The 2006 Malaysian GP was an historic race for the Renault F1 Team, as drivers Giancarlo Fisichella and Fernando Alonso took the team’s first ever one-two since Renault returned to the sport as a works manufacturer in the 2002 season, and only the second one-two finish in Renault’s Formula One history, the last occasion being at the 1982 French Grand Prix.
Giancarlo Fisichella bounced back in style from a disappointing retirement in the Bahraini Grand Prix seven days ago, controlling the Malaysian Grand Prix from start to finish. Running a two-stop strategy, the Italian made a perfect start from pole position and did not put a foot wrong all afternoon. He pitted on laps 19 and 38, and ran an otherwise untroubled race as his R26 car and RS26 V8 engine did not miss a beat.
Fernando Alonso started from a lowly seventh position after problems in qualifying, but much of the disadvantage had been eradicated by the time he reached turn two. A lightning start, and a daring outside pass on both Williams drivers under braking into the first corner, meant the Spaniard emerged from the opening corners in third position. After holding off the lighter Williams of Mark Webber during the opening laps, and conserving his tyres for what would be a very long first stint, the Spaniard began to show the true pace of the R26.
His two-stop strategy saw him visit the pits on laps 26 and 43, as he vaulted ahead of Jenson Button’s Honda into second position, which he held comfortably to the flag.
The Renault F1 Team leads the Constructors’ Championship with 28 points from the opening two races. Fernando Alonso heads the Drivers’ Championship on 18 points, while Giancarlo Fisichella is fourth on 10 points. The RS26 V8 engine has also taken both race wins under the new V8 regulations, and Fernando Alonso’s engine completed its first two-race life with a total of 18 points scored from a possible 20.
“It was a perfect race for me, but it was very tough physically and mentally. It was really, really hot out there and I began to feel it from mid-race onwards. I knew it would be hard but there was no choice but to push all the way to the end. So I did. I didn’t want to lose concentration in the last laps, and everything went well, the car and engine were perfect too. I am really so happy for this win. And I am especially pleased because I am dedicating the win to a friend who died last week, Pietro. To have my race engineer Alan Permane on the podium alongside me was special too. Thank you to the whole team, this is a brilliant result.”
“From my point of view, I think things could have been different without the problems in qualifying, but today was about making everything we could from P7 on the grid, and I think we did that. I got a great start, and managed to brake late into turn 1 to get the Williams round the outside. I knew Webber was lighter than me, and would have let him go if he had tried to pass, but we had the speed in spite of the heavy fuel load. After that, it was just a question of pushing and letting the strategy work itself out. I have a special feeling for this circuit, it is a fantastic track, and it has always been good to me. I am very pleased to have 18 points out of a possible 20 after only two races, and we are really looking forward to Melbourne.”
Flavio Briatore, Managing Director
“This was a fantastic performance from the whole Renault team. Every single member of our team put in an exceptional performance today. Fisico and Fernando were fantastic. Giancarlo controlled the race, and Fernando amazed us at the start. The car was so heavy, that to do what he did into turn 1 was something special. I think this performance shows that we interpreted the rules for 2006, with the new V8 engines, in the right way. We have a great group of people, and everybody is pushing in the same direction. I am very happy for the whole Renault Group today, and they should be proud to have an incredible team like this one.”
Pat Symonds, Executive Director of Engineering
“We had a fantastic amount of success last season, but the one-two finish eluded us throughout 2005. It is the ultimate team prize, and we are delighted to have achieved it today. What a fantastic result this was for Giancarlo. We saw yesterday that he has real strength of character, as he bounced back from a disappointing weekend in Bahrain, and this just reinforces that. It was a controlling and compelling performance. It is important not to forget Fernando, who was disadvantaged in qualifying by a team problem. He fought through the field to make the most of his race, as he always does. This is a team result, and belongs to every single person at Enstone and Viry.”
Renault F1 Team