Compared to pre-race expectations, Renault's Australian Grand Prix may not have been viewed to negatively but, despite getting three cars home in points-paying position, the French company insists that there is still massive room for improvement.
With Daniel Ricciardo's Red Bull subsequently excluded from the results after concerns were raised over its fuel flow rate, only Toro Rosso racked up points with Renault power, with the remaining nine cars all falling by the wayside.
In some cases, notably Lotus and Caterham, races lasted longer than anticipated, but, having shown good qualifying pace, Red Bull suffered a major blow even before Ricciardo's DSQ when world champion Sebastian Vettel reported power problems on the formation lap. The German lasted just four tours into the race before having to call it a day.
A misfire on the RB10's power unit was later diagnosed as having caused the loss of power, while Caterham rookie Marcus Ericsson was sidelined by falling oil pressure 29 laps after team-mate Kamui Kobayashi had crashed out with brake failure at turn one of the 58-lap race. Lotus, meanwhile, suffered a nightmare start to the weekend, with neither Romain Grosjean nor Pastor Maldonado getting much running prior to qualifying. Remarkably, having started from the pit-lane and back of the grid respectively, both drivers moved into the top twelve and ran until mid-distance before similar MGU-K failures forced a double retirement.
That left Ricciardo and the two Toro Rosso drivers running at the end, with Jean-Eric Vergne and rookie Daniil Kvyat taking the flag in ninth and tenth positions. Ricciardo's exclusion subsequently promoted them one place apiece, but six points from a long weekend was far from what Renault had hoped.
“Today there are definitely mixed feelings,” Rémi Taffin, head of track operations, admitted, “Having cars retire is not acceptable and shows we need to improve our reliability across the board. This race was always going to be a baptism of fire, but we have come up short of our own expectations and we need to look at this before the next race.
“Some failures are similar, such as the MGU-K on the Lotus, but others are not related, which shows that we have to improve across the board. This is something we will look keenly at before the Malaysian Grand Prix to allow every team the chance to show the maximum potential of their cars.”
Renault has said that it will support Red Bull's appeal against Ricciardo's exclusion, which came nearly six hours after the race had finished. The Australian, previously elated to have claimed his maiden F1 podium in front of his home fans, was expunged from the results following a breach of Article 3.2 of the FIA Formual One Sporting Regulations and Article 5.1.4 of the FIA Formula One Technical Regulations. Red Bull notified the FIA of its intention to appeal with immediate effect.