover.
All things considered, a podium and fifth place are not bad to take away from the race considering the changeable conditions, plus Red Bull Racing-Renault and Sebastian still have comfortable leads in the world championship. The battle for second position in the drivers’ championship is tight though so we need to keep focused in the second part of the season.
Heikki and Jarno had water leaks and Nick had an exhaust failure, which obviously ended his race pretty spectacularly. In all cases however the teams reacted very quickly to stop any damage to the engines. For both Lotus Renault GP and Team Lotus it meant the results were not as hoped for considering the good starts the teams enjoyed to the weekend, so we’ll try to understand exactly why and help them have a strong finish to the year.
Renault statistics in F1:
136 wins, 187 poles
* including Supertec, Mecachrome and Playlife statistics