21 April 2015
F1 Bahrain Grand Prix: Conservative Renault did ‘what we needed to do’
Despite getting both Red Bulls home in the points at the Bahrain Grand Prix, Renault knows it needs to quickly find answers to its ongoing F1 engine problems.
Renault assumed a damage limitation mode for round four of the F1 world championship in Bahrain, and was rewarded with a double points finish even if it lost another engine right at the end of the 57-lap race.
After much-publicised problems with its 2015-spec turbocharged V6 in the opening three race weekends, the regie erred towards conservatism in the heat of Bahrain, and came away with sixth and ninth place finishes in the hands of Red Bull pairing Daniel Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat. However, the Australian crossed the line trailing an ominous plume of white smoke behind his RB11.
“Another engine problem is definitely not what we wanted to see, but I will take as a positive sign that it was at the very end and did not impact the final result of Daniel,” managing director Cyril Abiteboul reasoned, while director of operations Rémi Taffin confirmed that measures had been taken to try and avoid such a failure.
“We were conservative with the PU settings as we knew we were at a potential risk of problems, [and] two points scoring positions with Red Bull are the most we could have hoped for today,” he said, “We just got to the end of the race with Red Bull….”
Ricciardo finished one position up on his qualifying slot, having tailed the Mercedes-powered Williams of Valtteri Bottas for the majority of the race. The Australian eventually finished behind Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel, who dropped behind Bottas in the latter stages. Kvyat, meanwhile, produced one of the drives of the race, having started from 17th on the grid after problems in qualifying. The Russian made steady progress through the field before a penultimate lap move on Williams' Felipe Massa boosted him to P9.
“It wasn't a memorable weekend for us in any way, but we did what we needed to do,” Abiteboul continued, “We came here aware of the risks from the previous race and, considering the starting positions, sixth and ninth is the best we could have hoped for with Red Bull.”
While Red Bull was able to celebrate some points, there was disappointment for sister team Toro Rosso as both Carlos Sainz Jr and Max Verstappen were forced to retire from the race. To Renault's relief, neither exit was due to problems with the engine as Sainz pulled up at the side of the track after exiting the pits with a loose wheel and Verstappen stopped on lap 34 with an electrical issue.
With a three week break before the first of the European rounds, on Sainz's home turf in Spain, Renault hopes to be able to find some measure of reliability to carry into the remainder of the season.
“Reliability has been our Achilles Heel since the last two races but, with 18 days to go before the first session in Spain, we have the time to introduce the more permanent fixes we have in the pipeline and start making the performance steps we are all keen to make,” Abiteboul concluded.
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