Cyril Abiteboul, Renault Sport Racing Managing Director: The German Grand Prix arrives after Formula 1’s first triple-header, which, for us, proved to be a challenge and a test of our capabilities and stamina. We’ve completed this busy period still in fourth place in the Constructors’ Championship, but this position doesn’t highlight the mid-season wake-up call we’ve received in recent races; we’re fully aware that the fight for fourth place will not be easy and will continue throughout the second half of the season.
We rescued a good points finish at Silverstone – a track we knew didn’t play to our strengths – after a bad qualifying, with Nico producing a professional and composed drive to sixth. Carlos also made an excellent start to be in a position for points, but a racing incident stopped any chances of that. These things happen in Formula 1.
With Spain, France and Great Britain complete, Germany is Nico’s turn for a home race and he heads to Hockenheim with his confidence high after Silverstone. The next two races should be more suited to the characteristics of our package, but as a team, we know a perfectly executed weekend is important to the outcome of a Grand Prix. We have more hard work on this journey if we are to stay ahead of our midfield rivals in fourth.
The team battled hard in Silverstone to make a return to the points, but there’s a long road ahead and more hard work to do, with the German Grand Prix the next hurdle to negotiate, as Chief Technical Officer Bob Bell explains.
What can we expect from Hockenheim, the first time at the circuit for the high-downforce cars?
Bob Bell: It’s a circuit which has a reasonable number of lower speed corners, it’s not going to be quite as fast overall as what we saw at Silverstone for example. It won’t be necessary for the drivers to relearn the circuit in the higher-downforce cars.
It’s been a tricky triple-header, so how important is it to rediscover the form?
BB: It’s vital for us to regain the initiative in the midfield battle. We let that slip in Austria but showed our fighting spirit in Silverstone, so it’s important we come out from Hockenheim in good shape. The circuit should suit us a little better than the last two rounds.
As we’ve seen at most races this year, it will be a story of how we manage the tyres. It’s a slightly different choice here with Pirelli’s Medium, Soft and Ultrasoft, skipping the Supersoft tyre. Managing the tyres in Hockenheim will be a challenge as there’s a lot of low-speed traction events, and therefore rear tyre thermal management will be an issue. As we find with every race, how we manage the tyres will play a central role in our performance.
Why have the tyres been a recent enemy?
BB: We’ve had different problems at different circuits. The problem in Austria wasn’t really tyre wear, but blistering where the rubber underneath the surface almost “boils” and destroys the tyres from the inside out. That’s not a normal operating condition in any tyre! For us it will depend on which circuit we’re looking at, Hockenheim will be mainly focused on rear tyres and making sure we keep them in the right operating window, and not letting them get too hot.
How tough is the midfield fight proving?
BB: The midfield fight is becoming tighter and it’s not a comfortable situation to be in. It will ebb and flow throughout the season. There will be some circuits where we’ll be stronger and at some our rivals will be stronger. We have to keep our focus and not get distracted by the result of an individual race, looking instead at longer term trends.
What upgrades are there for Germany?
BB: The main one is a new front wing which we plan to validate on Friday. We’re hoping it’s a step forwards in terms of overall car performance and will help our championship situation.