One week on from the Malaysian Grand Prix, Cyril Abiteboul admits seeing Jolyon Palmer and Nico Hülkenberg finish well outside the points in fifteenth and sixteenth respectively was a huge disappointment for the Renault Sport Formula 1 Team.
Both drivers lost ground on the top ten early at Sepang, but with the Japanese Grand Prix following straight on from the final race in Malaysia, Abiteboul, Renault Sport’s Managing Director, is hoping to return to points-scoring form immediately.
“On a brief reflection of Malaysia, it is safe to say we leave there feeling disappointed,” admitted Abiteboul. “It was a very tough weekend and we couldn’t quite make the car work as we have in previous races.
“The first lap put us on the back foot and both cars failed to work their way up into the points. We tried an aggressive strategy with Nico, but that gamble didn’t pay off. Jolyon had a couple of spins late on and lost some positions.
“It’s one of those weekends we are keen to brush aside. We are fortunate that the Japanese Grand Prix comes soon after so we can make a swift return to where we are.
“On a brighter note, it was great to see our partner team Red Bull Racing taking victory with the Renault power unit.”
Looking forward, Abiteboul believes Renault can have a competitive weekend at the Suzuka International Racing Course, especially as it is not as big a power-sensitive track as other races on the calendar.
The team still have the aim of finishing fifth in the Constructors’ Championship in 2017, and although twenty-three points behind Williams Martini Racing, they head to Japan aiming for a two-car points finish, something that has eluded them so far this season.
“Suzuka is a favourite for the drivers due to the unique challenge it offers and its fast bends,” said Abiteboul. “It’s a well-balanced track, not too power sensitive, so we think we can be competitive there. Back-to-back races are always challenging, but it means we head to Japan determined to return to the points.
“We will have some aero upgrades in Suzuka which we hope will bring performance and so points. They are essential if we are to reach our end of season objective of fifth in the Constructors’ Championship.”