Renault has top three in its sights

Buoyed by its success in Melbourne of bringing both cars home in the points, Renault is hoping to take the fight to the top three teams in Malaysia this weekend

Renault has top three in its sights

Technical director Mike Gascoyne is confident that a better qualifying performance in Australia, and smarter strategy around the Safety Car periods, would almost certainly have resulted in a top three finish in Australia.

"Those factors meant we missed out on what should have been a podium finish," he said. "We are looking to be competitive with the top three teams and I think we have the car to do that. To be honest, we were quite surprised at how competitive we were in Melbourne."

Executive director of engineering Pat Symonds applauded the team's decision to take up Friday's private testing option, which he feels paid off in Melbourne.

"Overall I think the huge amount of preparation put in by the team paid off and things went pretty smoothly," he said. "We certainly felt that we gained an enormous benefit from the extra track time we had on Friday. Having said that we learnt some lessons from the logistics of the exercise that can be improved on at the next race."

Sepang is tough on engines and tyres, with maximum power being produced at some 300 rpm higher than in cooler conditions. "On the cooling side the R23 has been exceptionally good," says Symonds, "and we are expecting to be able to run in Sepang with a radiator configuration that has very little compromise on performance, even in the hottest conditions that Malaysia has to offer."

Last year Michelin experienced a tyre advantage over rivals Bridgestone in the sweltering Malaysian heat. If the feat can be repeated it will add to the confidence the team is already feeling. "In Melbourne we took a tyre that was softer than any of our rivals and, of course, we raced it with a level of risk, but the results speak for themselves," added Symonds.

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