Renault moves forward with some serious mountains to climb. Bahrain was a disaster – its drivers making light contact, followed much later by a double retirement three laps from the flag, both at Turn 1, with Nico Hülkenberg suffering engine issues, Daniel Ricciardo losing his MGU-K…
… the Australian yet to finish a race for the French marque, having retired from his home event for what the squad termed “precautionary measures” after a bizarre front wing explosion, Ricciardo dropping his front-right tyre into a gutter off-track between two grassy patches.
Hülkenberg’s seventh place at Albert Park the squad’s only shining result from the first two Grands Prix, races in which Renault expected to further consolidate on its place as “best of the rest”.
Team principal Cyril Abiteboul, however, admitted on the eve of the 2019 season that the squad needs more time to hit its target.
SOUNDBITE (English) CYRIL ABITEBOUL,
MANAGING DIRECTOR, RENAULT SPORT RACING:
“We can’t be perfect everywhere just yet. That’s going to take a bit of time, but in particular on the engine side I’d like to think we have the capacity to reach the best, to become the best. That’s the ambition. I think we have this possibility to do that, despite the fact that we’ve been struggling in the past two years.”
Renault heads to China seventh in the constructors’ standings: two points behind McLaren and Haas, and four behind Alfa Romeo, which is leading F1’s brutal midfield battle.
A gap it needs to quickly close with the competition so tight…
…and with Renault at pains to keep Ricciardo happy, team principal Cyril Abiteboul admitting when the Australian signed that he didn’t want to see disappointment on his new driver’s face.
Ricciardo, though, is moving forward with the right mentality, despite the Renault reality check – with now the right time to provide some feedback having been through two race weekends.
SOUNDBITE (English) DANIEL RICCIARDO,
F1 DRIVER, RENAULT:
“Then I can probably understand a few more things, and maybe pick [out] some differences and try and help out from what I learnt at Red Bull. There’s no hiding that they were a very good team, and very fast and build a good car.”
China this weekend will be a key moment for the French marque to get its campaign back on track…