This year was meant to be a step toward the top teams for Renault, the French marque having returned to F1 as a constructor in 2016 and moved from ninth place to fourth in just three campaigns.
SOUNDBITE (English) CYRIL ABITEBOUL,
MANAGING DIRECTOR, RENAULT SPORT RACING:
“After three years of transformation, of regeneration, of the team, we are now ready to challenge what will be the top teams. It’s going to take a while [to do that], but those [top] teams should be within our reach very soon now.”
It also had a new driver match-up, Germany’s Nico Hülkenberg paired with race winner Daniel Ricciardo. The Australian joining in frustration following a series of failed title chases with Red Bull.
SOUNDBITE (English) DANIEL RICCIARDO,
F1 DRIVER, RENAULT:
"Yeah, I mean, it is exciting for me for sure to work in a new [team] environment and to just kind of see how excited everyone is to have me here. That's pretty awesome.”
But, those dreams were soon shattered - with Ricciardo crashing even before Turn 1 in Australia, and reliability issues. Both drivers failing to see the chequered flag in Bahrain, and the Hulk suffering a power unit issue in China. Ricciardo also backed into Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat in Azerbaijan, the pair down the escape road after the Australian’s botched pass.
Following Monaco, Renault was eighth in the standings with just 14 points, and while it clawed its way back to fifth with sixth and seventh in Canada… a major upgrade for its home race in France failed to fire.
The year’s second half was better, care of 52 points to 39 from the first 11 races for 91 overall including a season-best fourth and fifth from Ricciardo and the Hulk respectively at Monza for the Italian Grand Prix.
But, could have been more had it not been disqualified from the Japanese Grand Prix. Renault’s brake bias system deemed a driver aid.
The French marque was also embarrassed by its customer team McLaren, which scored 54 more points after 21 rounds. 145 to 91.
For 2020, fourth must be the target for Ricciardo and returning racer Esteban Ocon who replaces Hulkenberg.