Force India’s deputy team principal Bob Fernley and Toro Rosso driver Carlos Sainz have both praised Renault for stepping up in 2017, the midfielders believe that the French works team has one of the most solid foundations to operate with, suggesting that the team could rapidly improve as the season progresses.
Whilst the performances of Nico Hulkenberg have been nothing short of stunning in qualifying, it has been difficult for the car the convert promising pace over a single lap into as competitive a showing over race distance, but it’s a good problem to have, and shows that there is scope for big improvements. Bon Fernley said,
“Renault have done a fantastic job over the winter, much better than I thought they would do, but we had identified that as a key issue. Going into testing, I felt we would be in a four-car battle with Williams, Toro Rosso and McLaren.
Clearly McLaren didn’t make it but Renault have stepped into where McLaren would be and I think it’s going to be like that for the whole season.”
– Bob Fernley
Renault set the lofty target of 4th in the Constructors at the car launch, whilst that target looks to be a tall order at this point. Torro Rosso appear to be closer to fighting that battle because their car is better in race trim, as Sainz points out,
“It looks like Renault on short runs have something extra. There’s something there, maybe on the aerodynamics or in the short run on the tyre or something that we don’t have over one lap.
On the long run, it looks like we look a bit similar. We are particularly good on tyres this year, surprisingly for us, in China and in Australia we were very kind on tyres, so it might be something to do with that.
But Renault definitely have taken a huge step forward on the car side. We can see it on the data.”
– Carlos Sainz
With positive observations from their direct rivals, particularly regarding the short runs, Renault can at least look to their qualifying performances as a means to score points, especially at upcoming circuits that are notoriously difficult to overtake at. Monaco could be very rewarding for them if they set the gear ratios up to be difficult to overtake.
It’s a promising start for the team and it looks like they will enjoy a much more successful season than 2016, in which they were only able to score points on three occasions.