Canadian Grand Prix – Renault team boss Cyril Abiteboul says that the team’s double points finish has underlined the strength of their updated power unit.
Renault came into 2019 with the intention of underlining their strength as they aimed to consolidate their P4 position in the Constructor’s Championship and, hopefully, close the gap to the leading trio of teams. However, the start to 2019 has been shaky so far. While there has been flashes of speed, reliability has been an issue, with a particularly galling double retirement coming while running strongly in the points at the Bahrain round.
After introducing a new specification updated power unit for the Spanish Grand Prix, it didn’t seem to have an immediate effect on their performance as neither driver could get into the points. Monaco saw Daniel Ricciardo come home P9 but isn’t a track representative of any engine improvements. Canada would prove to be a more accurate litmus test, and the team delivered.
Daniel Ricciardo proved to be one of the stars of qualifying as he took a stellar P4, outqualifying the Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas and his replacement at Red Bull Pierre Gasly. The race was similarly strong for him, as he first fended off Bottas for a while before the inevitable acquiescence, before bringing the car home in P6.
He was closely shadowed by Nico Hulkenberg. The German driver had started from P7 and utilised an effective longer stint on the Soft tyre to catch up to Ricciardo. Indeed, it looked for a while as though he could have gotten past Ricciardo to take P6 but he was told to hang back and secure the double points finish.
“This weekend is no more than the blueprint we set ourselves as an objective and the demonstration that we are able to achieve it.” beamed Cyril Abiteboul afterwards. “We need it to continue in the upcoming races and Daniel’s sixth position and Nico’s seventh, the best possible results at this stage under normal conditions, restart our season. The drivers were faultless all over the weekend. Daniel was exceptional in his qualifying lap yesterday, he gave us all a smile nearly as wide as his!”
“The rest of the team executed everything impeccably giving us confidence back while also not forgetting errors made at the beginning of the season. We remain very concentrated and conscious of the work there is left to do. We’re moving forward to the French Grand Prix from tonight, as it marks the second stage of our recovery plan after the first one on the engine side, which has benefitted from the visibility and the recognition it deserved on the most challenging circuits of the calendar.”
Daniel Ricciardo, unsurprisingly, was smiling when he said: “I did all I could out there and I’m happy with the end result.”
“It’s the team’s first double points of the year and it’s a big one in sixth and seventh, and we can’t ask for anything more than that. There are definitely positive signs this weekend. We know the top teams are superior at this stage, but still, it was a lot of fun to battle Valtteri [Bottas] for a few laps out there. We’re realistic in our approach, but the team should be proud of this weekend. They have that drive and determination to push on now and that’s really encouraging.”
Nico Hulkenberg, despite being unhappy with the order to hang back behind Ricciardo after some stern radio messages between him and the pitwall, was similarly pleased with the team’s improvement: “We can be pleased with that today as it’s a really good team result. I had strong pace throughout the race, kept the Softs in good shape, and then had fresher tyres at the end. I had to back off a little bit to stop the car overheating and from there we settled for a solid team result.”
“We’re leaving here with a smile on our faces. The last three or four weekends have been compromised for various reasons and today we achieved the full potential of the car. It’s an excellent reward for the team’s hard work at both Enstone and Viry and now we have to aim to keep the momentum going.”