Renault were in sombre mood following the European Grand Prix after failing to make the most of their envious position to have both cars still in the race, Heikki Kovalainen coming away with a best of eighth place and a single point.

For Kovalainen especially it was a missed opportunity, a couple of gambles working against him to prevent him from coming away with a possible podium finish he evidently had the pace for.

A hugely eventful race for all, Renault were one of the few teams to come away from the early race deluge with both cars still nicely placed, Kovalainen up to fifth position when the race was halted due to the conditions.

From there he had an enticing tussle with fellow Finn Kimi Raikkonen, Kovalainen showing off his determination by passing his countryman after losing the place at the first turn. Although he would lose out again within a few corners and then slip behind Alex Wurz when he pitted slightly too late to change back to slick rubber, Kovalainen was back past the Austrian again and hunting down fourth place Mark Webber.

However, despite seemingly having the speed advantage, Webber provided a stern test, prompting Renault to bring Kovalainen in early to try and get him an advantage once the Australia pitted.

Webber and Wurz though stayed out longer than Renault perhaps anticipated and left Kovalainen down in fifth place again in the closing stages.

Curiously though, Renault attempted to get a jump on their rivals by bringing Kovalainen in for wet tyres before the forecasted rain had actually started falling, although this was later explained by a need to take on fuel anyway. Nonetheless, it was a lap too early and by the time the rain did arrive, Kovalainen's crawling pace on less than ideal tyres had given those ahead enough of a gap to take their stop and come out ahead.

It all transpired to leave Kovalainen down in eighth position and scoring just a single point when earlier in the race a maiden podium looked like a distinct possibility. Understandably, he was rather disgruntled with the result.

"There is not too much to say about this afternoon, to be honest. We took some gambles, especially with the wet tyres during my final stop, and they didn't pay off. I had to look after my wet tyres on a dry track until the rain came, and it just took too much out of them to be an advantage.

"But from the position we were in, with one stop still to make, it was a gamble worth taking. This hasn't been a good day for the team, but we managed to score one point at least. There is an important test coming up this week, the last before the summer break, and it will be important to get some good answers there, to help us find the right track again in Hungary and Turkey."

Giancarlo Fisichella fared little better in tenth, the Italian barely featuring throughout the race, crossing the line a fair way down on the points.

"We had the opportunity to do well today, but we didn't take advantage of it. I lost positions with an extra lap on slicks at the beginning, and then queuing in the pits behind Heikki too.

"After that, we had to run with some heavy fuel loads, and although the car balance was OK, the performance wasn't really there. It has been a tough weekend since Friday morning, and we will be working hard before Hungary to make sure we are in a better position when practice begins in Budapest."

 

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