The qualifying session for the 2008 Spanish Grand Prix threw up a couple of surprises, but I think all the talking points have centred around one driver – Fernando Alonso. The double world champion was able to place his Renault R28 on provisional pole position with his final lap of the day. Unfortunately to the euphoric crowds who stood, cheered and applauded their hero, Kimi Raikkonen followed Alonso over the line with a pole-stealing lap. The Finnish driver simply had a faster car on the day. However, while many expect Alonso is light on fuel, we need to consider Nelson Piquet Jr’s lap as well, the Brazilian managing to get in to tenth.
Piquet Jr managed to get into Q3 for the first time this afternoon, and although he could only get as far as tenth, Renault Technical Director Pat Symonds has hinted that Nelson is running a different strategy to Alonso. It is therefore very likely that Alonso is indeed light while Piquet is perhaps a little heavier. However, if Piquet is carrying more fuel, then being 0.15s down on the BMW of Nick Heidfeld isn’t too shabby. In fact, only 0.8s separated the top ten ofter the third round of qualifying, proving just how close the leading pack are to one another at this circuit.
If we attempt to decide where Renault are in comparison to their rivals, it can get a little tricky and I’m sure everyone has their own view. I personally feel they have made inroads into BMW’s margin over them and providing Piquet can raise his game and better support and push Alonso, the team should end 2008 in a comfortable fourth place. Taking the average lap times of the team and working out the difference is a little crude, particularly as Piquet has often failed to get beyond Q2, and has thus set a considerably faster lap time than Alonso in Q3. However, it does show that when all four drivers (both Renault and BMW) are in Q3, this time around Renault were the fastest team. It doesn’t necessarily mean a decent race though.
Average Qualifying Times For Renault & BMW Thus Far In 2008
Looking at the qualifying times of BMW and Renault shows improvement for the Anglo-French squad today, but because the difference between Alonso and Piquet is so great, the overall balance of the team is hurt. The actually positions achieved show slightly more consistent improvement.
Qualifying Positions For Renault Thus Far In 2008
|Nelson Piquet Jr||21st||13th||14th||10th|
One thing is for sure though, and that is the Enstone-team have improved, Piquet looks a little more settled in the car and even though Fernando is going to pit quite early tomorrow, he will cause a headache or two for the McLarens and BMWs who will be desperate to pass.
I wonder where Renault will be at the Turkish Grand Prix?
- Australian Grand Prix Qualifying Result
- Malaysian Grand Prix Qualifying Result
- Bahrain Grand Prix Qualifying Result
- Spanish Grand Prix Qualifying Result
Photo courtesy of Glenn Dunbar/LAT.