R enault wanted the best of this season the rest and reduce the backlog to the top. One is still possible. The other goal is missed at the moment. Nico Hülkenberg is 1.5 seconds short of pole position. Like last year. In Australia and Bahrain the gap was even greater. That is the picture in training. Nico Hülkenberg and Carlos Sainz fear that the gap will widen further in the race. “Then the fresh tires will no longer help us over our problem. For us that means that the tires deteriorate more in the race than in others. ”
Hülkenberg knows this situation from last year. 'Then as now, it is down to the aerodynamics', Hülkenberg is convinced. Sainz goes into detail: “In slow corners we lack grip at the rear. Fresh tires cover it up. ”A year ago, too, the Renault was one lap stronger at the start of the season than in the endurance run. In 2017 it took six months for the engineers to find the fault. You can't take that long this year. The competition is too strong for that. The HaasF1 and McLaren keep their tires in good shape under racing conditions.
In addition, the opponents from 11th place can choose the tire set to start the race and keep their hands off the delicate ultra-soft tires. For Renault, it will be difficult with a one-stop strategy when starting on ultrasoft tires.
Operations manager Alan Permane expects Pirelli's softest compound to break in after eight laps at the latest. 'We are already 26 seconds behind the one-stopers,' calculates Sainz. “It was still not an option for us to leave voluntarily in Q2. We wanted to be in the top ten. Perhaps a safety car will help us in the race, or the tires behave differently than expected in warmer temperatures. ”
Clearly fourth in qualifying
Renault is clearly fourth in qualifying Force. As the only team from midfield, both cars were in the top ten in all three races. “The speed is there. That's the good news, ”says Sainz with a sigh of relief. The Spaniard is in the training duel with Hülkenberg 0: 3 behind. He attributes it to the fact that he still lacks experience with the team and the car. “Nico has more confidence in the car, he knows it better and he has his tricks to be quick on a lap. I still have to learn something from him. ”
Sainz still struggles too often with the balance of the Renault R.S. 18. “It was good in Melbourne, bad in Bahrain, and here somewhere in between. Because I couldn't use DRS in the first attempt in Q1, I needed a second set of Ultrasoft. I lost it in Q3. It all had to fit in one attempt. That's why Perez is between Nico and me. Ideally, I would have been eighth behind Nico. ”
Hülkenberg was surprised to see that he had expanded his record. In the last six races, the Rhinelander started from seventh place. “The three top teams are in front, then there is a big gap, and behind them one of the fastest has to be. Is that good or bad? It is important to me that we close the gap with Ferrari, Mercedes and Red Bull. For that we have to develop faster. '
Force suspicious data MGU-H exchange
Team boss Cyril Abiteboul couldn't be really happy about starting positions 7 and 9. “Today was a bad day for us. Red Bull lost a turbocharger. That was a hard blow in the third race. ”The burst turbocharger in Daniel Ricciardo's car is damage that has never occurred before. According to Abiteboul, it has nothing to do with the more aggressive maps that gave the Renault teams in Shanghai a tenth of a second, nor anything with thatburst turbocharger at McLaren during winter test drives. “The turbine ran for a few seconds without oil. No turbocharger can withstand that. This time a part in the loader broke and we have to find out why, ”says the team boss.
Shortly before the magic fire in the rear of Ricciardo's Red Bull, the FIA reported that Renault was in both factory cars had the MGU-H changed. Since only three units per driver and season are allowed, it smells like a season with many penalties. Abiteboul swears by everything that is sacred to him: “The exchange of the MGU-H is not related to the turbo damage at Red Bull. We recognized a possible problem on Thursday based on the data. It only affected our MGU-H and not that of our customers. To be on the safe side, we removed the parts and sent them back to Paris to test them there on the test bench. If our suspicions are not confirmed, they will return to the contingent and will be used in the Friday training sessions or maybe even in races. '
Abiteboul sees no general problem with the' hot 'electric machine. “Otherwise we would have taken measures at the customer's and changed the turbocharger at the same time. These are parts from a certain batch that only went to us. ”Nico Hülkenberg does not see the case as tragic, even if it may cost him one or the other penalty. “We have to catch up with the engine. I prefer Renault to develop aggressively. Even if we need one or the other component more. ”