Failure halts Kubica (Renault race review)

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Robert Kubica looked on course for a strong result in Suzuka – until his wheel fell off.

With Petrov crashing out at the start, Renault failed to score for the third time this year.

Robert KubicaVitaly Petrov
Qualifying position313
Qualifying time comparison (Q2)1’32.042 (-0.38)1’32.422
Race position
Average race lap2’07.363
Pit stops00

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Robert Kubica

Out-qualified Fernando Alonso to take fourth, which became third on the grid after a gearbox change penalty demoted Lewis Hamilton.

He made a good start to take second place off Mark Webber but his race ended when his right-rear wheel fell off while driving behind the safety car.

Renault said the torque value on the wheel nut was lower than it should have been, meaning it was not tightened to its usual level.

That points to a potential problem with the wheel gun. A similar failure caused Lewis Hamilton to crash during qualifying for the European Grand Prix in 2007.

Renault say they have not experienced a similar problem this year. They are still investigating what went wrong but the parts are still in transit.

Compare Robert Kubica’s form against his team mate in 2010

Vitaly Petrov

Started ten place behind his team mate but got away quickly off the line.

He moved left to avoid Nick Heidfeld but hadn’t realised he still had Nico Hulkenberg’s Williams alongside him. The crash put them both out of the race and earned Petrov a five-place grid penalty for the next race at Korea.

Compare Vitaly Petrov’s form against his team mate in 2010

2010 Japanese Grand Prix

    Browse all 2010 Japanese Grand Prix articles

    Author information

    Keith Collantine
    Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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    33 comments on “Failure halts Kubica (Renault race review)”

    1. I still think the penalty against Petrov was wrong. Hulkenberg was slow-starting and in his blind. Ergo, Hulkenberg had a better chance of avoiding the collison that Petrov.

      That said, Renault have allegedly identified the problem with Kubica’s wheel as being a pneumatic wheel-gun that wasn’t producing enough torque to secure the wheelnut, the the problem apparently applied to all the wheel-guns used by the team. Petrov’s car was faced with a similar problem.

      1. Looking at the replays, given the speed of Petrov’s change of direction I don’t think Hülkenberg had a chance in hell.

        1. But he had more of a chance than Petrov because he could see the Russian when the Russian couldn’t see him. Hulkenberg was in Petrov’s blind spot.

          1. Hülkenberg didn’t have more of a chance because Petrov’s the one who chose to change direction. Hülkenberg can hardly be expected to have known the car alongside him was going to swerve into him, nor could he possibly have had time to react.

          2. You’re joking, right?


            Look at Hulkenberg’s onboard view at 1:28. No chance whatsoever… Then if you take a look at 1:47-1:48 (using space a lot so you can see the actual frames), you’ll notice that Petrov decided to move left marginally BEFORE Heidfeld did. Their movements to the left were two independent events; Petrov’s move was not the result of Heidfeld’s. When the latter got in the Russians way, he should have backed off rather than attempt to slip through a gap that’s not there. But he opted to capitalise on his phenomenal start rather than fall back and swerve to the right.

            Whether the penalty is justified I don’t know. Especially because Massa didn’t get any. But it sure as hell was Petrov’s fault.

            1. That video clinches it for me: both deserved a penalty. Both of them had no need to chop left/right so violently and caused inevitable accidents. They wree basically overtaking attempts that were far too ambitious. In Massa’s case, it looks like he was simply scared of Rosberg!

            2. Petrov was clearly moving to avoid Heidfeld and possibly Massa. We can’t see who was on his right at the time he clipped Hulkenberg, because his car blocks the view and Hulkenberg was probably alongside as well. No doubt Petrov expected Hulkenberg to be further back than he actually was, given the German’s (latest) atrocious start. Having seen it though, I think the penalty was a bit much not because Hulkenberg stood a better chance of avoiding the situation, but because it all happened very quickly. There are at least four cars – Petrov, Schumacher, Heidfeld and Massa – in addition to Hulkenberg who all played some small part. Petrov clearly got a blinder off the line and was most likely intending to cut across Hulkenberg, nip down the outside of Schumacher/Massa and put himself about eighth going into the first corner. But with so many cars all fighting over the one section of road, these things play out very quickly. Petrov might be the most to blame for taking out Hulkenberg, but if we could get an on-board of the Russian’s start, we’d most likely be unable to see Hulkenberg. Petrov knew he was there, he just didn’t know how close the Williams was.

            3. Petrov knew he was there, he just didn’t know how close the Williams was.

              Sounds like a perfect reason not to swerve into his path.

