Barcelona test key to regaining pace Renault "had to give away"
Renault hopes this week’s Barcelona test will help it come up with an action plan of what it needs to do differently to bounce back from a 'damaging' start to its Formula 1 season.
The French car manufacturer had come into the campaign hoping to be able to close the gap to the top three teams and break clear of the midfield pack.
But it has faced a mixture of bad luck, incidents and poor reliability that has left it languishing in eighth in the constructors’ championship.
Managing director Cyril Abiteboul thinks this week’s two-day test at Barcelona will be essential for helping its recovery – as he hopes it can get to the bottom of what needs to be done to lift its performance.
Speaking exclusively to Motorsport.com, Abiteboul said the team has especially paid the price for the psychological hit it took from its double retirement in Bahrain.
“I think we were caught out by the reliability issues earlier on in the season and that broke a little bit the [team] dynamic,” he said. “And frankly, in a sport that is involving more than 1000 people including two drivers, that is important, and that caused some damage.
“The second element, which is more tangible, is that we had to be a bit safer on a number of occasions. The test that is coming at Barcelona will be important to assess some elements that we brought to the car, but also to try to recover some of the performance that we had to give away because of the reliability reasons.
“And if that happens, based on the results and findings and analysis from the first five races, but also from the tests in Barcelona, we will be able to have a very, very clear assessment of the situation and more importantly a very clear action plan of what needs to be done.”
Renault introduced an upgraded engine at the Spanish Grand Prix that aimed to help overcome some reliability issues – but also brought performance because it allowed more aggressive engine modes to be used longer.
But its form at Barcelona was hurt by struggles on getting the most out of the tyres, something that the team will focus on getting to the bottom of over the next two days.
“The engine is more or less back to where it was at the start of the season, based on reliability fixes that we have introduced with the spec this weekend,” explained Abiteboul. “This weekend has been more balance chasing and dealing with tyres, which I think has been a problem across the grid.
“It is absolutely not an excuse. It is another problem that we need to face and the test in Barcelona this week is going to address that specific issue. So reliability addressed, engine performance is now covered but we need a better understanding of what is needed on the chassis side to get those tyres to work, which in my opinion is now damaging us, so that will be the short term fix.
“But medium to long term, we need to do things differently because clearly what we are doing is not working in order to reduce the gap to the top teams. That is more of a long-term target, but that is not a reason why we should not be assessing and taking steps now.”
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