Qualifying well still important – Renault

2011 Turkish Grand Prix

Vitaly Petrov, Renault, Shanghai, 2011

Vitaly Petrov, Renault, Shanghai, 2011

Changes in race strategy have prompted questions over whether qualifying well is less important in 2011 than it used to be.

Renault’s technical director James Allison has offered a perspective on the discussion, pointing out that qualifying poorly cost the team in Shanghai:

“Much of what went wrong for us came from failing to qualify in the position that the car merited. Not getting the car through into Q3 meant that we had to fight an uphill battle in the race.”

Vitaly Petrov and Nick Heidfeld started tenth and 16th and found it difficult to make up ground as Allison explains:

“We didn?t make quite such a good start as we had done during the previous two races and all of this combined with the result that we had to struggle through the race just to finish in the minor places.”

Allison said the R31 should be able to reach Q3 on a regular basis: “It?s sufficiently fast to be healthily-placed in the top ten in qualifying, which gives you half a chance come Sunday.

“The car also quite kind on its tyres and so it tends to run more strongly in races than it does in qualifying. I don?t want to tempt providence, but it has also been reasonably reliable so far.”

The team are bringing several updates to the car for in Istanbul: “There will be a different front wing, some modifications around the nose, updates to the air intake area of the car and some tweaks to the floor.”

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29 comments on Qualifying well still important – Renault

  1. RIISE (@riise) said on 28th April 2011, 21:09

    I have no doubt that the Renault is good enough to get constant top ten quali positions.

    Can’t wait to see all the modifications the teams are going to bring to Turkey. Who knows, maybe Renault will be up there with McLaren and Red Bull fighting for wins. God I love the development race.

    • Todfod (@todfod) said on 28th April 2011, 21:23

      I’m really hoping the development race throws up some surprises. Hopefully, Red Bull’s updates dont work at all, Mclaren’s package doesn’t add more than a couple of tenths in quali, and Ferrari and Renault come with updates that give them 6 to 7 tenths in quali pace, and half a second in race pace.

      I know its wishful thinking.. but stranger things have happened in F1

      • US_Peter (@us_peter) said on 28th April 2011, 21:39

        What about Mercedes? Don’t you wanna see Schumacher back to his winning ways Todfod? :-D

        • Preekel said on 28th April 2011, 21:52

          He cant hack it anymore!

          • MW (@) said on 29th April 2011, 8:23

            Schumi bet Rosberg in Istanbul last year and the Merc is looking quick..
            He’s definitely getting a slot in my top 5 in the predictions championship

        • Todfod (@todfod) said on 29th April 2011, 8:26

          Lol. Its gonna take more than 6 tenths in quali, and half a second on race pace to get Schumi on the podium. ;)

          • RIISE (@riise) said on 29th April 2011, 8:36

            Well you can’t really look too much into China, Q2 was a farce with everyone lining up, the reason he made the mistake at the hairpin was due to dirty as many drivers suffered with.

            Michael was fighting more drivers in the race so was bound to not be on the pace of Rosberg.

            I think Michael has just been unlucky in quali so far, his race pace in both Malaysia (Which he beat Rosberg) and China has been good.

      • BasCB (@bascb) said on 29th April 2011, 9:16

        Sounds good, I must admit I am of like mind there!

  2. Icthyes (@icthyes) said on 28th April 2011, 21:24

    Well if Renault was on the same strategy as those around them (I don’t know) then no wonder their bad qualifying translated into a bad race.

  3. Randy (@randy) said on 28th April 2011, 21:48

    I’m quietly certain that we will still see a lot of hectic action on track during the race day.

    The cars race pace is so close to each other (Red Bull included) that they still mainly have to second guess each other’s strategy and that should provide us with some quite surprising results.

    God this season is shaping up nicely. Red Bull hopefully is starting to reach the peak of Newey’s current design, and all of the other main contenders seems to have areas to improve to catch up. It should provide us with balanced fight at least for the first part of the season, and judging by last couple of years, it may even up even more in the second half.

    Here’s for the optimistic view.

  4. Preekel said on 28th April 2011, 21:50

    I wonder if we might see the radical McLaren exhaust again in Istanbul???

  5. Tango said on 28th April 2011, 22:13

    A new front wing? From Renault? I don’t believe it! Now that’s a suprise! ;)

  6. hey (@hey) said on 28th April 2011, 22:50

    “Qualifying well still important” – For some reason I can’t quite understand that sentence.

  7. Gnarly Racing said on 28th April 2011, 22:56

    I wonder how they’d have got on if they’d started on hard tyres, like Webber? And used their extra set of soft tyres later on.

    I’m still fascinated to see if it’s possible to win by deliberately qualifying outside the top 10 (not the top 17! that was too much!) and saving tyres. Maybe the pace in the early laps is too much around 10th place and you get swamped.

    • unnnococooc said on 29th April 2011, 5:21

      I could see a team like Renault get into the Top 10 and then because they can’t get much into that quali on hards. and then have softs for teh race.

      1 problem…. hards are 0.7-1.0 seconds a lap slower than softs and so you have to 1 second a lap faster than them to get into the top 10.

      Maybe if there was a race were a 2 stop was the solution then

      Q1 – Hards (1 set) to easily get into Q2
      Q2 – Softs (1 set) to get into Q3
      Q3 – Hards to start the race on

      then in the race

      Hards – started with
      Softs (set 2)
      Softs (set 2)

      That would work but you’re also forgetting that a saftey car would screw it up massively if it came out during one of your softer stints.

