As Nico Hulkenberg put it, Friday practice in Canada was “difficult” for Renault. A gearbox problem for the German in FP1 was followed by Carlos Sainz’s uncharacteristic crash in the day’s second session – and leaves them with work to do heading into Saturday…
Hulkenberg’s morning ended without a time on the board after the German suffered a gear-selection issue, which prompted first a Virtual Safety Car, and then a 12-minute red-flag stoppage as his stricken car was recovered. He then lost valuable running time in the early stages of FP2 as his mechanics continued to work on his car, ultimately setting just the 14th-quickest time.
“It’s been a more difficult Friday,” said Hulkenberg. “Losing the morning is quite costly and not ideal, as you always play catch-up all day and you can’t really go through all the things that you want to. We tried the best we could.
“In the afternoon we were also a bit late getting the car ready and being out a little bit late, but we did the best and managed the best we could I think. The car feels alright, not fantastic, and we still have some work to do. But it’s been OK.”
And like the first session, Renault had just one car running by the end of FP2. Sainz spun his car out of Turn 7, with his RS18 smacking backwards into the wall and bringing out the red flag – an incident he believes he will learn from.
“I was pushing them (the supersoft tyres) a bit quicker than the previous run maybe, and the tyre was just not up to temperature and it didn’t give me enough rear support,” said Sainz. “We still learned a lot, still feel confident for tomorrow. We have a good baseline to go and attack the top ten tomorrow.
“We’re still looking into the new bits that we brought here, see how they’re working, and put the best possible on the car tomorrow.
"Obviously we would have liked to have completed a bit more, but I think we are happy enough to get together a good baseline, a good car for tomorrow. Up until the crash I think I was feeling pretty confident.”
Renault will be keen to perform on Saturday, with an eye on keeping ahead of their midfield rivals. They currently sit fourth in the constructors’ standings, six points above their nearest challengers McLaren.