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Posts Tagged ‘Renault’

Fernando Alonso in Renault R29 at Algarve

It was announced yesterday that ING will end it’s participation with Formula 1 when the 2009 season draws to a close. The Dutch financial giants are the title sponsors for both Renault and the Australian, Hungarian and Belgian Grands Prix, but after being hit hard by the global financial crisis, and receiving 10 billion euros from the Dutch government, the group have been forced out of their involvement with the sport.

A statement released by ING yesterday said: “ING’s participation in Formula One was the company’s first global sponsorship project aimed at delivering revenue and raising the global brand awareness. Over the past two years, ING has successfully achieved its objectives for the F1 sponsorship, raising its overall global brand awareness by 16%. F1 remains a powerful business driver even in a difficult economic climate. Whilst ING has cut the F1 sponsorship costs by 40% in the final year, revenue generating opportunities will be a continuing focus through 2009. ING has enjoyed the relationship with Renault F1 and will continue to work closely with the team during the final year of the partnership.”

Regardless of this announcement, the Renault F1 team were already the subject of heavy speculation about their future, as the French manufacturer struggles to cope with the slump in the car market. Team boss Flavio Briatore remains confident, however, that with cost-cutting measures coming into force, Renault have a secure future in the sport. “Drastic cost reductions have been on FOTA’s agenda as one of the first priorities and with the ongoing programme of measures we are confident we can guarantee a solid future for our team and for Formula One,” said Briatore.

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Nelson Piquet Jr in Renault R29 at Algarve

Renault unveiled their 2009 car, the R29, ahead of this weeks test in Portugal. Both Fernando Alonso and Nelson Piquet Jr will continue their role as race drivers, with the Enstone-based team hoping to carry on where they left of in 2008, with Alonso claiming three podiums at the end of the season, two of which were race wins.

The R29 features a strikingly different livery to the previous two years, and a much chunkier front nose compared to the other ’09 cars we’ve seen so far. This, along with the many other visible changes made to all of this years challengers, make it a very big development in the appearance of the French team’s cars. The launch itself wasn’t exactly a massive event, with the two race drivers Alonso and Piquet Jr, third driver Romain Grosjean and team boss Flavio Briatore revealing outside their pit garage the car they hope will be able to challenge for the world championship.

Renault also revealed the members of their 2009 driver development scheme on Monday. Davide Valsecchi, competing in Formula Renault and Formula Ford drivers Charles Pic and Marco Sorensen. Renault will test their new car alongside McLaren, Toyota, Toro Rosso and Williams in Portugal this week.

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Fernando Alonso and Nelson Piquet Jr at Albert Park

Renault have confirmed they will not change their driver line up, singing Nelson Piquet Jr for next year and Fernando Alonso until 2011. The announcement ends speculation that Piquet Jr might have been replaced after a poor season in comparison to Alonso.

Piquet was tipped to be replaced by either GP2 driver Lucas di Grassi or GP2 champion Romain Grosjean, after suffering nine retirements and being the only driver who was out-qualified by his teammate at every single round of the season. The son of the triple world champion said “Although I have had a tough year, I have learned a lot from my rookie season and I will aim to put that experience to good use next season.”

After the first few rounds of 2008, Alonso was tipped to be making a move to Ferrari or BMW for next season, and strong rumours began to go round at mid-season that he would replace Rubens Barrichello at Honda but after his back-to-back wins at Singapore and Japan, the chances of the Spaniard leaving Renault for 2009 looked unlikely.

Renault become the seventh team to announce an unchanged line-up, and the eight team to confirm their drivers for 2009, leaving just Honda and Toro Rosso with question marks.

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Renault’s Fernando Alonso has pipped home favourite Felipe Massa to the top spot during second practice in preparation for the 2008 championship decider on Sunday. His last minute lap of 1:12.296 was just 0.05 seconds faster than Massa’s best attempt.

Jarno Trulli separated the Ferrari’s in third, with Kimi Raikkonen fourth. Rain that fell during the session appeared to help Mark Webber, Sebastian Vettel and Nelson Piquet Jr, who finished in fifth, sixth and seventh respectively. The Williams cars were looking good too, with Nico Rosberg eighth and Kazuki Nakajima tenth. Lewis Hamilton, meanwhile, dropped off his early morning pace and could only manage ninth place, four tenths down on his title rival. David Coulthard dramatically improved to eleventh place, with both BMW’s behind. Timo Glock was five tenths slower than his teammate in fourteenth place while Heikki Kovalainen rounded off a bad session for McLaren in fifteenth. Rubens Barrichello, Sebastien Bourdais, Jenson Button, Adrian Sutil and Giancarlo Fisichella set the five slowest laps.

Alonso ended Friday on top, with Hamilton struggling, but will things stay the same as the teams head into day two?

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Fernando Alonso has won the Japanese Grand Prix at the Fuji Speedway on a day when the championship closed up for in preparation for an epic conclusion. Alonso was gifted second after the cars in front of him ran wide at the first corner and took race leader, Robert Kubica, at the first round of pit stops to win his second race in a row.

