The ING Renault Formula One Team took its first victory of the season today as double World Champion Fernando Alonso produced a brilliant tactical drive to win the Singapore Grand Prix, the sport’s first ever night race.
Fernando started the race light on fuel and enjoyed an aggressive opening stint on the soft option tyres, rising to 11th before heading to the pits on lap 12. Nelson meanwhile was running heavy, but lost the car on the exit of turn 17 a couple of laps later, which brought out the safety car.
The safety car period saw most of the field head for the pits, while Fernando remained on-track and rose through the field, emerging in the top five and eventually leading the race as the remaining drivers made their stops. From there the Spaniard pushed hard to build a lead that he would never lose, making his final stop on lap 41. A late safety car period failed to halt Fernando’s progress as he swept to his 20th Grand Prix victory.
Having scored ten points this weekend the team has moved into fourth position in the constructors’ championship with a five point lead over Toyota in fifth. The victory gives the whole team a boost as the championship builds to a climax with the remaining three races.
Fernando Alonso P1
“This is a fantastic result – my first podium of the season; my first victory and I’m very happy, although I think it will take several days for me to realise what we have achieved. Wining a Grand Prix here just seemed to be impossible because we missed our chance yesterday in qualifying, but we were very fortunate today and it’s a superb result for the team. We chose a very aggressive strategy and we had a bit of luck, but we had the pace and the car was fantastic throughout the weekend.”
Nelson Piquet DNF
“From the start of the race things were complicated and I had a lot of graining and the situation got worse and worse. The team asked me to push, which I tried to do and finally I lost the rear of my car. I hit the wall heavily but I’m ok. I am disappointed with my race but obviously very happy for the team this evening.”
Flavio Briatore, Managing Director ING Renault F1 Team: “This is an amazing victory for Renault and for Fernando. Since Friday we knew that the car was very competitive and we were very disappointed at the end of qualifying. Today the car was extremely quick, stronger than the Ferrari and McLaren, and although we had some luck when the safety car came out, we deserved this victory. It’s a very important result for Renault after two difficult seasons and helps us prepare for 2009 in the best way possible.”
Pat Symonds, Executive Director of Engineering: “I think the luck we had in the early part of the race was nearly a cancellation of the bad luck we had yesterday. The car has proven itself and so has Fernando. The whole result is a tribute to the team and this wonderful circuit is a tribute to Singapore!”