Nico Hülkenberg says there is “more to come,” from the Renault Sport Formula One Team, after the French squad spent Friday practice for Formula 1’s German Grand Prix evaluating upgrades for its RS18 chassis.
Hülkenberg finished a strong sixth in Britain last time out, consolidating Renault’s grip on fourth place in the constructors’ championship, on a circuit which was not expected to play to the strengths of the car.
Renault’s RS18 chassis is known to have weaknesses in high-speed corners, and the team has been working to bring downforce increasing upgrades to the car as a remedy to the problem that has been plaguing the team since pre-season testing in Barcelona.
The latest upgrade from the Enstone factory was a ‘new generation’ front wing, which the German tested throughout the opening 90-minute practice session.
He completed 32 laps, with a best time of 1:15.282s, which was good enough for tenth fastest. Hülkenberg went one better in the second session, lapping nearly eight tenths quicker, with his 1:14.496s lap good enough to slot into ninth place.
“It’s mainly been a case of refining the set-up today and we made progress,” explained the 30-year-old ahead of his home grand prix on Sunday.
“[There’s] more to come after we’ve looked at the figures. We’re looking at how to maximise the new front wing, as obviously every bit of pace and balance helps.”
During the second session, run in sweltering conditions, Hülkenberg was told by his engineer that he had 10 laps left on the race simulation run, to which the German driver said would not be possible.
“The car didn’t feel too bad out of the box,” he explained. “[But] you could really tell that the tyres were suffering with these very hot conditions.”
The reason being that his left-rear Pirelli soft compound tyre was heavily blistered, owing to the high track temperatures experienced. If, as expected Sunday’s race is held in similar hot conditions, Renault could be in trouble, when it comes to tyre selection.
The French team stocked up on 10 sets of Ultrasoft tyres each for their drivers, and only the mandatory single set of the hardest and most durable medium tyres on offer. Should the blistering continue, Renault could be forced into making more pitstops than ideal, thus scuppering chances of a strong result.