Renault managed to get both cars through to Q3 in Valencia today, just as they did in Turkey, and are now looking to narrow the gap to nearest rivals Mercedes, who had a nightmare qualifying session.
Robert Kubica actually set the fastest time in Q1 today, and finished qualifying in sixth place. “It has been a pretty good qualifying and the car was especially strong on the prime tyre,” explained the Pole. “On the options I had a lot more movement so the car felt quite different and we didn't really gain the lap time, but we made a decision that it would be better to start the race on the options.
“Although I finished higher in the first two parts of qualifying, I think the end result reflects our true position. The new updates on the car this weekend are bringing us some gains, but we still need to work to get 100% from them, which I hope we can do in the coming races.”
Vitaly Petrov qualified in tenth, but the Russian rookie thinks he could potentially have finished the session higher up the timesheets. “It's fantastic to get into Q3 because the times were very close today,” said Petrov. “Unfortunately I made some mistakes on my fastest lap in Q3 so I could maybe have been even higher on the grid.
“In the race anything can happen so I will try and look after my tyres and make up some positions. There are a lot of new parts on the car this weekend and I have had to adapt my driving style, but I can feel a big improvement with the car.”
Eric Boullier was happy with the teams performance, and wants to use tomorrow’s race to make up some ground on rivals Mercedes, where both drivers qualified outside the top ten. “It's always good to see both cars in Q3 because it's not something we have managed that often this season,” he said. “After Q1 and Q2 we were expecting an even better result in Q3, but we didn't find the performance that we expected with the soft tyres.
“For the race tomorrow we have a good strategy and hopefully we can get both cars in the points and make up some ground on Mercedes.”
Alan Permane, the Renault chief race engineer, revealed after qualifying that they were hoping to get Kubica higher up the grid, but were affected by tyre issues. “We were actually hoping for a better position with Robert today, but we struggled more than we expected with the option tyre,” said Pemane. “Although it's the softer compound, the car was moving around more and felt less together on the option. You might expect a softer tyre to have more grip, but you can't use that extra grip if the car isn't easy to drive. However, we felt that we needed to start the race on the option, so that we don't have to do a long stint on it in the race.”