Malaysian Grand Prix: Renault Sport race report
25 March, 2012
Three Renault RS27 engine powered drivers secured points in today’s Malaysian Grand Prix. Red Bull Racing-Renault’s Mark Webber finished in fourth position ahead of Lotus F1 Team-Renault’s Kimi Raikkonen in fifth.
The new-for-2012 Williams-Renault package scored its first points of the season with Bruno Senna sixth, his best-ever finish in F1, giving a total of 30 points across the four Renault-powered teams. Fernando Alonso eventually won the rain affected race ahead of Sauber’s Sergio Perez and McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton.
The dramatic Grand Prix saw several changes of weather conditions, with the race starting in light rain and stopped on lap nine after increasing to a torrential deluge. Unfortunately the heavy rain had already claimed Lotus-Renault’s Romain Grosjean, who clashed with Michael Schumacher on lap one and later fell victim to aquaplaning on lap four.
In the restarted race, the Red Bulls moved into the top six with Sebastian Vettel closing for fifth position towards the end of the race. However contact with the HRT of Narain Karthikeyan on lap 48 caused a rear puncture. The German returned to the pits to change tyres, rejoined in 11th position and out of the points.
The Caterham F1 Team achieved its first double finish in its home race, with Vitaly Petrov claiming 16th. Heikki Kovalainen finished in 18th position after an extra pit stop following an off track excursion.
Pastor Maldonado looked set to give the Williams-Renault team a double points finish but an engine problem just two laps from the end forced him into an early retirement.
Red Bull Racing-Renault now sits second in the championship with 42 points to McLaren’s 55, while Lotus-Renault is fifth. Williams-Renault lies seventh and Caterham 11th.
Rémi Taffin, head of Renault Sport F1 track operations
Malaysia is always a difficult race for engine management. It’s a double header with Australia so generally we would use the engine for two consecutive events, but it’s also tough to find the correct compromise settings to deal with the changeable weather conditions. We saw all of them here today! Allied to this, there is the extra challenge of dealing with the high ambient humidity, even when dry, which slows down the fuel combustion process and reduces power output.
There are positives and negatives from today. We got three partners into the points and a relatively good haul across the Renault-engined cars. Red Bull got some decent points, and while it’s not as many as everyone would have liked, in this type of race it is a lottery. The pace of the Lotus-Renault package was confirmed with the strong qualifying pace and Kimi’s points. Williams also scored the first points for the new partnership, and its best performance since Singapore 2010, which is also satisfying after the pace shown at the first race. We were pleased to see Caterham achieved its double finish in its home race.
On the negative, we had our first in-race engine failure for some time on Pastor’s car. We must apologise to Williams for this as we could have got a double points finish. However, with a longer gap between this race and the next in China we can fully investigate the reason for the failure and ensure that it does not happen to Williams, or any of our partners, again.