N ico Hülkenberg would have preferred to swap with Carlos Sainz. The German was scheduled for the morning of the fifth day of testing in Barcelona, his team-mate for the afternoon. Hulkenberg only managed 48 laps due to a number of problems. With 91 laps, Sainz completed more than one GP distance. When the Spaniard was in the Renault, the car and engine ran like clockwork.
Hülkenberg's ordeal had its origins in cables and sensors. One of the sensors in the gearbox was not properly attached. In the absence of information to the control center, the transmission would almost have been killed. Another time a sensor reported problems in the area of the rear axle. That turned out to be a false alarm. 'Everything is small, but it takes a lot of time until you've sorted them out,' cursed Operations Manager Alan Permane.
When Hülkenberg got down to driving, the vehicle set-up was not right and one of the two sets of tires was a leftover from the first Test week. “It was hit about eight times. The grip wasn't so tingly anymore, ”said the German. Despite all the adversities, it was still the seventh fastest time. And to the realization: 'Somehow the car felt different to last week with higher asphalt temperatures.'
Sainz curses in strong wind
Carlos Sainz only had to struggle with an unpredictable wind. 'It was difficult to understand the balance of the car,' said the Spaniard. And went into detail: “In the headwind, the car felt much better than last week. Much worse with a tailwind. ”
Sainz put an impressive long run on the track with medium tires. Over 24 laps with an average of 1.23.625 minutes.Head of Technology Bob Bell commented on the current level of performance with a touch of understatement: “The experience on the track is slightly better than the data promised. But we're only satisfied when we're at the front. And probably not even then. ”
Of course, Renault always risks a sideways glance at its two customer teams. There was a longer downtime twice for the same reason. McLaren driver Stoffel Vandoorne broke down after four laps in the morning with a battery problem. Max Verstappen and his Red Bull also ran aground with a battery defect in the late afternoon.
Since the works team had to replace a battery in the first week of testing, the question of whether one should worry is allowed. This year every driver has to get through the 21 races with two batteries. That's half of the 2017 quota.
Does Renault have the battery under control?
Bob Bell brushed off concerns that the battery could become Renault's coffin nail: “It's a normal process. We bring in all the batteries here that we want to use later in the season. They then go back to Viry and are put through their paces there before they are approved for racing. So we can choose the best ones for the rest of the season. ”
Renault will be flying an aero upgrade to Barcelona at the end of the test week. The season goal is obvious. The team has to prove that with the current size of the team, it is able to achieve what Force India has achieved in the last two years with half the size of the team. “We have to show that we can definitely finish in the top four. Only then does the company write the checks to upgrade the team even more, 'says Bob Bell.