26/07/2019

Twisty Hockenheim & Hungaroring next for F1 team

As we went to press, the Renault F1 team was heading for one of its drivers Nico Hülkenberg’s home race in Germany buoyed by its performance in the recent British Grand Prix at Silverstone.
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Both its R.S.19 cars were back on the scoreboard at Silverstone, with Australian Daniel Ricciardo managing seventh place and Hülkenberg taking the final points-scoring position in tenth.

It was a strong reward for the efforts of the team’s workforce at nearby Enstone, Oxon, although all concerned reckoned ever better placings would have been possible had it not been for several frustrations as the race unfolded…

A safety car period, crucially just after Ricciardo had made his pit stop for fresh tyres, very possibly cost him sixth; a mis-timed stop for Hülkenberg and a need to run his engine in ‘limp mode’ briefly near the end meant he fell away having been running together with Ricciardo.

The driver to pip Ricciardo to sixth was Spain’s Carlos Sainz in his Renault-powered McLaren – his team-mate Llando Norris, who took 11th, had also reached the final segment of qualifying along with Ricciardo and Hülkenberg, meaning three Renault-engined cars made it into the final top-ten ‘Q3’ shoot-out.

Leaving Silverstone and thinking ahead to Hockenheim and also the tight, twisty Hungaroring, Hungary which follows this coming weekend (2-4 August), Team Principal Cyril Abiteboul gave his thoughts.

He said: “Overall, at a power dominated track (Silverstone), in qualifying like in race, our competitiveness level has been stronger, even if the areas of weakness are still here and will be our focus for the coming weeks.”

The race prior to Silverstone, at Austria’s Red Bull Ring, had been one to forget for Ricciardo and Hülkenberg in terms of pace and results. Ricciardo was quick to praise the team’s ability to revive its good form in the fortnight then leading up to Silverstone and its determination to be higher.

It feels positive to be back in the top ten especially after the last two rounds,” reflected Ricciardo. “Our single-lap and race pace has certainly been a solid turn-around in a short period of time. Looking back to two weeks ago (Austria), we’d have taken this result.”

Heading to Hockenheim (28 July), Renault lay fifth in the Constructors’ championship. In the Drivers’ standings, Ricciardo was in equal ninth (with Norris) and Hülkenberg just one place and five points adrift in 11th.

Hockenheim boasts one of F1’s longest back straights but also places an emphasis on a car’s agility through low and medium-speed corners (one of the R.S.19’s strengths) thanks to its twisting, stop-start infield ‘stadium’ section.

This suggests that the Renaults could be strong at the Hungaroring, a circuit that is all about chassis and handling characteristics – its tight, winding lay-out being the slowest on the calendar with the exception of Monaco.

Renault has had seven previous victories at Hockenheim – eight as an engine manufacturer to Williams and Benetton, one with its own team. There have also been eight wins around the Hungaroring – seven of those supplying engines to Williams and Red Bull. Its other win, in 2003, marked the first for its team and its driver Fernando Alonso since its return to the sport the previous season…

Meanwhile, after this weekend’s race at the Hungaroring comes a month’s break in the F1 calendar before the next GP at the mighty Spa-Francorchamps circuit in Belgium.