[F1 2018 NEWS FEATURE] RENAULT SPORT: GROWING FORCE

Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya was a happy hunting ground for Renault Sport this year, with pre-season testing underlining the RS18’s potential to be the best of the rest after the top teams.

Building on momentum from last year is the French marque’s 2018 target, Renault moving up three spots in the constructors’ standings, and scoring 49 more points than it did on its F1 return in 2016.

The squad has reason to feel confident, with Carlos Sainz and Nico Hülkenberg completing pre-season testing in fifth, and 11th fastest respectively. While a total of 815 laps were completed.

But, while Renault advisor Alain Prost is reluctant to make predictions pre- season, double-points finishes have to be the goal – the last time Renault did that as a works effort dating back to the 2011 Turkish Grand Prix.

SOUNDBITE (French) ALAIN PROST,
4-TIME F1 WORLD CHAMPION:
“What we are expecting is clearly a progression. There has been a lot of work done at factories in Viry-Châtillon or Enstone in England. Recruitment of staff for two years now. A lot of work on the engine in terms of reliability and performance, but also on the chassis [side], the aerodynamics.”

Renault is also no longer compromised by its driver line-up, having locked-in two highly rated guns behind the wheel, the pair determined to deliver a consistent performance.

SOUNDBITE (English) NICO HÜLKENBERG,
F1 DRIVER, RENAULT:
“Obviously last year in 2017 we did a very good job of improving a lot throughout the season and I think this year that's the same objective again. I think we want to start the season straight away from the first race inside the top-10 and carry that all the way through the year.”

SOUNDBITE (English) CARLOS SAINZ,
F1 DRIVER, RENAULT:
"I think that it's possible to take a step forward which is the main goal of the team, this year is to jump one step up and I think we are capable of doing that. The team has matured a lot over this winter and we are ready to take that step.”

A podium on merit may be out of reach at this stage – but it’s front of mind for Hülkenberg and Sainz: fourth the best F1 result for both and a podium not only a milestone result, but a hammer blow to the other’s confidence.

Hülkenberg needs it more, though, given his 135 Grand Prix starts - and initial recruitment as the squad’s lead driver.

SOUNDBITE (English) NICO HÜLKENBERG,
F1 DRIVER, RENAULT:
"I will push very hard to achieve that goal, to climb on the podium and eventually I want to be fighting for victories together with Renault. We have a lot of work ahead of us.”

And that hard work is set to take the team to where it deserves to be, at the front – fighting for wins and championships.