Renault: 2018 form could allow early focus switch to '19 F1 design

Renault managing director Cyril Abiteboul hopes the Formula 1 team will be able to switch its R&D focus to its 2019 car early if it can maintain its current form

Renault: 2018 form could allow early focus switch to '19 F1 design

The manufacturer has scored points with both cars at each of the last three grands prix, and has gradually extended its advantage over McLaren, Force India and Haas for fourth in the constructors' standings.

Abiteboul believes that less threat from behind in the championship will put less pressure on Renault to keep up its current development rate with its 2018 car until the end of the year.

"I think it's going to be mainly about defending out fourth place in the championship," he told Autosport.

"But I'm not totally clear who we are going to have to defend that position against.

"Maybe Haas, or Force India? McLaren could be bouncing back.

"It's not clear, but it's something we have to monitor, because if we don't have a clear opposition it may be diluted, which means we can have an easier end to the season.

"And that could mean we are able to quickly shift focus to next year, which has to be the next opportunity to make a step in the championship."

Carlos Sainz Jr and Nico Hulkenberg finished eighth and ninth in France, but the team was left frustrated because Sainz - who ran as high as third after opening lap accidents - fell back from sixth with a late MGU-K failure.

"It's not a bad result, but [there are] two frustrations - the first is that we were holding sixth position with Carlos, which would have been a fantastic reward for all the team effort during the weekend, and what seemed to us like a perfect weekend for Carlos," said Abiteboul.

"Irrespective of the end result it was a weekend that showed the progress of Carlos, positioning him also a strong member and contributor to the team performance, in particular in front of such an amazing crowd and attendance.

"The other frustration is there's still obviously a big gap, seeing that the leaders can have the biggest problem you can imagine at the start of the race, and still finish ahead of you - that's frustrating."

Abiteboul said recent upgrades had improved Renault's race performance more than in qualifying.

"We've not been lapped, like Canada," he added. "We were one second slower than the leaders, when we were two seconds from the pole [previously].

"So we showed that our pace is actually pretty decent in the race, and that ties in with some upgrades that we've done to the car, in particular focussed on improving race pace.

"We need to understand the consequences that these developments may have had on qualifying pace, and see if we can overcome those issues as soon as next week in Austria."

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Author Adam Cooper
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