Cyril Abiteboul knew that the Spa-Francorchamps and Autodromo Nazionale Monza weekends were never going to be strong for the Renault Sport Formula One Team, but this weekend at the Marina Bay Street Circuit should be much better suited to the Enstone-based team’s R.S.18.
The team only scored four points in those two races, courtesy of Carlos Sainz Jr.’s eighth place finish in Italy but engine penalties for both the Spaniard and team-mate Nico Hülkenberg left them both compromised, something they should not have to contend with this weekend in Singapore.
Abiteboul, the team principal of Renault, hopes the updates the team are bringing to the first flyaway race of the second half of the season will give his drivers a boost and some confidence they can return to points-scoring form.
“Spa and Monza were never going to play to our advantages, but in addition to the expected challenges of the circuits’ characteristics, we also had to deal with a number of penalties,” said Abiteboul. “Some strategic and some more self-inflicted.
“It is behind us and we came away from Monza by returning to the points, and a better hold on performance. We did, however, get a taste of the strength of the competition. The midfield is extremely tight and we need to optimise every single element to keep our slender advantage going forward.
“We are looking forward to Singapore, a track we believe should suit our package. You can never tell what the competition is going to do, but we know we have another few updates coming that should further enhance our performance for this race and also going forward.
“It’s also one that the drivers particularly enjoy and performances are generally good there, so we have confidence in their ability to get the job done.”
Abiteboul says Renault is continuing with its plan to develop the R.S.18 alongside its 2019 successor as it is important for them to maintain their fourth place in the Constructors’ Championship.
“As important as this year and our championship position is, we can’t take our eyes off development of next year’s car,” insists Abiteboul. “We are developing the R.S.19 in parallel to racing in 2018 and will have to carefully manage resources to ensure no drop off in either area.
“This will be kept in sharp focus at the coming races as we reach the end of the season, but we are well structured and resourced to do so.”