Renault Sporting Director Steve Nielsen has said that the team are ‘full of optimism’ for next weekend’s European Grand Prix, and for the rest of this ultra-competitive 2010 F1 season.
Renault were disappointed after leaving Canada with P7 for Robert Kubica and P17 for Vitaly Petrov. Nielsen said the team had made things difficult for themselves that weekend, starting in qualifying. “In Canada, we re-learned the same lessons about going racing in 2010: it's all about where you qualify, making a good start and the pitstops,” he explained. “We didn't get the best out of the car in qualifying, and that makes the hill you have to climb even steeper than it would otherwise have been.”
It was thought after qualifying that Renault would have an advantage strategy-wise in Canada with Kubica joining the Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber in being the only drivers in the top ten to start on the favourable prime tyre. Come race day however, and it appeared that both compounds of tyre were subject to durability issues.
“Most of the other teams struggled with tyre management at some point of the race, but our rivals also made the tyres last better than us,” said Nielsen. “Ultimately, though, we know that the car is quick, and that it's getting better all the time. After races like Canada, you simply want the next race to come as soon as possible so you can forget about the last one.”
Despite the ‘blip’ in Canada, Nielsen hopes that Renault can continue to be challenging for big points this season. “Canada was race eight, and we have built up good momentum through the year, so one race doesn't cause us a problem,” he said. “It's clear that we are heading in the right direction, and our car is both fast and reliable. We didn't get the best out of it this weekend, but there are still 11 races to go, and the car is improving all the time. I'm sure we will put in a stronger result in Valencia.”
Renault currently sit a comfortable fifth in the Constructor’s Championship table, and fourth-place team Mercedes also had a difficult weekend in Montreal.
“We out qualified both Mercedes for the second time in three races [in Canada], and although we had a tough afternoon on Sunday, they only gained two points on us, which didn't punish us as much as it could have done,” said Nielson.
“The gap ahead is now 29 points, and with eleven races to go under the new points system, we still have reason to be optimistic about closing that gap. We will bring more new developments to Valencia that we hope will allow us to take the fight to them.”
So all in all, Renault have much to look forward to for the rest of the season, according to Nielsen. He knows that Renault have an excellent driver in Robert Kubica, and the sporting director also believes that Vitaly Petrov is improving with every race.
“We are full of optimism for Valencia, and beyond,” Nielsen said. “Robert is continuing to put in sparkling performances and he's getting every ounce of performance out of the car. As for Vitaly, Canada was a race to be chalked up to experience, full of penalties, pit stops and blue flags. We saw in Turkey that he can race very competitively in the right conditions and, although he may not realize it today, even a race like the one he endured in Canada will prove useful experience for him to draw on in the future.”