F1 team hoping to bounce back at classic Spa & Monza circuits

As we went to press the Renault F1 Team was looking for two top results in the Belgian and forthcoming Italian grands prix after losing ground in the championship recently.
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A possible second place finish in the German GP at Hockenheim went begging after driver Nico Hülkenberg crashed out in front of his home crowd.

To add insult to injury team-mate Daniel Ricciardo also retired from the race with a problem on his R.S.19 racer.

At Hungary’s Hungaroring circuit, both drivers finished outside the points – Hülkenberg struggling with an engine glitch and Ricciardo unable to make much progress from starting last on the grid (due to a strategic change of power unit elements).

Ultimately, Renault had slipped to sixth in the Constructors’ standings and knew it needed strong results at Spa-Francorchamps (Belgium, 1 Sept) and again this coming weekend at Monza (Italy) to close back in on McLaren and Toro Rosso in the fight for fourth position in the table.

In the drivers’ table, Ricciardo lay 11th and Hülkenberg 14th.

Speaking after the Hungarian race, Team Principal Cyril Abiteboul sympathised with his drivers.

He said: “A poor result today with both cars outside of the top ten. With Nico we were targeting points, but with an engine having to run in safe mode and a very modest advantage over the soft tyre starters, we could not make our strategy really work.

“Daniel ran a good race, but starting last is always going to be a challenge at a track like Budapest. He still managed to gain several positions and had a good fight with Magnussen until the last corner, showing that he is a fighter who does not surrender.

“His attitude on track must be an inspiration for us as we head towards the summer break, with a first half of the season well below our objectives.”

Just a week apart, Spa and Monza – two of F1’s classic circuits – essentially mark the start of the second half of the season.

They also represent the last two GPs in Europe before F1’s calendar heads for seven so-called ‘flay-away’ races which will conclude the season. They begin with Singapore (22 Sept) and Sochi, Russia (29 Sept), making for a gruelling four races in just one month.

Renault has enjoyed considerable success around both Spa and Monza…

In 1983, its team with driver Alain Prost won the first GP at Spa in over a decade in its new RE40 model. Seven more victories, each with teams running its engines, have followed, from Ayrton Senna and Lotus in 1985 up to its current driver Ricciardo in a Red Bull in 2014.

At Monza there have been eight previous victories: two of those again for Renault’s own team (with Prost in 1981 and Rene Arnoux in 1982) and six more as an engine supplier – four of those going to British drivers including Nigel Mansell (Williams) in 1991, Damon Hill (Williams) 1993 and 1994 and Johnny Herbert (Benetton) 1995.