Nick Heidfeld was left to rue the fire he suffered in final practice for the Spanish Grand Prix after Renault was unable to fix his car in time for qualifying.
The fire, caused by an exhaust issue mid-way through the Saturday morning session, left Heidfeld's car heavily damaged and needing extensive work ahead of qualifying.
However, despite the best efforts of the team, Heidfeld was unable to take part in qualifying and will now be forced to start from the back of the grid as a result.
“It was a challenging day, and there was not much more we could have done after the exhaust problem this morning,” he said. “The was a small hole in the right exhaust and then it overheated. Then, when I heard a strange noise, the power cut out and there were flames so I had to stop.
“Since then, the team worked flat out to try and get me out for the qualifying session, but it was not to be. At least I managed to get a couple of laps on the hard tyres today, and during the race tomorrow I will need to push hard to make up some ground and get up the order.”
Heidfeld's problems left Vitaly Petrov to uphold Renault honours and despite losing time in the second sector on his fastest lap, the Russian matched his best qualifying performance of the season to secure sixth on the grid.
“We have got to be happy with the result,” he said. “The team made a big improvement today, and the result of my car reflects that. Things felt good, the balance of the car was fine and I was able to put in a fast time in Q3 to ensure that we got the car in a good position on the grid. I knew what we had to do today, and did it so I am pleased and looking forward to tomorrow. It should be another action packed race and strategy will be very important.”
Chief race engineer Alan Permane praised Petrov's performance in the session and said the team needed to make the most of strategy to try and get Heidfeld up the order.
“There's definitely scope for a strong race from Vitaly, especially if he drives like he did today,” he said.” He has good pace and the car seems to be working well. It's going to be interesting with the tyres, as there is a big difference between the two compounds. The hard is a lot slower so the soft will be preferred, but its high degradation makes things difficult. We will have to see how the strategy evolves. With Nick, we face a big challenge because we start from the back of the field but we have more strategy options than with Vitaly.”