      The whole premis of the stratergy is that what you lose by going on hards for quali and at the start you gain back by undercutting and going fast on softs AND overtaking like hell.

      If a saftey car comes out that stops you from doing BOTH which means that you have paid for the privalge of using softs now while others use hards or older softs but due to a saftey car period you can’t overtook or make up any places.

      4 things made it possible for Webber to get into the podium with this stratergy

      1) He had already qualified low and had free choice of tyres. That is he had already paid the price for the privliage of using hards and having new softs not by choice. His stratergy started from this disposition rather than from a … should we put oursleves here
      2) 23 out of 24 cars finished, 1 retired off the track, virtually no yellows and no saftey car allowed him to be overtaking and driving faster (1 second a lap faster) no matter on every lap possible
      3) The RB7 is a bloody fast car. This is the problem with doing it in a Sauber,the RB7 + Webber combination was making up a second a lap constantly, could Kobayashi in a Sauber do the same thing.. No, much of the pace came from a top driver in a bloody fast car, and he needed to get the laps in after his stops before his opponents stops before they got in the way. Saubers/Willaims etc.. wouldnt make up enough time
      4) He overtook like a crazy man. Many overtakes, partially due to a great car and lots of ballsy stuff by Webber including a spectacular Senna style throttle around turn 1 passing Massa. Classy. Hamilton finished ahead of Button despite being behind him at the start much due to Hamilton overtaking aswell. It’s not all about tyres positions your car this year, drivers need to overtake and Webber overtook ALOT and got the moves done quickly which allowed him to do so.

      That is why. Not just because of tyres and I’m absolutely sick of people claiming that any car could qualify badly by due to the help of some extra tyres could win or podium.

      If Hamilton had started 18th, get up to a podium and oculd have won if the race had been 5 laps longer then the WHOLE WORLD would have known that Hamilton was indeed a brilliant driver. However since it was WEbber it was all the tyres that did it and a Renault could probably do the same…

      Yes Webber (as I said above) required extra tyres and a fast car to do it, but it also required ballsy overtaking, lap after lap or brillaint speed and an attitude to make the most of his situation that got him there.

      • bosyber said on 29th April 2011, 6:26

        Calm down, I’d say. You do make a convincing argument that not anyone could have done it, and I personally don’t know that Vettel would have been able to do the same, even though part of Webber’s success was often having stretches of clean track, on which Vettel might have been even faster, but he doesn’t always seem as resolute in overtaking.

        • unnnococooc said on 29th April 2011, 6:45

          Agree.

          And that’s why I think the tyres will provide such interesting races this year.

          I think Webber and Hamilton are the (much) better overtakers in their respective teams and this year more than ever two counter stratergies are required. Previously the tyres lasted so long that pitting one driver one lap and the other who is 3 seconds behind them the next worked because the the 2nd driver only lost a tenth or two or so doing the later stop. Not much to write home about.

          BUT with the Pirelli tyres the differenec between 10 laps and 11 laps could be 1 second or more and so having Webber/Hamilton pit one lap different to Vettel/Button could massively disadvantage whoever stopped out of place (too early means wasting a precious lap of fast tyres, too late and the tyres fall off a cliff).

          While the driver ahead should get the call, 3 or so stops a race means 3+ seconds lost to half of the team and when you’re fighting for constructors as well that could change a
          RBR
          RBR
          McLaren
          McLaren
          Ferrari
          Ferrari
          que into a
          RBR
          McLaren
          Ferrari
          RBR
          McLaren
          Ferrari
          due to in and out laps.

          By instead sending one driver of a different tyre stratergy means that the pit stops will be slightly different and that they can both pit when they want rather than having to work around their teammate.

          I can see Vettel and Button being sent off into the distance with a
          SOFT (quali to start the race)
          SOFT – get as far ahead
          HARD – maintain lead as much as possible

          while Hamilton and Webber could attempt an overtaking stratergy like
          SOFT (quali to start the race)
          HARD – Get into some cleaner air as other cars will be going faster on softs
          SOFT – Bring it all back in and use a nice set of softs to pass the well used hards

          That would provide some great watching and contrary to popular belief wouldn’t result in wins for both of the later

  8. wasiF1 (@wasif1) said on 29th April 2011, 3:17

    Qualifying is still important but if you can’t qualify in a good position you can still use race strategy but for that you need to have a good car under you & also you got to drive flat.Just like Kimi, Webber did in 05 Japan & 11 China respectively.

  9. Babis1980 said on 29th April 2011, 8:24

    I think it could be great if pirelli would give for every car one extra soft set of tyres for every qualyfing session they would attend to. So we would need 24 for Q1, 17 for Q2, and 10 for Q3 = 51 in total.

    Every car should give the set of tyres back after the session. Pirelli could use them over and over again. So in the race everyone could use fresh rubber and if someone would like to waste a extra soft set of boots in Q2 of Q3 be my guest.

    I don’t think the logistics could be a big problem (51 sets is more or less 1/7 of the total amount of the tyres). Racing could be flat out in this way.

    Last comment: BRING BACK A QUALYFIER!!!! PLEASE!!!!

  10. AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 29th April 2011, 10:15

    No doubt qualifying is just as important as it always has been, just not in the way it has been for the last few years. The tyres don’t guarantee you a victory from pole but they do give you a better chance to catch the field. RBR demonstrated this perfectly in China.

    No doubt the R31 has the pace. Do the drivers though? A bit mixed so far but on the whole they’ve had a positive start.

  11. Fixy (@fixy) said on 29th April 2011, 13:35

    Of course qualifying is important. If you start in front you still have a great advantage on a driver starting back, which you can use to control the race.

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