      2. I think the penalty for Petrov is a bit harsh as well.

        He overreacted when Heidfeld braked in front of him, looks like a racing incident to me.

    2. That’s probably the end of Renualt’s hopes of surpassing Mercedes.

    3. What a boring looking graph…..

      For some reason I feel that Kubica wasn’t the only one robbed due to that wheel… We were as well!

    4. Keith,
      Graphs for Renault not there, Axis lines are good.

      1. Forgot to say HRT graphs are ok.

        1. Keith,
          Forget my last, It’s me having a stupid senior moment. They didn’t complete any racing laps did they.

          1. Actually if you look really close there is a dot for Kubica’s single lap!

    5. “They are still investigating what when wrong”. You mean what “went wrong” :)

      1. Changed it, thanks.

    6. According to Ted Kravitz’s video blog, all the wheels on Kubica’s car were under torqued (if thats a word), Eric Boullier confirmed that as a result all four tires could have potentially fallen off the Renault’s car, that is very worrying for the team, imagine if it had happened at racing speed, defending/attacking along the 130R corner at 190mph. He was a very lucky boy to lose out during the saftey car period and at a very slow corner too.

    7. Am I missing something here?
      I’m sure we’ve all seen cars return to the pits on 3 wheels (Schumi at Spa!).
      Surely with the safety car out/slow traffic he could have returned to race on?

      1. Possibly, but he’d have wound up dead last and possibly even a lap down. And that’s assuming that the car wasn’t damaged by dragging bits along the ground, or that he got a black and orange flag.

        Also, if a wheel gun was the problem, it could have happened again later in the race.

        1. I don’t think he would have got a black flag (a black and orange is one telling you to come to the pits anyway) for trying to return because it was only the wheel missing and he was coming back to the pits, unlike Vettel in Melbourne ’09 trying to finish the race with bits hanging off of his car.

      2. They tried that with Alonso in Hungary last year – and not only did they get fined, it nearly got them a race ban.

        1. And what team did Alo race for last year? Ohhh yeah Renault the same team Kubica is racing for… Very surprised this happened AGAIN. Granted last year it was in race conditions and failure was blamed on a wheel nut that wasn’t correctly threaded on to the tire.
          Scary thought that it could happened to all 4 tires on both cars. Almost makes you glad Petrov went off and Kubicas tire came of during SC period and no tires coming off at race speed..

        2. They were penalised for not putting the wheel on properly and driving with a loose wheel, not for trying to get him back on three wheels.

          1. Well, if they knew it was “under-torqued” which in English I believe is “not on right” then it was the same situation as Hungary. If I’m Kubica and I hear about “under-torqued” I want to have a word with the guy responsible for affixing the item that keeps me from flying instantly off the track at 200mph. Toro Rosso sacked the guy who missed the water leak in Singapore; the guy who does the wheels at Renault should be polishing his resume.

    8. about getting back to the bits. If we look at photos, we may see that it was literally no space between the floor and the asphalt (hope I’m understood) and taking into account that it was just before going uphill, even behind the safety car, it was hardly feasible. Also, we shouldn’t forget that it was only the second lap and the amount of fuel dragging the car down to the ground must have been massive. And this did not happen to Schumacher – In Spa he had way less fuel.

    9. Anyone have a link to the footage of the Kubica’s wheel actually coming off?

    10. An utter shame; Kubica was easily on for a 3rd place finish.

      I wanted to see him and Alonso battle.

      1. Or 2nd place. He was faster on the straights than anyone, so it’s highly doubtful Webber would’ve gotten past him unless he made a big mistake, which he hasn’t really been doing much this year.

        1. The thing is, all Red Bull needed to do, was to keep him out a lap or 2 longer, and this would help him jump Kubica. I think in the first sector, they were quicker by almost half a second.

          But yeah, I see your point; Kubica wasn’t going to give up easily.

          Also, Renaults top speed is encouraging for Korea; I really do hope they can be as competitive as they were in Japan.

          1. With that top speed they might be MORE competitive.

    11. Keith, it look like an error in your table with qualifying time (1’32.042) for Kubica, your previous data is showing that Kubica clocked 1’31.231 in Q3, so it makes difference even bigger. Sorry for being so scrupulous..

      1. No, the table above compares their times in the last part of qualifying where both drivers appeared, to make the comparison as fair as possible – in this case Q2. Track evolution means times usually get fastest in later sessions, which would have exaggerated the advantage Kubica had over Petrov.

        No need to apologise for being scrupulous though!

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