Alan Permane admits he is unsure about to look back the performance of the Renault Sport Formula One Team in Qualifying for the Australian Grand Prix on Saturday after Nico Hülkenberg and Carlos Sainz Jr. were eighth and ninth fastest.
Hülkenberg will move up to seventh once Daniel Ricciardo takes his grid penalty, but Permane, Renault’s sporting director, believes there was more pace to come from the R.S.18’s, particularly with the speed both drivers showed during the first two segments of Qualifying at Albert Park.
“We’re happy with today’s result but left wondering if better was possible after looking at our Q2 pace,” said Permane. “In Q3 we couldn’t quite get the tyres into the sweet spot with either car but overall it was a trouble-free qualifying session for us.”
Permane hopes the team can find a strategy on Sunday to try and jump some of their main rivals on track, most notably the Haas F1 Team drivers, and he has some confidence in doing that thanks to the long run pace they showed during practice.
“It’s the first race of the season so we’ll be wary on the first lap and try to stay out of trouble, then we need to take the fight to our rivals and see what we can do strategically to get in front of them,” said Permane.
“Our cars look evenly matched in qualifying trim and we were happy with our long run pace from P2 so moving up the field is the target for tomorrow.”