A fuel rig problem ruined Renault's chances of a season-best result in the Spanish Grand Prix, although the team were still able to take away plenty of positives from a much improved weekend.

Heikki Kovalainen and Giancarlo Fisichella eventually registered a seventh and ninth place finish, albeit having made three, instead of the customary two, pit-stops to take on fuel that failed to enter first time around.

Indeed, the problems only came to light after Kovalainen's first pit-stop, the Finn returning to the pit lane soon after to take on the missing fuel but not being able to do enough laps to merit him continuing on to the finish without having to make another stop.

However, any hopes the problem would have been solved by the time Fisichella came in for his second stop were ruined when the Italian was given the disconsolate message to return for a third time soon after he returned to the track.

Kovalainen fared the better of the two, the Finn enjoying easily his best weekend of the season as he diced with David Coulthard and Nico Rosberg throughout the afternoon. Also setting the fourth fastest lap of the race, Kovalainen was frustrated but encouraged at the same time.

"This is my best finish so far in F1, which is something positive for me on a personal level, but within the team, we know that I was quick enough to finish in fifth position today. I am still pleased though, firstly because I got everything out of the car today throughout the whole race, and secondly because the car handling felt much better all the way through the race.

"We had problems at the first and second stops, and it meant we had to convert our strategy to three stops, and run really aggressive short stints on the soft tyres. During that part of the race, the car was working really well, and that continued during the final stint on the hard tyres.

"So while we are frustrated about the problems, I am happy to get more points, and we have shown that we are moving in the right direction. The car is getting faster, and although there is still a long way to go, we are confident that we will get back to our true position."

Fisichella meanwhile finished just outside the points in ninth in a race defined by a myriad of problems, including the fuel dramas, a poor start and laps spent staring at the back of the clearly slower Rubens Barrichello.

Even so, Fisichella looked to be heading for the eighth and final point but was not able to eke out a big enough gap to keep Takuma Sato behind when he re-pitted with five laps remaining, the Italian crossing the line barely an arms length away from the Super Aguri.

"It was a really tough afternoon for me, with my strategy compromised by traffic, and then the pit-stop problem at the end. I got a good start, but got squeezed out during the run down to the first corner. Then I ran wide when I had snap oversteer in turn 3 and lost three positions, which left me behind Barrichello. I was much faster than him in terms of lap-time, but didn't have the speed to overtake on the straight.

"I only got into clean air after the second stop, and the car felt really good - I was pushing to the limit to try and build a gap to Sato before the final short stop, but I lost out by a few metres. It is frustrating to finish so close to the points after a day like this, but we can find some positives from the fact that we know our car was quick enough to finish fifth today. That is an encouraging step after the first three races, and I believe we can continue making progress."

 

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