Foreword from Renault Sport Racing Managing Director, Cyril Abiteboul
One positive after the Spanish Grand Prix is moving into fourth place in the Constructors’ Championship. It is the first time we’ve been in this position since our Formula 1 return and, while it’s very early in the season, it shows we are getting stronger, which gives us motivation for the rest of the season.
Overall Spain was a challenging weekend and we did a good job of recovering from a difficult Friday to a positive points haul on Sunday, courtesy of Carlos’ seventh place. We have some lessons to take away, such as starting the whole event stronger, and making sure reliability is absolutely impeccable – we can’t afford to lose any points in the close fight in the championship.
Now we head to Monaco, one of the busiest weekends of the season. From a racing point of view, we know what to expect. Monaco is very much a drivers’ circuit and the speed combined with the excellent working relationship between our driver pairing and the engineering department is definitely a strong asset in this regard. Naturally we will be targeting double points at every race from now on.
On another note, last weekend was a memorable one for our young drivers. Jack Aitken won his first Formula 2 race and Sacha Fenestraz and Anthoine Hubert both lead their respective championships after the first round of racing. This is a great sign that the Renault Sport Academy is moving forward towards its objective of building tomorrow’s champions.
After moving into fourth place in the Constructors’ Championship at the last round, the team heads to the legendary Monaco Grand Prix, as Engine Technical Director Rémi Taffin explains what’s required from the power unit side to take on the famous streets.
How would you evaluate the Spanish Grand Prix?
We showed a good level of performance in qualifying and we had a strong race, most notably with a positive start. We have been fighting at the top end in the fourth place battle, and we have Renault engines in fourth and fifth in the midfield. After five races, being fourth is reflecting that step forward we expected this season. The Spanish Grand Prix showed the same level of performance we saw during the first four races. We got Carlos into Q3, but unfortunately not Nico, but we know the reasons for this.
And were the fuel updates we saw in Spain everything we expected?
The implementation of the new fuel was very well managed. The performance was there and we experienced no problems at all. It was a good step forward.
Does Monaco present a different regime for the engine?
When we get to Monaco, we don’t want to change anything from the last five races. The most important thing for a driver in Monaco is to have confidence in how the engine will behave. Of course, we want to build on our performance, but consistency and predictability is very beneficial at such a unique and challenging circuit. We need to pay attention to how the engine delivers its performance in Monaco because of the low-speed corners and low revs. We will be looking after that, but we are prepared.
We’re targeting double-points at every race, what’s the key to ensure that?
We have over 1000 people working across Enstone and Viry, developing a car that is capable of scoring points at every race. Then it’s about making sure we have the specification to get to the end of each race. When we are at the track, we aim to optimise what we have, every single thing. We have the package to score points at every race, so we need to rely on people; the drivers, the engineers, mechanics to make sure we are proficient in every area.
What can we expect from the imminent engine upgrade?
Race seven, the Canadian Grand Prix, is where we will introduce a fresh engine taking advantage of some upgrades. I hope the gains match our expectations; we’re looking forward to seeing this in action.
It was a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time for Nico Hülkenberg in Spain, as he eyes up a better run on the streets of his hometown.
What makes the Monaco Grand Prix a standout race?
Nothing compares to Monaco, there is no place like it. It’s the highlight of the year and the race I most look forward to. It’s just so unique and special in every aspect; the glitz, the glamour, the circuit itself, the whole vibe is amazing throughout the weekend. It’s one of those tracks which give you a sensation of speed and, in turn, a real buzz.
What’s it like to wrestle a Formula 1 car around the streets of Monaco?
From a physical point of view, it’s not the most demanding circuit, but it requires a lot of concentration, precision and discipline. It’s not a high G-force track, as it’s mainly low speed, but it’s full on, a busy lap and means concentration levels have to be on point. Any error will put you in the wall and that means game over. You have to be confident as a driver in Monaco, and believe in your car. It’s usually a thrilling race, anything can happen, even though overtaking is difficult. But that’s the challenge, and I really love racing at Monaco.
