Cyril Abiteboul believes that the Renault Sport Formula 1 Team can hold off the attentions of the Haas F1 Team for fourth place in the Constructors’ Championship, despite admitting that the French marque are comparatively behind on pace.
Abiteboul noted that he signalled Haas as a contender for a top four finish as early as winter testing at the Circuit de Barcelona- Catalunya and continues to do so.
After a run of results in their favour, Renault now stand 11 points clear in fourth place with five rounds to go. However last time out at the Sochi Autodrom, both Nico Hülkenberg and Carlos Sainz Jr. failed to score points – Hülkenberg citing issues with the ultra-soft tyres – while former Renault driver Kevin Magnussen collected a welcome four points for the Haas endeavour with eighth place.
“Frankly, they have been a worry since the Barcelona pre-season test,” said Abiteboul, talking to The Checkered Flag.
“It was very clear that they had a competitive car for all sorts of reasons. They have benefitted from a very strong improvement of the Ferrari engine mid-season, which makes them a very strong competitor.”
Abiteboul continued to say that Renault must “think strategically” until the end of the season in order to register a top four finish in the standings for the first time since 2008. In addition to this, the Frenchman listed numerous factors that will aid Renault’s chances across the team.
“I think on pace, it is very clear that they are faster than us, so it’s all about trying to mitigate and think strategically about the end of the season,” he reasoned.
“I still believe that we have a chance to keep our position, but it will clearly take good execution, good drives by the drivers and good preparation form the race team to make that happen.
“We were very close from outscoring them in Sochi – we lost the plot a little bit in the strategy. But, let’s see. We will take it race by race.”
As attentions turn to this weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix, Renault have not scored a points finish at the Suzuka International Racing Course for seven years, whereas Haas managed to get both Magnussen and team-mate Romain Grosjean in the top ten last year.