Renault targeting Canada form repeat for home race
It took a full seven races for Renault to score a double-points finish in 2019. But having finally pulled off the feat at the Canadian Grand Prix, the team are now hoping that the performance taps have been opened for a successful final two-thirds of the season – starting this weekend on home turf at the French Grand Prix.
Montreal saw Daniel Ricciardo achieve Renault’s best qualifying performance since the 2010 Japanese Grand Prix, the Australian earning fourth place on the grid, just 0.831s adrift of Sebastian Vettel’s pole time around the power-sensitive Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve.
In the race, the Australian then rebuffed the overtaking attempts of Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas for a number of laps before leading home team mate Nico Hulkenberg in sixth and seventh. That result netted 14 points for the team – as many as they’d scored in the first six races combined after an inconsistent start to the season – to see them jump from eighth to fifth in the constructors’ standings.
Canada underlined the gains made in engine performance – but we cannot dwell on Montreal
Good news then – but with five races to come in the next seven weeks, Renault know that there’s little time to rest on their Canadian laurels, and as such, will be debuting new performance parts this weekend in Paul Ricard.
“France is clearly an important milestone,” said Renault Team Principal Cyril Abiteboul. “Not only is it our home Grand Prix at Le Castellet, but also the opportunity to demonstrate a further improvement in our competitiveness.
“While Canada, a power sensitive circuit, underlined the gains made in engine performance, France will see the introduction of several development items on the chassis. One thing is clear: we cannot dwell on Montreal; [we have] to aim for a repeat of that result and keep striving to reduce the gap to the front.”
Having led Renault’s charge in Canada, Ricciardo will also get his first taste of being a Renault driver on the team’s home turf this weekend. And he was cautiously optimistic ahead of the race that Renault’s achievements last time out marked a “trend” of an upturn in performance for the squad going forward…
“The target for France has to be repeating the form of Canada,” said Ricciardo. “The team had good pace at Paul Ricard last year [where Carlos Sainz and Hulkenberg finished eighth and ninth], so there’s certainly a good feeling there. We have some upgrades, which should mean the start of a trend of our true pace. It’s coming along well and, as the car gets better, I’m also growing in confidence and I’ll keep getting better with it.”
With Renault now sitting just two points shy of McLaren’s fourth place in the constructors’ standings, overhauling their Woking rivals in front of their home crowd would represent a big win for the team at Le Castellet this weekend…