After almost scoring points in its first race back in F1 with a strong return to the sport in March’s Australian GP, the squad had hoped for another promising outing at Bahrain’s Sakhir circuit.
And there were further signs of encouragement as Kevin Magnussen came through the order to replicate team-mate Jolyon Palmer’s finish in Australia of 11th – just outside the points. This was despite having to start from the pit lane due to a penalty incurred during a practice session.
Palmer, though, was unable to take the start in Bahrain when his R.S.16 racer developed a problem linked to its hydraulics on the final formation lap.
Moving on to China’s Shanghai circuit, Magnussen started from and finished in 17th. Palmer started from 19th and finished in 22nd.
Now attention turns to round four in Sochi, Russia (1 May) and then the first European Grand Prix of the season in Barcelona, Spain a fortnight later (15 May).
Summing up the mood in the Shanghai paddock, Magnussen said: “This isn’t a weekend that we will be very happy about but it’s definitely one that we can learn from. There’s a lot we still don’t really understand so once we do, we’ll be a stronger team. We knew it was going to be a tough start; we’re not panicking.”
And commented Racing Director Frederic Vasseur: “It (China) has been a tough race for the team and we suffered a lot with tyre degradation. Kevin was disadvantaged by the fact that he had such limited running in the dry which meant limited time to refine set-up. This made it difficult to manage the tyres in the race.
“Jolyon started on the soft tyre and we opted not to bring him in during the safety car period. Unfortunately, he had real difficulties warming these tyres up afterwards which cost him a number of places and moving him to a four-stop strategy would have cost too much time in the pits. We will investigate why we lost so much tyre temperature and performance after the safety car period.
“We must now look forward to the next Grand Prix and continue to learn, work hard and improve.”