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Hülkenberg takes stock: Renault has to get significantly better

Wilhelm
Nico Hülkenberg takes stock
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D he last three races clearly illustrate the Renault season. In the USA and Mexico, the factory racing team was the fourth force in the field. In Brazil, however, slower than Sauber, Haas F1 and Force India. It is the fluctuations that the team wants to turn off for 2019. “Our package must not react so susceptibly to different route profiles. We have to be good everywhere, ”urges head of operations Alan Permane. 'We have had too many ups and downs since the summer break,' says team boss Cyril Abiteboul.

Renault needs nooks and crannies

Renault will meet the season goal on the one hand - but not on the other. Fourth place in the constructors' world championship was a must. Renault will run in behind Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull. Unless Abu Dhabi goes crazy and HaasF1 wins. Or collect 24 points with two cars and Renault does not collect a meter. Renault was not able to reduce the gap to the top teams. Depending on the type of route, up to two seconds are missing.

The distance is smaller, the more slow bends a route has. Hülkenberg describes the strengths of his R.S. 18: “We need corners between 80 and 120 km /h. We need real hooks and corners. Just like the infield in Austin. “The faster the curve and the longer the radius, the more restless the Renault becomes.

The car only generates constant downforce at certain steering angles. If the front tires have a certain impact, the current no longer flows so cleanly around, over and under the car. This damages the aerodynamics in long curves. Because you spend more time there with your wheels turned in the damaged window. In corners with short radii, on the other hand, the pilots turn in rather sharply and suddenly. This means that the transition from straightened to strongly turned wheels is shorter. In terms of time. That's why the R.S. 18 needs the hooks that Hülkenberg is talking about.

60 percent car, 40 percent engine

Renault has so far not managed to drive its car out of the mood. “This year we looked into the tube during further development. In 2017 we were stronger. This year came too little, ”says Hülkenberg bluntly. The 2015 Le Mans winner pushes 60 percent to the car and 40 percent to the engine that Renault is still panting far behind the leaders. Perhaps the power unit has a slightly smaller share. Red Bull won four races with the same engine,while Renault only made it into the top five twice and was always far from a podium.

Hülkenberg calls for the gap to the top teams to be significantly reduced over the winter. It won't be easy. The 155-time GP driver does not want to make predictions. “In winter you always hit the mark.” But how does Renault intend to get closer to the teams that free up more budget, have more established structures and build on the successes of recent years? 'We won't be able to do this with continuous development alone,' says Hülkenberg.

Renault lacks the basis. “The top teams understood something that we haven't understood yet. We have to discover this secret. ”Somewhere in the complicated structure made up of thousands of puzzle pieces, Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull have gained a knowledge advantage. Somewhere near the flow over the surfaces, flow through the cladding and radiator, the vortex generators - that is, targeted air eddies - when installing the 145 kilogram power unit. The engineers believe that a little bit is missing here, a little bit there. That adds up to a big chunk. “There isn't one part that will bring us half a second right away. We need an increase in every area. Here an update, there an update, a bit of fine-tuning. ”So the sum of many little things.

780 employees at the end of 2019

After all, Renault is making progress in the mechanical area. The R.S. 18 doesn't run as hard on the tires as it did at the beginning of the season. “Two upgrades to the rear suspension made our car a tire whisperer,” says Permane. Chassis manager Nick Chester is satisfied with the output from the factory. But not with the result. “Our pace of development was good. We just have to make sure that we make bigger leaps with the updates that we bring from race to race. ”

A contribution has to come from Viry-Châtillon too. Renault's engine department has to make the V6 turbo significantly more powerful. This mainly applies to qualifications. The drivers miss an extra portion of performance on one fast lap. “The others have a lot more power in qualifying,” complains Hülkenberg. “That's why we often look better in the race. They have to turn it down. ”Renault also has to work on reliability. In the kilometer standings, the French team is seventh out of ten places after 20 out of 21 races. In Brazil, Hülkenberg failed because of an overheating engine.

According to Chester, Renault initiated the 2019 project with initial studies in November 2017. The team leadership continues to bring in new staff. More manpower means more ideas. “We will have around 780 employees in Enstone by the end of 2019.” Like the tools, the work processes must be improved. 'We're working on the processes so that engineers can use their time more effectively,' explains Chester.

Ricciardo is a bearer of hope

The new, most expensive employee has hope: Daniel Ricciardo. “New driver, new motivation, new ways of thinking, new experiences,” describes Permane. “That's not to say we weren't doing well with Carlos. But a fresh wind is always good. ”The Australian's commitment also motivates Hülkenberg. Renault hopes the two will spur each other on, creating a positive dynamic that drives the team. “Daniel has won several Grand Prix. He is quick and motivated. I have to do my homework, be quick and consistent. Then I've always beaten my team-mates so far, 'says Hülkenberg.

A yellow spot in the top field would definitely be good for Formula 1. The turbo-hybrid era is 99 races old. Mercedes won 73 times, Ferrari 14 times, Red Bull 12 times. Variety doesn't hurt any sport.

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