Renault managing director Cyril Abiteboul sees the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix as “almost a championship in itself” with constructors’ positions still to be decided.
Renault is currently seventh in the standings, four points behind Toro Rosso but only two ahead of Haas – meaning all three can still finish as high as sixth or as low as eighth. The final finishing position will have a major impact on constructors’ championship prize money, and Abiteboul admits it will be a difficult race in terms of judging how much risk to take.
“This race is almost a championship in itself as we are in a tight battle with Toro Rosso and Haas, and everything is still to play for,” said Abiteboul (pictured below). “Either one of us could finish between sixth and eighth position, so we are being very careful with our preparations.
“We will have to combine an approach that is at the same time attacking, as we need five points more than Toro Rosso to get sixth, but also conservative as we are just two points ahead of Haas.
“We can be positive about our prospects. Abu Dhabi will be the fourth race Nico [Hulkenberg] and Carlos [Sainz] have worked together and we have had two double Q3 performances. They work well together and push each other in the right direction, allowing us to point our development accurately and accelerate elements that add performance to the car.
“Whatever the result this weekend, we already have the confidence of a strong driver line-up next season.”
While the final result could carry a major financial benefit, Hulkenberg – who joined from Force India ahead of this season – is encouraged by Renault’s rate of improvement regardless of its constructors’ championship position.
“This year has been about progress and development,” Hulkenberg said. “I’ve got to know a new team, and one that has been developing strongly over the course of the year. We’ve made progress with the car and our performance.
“Of course, we’ve wanted more in terms of results, but I think we have put many things in place behind the scenes, which will enable us to fight for better positions in the future, and that’s always been the aim.”