Renault team principal Cyril Abiteboul says despite suffering four retirements from the opening three rounds, including three mechanical breakdowns, it won’t hurt his squad’s targets for the 2019 Formula 1 season.

After sustaining a double DNF in the closing laps of the Bahrain Grand Prix due to separate engine issues for both Nico Hulkenberg and Daniel Ricciardo, Renault’s German driver endured another MGU-K failure during the Chinese Grand Prix which forced him out of the race.

While Ricciardo was able to notch up his first points for Renault, and in the process lift the team to fourth place in the early F1 world constructors’ standings after the Chinese race, it means Renault drivers have made the finish line on just two occasions out of a potential six finishes across the opening three rounds.

Abiteboul remains confident in his team providing fixes to its reliability problems, after seeing all Renault-powered cars take on new MGU-K specifications in China, and won’t lower the target of pulling away from the midfield F1 teams across the 2019 campaign.

“For the first time this season the weekend of the Chinese Grand Prix went to plan up to the end of qualifying: the competitiveness of our cars, and our drivers, made it possible to reach Q3 and we could have maybe started even a bit higher on the grid,” Abiteboul said reflecting on the last race.

“On Sunday, Daniel drove a solid race completely in control and he was the only driver to make the one-stop strategy work starting the race on softs allowing him to seal his first points for the team. Thanks to the points scored, and to a fragmented grid, we are now fourth position in the championship.

“However, we have had another retirement, the fourth in six starts, three of these were due to reliability issues.

“If our objective this season - to widen the midfield gap - remains unchanged then we must accept to put in strong efforts to resolve these issues that could compromise our season.”

With Hulkenberg having already used two MGU-K units this season, he will be at risk of a grid penalty for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix if he requires a third unit with only two permitted across an entire season before penalties are applied.

While Renault are yet to confirm if Hulkenberg needs any new engine parts, Abiteboul has hinted at new elements being in the pipeline for the French manufacturer in order to sustain its efforts in closing the gap to the top three teams.

“Nevertheless, we will push on and bring new elements over the next races,” he said. “Baku is often unpredictable, the racing there is thrilling and it is an opportunity to capitalise on rivals’ errors whilst avoiding making some ourselves.”

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