Symonds Eyes Engine Deficit for Raikkonen

Renault's executive director of engineering has moved to defend Giancarlo Fisichella's driving at the Japanese Grand Prix yesterday, after the Italian lost the Suzuka victory on the final lap of the race

Symonds Eyes Engine Deficit for Raikkonen

Fisichella led for the most part of the race and looked set to score his second win of the season - the first since winning the opening round in Australia. It would also have been Renault's first win since the German Grand Prix in July.

But the Italian was unable to fend off McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen, and the Finn overtook the Renault driver at the beginning of the final lap of the race, to claim McLaren's seventh straight victory and the Finn's eighth of the season.

But Symonds believes Fisichella was not to be blamed for the loss and said the Italian had to work harder throughout the race than his teammate Fernando Alonso or race winner Raikkonen.

"It was difficult to see Giancarlo lose the lead on the final lap, but we know he was pushing all the way," Symonds said.

"Indeed, the rhythm of his race may have had something to do with the lack of grip he reported towards the end, because he had been pushing from the opening laps - and putting a lot of energy through his tyres.

"Fernando and Kimi both were able to look after their tyres at various points when they were following slower cars, while Giancarlo never had that luxury. That could have made quite a difference..."

Despite losing, Symonds said his was encouraged by the pace of the R25 car, with Raikkonen's fastest lap of the race, a 1:31.540, a mere 0.059 faster than Alonso's fastest lap.

"I think we will take heart from the pace the car has shown today," Symonds commented. "It was a race where traffic played a big part, but even so, the table of fastest laps is revealing - and it shows Fernando and Kimi separated by very little indeed."

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