Permane: Renault were set for Valencia podium 28 Jun 2010
On the face of it, Robert Kubicas fifth place in Sundays European Grand Prix looked like a good result for Renault. However, had it not been for a bit of bad luck with the timing of the safety car the team are convinced it could have been a whole lot better, as chief race engineer Alan Permane explained in his post-race debrief
Q: Alan, the team scored ten points for Robert's fifth place in Valencia, but there was still a sense of disappointment
Alan Permane: It was a good result for Robert, but we were hoping for a little bit more. We were quite unlucky with the timing of the safety car because when it came out we were preparing for Vitaly's scheduled stop and the mechanics were already in the pit lane with Vitaly's (Petrovs) tyres. The safety car was deployed just as Robert was approaching the final corner so we quickly called him in to try and take advantage, but obviously the mechanics had to rush back into the garage to get his tyres ready. That cost us a bit of time and delayed Robert's pit stop, which dropped us behind Button and Barrichello. However, it was certainly the right call to react quickly to the safety car because we moved ahead of both Ferraris so Robert remained in fifth place after the pit stops.
Q: So you feel that a podium was a real possibility?
AP: Yes, if we hadn't been planning to stop Vitaly on that lap, then I'm sure we could have serviced Robert and stayed ahead of both Button and Barrichello, which would have given us a podium. Formula One is all about 'ifs' and 'buts' and you can always look back with the benefit of hindsight, but it was a shame that we lost out like that.
Q: Even so, you must be pleased to make up nine points on Mercedes, the team's closest competitors in the championship
AP: We've made up ground on Mercedes and we're solidly the fourth quickest team at the moment. There's still a long way to go to catch up with Red Bull, but we're just behind McLaren and Ferrari and if we can keep improving the car like we've done so far, we can expect to be on terms with them soon.
Q: And what about Vitaly's weekend? How did you view his performance?
AP: Vitaly had a strong qualifying session and did well to make the top ten for the second time in three races, but unfortunately he had a poor first lap in the race and lost a few positions. By the end of lap one he was in P15 and it's very difficult to recover from that, especially on a street circuit like Valencia where we know how tough it is to overtake.
Q: Both drivers ended the race under investigation by the stewards for exceeding the permitted speed on their in-laps under safety car conditions. Can you explain why they received five-second penalties and the team's response?
AP: When the safety car came out, it was just before Robert's braking point for the final corner, which is just before the Safety car line. His reaction time from the safety car lights coming on to braking was about 1.2 seconds and he then entered the pit lane. It's difficult to see how he could have avoided this penalty because he couldn't have braked any sooner and he reacted as quickly as he could. Unfortunately, Vitaly came in too quickly and we accept the penalty for him, but it's hard to understand Robert's penalty.
Q: The R30 had significant new upgrades in Valencia - were you pleased with their performance?
AP: Everything performed as we expected it to and the new front wing and new blown floor worked very well. It always takes time to fully understand any updates you put on the car, and it's difficult to do that in just one weekend, so we feel there is still more potential to come from them. In fact, we can probably expect to get more of an advantage from the updates at Silverstone, especially the blown floor because there are a lot more high-speed corners where you're on the throttle through the corners. We're confident of another strong showing there.