Spanish Grand Prix – Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg says the upgrades introduced to the RS19 are encouraging, but need further fettling before their full potential is unlocked.
The German driver finished the day in P14, having run the original spec Renault power unit. His best time was 1.5 seconds off the front, a tenth clear of Daniel Ricciardo’s time in the sister car with the upgraded power unit.
With both Renaults well outside the top ten, Hulkenberg was pragmatic as he explained what he felt had been a relatively straightforward day: “It wasn’t the best of Fridays. I think we need to address a few things with the car but otherwise it was pretty straightforward today. We’ve a few updates including a few small things on the front wing, the bargeboard, the floor on the car at the back. We tried them out today to see how the car reacts. So far, so good for today. We just want to extract a bit more performance from the car.”
“We’re pushing for a top ten finish in qualifying. It’s more important to get points on Sunday, and the midfield is incredibly tight. It’s going to be interesting.”
“There was some harmony with the car, but not the whole way through. We’ll be looking for a bit more tomorrow and with that, a bit more pace. The one lap pace today didn’t look fantastic, but we have a bit more to find there. The long runs look a bit more promising, and very close between all in the midfield.”
“We’ve collected a lot of data and that’s fed back between here and the factory. We’ve started to analyse it and, as a driver, you do get a feel of how it’s gone. It didn’t feel bad and that’s positive, it’s always difficult to compare to winter testing because the temperatures are very different. That changes things a lot. It was OK but, you know, it’s never good enough.”
Asked about whether the fresh spec power unit going into his car for tomorrow would offer further performance, he said that the upgrade isn’t really focused on that area. Reliability has been a sore point for Renault in the opening races, and he says the changes made have been focused on that: “The engine upgrades are more about reliability and making sure we can continue running the engine modes that we run, and getting the engines through without failures and taking more penalties. It’s not really a performance thing.”