Renault’s Nick Chester: “We need to ensure we seize every possible advantage from the car”

Nico Hulkenberg - RS17 - Russian GP 2017. Credit: Renault Sport Formula 1 Team

Renault Sport Formula 1 Team Technical Director Nick Chester feels the squad have gotten off to a good start so far this year, and is confident they will continue to improve for the remainder of the season.

“The outlook is pretty good.

“We’ve been qualifying well so far this season, and then Sochi showed a useful improvement to our race pace. We’ve still got a few more upgrades for Spain, so we’re reasonably positive.”

The Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya is a well-known track for F1 teams, who have reams of data at their disposal from pre-season testing to aid them this weekend, but that does not mean they will not still have their work cut out for them, at what is considered a tough track to master.

“Even though we know it really well from all the testing we do there, it is quite a tough circuit. It’s very much a downforce track with a lot of high and medium speed corners where you need the aero package really working for you.

“It’s also a location that’s hard on tyres because the corners are so quick with their loadings. It’s tough for both the front and rear, meaning that keeping tyre temperatures under control is a challenge, especially in the last part of the lap where the rear tyres can overheat.

“We know the track well with these cars having tested there in the pre-season so basic set-up, ride height and those elements are more finalised when you head out for FP1. We still have all the tyre and aero assessments we want to run, so we certainly will be busy enough.”

Third driver Sergey Sirotkin had his FP1 session at his home track in Russia cut short two weeks ago, thanks to a gearbox problem, but Chester has confirmed he will be given another outing in Spain, and the Brit feels the young Russian will do well.

“Sergey’s issue in Sochi was related to a gearbox shift valve and it was a big shame for him to get so little running. He’s in Jo’s car for FP1, and we expect he’ll do a good job.”

Having introduced some small updates in Sochi that appeared to positively boost Renault’s performance, Chester is confident their development programme is on the correct course.

“The upgrades we used in Sochi worked as expected so we made a useful step in our race pace whilst maintaining qualifying pace. There’s still more to do in this area, but we’re heading in the right direction.

To ensure they keep on improving, which is a necessity now that there is such a close battle emerging between the midfield teams, Renault will keep pushing forward on the performance front, and further upgrades will be available this weekend in Spain.

“We’re in the midfield fight where we expected to be, but it’s a very close battle here so we need to ensure we seize every possible advantage from the car and how we use it.

“We have new barge boards and an updated rear wing. We need to keep adding performance to the car, as that’s what everyone else is fighting to do.

“We’ve started the season on a positive note so we need to maintain and improve this.”