New Renault F1 team principal and chief technical officer Bob Bell has revealed that Fernando Alonso's rostrum finish in the 2009 Singapore Grand Prix has helped to erase the uncomfortable memories of twelve months earlier and 'buoyed' the Enstone-based outfit as it heads now to Suzuka ready to 'move on'.
Bell replaced the disgraced Flavio Briatore in the leading role at Renault F1 in the wake of the costly fall-out from the 'Singapore-gate' race-fixing scandal that has gripped the top flight and even the world at large of late, and for his first grand prix at the helm and given the limitations of the R29 relative to the opposition, the result could scarcely have been any better.
The squad's first podium of an overwhelmingly dispiriting campaign was achieved after Alonso made a good start from fifth on the grid and benefited from an illegal overtaking move by Red Bull Racing rival Mark Webber to gain a spot to fourth. The subsequent error committed by Williams' Nico Rosberg upon leaving the pit-lane following the young German's first refuelling stop on lap 18 further promoted the Spaniard to third, where he would remain – seven seconds adrift of the inspired Timo Glock for Toyota – all the way to the chequered flag. It was, Bell acknowledges, a very timely fillip and an infusion of air.
“It was absolutely fantastic,” AFP
quotes the Englishman as having enthused. “It's wonderful to get a podium at any time, but to get one after what the team has just been through is really positive and gives us great strength to move on now. Everybody in the team will now go to the final three races very buoyed by this result, because it shows that the team can fight for the podium.”
Indeed, Renault's very future in F1 was thrown into significant doubt following the departure and subsequent ban of both Briatore and similarly shamed executive director of engineering Pat Symonds, as well as the immediate withdrawal of title backer ING and fellow sponsor Mutua Madrilena on the eve of the sport's second-ever night race. The French manufacturer has vowed, however, to continue – and the Singapore outcome has already exceeded initial expectations.
“To end the weekend with a podium is a great result,” underlined Renault managing director Jean-François Caubet. “When we arrived here on Wednesday we did not think it was achievable, but little-by-little we have made it possible.
“It's great to get a podium here and it's extremely important for Renault, for our partner TOTAL, for our sponsors and for the Renault F1 team. We showed that Renault F1 has what it takes to fight at the front.”