Renault’s Cyril Abiteboul: “We feel we have a good handle on the car”

Renault has confidence heading into the new season after a positive pre-season testing programme
Credit: Octane Photographic Ltd

Cyril Abiteboul feels the second pre-season test at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya was a positive one for the Renault Sport Formula One Team, despite a gearbox issue costing them significant track time on the final day on Friday.

Carlos Sainz Jr. was restricted to just forty-five laps on day four as his mechanics worked to fix the R.S.18, but when out on track he was able to set the third fastest time of the day, only behind Kimi Räikkönen and Fernando Alonso.

Although the plan for Renault was to give Sainz and Nico Hülkenberg track time on Friday, the gearbox change put paid to those plans, and it was decided to give the Spaniard the whole day, but Abiteboul, Renault’s managing director, says the whole testing programme has been extremely encouraging, and gives the team confidence heading into the new season.

“Today we brought an encouraging test period to a close,” said Abiteboul. “We have been able to cover almost all our programme over the two weeks, with several notable achievements, including beating the record of laps around Barcelona for a day.

“We feel we have a good handle on the car, which is a step forward from last year, but we will need to wait until Australia to determine where we are in the order. It was frustrating to finish with so few laps on the board today, but the complexity of the cars means little issues can take time to be sorted out.

“Today we fell victim to a sensor problem within the gearbox and, due to this being the early part of the season, we had to rebuild the gearbox with limited spares. It was a shame to end a very productive two weeks like this, but we can go into next week and Melbourne looking forward.”