Renault finished the 2018 season as best of the rest in fourth, behind its customer squad Red Bull Racing – with which it’s had a fractious, even vicious, partnership at times…
…and it’s a team it would love to leapfrog next season, and with its rival’s star driver, Daniel Ricciardo, even though Renault Sport Racing chief Cyril Abiteboul says that wouldn't make the achievement sweeter.
AUDIO QUOTE (English) CYRIL ABITEBOUL,
MANAGING DIRECTOR, RENAULT SPORT RACING:
“It’s a bit of irony, but when you are in Formula 1 you always challenge, you always compete for given results, whether you’re talking about sponsor, engineer, or a driver against one of your competitors.”
In 2018, it finished 297 points behind Red Bull – and with the same power unit, meaning there’s still a lot of work to go on the chassis side.
…while it will also need to up its game on power unit design, with rival Honda said to be 60 brake horsepower ahead.
And it’s a gap Renault wants to close with an all-new engine, rather than the C-spec it introduced this year… its architecture limiting development. 2019’s target remains the same, though.
SOUNDBITE (English) REMI TAFFIN,
ENGINE TECHNICAL DIRECTOR, RENAULT:
“We need to get [the] engines to the end of any race and we need to be performing in quali[fying]. So basically it’s [on] performance and reliability again.”
On the driver front, Nico Hülkenberg had the edge over Carlos Sainz by a comfortable margin… the German again proving his potential.
Hülkenberg beat teammate Sainz 13-8 in qualifying, and then 8-4 in races when they could be compared. He scored 16 more points, though the best result for both drivers was fifth place.
The Hülk will have to up his game for 2019 against Ricciardo, but it’ll be a fascinating battle to watch as one of F1’s great marques builds its efforts.