Renault had a tough opening weekend to the opening season, and leave Bahrain without points, despite a reasonable qualifying session on Saturday.
Robert Kubica, who qualified ninth, had his race ruined in a first lap incident in which he was tagged by Adrian Sutil, sending him into a spin, and to the back of the grid. Kubica fought his way back up to P11, one place shy of a points finish.
After the race Kubica described the incident, which all stemmed from Mark Webber’s Red Bull. “During the lap to the grid, we had high engine oil levels and we took some out on the grid, but it seemed like Webber had the same problem after turn one: his engine just sucked the oil in and there was a massive amount of smoke in front of me. I think Sutil just didn't lift off because he couldn't see anything and he hit me. I spun during the incident and that cooked the rear tyres: they were overheating from that point onwards and I eventually stopped very early on lap 12.”
The Pole was hoping to points in today’s race but leaves Bahrain optimistic for success in the coming season. “I think we would have had a very strong points finish because we showed the pace to fight well. Overall, it was a positive weekend for us, though: we were well prepared after the winter; the team did a fantastic job at the track and back in Enstone to get the cars ready with the new package, and we didn't have any issues with the engine or the brakes. Now, we need to keep working and keep pushing.”
Kubica’s teammate Vitaly Petrov was quick off the grid, and had moved up to P11 by the end of the first lap after starting from P17. Unfortunately for Petrov, suspension failure after he ran of the track meant he had to retire from his debut grand prix on Lap 13. “I ran wide over a kerb in turn 12 and it seemed to damage the right-front suspension at that point. I came into the pits to have the car checked over, and that was when we realised that the suspension couldn't be repaired so I had to retire. It was an extremely disappointing end after such a great start, but I'm pleased with how things went up to that point, and I want to thank all my mechanics and the whole team for the car they gave me this weekend. They did a fantastic job.”
Eric Bouillier, Renault Team Principal, was disappointed with the results, but believes the team can take plenty of positives from their time in Bahrain. “It's frustrating to finish so close to the points but, at the same time, we can be encouraged by the speed he [Kubica] demonstrated to get there. I'm very disappointed for Vitaly, too: he made an outstanding start and drove very well in the opening laps, looking after his tyres without overdriving, and showing strong race pace.
“Overall, we can say that the R30 is a good basis to work from but we're under no illusion about the amount of work ahead of us if we want to catch the teams in front. The whole team has put in an incredible amount of effort during recent weeks, both at the factory and here at the track this weekend. The team spirit is strong and we're all motivated to keep on pushing to improve even more.”
RÃ©mi Taffin, the Head of Engine Operations at Renault, also took positives from this weekend, and is targeting points at the next race. “The entire team had a very tough first weekend of the year but, in typical fashion, they all rose to the challenge. The two drivers did a fantastic job: Vitaly got better and better through the weekend, while Robert justified all the hopes we had for him and it was a shame to see him fall victim to a racing incident on lap one.
“On the engine front, we used the same engines throughout the weekend without any problems at all. We had no surprises running on the heavy fuel loads, no issues with fuel consumption and we respected every part of our planned strategy. We hope that our hard work will be rewarded with points at the next race in Australia”