First of all, this writer must offer himself hearty congratulations for producing the worst Chinese-themed headline of this year’s coverage. With that out of the way, we’re looking at the Renault team’s thoughts on their quiet weekend in Shanghai, the Enstone-based squad having found themselves removed from the spotlight for the first time in 2011.
Actually, it’s worth mentioning that Badger isn’t the only outlet making use of strange titles this weekend: Renault themselves have been on something of a rock-and-roll kick with their press releases, first titling their post-practice report ‘Can’t You Hear Me Knocking’ (a Rolling Stones tune, if you didn’t know). Saturday’s qualifying release meanwhile was dubbed ‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want’, also the name of a Stones track, whilst the post-race report was titled ‘Roll With It’, which we believe takes its inspiration from a. the Oasis song; b. Chinese takeaway mainstay Spring Rolls; and c. the fact that they had a bit of a trying weekend.
Qualifying went wrong when Vitaly Petrov stopped on-track during Q2, ruling him out of the pole shootout (which he’d qualified for) and ruining team-mate Heidfeld’s efforts to progress to the final session. Quick Nick made some progress in the race but not enough to climb in to the points, hindered by KERS problems (who wasn’t?) and the unusually low attrition rate in this year’s event.
“I’m not happy with where I finished, even though I started P16,” said Heidfeld, who came home in 12th spot. “The start was very poor, but I went aggressive into the first corner and made up a few places. After a few laps I started having problems with the KERS and couldn’t use the full power all the time, which made overtaking and defending quite difficult.”
Proof, if it were needed, that whilst you may wish to roll with it you shouldn’t take your time.
Petrov meanwhile lined up ninth and finished tenth, though with both Toro Rossos enduring poor races he actually lost positions to Webber and Schumacher, both of whom started some way behind him. The Russian ended the race nearly half a minute adrift of the Mercedes, with Kamui Kobayahsi just a few seconds behind.
“Starting where we did, it was always going to be difficult to repeat the results we have had already this season,” said team boss Eric Boullier after the race. “In the end, it turned out to be quite a frustrating afternoon for us and we didn’t really make the progress we expected in the race. Part of the reason was that overtaking was not as easy as we thought it would be, even with the DRS.”
“Ultimately we struggled for pace and both drivers found it quite difficult to overtake,” added chief race engineer Alan Permane. “Vitaly didn’t make a great start and he was stuck in traffic during his first stint. At that point we were thinking about whether to do two or three stops, but when he finally found some clean air his pace looked reasonable and we decided it was best to do two stops. However, he struggled for pace on the soft tyres during his middle stint.
“As for Nick, we chose to run the same tyre strategy as Vitaly, but he struggled with KERS overheating problems, which meant the system could only be used intermittently and made it even more difficult for him to come through the field.”
The team sit fourth in the constructors’ standings and you have to feel they’ll stay there, which isn’t a bad thing at all.