At the race start, Kimi Raikkonen immediately took Lewis Hamilton and started to pull away down the main strait. Hamilton made a desperate attempt to regain the lead at turn one and went strait on, braking heavily, and forcing the Raikkonen wide along with Heikki Kovalainen and Felipe Massa, who were just behind him. This allowed Alonso through, but he was also affected by Hamilton’s manoeuvre and Kubica got past and into the lead. David Coulthard’s rear suspension broke after making contact at the start and he went head-on into a wall. Massa got past Hamilton and on the second lap Hamilton tried to pass his main rival but was spun by the Brazilian, and fell to last place. Hamilton was given a drive-through penalty for his actions at the start whilst Massa was given a drive-through for spinning the McLaren and both championship rivals found themselves at the back.

Raikkonen made his way back through the field and climbed to fourth behind Robert Kubica, who was just managing to keep ahead of Alonso and Kovalainen. Alonso easily got past at the first round of pit stops, though, and took the lead while Kovalainen sufferd an engine failure and retired. After his second stop, Alonso was comfortably leading and a battle emerged for second between Kubica, Raikkonen and Nelson Piquet Jr. Meanwhile, Massa was the fastest man on track and chasing down points, but he spun after contact with Sebastien Bourdais, and when his rivals rejoined, he could only fight his way back to eighth for one point. Kubica hung on to second ahead of Raikkonen, Piquet, Jarno Trulli, Bourdais, Sebastian Vettel and Massa.

This shrinks Hamilton’s lead from Massa in the championship to 6 points, while Kubica catches up with his second place and is now 12 points behind the Brit. Despite third place, this race sees the end of the reigning world champion’s title hopes. Ferrari take back the lead in the constructors’ championship from McLaren.

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Double world champion, Fernando Alonso, has returned to the top spot of podium with Renault at Formula One’s first ever night race in Singapore. His strategy put him to the front of the field after the race order was completely shaken up due to his teammate crashing and bringing out a saftey car, which led to Ferrari making a terrible mistake that almost certainly lost them the race.

The race started mostly cleanly, with pole sitter Felipe Massa pulling away in first and his Ferrari teammate, Kimi Raikkonen, in third and catching up to Lewis Hamilton, looking likely to pass him at the first round of pit stops. That first round came early, though, after Nelson Piquet Jr crashed into a barrier, bringing¬† out the safety car just as the race was settling down. Robert Kubica and Nico Rosberg were both forced to pit for fuel before the pit lane re-opened and were given 10 second stop-go penalties. Both Ferrari’s came into pit once the pit lane did open, taking advantage of the safety car period. Race leader Massa was given the green light to leave his pit box but the fuel hose was still attached and he drove off with it stuck in his car before stopping at the end of the pit lane with the race now lost. Raikkonen was queuing behind him and his hopes of big points were also gone. Ferrari managed to get Massa going again but he rejoined in last place.

Hamilton had a clean pit stop but was now behind Fernando Alonso, David Coulthard and Mark Webber who had all timed their pit stops perfectly, just before the safety car was released. They were now the top three runners. Jarno Trulli was also in front of him, on a one stopping strategy. Somehow Rosberg managed to come out of his stop-go penalty in second, and Alonso started to pull away from the rest of the pack. Trulli made his stop and fell back whilst Webber retired and Hamilton was now lining up to pass Coulthard for a podium position, which he pulled off. Meanwhile, Raikkonen’s recovery drive had put him in fifth. The safety car came out once again for a stricken Giancarlo Fisichella and Alonso’s 15 second lead was gone. Little changed at the front with the restart, however. A few laps later, Raikkonen made a small mistake at turn 10 that forced him into the barriers for yet another race without points. Alonso fronted the race order ahead of Rosberg, Hamilton, Timo Glock, Sebastian Vettel, Nick Heidfeld, Coulthard and Kazuki Nakajima with Honda’s Jenson Button narrowly missing out on a point.

Lewis Hamilton has increased his championship lead by seven points after Felipe Massa’s disaster pit stop, whilst Kimi Raikkonen falls back into the reach of Nick Heidfeld, now just one point behind the Finn in fifth. McLaren now take the lead in the constructors’ championship after Ferrari’s zero points race and Renault overhaul Toyota for fourth after the former world champions first win since 2006.

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Fernando Alonso has once again set the fastest lap in the final hour-long practice session ahead of Qualifying for this weekends Singapore Grand Prix. He came out towards the closing laps of the session and flew past the opposition, setting a 1:44.506 to become the first man into the 1:44s. He beat McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton to the top spot by a massive six tenths of a second.

Felipe Massa was right behind in third setting 1:45.246 and Renault’s strength this weekend was proved by Nelson Piquet completing the session in fourth. Nico Rosberg just managed to take fifth spot off Honda’s Jenson Button, who is also looking very strong going into Qualifying after popping up into second during the session. He set a 1:45.409. Robert Kubica, Mark Webber, Sebastian Vettel and Sebastien Bourdias completed the top ten. Nick Heidfeld sat in eleventh, whilst Heikki Kovalainen struggled even more, finishing in thirteenth. Rubens Barrichello finished ahead of both Toyotas, whilst Kimi Raikkonen ended up in seventeenth and facing the barriers after setting just one lap time. David Coulthard had limited running after a gearbox problem at the start of the session, which meant he could only beat the Force Indias.

All eyes are on what promises to be an exciting hour of qualifying, after Singapore has provided three action-packed practice sessions.

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