How do you approach the weekend?
You build that confidence up in stages, lap by lap, session by session. There isn’t much point in getting over excited, or confident too quickly because you’ll soon find yourself in the wall. Qualifying is where you need to peak and take those risks, getting closer to the barriers and on the limit. That’s when you find that buzz and that excites me.
Is it refreshing to stay at home during the weekend?
It’s a nice change up to the normal routine. It feels a bit strange to go home every night and between sessions, but I like that and it puts me at ease a little bit. I quite enjoy going out on the scooter or biking around the track.
What’s there to say about Spain?
It was frustrating as we’d got on top of the car and I was charged-up to work my way up the order. My focus is now Monaco.
Carlos Sainz is aiming to make it three points scoring finishes in a row in Monaco, a track which requires a gentle and meticulous approach.
What do you like about racing in Monaco?
It’s always a good feeling going to Monaco, and that excitement ramps up to another level on the Grand Prix weekend. You can’t drive around Monaco like you do at any other circuit. It’s unique and requires a completely different approach to any other weekend. You are constantly aware of the walls and you have to keep concentration levels high on every corner of every lap through the weekend.
How does a Formula 1 driver approach the Monaco Grand Prix?
Confidence in yourself, and in your car, is key to a successful weekend. You build that confidence up in little steps, all the way up to qualifying when you aim to be at 100%. Qualifying is crucial in Monaco, and it’s usually very tense. I would say it’s one of the toughest sessions of the whole season, if not the toughest and you need to carry that extra level of determination for it. When you nail your qualifying lap at this track, there isn’t any feeling like it, it’s amazing.
What else do you get up to in Monaco?
Even away from the racing, it’s a totally different weekend. For instance, we’ll use a scooter to go from the hotel to the track, which is cool. It’s a really unique weekend in every way. The glitz and glamour is unique, there are stunning sportscars everywhere and lots of impressive yachts in the harbour making the atmosphere a real thrill.
You must be pleased with back-to-back points-scoring finishes?
Barcelona was another good result but it would be a huge mistake to lose focus. We’re confident our approach is the correct one and we’re making good progress. It’s about continuing on this trend and keeping up the hard work. After Barcelona, the team climbed up to fourth in the Championship and the target is to consolidate that position in Monaco with more points
Renault Sport Racing
First Formula 2 win for Aitken in Spain
Renault Sport Formula One Team’s Third & Reserve Driver Jack Aitken took an impressive maiden FIA Formula 2 victory in Spain with a commanding performance in last Sunday’s Sprint race.
Jack lined up third on the grid following his sixth place in the Feature race, making a quick start to lead into turn one at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.
And from then, the 22-year-old drove smartly to build up a comfortable lead, despite a number of Virtual Safety Cars, to take the chequered flag by over 1.5s.
Test & Development Driver Artem Markelov left Spain with four points following a frustrating weekend. The Russian battled hard from 19th on the grid to take eighth place in the Feature. That meant he was on pole for the Sprint, but struggled in his Russian Time machine and had to settle for ninth.
Both drivers are back in action in Monaco, supporting the Formula 1 Grand Prix.
Jack Aitken: "To get my first win is really great and we did it in challenging conditions with a wet-dry track at the beginning of the race. We pulled out a big gap at the start and even with the Virtual Safety Cars cutting that lead, we still had really good pace. We managed to come home quite comfortably in the end. We tried the undercut in the Feature race, it didn’t work out but sixth place was still solid points. It’s a solid base to move onto one of the most important races of the calendar, so I’m looking forward to Monaco."
Artem Markelov: “It wasn’t the best weekend for us. We had some problems with car balance and we have a new chassis ordered for Monaco, so I hope that will work. Race one in Barcelona was good, we managed to get some points and worked the new tyres well to pass my team-mate on the last lap and take eighth place. That meant we were on pole position for the Sprint and we were fighting with Nyck de Vries into turn one and he broke my track rod and that made the car really hard to drive. Next one is Monaco and we’ll be going for podiums.”
