Solid top-five finish for Kubica

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F1 Grand Prix, GP South Korea, Korean International Circuitkr

The first Korean Grand Prix was a very spectacular one due to the heavy weather conditions. The Renault F1 Team's Polish driver Robert Kubica was despite the difficult circumstances able to finish the race in 5th position. His rookie team mate Vitaly Petrov was less fortunate and crashed out of the race.

Robert Kubica, P5
Fastest lap: 1:51.604
Started race on wet weather tyres. Pit stop: Lap 31, 31.488 (intermediates)

"Fifth place means good points for the team and it’s a good reward for all our efforts this weekend. It was a long, difficult race – and a race of two halves. The first part was very tricky for me, because I had big problems warming up the tyres. I had no grip at all and couldn’t push – I was just concentrating on keeping the car on the track. For the second half, though, I think it was very good. It was important to look after the intermediate tyres and keep them in as good shape as possible, to get the benefit in the final laps. That was when I managed to gain a lot of positions, which meant everything turned out pretty well in the end."

Vitaly Petrov, DNF
Fastest lap: 1:53.031
Started race on wet weather tyres. Pit stop: Lap 20, 24.663 (intermediates)

"I had stopped early for intermediate tyres on lap 20, so they were pretty worn by the time we started racing after the second Safety Car period. I was still pushing to keep in front of the guys behind me, and I lost the car on the penultimate corner and had a big crash – but I’m okay. This was my first experience of such extreme conditions in F1, and I think the FIA did a good job to let us run behind the Safety Car and understand the circuit before starting the race. The team had made a good call with the change to intermediate tyres, and I was in a strong position in P7 when I crashed. Of course, I am disappointed to end the race in the wall and not in the points, but it was encouraging to be running in the top ten."

Eric Boullier, Team Principal: "It’s a case of mixed feelings following a race where we scored a solid top-five finish – but also lost a potential double points finish. We made good strategy calls for Vitaly, and he was doing a good job when he lost the car in the final corner. In those conditions, every mistake will be punished, even though he was driving to look after his tyres. As for Robert, he produced a strong performance to finish fifth. He managed his intermediate tyres well, and was catching the cars in front of him in the final laps – and would have passed them on track, had he not pressured them into mistakes. His fifth place was the plus point of our afternoon."

Alan Permane, Chief Race Engineer: "We had originally hoped for a top five position with Robert in the dry yesterday afternoon, so it’s pleasing to have achieved it after a tricky afternoon on the pitwall today. Robert drove a solid race in extremely difficult conditions – and did a very creditable job to climb to P5 by the finish, having kept his tyres fresh enough to be quick in the final laps. With Vitaly, we knew we had to be creative with him starting in P20. That led us to take a bit of a gamble, and put him onto intermediate tyres during the first Safety Car period. It was working out well, and he then benefited from the second Safety Car to climb to P7. After that, we were hoping he would be able to hold his position when he lost the car on the exit of turn 17 and had a big shunt. The good news was that he was fine afterwards."

Rémi Taffin, Head of Engine Operations: "Fifth position is pretty much right where we should have been with Robert, having made the right choices at the right times in the race. Vitaly’s race was going very well before his accident, and he was doing a strong job to reap the benefits of his early stop. But he was far from the only driver to be caught out by the conditions today. As for our engines, we had no worries at all, and everything was well under control."