Renault preview the British Grand Prix

Jolyon Palmer

Renault F1 Team preview the British Grand Prix, Round 10 of the 2017 Formula 1 World Championship, at Silverstone.

Cyril Abiteboul, Renault Sport Racing Managing Director, “Silverstone promises to be a special weekend for the Renault Sport Racing family. Sunday 16th July will be particularly memorable as it marks the 40th anniversary, to the day, of Renault’s first Formula 1 Grand Prix when the RS01, pioneered by Jean-Pierre Jabouille, graced the legendary British circuit. Of course, this ignited Renault’s passion for Formula 1, and 40 years and masses of success later, we are still going with the same grit on the grid today.

“We left Austria with mixed feelings after a weekend which highlighted a number positives, whilst underlined the areas which require improvement. We are satisfied with Jolyon’s race, even though we didn’t secure any points, an impressive outing from him means he has the confidence going into his home Grand Prix. Jolyon needs to be better placed on the grid, which of course helps for a better Sunday. This is one of his targets and we hope to see him improve in that area.

“Sunday for Nico in Austria was increasingly difficult and he was unfortunately hampered at the start. The anti-stall system on his car kicked in which put him to the back by the first corner and severely damaged his race. We need to investigate why this happened and ensure it doesn’t occur again. We tried something different with Nico’s strategy after he struggled on the Supersoft tyres, but in the end it did not quite work out. Again, all for review and part of our ongoing development.

“As well as reflecting over our forty-year history at Silverstone we will also be looking very much to the future and we will unveil a new garage. The garage at a Grand Prix is where all the race weekend work takes place to the cars and it’s also a showroom to our participation in Formula 1.

“The British Grand Prix marks the beginning of a sequence of strong chassis developments and I hope to see the installation progress on the upcoming races. It’s an important few weeks before the mid-season break and it’s vital that our hard work is maintained.

“Silverstone is located a short drive from our Enstone base so we look forward to welcoming many friends and family to come join us for a cup of tea. We hope for all to be able to celebrate a positive result on Sunday.”

Bouncing back

Chief Technical Officer Bob Bell wants to ensure the team make a swift return to the points at the British Grand Prix on a track which can throw up a number of surprises.

What challenges does Silverstone present?
BB: It’s a flowing circuit, quite different to what we have seen so far this season, so it will be an interesting benchmark. As a circuit, it’s fast with numerous high speed corners. It’s not the smoothest circuit, but it doesn’t have particularly nasty kerbs like Austria which gave us bodywork damage. It’s not as hard on brakes as Austria, but it puts a lot of energy on the tyres, especially the left-hand side so you usually get left-front graining amidst other issues.

It will be interesting to see how the Medium compound goes around Silverstone. Sometimes drivers don’t like the softer compounds, they prefer the more robust tyre for the high-speed turns, so we will have to wait and see. The layout will test our car’s balance as it has shown a propensity to be a bit nervous in the high speed corners, so that’s something we’ll be monitoring.

Ultimately for us, we are midway through the season and we have a lot to do to make up for the second half.

What are your thoughts post Austria?
BB: It was a disappointment as we went there expecting more. It’s a hard circuit in many ways, especially on tyres and good performance in the race is down to tyre management. We had a difficult start which put Nico on the back-foot. Jo got within striking distance from the points, which was a strong effort from him.

We are analysing Nico’s problem. It sits very squarely between the engine and the clutch and gearbox. These problems can be quite widespread so we need to take our time to analyse the data carefully and fully understand the issue and see what to do next. We need to perform and start scoring points again on a regular basis. That’s the aim, it always is. We will try hard at Silverstone to come home with some points and do justice to the 40th year anniversary celebrations.

Need for speed

A challenging Austrian Grand Prix for Nico Hülkenberg means he has extra determination to strive for points on a fast and flowing Silverstone circuit.

What do you make of Silverstone?
NH: Silverstone is a high-speed circuit with lots of old corner combinations such as Maggots, Becketts and Chapel which are truly awesome. There are so many great corners where you really feel the forces of a Formula 1 car. You have to really work your neck in the build-up before Silverstone to get ready for the high G forces and it’s important to be ready for it. At Silverstone we’ll really feel the extra cornering forces from the cars this season. We need good high speed balance on the car to maximise our performance. It’s a challenging lap but also a lot of fun and very special.

And what about the British atmosphere?
NH: Silverstone is one of the historic races on the calendar. You really get a feel for the roots of racing there. The atmosphere is buzzing and that always give me an extra boost, especially as my Formula 1 home for so many years was just outside the gates. You get a great feeling when you’re driving with the thousands of fanatical Formula 1 supporters cheering you on. It’s one of those special races because the grandstands are full – all around the circuit and across the entire weekend. There’s a really cool, traditional atmosphere about the place which is great to experience. You always see how much the fans love the sport. It will be a busy weekend with lots of people and lots of sponsors there to see us, especially with the 40th anniversary celebrations.

How do you sum up Austria?
NH: Sunday wasn’t good, but Saturday was more positive, P11 on the grid was probably the best we could have done. In the race, the anti-stall at the start kicked in and we dropped to the back, we need to review what happened and make sure it doesn’t happen again. I was almost last by the first corner and it was difficult after that. I struggled on the Supersoft tyres and I wasn’t making ground, so we switched to the Softs to try something different. I lost a lot of time with the front runners and blue flags, so it was difficult. We will analyse, regroup and go again in a couple of days.

Home comforts

Jolyon Palmer narrowly missed out on the points in Spielberg, but the Brit is ready for his home Grand Prix where a maiden top ten finish of the season is within reach.

Is it exciting to race in your home Grand Prix?
JP: I’m really looking forward to racing in front of the home crowd. I love the track and it’s always a special weekend at Silverstone. People always turn out in huge numbers and they are very passionate which really pushes us drivers. My first Grand Prix at Silverstone was when I was six and a fan, so it’s special to be there with lots of reminiscing. It’s always a great experience.

Do you like the circuit?
JP: It’s certainly the Formula 1 track that I know the best so I’m hoping that gives me an extra boost along with all the home support. There are lots of high speed corners which are cool to drive and a lap has a really good flow to it. I had my first race at Silverstone when I was fifteen so I know the place pretty well! I’ve been on the podium a few times throughout my career including a win in Formula Two and second and third places in GP2.

What are your post-race feelings from Spielberg?
JP: It was a solid race and I was pushing like hell at the end. We were so close to the points, but it was another eleventh place! Overall, it was a decent weekend. I made a small mistake in qualifying which put us out in Q1, with the times so very close in Austria. The race was quite good, but I was behind Lance Stroll for over 40 laps, and I just wasn’t able to pass him no matter how hard I tried! Silverstone’s my home race so I am excited for that. I am going there after a fairly positive weekend, so I am aiming to keep the momentum and get those points.