Renault managing director Cyril Abiteboul described his team’s failures as “unacceptable” after both cars retired simultaneously in the closing stages of the Bahrain Grand Prix.
Nico Hulkenberg was running in sixth place after an impressive recovery drive when he lost power at the end of the pit straight and retired at Turn 1 with just under four laps remaining. Then Daniel Ricciardo – running in ninth at the time – suffered an MGU-K issue at the same corner a matter of seconds later and came to a stop about 100 meters from his teammate.
“After a very intense winter, it’s been a very bad start to our racing season,” Abiteboul said. “Similar to Melbourne, our qualifying in Bahrain was massively compromised by minor electronics issues, which impacted both cars. Our race came to a sudden stop so close to the finish.
“These are issues we have previously encountered, but something we were unable to rectify in Bahrain. These problems are increasingly frustrating and unacceptable as both cars have shown very good competitiveness both over one-lap and race runs.
“Nico delivered another outstanding drive from 17th to sixth. Daniel is building up precious experience in the car, and despite good race pace, his strategy gamble didn’t work out. Daniel will continue his familiarization in the car during this week’s test conducting performance-related work. We must react and shift our focus on reliability.”
Hulkenberg said he felt he had his sixth place guaranteed, as he was managing the pace to Lando Norris behind him in the closing stages.
“In my mind I had it (P6) booked already, but it just shows that you always have to bring it home the full race distance,” Hulkenberg said. “I was controlling everything. I had a gap to Norris. Everything was fine, but it came without any signs or problems before. It just happened from one moment to another.
“So a bitter one, hard to swallow. A brutal moment that can happen in racing. But on the positive side we had decent pace in the car again. But the problems prevented good results.”
Ricciardo missed out on his first points for his new team but believes he was already set for a disappointing result after starting from 10th and then being the only driver committing to a one-stop strategy.
“Probably slightly more brutal for (Hulkenberg) because his race was going well, and mine not so well,” Ricciardo said. “I felt like half my damage was already done by the one stop. It was pretty heartbreaking for the team to lose both cars at the same time with a few laps to go. I feel for them.
“We will just try and do better and keep learning. The car has signs of pace. Personally I’m still trying to find a bit, particularly in a few areas, which we will work on on Tuesday. I am going to test in a couple of days, get some more time in the car and try and find out a few things.”