Fenestraz takes race win and leads championship after European Formula 3 opener
Renault Sport Academy Driver Sacha Fenestraz secured a debut FIA European Formula 3 Championship race victory, and leads the Drivers’ Championship after the season-opener in Pau, France last weekend.
Sacha led from the lights in the second race on the Pyrenees streets, after clinching pole position in the second qualifying session. In difficult conditions, with spots of rain falling on parts of the course, the French-Argentine teen drove a cool race for his first victory in the series.
In race one, Sacha converted his fifth position on the grid to fourth place sealing the top rookie accolade on the way. Race three was affected by rain and was brought to a halt at half distance with Sacha finishing 20th. He leads the standings on 37 points, two and a half ahead of his nearest rival.
Sacha Fenestraz: "It was a good way to start the season, but we have work to do to improve things. I wasn’t expecting to leave Pau leading the Championship, so that’s really awesome. It’s a long way to go! It’s super nice to get my first win, the team did a really job all weekend and we worked hard together. Race three we took a risk going on slick tyres and it didn’t work, that was a bit unlucky. I’m really looking forward to Budapest in a few weeks’ time and we’ll work hard to be even stronger there."
Eurocup quartet prepare for double-header
Renault Sport Academy Drivers Max Fewtrell, Christian Lundgaard, Victor Martins and Arthur Rougier are primed and ready as they gear up for the Silverstone-Monaco Formula Renault Eurocup double-header.
This weekend (18-20 May), the quartet are at Silverstone for round three of the series, before they head to the streets of Monaco, on the Grand Prix bill.
Christian enters the back-to-back races at the top of the Drivers’ Championship on 68 points, with Max fourth, Victor sixth and Arthur 24th.
Academy Focus…Sacha Fenestraz
It’s been a whirlwind fortnight for Renault Sport Academy Driver Sacha Fenestraz. On 3 May, the 18-year-old took to the wheel of a Renault-powered E20 V8 2012-spec Formula 1 car for the first time as part of a demo run with the French Air Force. A week later, Sacha opened his account for the 2018 FIA European Formula 3 Championship in some style, sailing into the lead of the Drivers’ Championship on 37 points courtesy of an impressive race two victory and a fourth place in race one.
Sacha, who flies both the French and Argentine flags, discusses life as a Renault Sport Academy member, the Formula 1 demo experience, and what it takes to taste victory on the streets of Monaco, a feat he has achieved twice.
How have you settled in to life as a Renault Sport Academy member?
It’s great to be part of the Renault Sport Academy and it’s been going really well. I had my first taste of a Formula 1 car in a demo event a fortnight ago and I’ve been in the simulator at Enstone a lot too, it’s a lot of work but really fun. The facilities are excellent at Enstone and we’ve been on a training camp in Doha with more camps coming up. It’s going really well at the moment and it’s good to be part of the Academy.
What was it like driving a Formula 1 car in the demo event?
It was unbelievable, a really incredible experience. It was a dream since I was born to jump into a Formula 1 car. Even if it was just a demo, it was a dream, so thanks to Renault for the amazing opportunity. It was even more special with the Patrouille de France flying above me going flat out. I still can’t really believe it or take my smile off my face since I’ve done it!
What’s the secret to winning in Monaco, since you’ve done it twice?
It’s a nice feeling to win in Monaco. It’s the best race of the season for the Formula Renault guys and the race of the year for me last year. Being surrounded by the Formula 1 paddock, Formula 1 people and drivers is really amazing. Racing on the streets of Monaco is something every driver dreams about. One of my own dreams was to race in Monaco, I’ve done it in Formula Renault now and next time I want to race it as a Formula 1 driver! It’s a tricky track and quite hard to be fast and consistent. It’s just such a great weekend, though. The last sector with the fast chicane is tricky, if you miss the apex you run too wide and hit the wall.
Would you say you’re a street master?
I do like street circuits. I like to be as fast as possible around a city, close to the walls, it’s such a buzz. You cannot make mistakes, even a small mistake means you’re in the wall. I like that as you have to be precise, putting your wheels everywhere, while still being fast. I don’t know if I’m a street master, but I do love the street circuits.
