One of the possible surprises of the weekend could have been Renaultâ€™s performance if they had managed to carry Free Practice results to Qualifying. Sadly that was not the case. During Saturdayâ€™s Free Practice session three, Renault driver Robert Kubica put on an impressive display.
While FP3 found Robert Kubica stealing fastest lap with a 1:19, the results didnâ€™t translate to qualifying leaving the team with some head-scratching questions. Regardless of the lack of wet-weather pace, Kubica felt they hadnâ€™t left much on the table:
We made the right choices with the tyres in the final part of the session, but when I completed my quickest lap on the slicks, I was happy just to have made it round without any mistakes because I was struggling to keep the car on the track. It was hard to get enough temperature into the tyres and our downforce level for the dry probably didnâ€™t help in this respect â€“ but itâ€™s always easy to see what you could have done better after the session. We made the right calls today and it wasnâ€™t quite enough, but Iâ€™m still hopeful that we can have a good race tomorrow.
Kubica wasnâ€™t alone in the tire temperature issue with Sauberâ€™s Nick Heidfeld complaining of a bungled Sauber strategy and lack of heat in the tiers contributing to his poor 16th place qualifying effort. All things given, Alan Permane, Chief Race Engineer, also had a nagging feeling that there was something more to be gained:
Weâ€™re very pleased to get both cars into the final part of qualifying and congratulations to Vitaly for putting together a solid session. If Iâ€™m honest, weâ€™d hoped for a little bit more after our performance in the early stages of qualifying, but seventh is a still a decent starting position for Robert. We know we have a strong car for the race and hopefully we can score good points with both drivers tomorrow.
At least Kubicaâ€™s teammate recovered from an earlier practice shunt in FP1 and made a good showing during qualifying. That beats the teammate criticism over at Force India but thatâ€™s another story.