Renault had a difficult afternoon in their home race as Robert Kubica was hit by technical issues and was forced to retire, whilst Vitaly Petrov suffered a puncture and finished only thirteenth – out of the points.
Just before he retired, Kubica was overtaken – unfairly in the steward’s eyes – by Fernando Alonso. However, before the Ferrari driver could give Kubica the position back, the Pole was being pushed back into his garage by the Renault mechanics.
“I had a dream first lap, gaining a lot of places, but after that our pace was not so good and I was lacking overall grip,” Kubica explained. “Following my pit stop I had a nice fight with Alonso, but he overtook me by cutting turn eight. I was on the inside, he was on the outside and he passed me with all four wheels off the track.
“The team informed me that he would have to give back the position, but before he could do that we had a driveshaft failure at the rear of the car, so all I could do was bring it back to the pits and retire.”
Petrov did finish the race, but despite a good start, could not bring his Renault home in the top ten. “Today I think it was possible to finish in the points, but I had some bad luck with a puncture after the Safety Car period which cost me a lot of time,” said the Russian.
“My start was not too bad, and I made up three positions on the first lap. After then, though, it was really difficult to overtake because there are no slow corners at this circuit, but I tried my best. It's good to have finished the race because it gives us lots of data and gives me more experience of the track.”
Eric Boullier, the Renault team principal, summed up the team’s disappointment at what is, essentially, their home race. However, he vowed that they would bounce back to compete hard with their closest rivals for the remainder of the season.
“Robert had an exceptional start to the race, but unfortunately this was to be the only enjoyable moment of the day,” said Boullier. “It's disappointing to see him retire, but the car has been extremely reliable this year and this is his first retirement of the season.
“As for Vitaly, his race pace was good today, but he picked up a puncture and that ruined his race.
“We now have to bounce back and find more speed because we struggled for overall pace this weekend. We also saw today how close the fight is with Mercedes and we need to work hard to get back ahead of them.”