Carlos Sainz sees fourth place as a realistic target for Renault in 2018 but highlights Haas and Toro Rosso as two rivals based on pre-season testing in Barcelona.
Renault has been investing heavily in its facilities and personnel, with the team looking to improve on sixth place in the constructors’ championship last year. With one day of testing remaining, Renault has enjoyed strong reliability and had both of its drivers in the top five on Thursday, with Sainz confident the team is in the mix for the fight of best of the rest behind the top three.
“Mercedes looks very quick out there,” Sainz said. “That’s nothing to hide from there – it looked quicker and it seems like they put the car on track a bit like last year and like always really, but that’s not a secret. We know that Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari are going to be ahead and fighting for the win in Australia. That is not our concern; our concern is to be closer to them and cutting that gap little by little through the year.
“Of course [fourth] can be possible, It’s going to be difficult. The midfield as always has very high competition. We already see people like Haas and Toro Rosso doing very decent lap times, so it is going to be particularly tough but we will try.”
With Renault bringing upgrades on the final two days of the test at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya – including a new front wing – Sainz felt some improvement but focused on the added data as being beneficial to future development.
“You always learn new things in testing and today we also had some new parts coming, which we have to analyze and take good care of. Little by little as the days go by we learn and we keep becoming stronger each day. Another full run plan completed, which is good news for us.
“We still need to analyze [progress]. I felt different things and some differences there but we still need to see how much we progress, because it’s difficult to say at the moment. The aero department is working on it and analyzing. They will come up with a number – but I think we will keep that number to ourselves.”