Renault-powered drivers occupied five of the top ten positions in today’s Chinese Grand Prix.
The RS27 powered Red Bull Racing’s Mark Webber to fourth behind race winner Nico Rosberg and the McLarens of Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton. Mark’s team-mate Sebastian Vettel claimed fifth while Lotus F1 Team-Renault’s Romain Grosjean scored his first points of the year in sixth. Williams F1 Team-Renault secured its first double points finish of the season as Bruno Senna and Pastor Maldonado crossed the line in seventh and eighth respectively.
Lotus-Renault’s Kimi Raikkonen raced in the top ten for most of the race, but ultimately finished in 14th following heavy tyre degradation in the closing stages. Caterham F1 Team-Renault finished in 18th and 23rd with Vitaly Petrov and Heikki Kovalainen after the latter experienced a delay in his second pit stop.
Red Bull Racing sits second in the teams’ championship with 64 points while Lotus are sixth with 24. Williams are currently seventh with 18 points and Caterham 11th.
Rémi Taffin, Renault Sport F1 head of track operations
The Shanghai International Circuit is a challenge for engine management on account of the long back straight where the engine sits at full throttle for around 17 seconds. Acceleration and a good top speed are important, but just as crucial is producing good low to mid range torque through the slower corners that make up one half of the track. Today we concentrated on delivering the best possible driveability through this range as that is where a lot of time can be made up, particularly with the low grip levels of this track.
This responsiveness played some part in our teams being able to gain and defend their positions over the race – every one of our partners’ drivers that scored points today moved up at least two positions.
Getting onto the podium was always going to be difficult but getting five Renault-powered drivers in points-scoring positions is very positive. Mark very nearly got third and given another couple of laps may well have got past Hamilton. Sebastian also did incredibly well to get from 11th to fifth, particularly with the grip level being so low off the racing line.
We’re delighted for Williams to have scored a double points finish; we should have got it in Malaysia and through a very unusual problem from our side we missed out on the final lap. Although it is early in the year to talk about overall performance and make predictions, we are very pleased to see that the hard work since the partnership started last July is paying off for the moment.
Likewise Caterham have also made some progress and were close to finishing on the lead lap on merit. It was unfortunate for Heikki in that he was delayed in his final stop but the upgrades the team brought here seem to be dialling in well.
Lotus-Renault has continued the good form of the opening two races and Romain did a good job to get his first points of the year today. Unfortunately tyre degradation played a key role in Kimi’s race, but the outright speed is obviously there.
We now move onto the Sakhir circuit, which is relatively similar in engine demands to Shanghai. There are long straights but a high percentage of the lap is also spent through the lower rev range negotiating the slow to medium corners. We should be re-using the China engines for everyone apart from Vitaly, who will be using the Sepang engine, which sticks largely to the engine usage plan established at the start of the season.