“Just too slow” - that was Nico Hulkenberg's damning indictment of Renault's pace at the Russian Grand Prix. Despite adapting their qualifying strategy so they could have a free choice of tyres for the start of the race, the R.S.18 lacked the power to climb into the points. And the German was brutally honest in his assessment of their Sunday performance…
The Anglo-French team opted to sit out Q2 on Saturday, which looked a plum move with those ahead of them starting on softer rubber. But in the race, things didn't go to plan with Hulkenberg, who started one place behind team mate Carlos Sainz in 12th, unable to hunt down the midfield rivals ahead of him, and dropping further back when he switched to the ultrasoft compound.
Afterwards the German admitted his challenger was just too slow compared to the likes of Haas and Force India, something he put down to Renault's lack of recent development following qualifying, pointedly saying "If you snooze you lose in Formula 1."
“Obviously we started on the harder (tyre) compound,” said Hulkenberg. “We went long on the first stint – and it went ok.
“It was positive to be running in P7 for so many laps, but we weren’t able to make the places back after the pit stop. We gave it our best shot, but we couldn’t make it pay off in the end.
“Ultimately we were just lacking pace and were just too slow. Even with the clean race and good conversation of the strategy, we didn’t get anywhere, didn’t get a result or points. Our package at the moment isn’t competitive enough.”