Renault has to reassess how it progresses in Formula 1 following three poor races, according to the team’s managing director Cyril Abiteboul.
After scoring points in May’s Russian Grand Prix and making Q2 in Spain, Renault had two crashes in Monaco, finished with only one car two laps down in Canada, and locked out the last row of the grid in Azerbaijan.
This dip in form has come despite introducing an engine upgrade in Monte Carlo that has been powering both cars since Montreal.
“The last three races have been harder than expected, possibly more difficult than we anticipated at the start of the year,” said Abiteboul. “However, nothing changes our long-term objectives; we just need to reassess how we get to them in the short and mid-term. We have already introduced our power unit upgrade and we know this is one of the strongest parts of the car at present.
“We have also taken some steps in mechanical grip and balance, and both drivers are happier with the car behavior. With our strengths identified, it is much easier to work on our weaknesses. In particular we need to target improvements in qualifying and aero, and we have a plan for both of these areas.”
The past three races have all been held on street-style circuits, exposing particular deficiencies in the current Renault chassis, according to Renault technical chief Bob Bell.
“The low-speed corner circuit layouts we’ve seen recently haven’t suited us,” he said. “We do have a weakness in the low speed corners. It’s partly a function of downforce, and that simply goes back to development time.
“We’re also looking at braking stability, as front locking into a slow corner has an impact on pace. For entry instability taking out front wing helps, but then the playoff is more mid-corner understeer, possibly driving snappiness on exit. Traction’s another challenge. These are things we can fine-tune with weight distribution and mechanical balance, but ultimately the more downforce you have. the more these type of issues go away.”
Renault tried an experimental suspension set-up on Kevin Magnussen’s car in qualifying in Baku, and the team’s racing director Frederic Vasseur does not expect its poor qualifying form there to continue, though he admits the team needs to be more consistent between qualifying and the race.
“I think Baku was just a one-off,” he said. “If you look back to Barcelona, this is more representative of where we are. [But] we need to manage the weekend well from the start to the finish, making the right strategic decisions to have an approach that is more global and consistent between Saturday and Sunday.”