Renault team principal Cyril Abiteboul has vented his frustration over his squad’s double DNF in the Bahrain Grand Prix triggered by reoccurring engine problems.

Both Nico Hulkenberg and Daniel Ricciardo looked set for points finishes at the Sakhir International Circuit but in a horrific minute for the French team both drivers suffered engine breakdowns at the same corner – both with three laps to go.

While Renault suspects an MGU-K issue on Ricciardo’s side, investigations continue into the exact cause of both of the failures. Abiteboul has hinted at the reliability issue being similar to the ones which plagued its pre-season testing programme and continue to trouble his team.

“Our race today came to a sudden stop so close to the finish. These are issues we have previously encountered but something we were unable to rectify in Bahrain,” Abiteboul said.

“These problems are increasingly frustrating and unacceptable as both cars have shown very good competitiveness both over one-lap and race runs. We must react and shift our focus on reliability.”

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Hulkenberg described the situation as a bitter experience having produced a standout performance bolting from 17th on the grid to 11th place on the opening lap before climbing to sixth place, as best of the midfield runners, with three laps to go.

“In my mind I had it [finished] already, but it just shows that you always have to bring it home the full race distance,” Hulkenberg said. “I was controlling everything. I had a gap to Norris. Everything was fine, but it came without any signs or problems before.

“It just happened from one moment to another. So a bitter one, hard to swallow. A brutal moment that can happen in racing.

“But on the positive side we had decent pace in the car again today. But the problems yesterday and today prevented good results.

“The engine guys at Viry will be very devastated and down. There is no point hammering on them. We need to work as a unit and help each other.”

While Ricciardo felt “my damage was already done” by opting for the alternative one-stop strategy, he shouldered the painful experience but wants the team to focus on the positives.

“I felt like half my damage was already done by the one stop,” Ricciardo said. “It was pretty heart-breaking for the team to lose both cars at the same time with a few laps to go. I feel for them.

“We will must try and do better and keep learning. The car has signs of pace. Personally, I’m still trying to find a bit, particularly in a few areas, which we will work on for Tuesday. I am going to test in a couple of days, get some more time in the car and try and find out a few things.”

The double DNF triggered a late safety car which meant the Bahrain race finished under controlled conditions – helping Charles Leclerc cling on to his maiden Formula 1 podium after also suffering an engine issue for Ferrari with a dropped cylinder over the final 11 laps.

 

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