Renault is hoping the introduction of new chassis upgrades will help it emerge at the top of Formula 1’s tight midfield battle at this weekend’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix. 

The French manufacturer has been the most consistent midfield outfit so far in 2018, scoring points with at least one of its cars at each of the opening three races in Australia, Bahrain and China to occupy fifth place in the constructors’ standings. 

Despite its solid start to the new campaign, Renault admitted it hoped to be closer to F1’s leading three teams this season, with the Enstone-based squad already 30 points adrift of customer team Red Bull, as well as trailing fellow customer team McLaren by three points. 

But Renault is pinning its hopes of leading a tight 2018 midfield pack on a series of chassis upgrades, including front and rear wing and bargeboards updates in Baku, before introducing an engine upgrade at May’s Spanish Grand Prix. 

"Baku will mark the start of the next phase of our season push,” Renault managing director Cyril Abiteboul said. “We will debut some new chassis upgrades, specifically on the wings and bargeboards, which will be followed on the engine side in Barcelona

“We are confident that the combination of these developments can allow us to maintain our performance. We need to remain focussed on making every single element work.”

Nico Hulkenberg, who sits seventh in the drivers’ standings having scored 22 of the 25 points Renault has recorded so far this year, is confident the French squad can out-develop its rivals over the course of the campaign. 

"It’s a positive start to the season and it’s good to be at the front end of the midfield,” Hulkenberg said. “It’s important to keep picking up a good number of points to make sure we are in the hunt. It’s about continuing on this upward trajectory and putting the work in to make sure we are ahead of our rivals."

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