Renault’s managing director Cyril Abiteboul says the team’s target will remain fifth place in the Formula 1 world constructors’ championship after edging closer thanks to Jolyon Palmer’s first points of the year in Singapore.

The French manufacturer leapfrogged Haas and into seventh in the constructors’ standings last time out with Palmer’s sixth place finish but Abiteboul conceded the Singapore race still felt like a missed opportunity due to Nico Hulkenberg’s retirement due to an oil leak when a potential podium looked possible.

As a result, Renault has closed the gap to 17 points on fifth-placed Williams but lost ground to sixth-placed Toro Rosso, with Carlos Sainz finishing fourth, while just 22 points split fifth and eighth in the standings to provide an intriguing battle over the remaining six races.

“Looking back to Singapore, it was one of those mixed weekends which left us with bittersweet feelings,” Abiteboul said. “We were delighted for Jolyon to score his first points of the season. He drove extremely well in tricky conditions and remained cool amidst all the action to take an impressive sixth and bring in some big points for the team. However, we are obviously disappointed that we had to retire Nico’s car and will address the issues we faced.

“A positive we can take from Singapore is that we have moved up a position in the constructors’ championship which means a step closer to our end of season goal of fifth place overall. Reliability remains our main focus, maximum effort and flawless execution is required by all in the remaining six races to achieve that target.”

While Renault will introduce rear chassis updated for the Malaysian Grand Prix, Hulkenberg will take on his fourth new power unit of the season and added with Palmer’s newfound momentum Abiteboul is confident the French manufacturer can be the fourth-fastest team in Sepang behind Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull.

“As we continue to develop the chassis side, we will introduce a new engine on Nico’s car at the start of the weekend, his fourth, engine of the season,” he said. “We fully expect to have both cars in the top ten as we have shown our capability on a number of occasions to be the best team behind the top three.”

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