F1 round-up: Farewell Europe, hello rest of the world!

The Renault Sport F1 Team is now looking to the season-ending ‘fly-away’ grands prix – starting in Singapore (18 Sept) – for better fortunes after five races in Europe that have brought a mixture of promise and frustration.
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The last time we checked in with the team was ahead of the Austrian GP in early July. There the R.S 16s of drivers Jolyon Palmer and Kevin Magnussen worked well around the high-speed Red Bull Ring and they finished not too far off the points in a competitive 12th and 14th having started 18th and 17th.

Then came Silverstone’s British GP – the team’s adopted home race due to the proximity of its UK factory in Enstone. However there was to be disappointment as both drivers retired with gearbox-related issues.

Hungary’s tight, twisting Hungaroring followed and brought heartache for Palmer. On course for tenth position – and a maiden F1 points finish – he suffered a spin in the closing stages and tumbled to an eventual 12th. Magnussen finished 15th but there were many positives after an apparent improvement in performance…

On to Germany’s similarly twisty Hockenheimring where, for the first time in his debut F1 season, Palmer made it through to the second ‘Q2’ knock-out session in qualifying. Unfortunately on the opening lap of the race while mixing it with McLarens and Williams his R.S 16 locked its front wheels under braking and heavy flat-spotting of its tyres meant he needed an extra pit stop. He finished 14th with Magnussen in 16th after ruing making just two tyre-change pit stops as opposed to three (which emerged as a faster strategy during the race).

At Belgium’s legendary Spa-Francorchamps it looked as if fortunes were finally about to take a turn for the better only for them to end – particularly in Magnussen’s case – in the most dramatic fashion. Qualifying at Spa was the team’s best to date with both drivers making it through to Q2 with Magnussen winding up 12th fastest and Palmer 13th.

In the race, though, Magnussen a huge crash at high-speed while exiting the spectacular Eau Rouge bend – caused when he lost control over a kerb. The accident forced the race to be stopped with Magnussen requiring checks in hospital before being given the all-clear to race a week later in Italy. Palmer meanwhile finished 15th.

The Italian GP (Sun 4 Sept) rounded out F1’s European season’ but the actions of one driver caused problems for both Magnussen and Palmer soon after the start. Exiting the second bend Sauber’s Felipe Nasr collided with Palmer which tore off the R.S 16’s front wing. The contact put Nasr into a spin across Magnussen’s bows forcing the R.S 16 to take avoiding action and lose positions. Palmer later retired in the pit lane as more damage was found on his car. Magnussen finished 17th.

Now comes a sequence of seven GPs in just nine weeks – starting with the spectacular floodlit ‘night race around the streets of Singapore.  Straight after that the team will be in Malaysia (Sepang) and Japan (Suzuka) for two races just a week apart in early October.