Renault’s Abiteboul “feels sorry” for Palmer after Russian GP troubles

by Gemma Bray

Renault Sport Formula 1 Team Managing Director Cyril Abiteboul “feels sorry” for the problems Jolyon Palmer experienced over the Russian Grand Prix weekend.

During Free Practice 2, the Renault driver had an exhaust problem which burnt the car, this required an overnight chassis change. From here it didn’t get much better for Palmer after he suffered mysterious loss of engine power at the start of Free Practice 3. Renault decided to swap his engine for qualifying but Palmer crashed out of Q1 under the pressure of a last-gasp effort.

On Sunday things didn’t get much better for the Briton, as he was taken out of the race in a first-lap clash with Romain Grosjean. Renault F1 managing director Abiteboul spoke after the Grand Prix and apologized for the reliability problems.

“I should make a special mention for Jo’s team,” he told Autosport. “We had a number of issues to solve on the car, changing chassis, changing engine, the shunt in qualifying.

“I feel sorry for Jo and the group of people behind him who did a remarkable job over the weekend. When you change chassis and change engine you have all the reasons in the world to have problems, but we did not have a single operational problem, so I want to give a huge credit to the guys.”

After the race, the FIA investigated the crash between Palmer and Grosjean that ended both drivers’ race on the opening lap, but deemed neither driver was at fault. For Abiteboul, he believes it would have been avoided if Palmer had not crashed in qualifying.

“If you look at his whole weekend he did one mistake, which was his mistake in Q1,” he said. “He would have been easily in Q2, we could see that in terms of sector times.

“If he had been in Q2 he wouldn’t have been in the sort of position where there is always something happening, and something happened in Turn 2. Looking at the data it was obvious there was nothing he could have done to avoid that incident. So we left with a lot of frustration for Jo from one single mistake in a very difficult environment for him.”

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