Renault technical director Alan Permane says the team has set its sights on getting ahead of Mercedes in the F1 title race, admitting he was disappointed to see Robert Kubica beaten by Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg in Turkey.
Kubica finished sixth in Istanbul to pick up eight more championship points, although Mercedes was able to extend his lead in the constructors' championship to 27 points during the Turkish weekend.
While disappointed to see that gap increase, Permane said he felt confident that Renault has the pace to match Mercedes on race day and now needs to work hard to try and improve its showing in qualifying to fight the Brackley-based squad.
“Robert drove another great race and it's good to pick up some more points, but we were a little disappointed not to get ahead of Mercedes because we seemed to be quicker,” he said. “As we've seen in most of the races so far this year, the first stint leading up to the pit stops plays a pivotal role in determining the outcome of the race, so we were hoping Robert would jump ahead of Rosberg in the pits. We had a good pit stop, but unfortunately Mercedes were slightly quicker, and so we remained stuck behind Rosberg in the train of cars for the rest of the afternoon.
“Our performance in Turkey suggests that our race pace is better than Mercedes, but they are just ahead of us on qualifying pace, and the same was true in Barcelona. When I spoke to Robert after the race he felt that Rosberg was holding him up and that he could have gone quite a bit quicker. So it's down to us to make sure we do a better job in qualifying so that we can get ahead of them and exploit the full potential of our car.”
Renault had looked set for a double points finish with Vitaly Petrov enjoying a strong run before suffering a puncture late on while fighting for eighth place with Fernando Alonso with Permane admitting that the Russian drivers performance would be a good confidence boost, despite the puncture leaving him outside the top ten.
“He did an excellent job and it was a real shame to see him pick up a puncture during his fight with Alonso because he really deserved points after such a strong drive,” he said. “It's fair to say that the last few races have been tough for him with a couple of accidents that have put him on the back foot, so to have a weekend where everything came together will have done him the world of good.
“Seeing him fighting with the Ferraris and holding Fernando at bay for most of the race was great and should give him another confidence boost. It was by far his best race weekend this season and hopefully he can continue where he left off in Canada.”