With Nico Hulkenberg running sixth and Daniel Ricciardo 10th in the closing stages of the Bahrain Grand Prix, Renault were looking set for a double points finish. But then on Lap 53 of 57, the lights went out on their challenge – quite literally…
Almost in unison, the two R.S.19s ground to a halt with power-loss issues at the end of the start-finish straight. Whether or not they were the same issue remains unconfirmed, but regardless, it was a horrible way to end what had been a very promising race for the Anglo-French squad.
“It was pretty heartbreaking for the team to lose both cars at the same time with a few laps to go,” said Ricciardo, the only driver in the race to attempt a one-stop strategy. “I feel for them. We will try and do better and keep learning.
“It was probably slightly more brutal for Nico, because his race was going well and mine not so well. I felt like half my damage was already done by the one-stop.”
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“It just went I think, just lost drive very suddenly,” added Hulkenberg of his car’s failure.
“There were no signs before it just stopped working, basically. It felt power-train related, but I can't be sure at this point.
“It would have been too nice to have that race from 17th to sixth. It was a really, really fun race to be part of today - lots of battling, lots of overtaking - but unfortunately we didn't get to the finish line.”
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But despite their two retirements – and despite Ricciardo conceding that one-stopping had been the wrong decision – both drivers insisted there were plenty of plusses to be drawn ahead of the next round in China.
“We were competitive,” said Hulkenberg. “We have a competitive package and can battle with everyone in the midfield, so some positives obviously to take from this weekend.
“But there’s still work to be done after two weekends with lots of hiccups and issues. We just need to be cleaner in the preparation process in the whole weekend without problems.”
Meanwhile, Ricciardo – who made light contact with his team mate at one point on track – admitted that he was still getting used to his new car, but believed Bahrain showed things were moving in the right direction.
“Even in the first stint I was quite surprised we came through a few cars,” said the Australian. “I didn’t feel particularly great, but relative to our competitors we were doing okay.
“So there is a bit of speed there, but I feel that a lot more can come - I have experienced more so I know a lot more can come. Hopefully we can find that soon, even just personally for me to get some more confidence in the car.
“Running into Nico, I did not plan on that. But under braking I am not there yet, so that wasn’t in the script!”
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