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Renault: Silverstone another missed opportunity 09 Jul 2008

Fernando Alonso (ESP) Renault R28.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 9, British Grand Prix, Race, Silverstone, England, Sunday, 6 July 2008 Fernando Alonso (ESP) Renault R28 leads Rubens Barrichello (BRA) Honda RA108.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 9, British Grand Prix, Race, Silverstone, England, Sunday, 6 July 2008 Heikki Kovalainen (FIN) McLaren MP4/23  and Fernando Alonso (ESP) Renault R28 battle for position.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 9, British Grand Prix, Race, Silverstone, England, Sunday, 6 July 2008. © Sutton Fernando Alonso (ESP) Renault R28 Formula One Testing, Hockenheim, Germany, 09 July 2008

Ferrari may have stolen the headlines with their poor choice of tyre at the British Grand Prix, but Renault were left equally disappointed after also making the wrong call on rubber for Fernando Alonso.

Starting sixth on the grid, Alonso was up to third by the time he made his first stop, during which he opted to stay on his worn standard wet-weather tyres rather than swapping to a fresh set. However, when track conditions failed to improve, the gamble backfired, ruining what had been a promising race strategy.

“Had it not rained or the rain had eased off we would have looked like heroes probably,” reflected Renault’s sporting manager Steve Nielsen during a podcast on Renault's official website. “We’ve seen other people do it at other races and it’s worked well to stay on used wets, but it went against us and from then on it was damage limitation. Every lap we stayed out on those tyres was just a disaster.

“It feels like the latest in a line of missed opportunities. We’ve had several good points-scoring (chances) that have slipped through our fingers and Silverstone feels like another one of those.”

Alan Permane, Renault’s chief race engineer added: “It was fifty/fifty whether it was going to rain again and we chose to gamble and it didn’t pay off. And from then on the race was not over, but it was compromised. Obviously we then had that heavy rain and we elected to come in, change tyres again and fill fuel to the end, so you’re already on a compromised strategy.”

The strategic error meant Alonso struggled for pace in the closing stages of the race, losing places to Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen and McLaren’s Heikki Kovalainen and eventually finishing sixth, a lap down on the podium finishers.

Alonso’s team mate Nelson Piquet did switch to a new set of standard wets at his first stop, but nonetheless spun off into retirement in the tricky conditions on lap 36.