Renault did not show its full potential in the season-opening race in Australia and is determined to show better performance in the Bahrain Grand Prix, according to managing director Cyril Abiteboul.
A fourth-place finish in the constructors’ championship last season left Renault targeting a reduced gap to the top three this year, with Abiteboul suggesting podiums would be one aim of 2019. However, the opening race in Melbourne saw Haas lead the midfield while both Renaults dropped out in Q2, before Nico Hulkenberg recovered to seventh on race day.
“We head to Bahrain with motivation,” Abiteboul said. “In seasons gone by, we would have been satisfied with a seventh-place finish at the first race of the season, but this year we were a little disappointed.
“We feel our car is capable of fighting at the top end of the midfield, however, that wasn’t always displayed when it really counted in qualifying and during the race.
“We are determined to show more in Bahrain. We have to underline the step we’ve made on the engine side, and the second grand prix of 2019 is an opportunity to showcase that. We will bring some aero updates, as we will do at every race.
“We also need to target consistency over the course of the entire weekend, delivering a balanced and reliable car in all sessions to allow the drivers to extract respective maximum performance. Equally, we need to target operational excellence in all areas.
“Having both cars inside the points is the target and we want to show the qualities of our team. We have to be hard on ourselves if we’re to keep on our path.”
Daniel Ricciardo retired in Australia after suffering damage at the start, and while chassis technical director Nick Chester says that the team’s underperformance was exacerbated by issues in qualifying, he admits Renault is not yet at the level it was targeting.
“Australia was a mixed weekend,” Chester said. “We didn’t qualify where the cars deserved to be in terms of pace, and that was down to execution in some areas, and a reliability problem which is now understood. It shows the midfield is so close, and that any small mistake or dip in performance means you’ll lose places on the grid. Unfortunately, we experienced that quite directly.
“The reality is, the lower down the grid you qualify, the more likely the risks of damaging the car are. Elsewhere throughout the weekend, we tested some new parts, played around with different setups and learnt a decent amount. It’s quite clear, though, we have some work to do to move away from the midfield, which is where we want to be.”