How beneficial is it to drive on a Formula 1 simulator?
It helps a lot, much more than I thought. I’ve progressed a lot on the Formula 1 system. You have to hold the brakes into a corner and brake late and that’s helped a lot even for my Formula 3 efforts. The simulator certainly makes you a lot more consistent. You learn to work with a Formula 1 engineer and it helps being surrounded by Formula 1 people, which means you’re constantly learning.
Hubert at the double to take GP3 Championship lead
Renault Sport Affiliated Driver Anthoine Hubert clinched two second place finishes at the opening round of the GP3 Series in Barcelona to lead the Drivers’ standings.
Anthoine, racing for ART Grand Prix in his second season in GP3, was in the mix at the front all weekend and claimed second place in race one after starting from third on the grid. He also took the fastest lap of the race for an extra two points. In race two, Anthoine made a blistering start from seventh on the grid, chasing the lead of the race, eventually falling short by just over two seconds.
Anthoine Hubert: “Two podiums and the lead of the Championship, that’s a good way to start the season. We were consistently at the front and now we have big points in the bag. We still have improvements to make so we need to keep our heads down as the route is long!”
Renault e.dams in Berlin for round nine
Renault e.dams are set for round nine of the 2017/18 Formula E Championship at Flughafen Tempelhof in Berlin this weekend (19 May).
Sébastien Buemi enters the race fourth in the Drivers’ standings on 70 points after his fifth-place finish at the team’s home round in Paris last month with Nico Prost in 18th.
Last year, Séb took a race victory in Berlin with Nico enjoying two top ten finishes across the double-header in Germany.
Sébastien Buemi: “We won race two last year and we know that we will have a good set-up to start the weekend on this track. The tyres suffer greatly on the concrete slabs and it is the primary difficulty this circuit poses. We will do our best to score a good result and move up the standings.”
Nicolas Prost: “Every track has its specificity, but this one is particularly singular. The concrete slabs tend to tear up the tyres. The rubber takes a beating, especially at the rear. We have done very well in Germany these past few years and I hope it will be the same this season. We are not giving up and we are working very hard.”
As well as absolute car performance, to be quick in Monaco the driver needs to be confident in how the car will react, and needs to be able to find a rhythm, more so than at any other circuit. The barriers are close and a single mistake or any unexpected car behaviour may mean the end of qualifying or the race. Although the circuit is known for its low speed corners, there are some fast ones too – the chicane at the entry to the Swimming Pool complex (Turns 13/14) is almost flat in qualifying, at over 220kph, with barriers close on both sides.
Supersoft (red) – Hülkenberg 1, Sainz 1
Ultrasoft (purple) – Hülkenberg 1, Sainz 1
Hypersoft (pink) – Hülkenberg 11, Sainz 11
Average Points: 3.142 (F1 career average: 3.05)
KM Raced: 1,348
Laps Raced: 404
Positions Gained 2017 (+/-): N/A
Fastest Lap: 1:17.885 (2017)
Fastest Qualifying: 1:13.628 (2017)
Average Qualifying: 10th
Average Finish: 12th
Average Points: 4.33 (F1 career average: 2.10)
Raced KM: 778
Raced Laps: 233
Positions Gained 2017 (+/-): 0
Fastest Lap: 1:16.649 (2017)
Fastest Qualifying: 1:13.162 (2017)
Average Qualifying: 7th
Average Finish: 8th
Renault in Monaco
Pole Positions: 13
Fastest Laps: 7
This time last year
Palmer – P17 (started P16)
Hülkenberg – P12 (started P10)
Palmer – P11
Hülkenberg – DNF
Unusual fact: An extraordinary amount of equipment is required to turn Monaco’s ordinary roads into a fully-fledged race circuit. Included in that list is 33 kilometres of safety rails, 20,000 square metres of wire catch fencing, 3,600 tyres for tyre barriers and 1,100 tonnes of grandstand seating for spectators.
About Groupe Renault
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