Renault celebrate 'needed' victory
|By Jonathan Noble||Sunday, September 28th 2008, 18:30 GMT|
Renault technical director Bob Bell says Fernando Alonso's surprise victory in the Singapore Grand Prix was much needed to help lift spirits at the team.
After a huge effort this season to improve the competitiveness of the R28, the French car manufacturer capitalized brilliantly on a perfectly-timed safety car period to see Alonso bring them their first win since 2006.
And Bell says the fact the victory came after a desperately unlucky qualifying, where a fuel feed problem left Alonso down in 15th on the grid, made it even better for everyone.
"It is great," Bell told autosport.com. "We really needed that as a team. We had some bad luck on Saturday but we always felt good about here.
"Fernando was quick, confident about the car and, if we had had a trouble-free qualifying, then he should have stuck it on the third row. We felt we could get a podium out of it if we had a bit of the race coming our way, so to recover from, at one point, being at the back to winning - it doesn't get much better than that!"
Bell believes the key to Alonso being in a position to benefit from the safety car period was their decision to opt for what was originally a three-stop strategy – rather than a more obvious one-stopper.
"It (one-stopping) might be obvious for other people, but in that situation you don't necessarily do the thing that everyone else is doing. You do something different, and we opted to go for a three-stop strategy – with a short first stint precisely because there was a good chance there was going to be a safety car here.
"It is going to happen early in the race, we needed to overtake people and even before the safety car came out, he had made three or four places – which is exactly what we hoped. It played right into our hands.
"And you cannot get away from the fact that, when the safety car went in the second time, he just drove away. He had the pace, he was on the right tyres and he was very comfortable with the car. It was working for him."
And although acknowledging that the safety car period called out by Nelson Piquet's crash was very lucky, Bell said it only cancelled out the misfortune of a fuel pipe coming out on Alonso's car in qualifying on Saturday.
Speaking about the timing of the safety car, Bell said: "That is luck, but then we had our bad luck yesterday. It balances out."