Renault Sport Formula One Team’s preparations for the final race of the 2018 season got underway today at the stunning Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi. Over the two sessions Nico Hulkenberg and Carlos Sainz worked through a standard plan of tyre comparisons and qualifying and race trim runs.
Nico finished the day with the eighth quickest time, 1:38.230, with Carlos just three tenths behind in twelfth.
Our programme was largely concentrated into the later practice session, which took place in the more representative temperature conditions seen in the race.
In FP1 Nico conducted some aero tests before looking at the performance of the Ultrasoft tyres. Carlos also ran the Ultrasoft tyres. In FP2 Nico compared the Pirelli Ultrasoft and Hypersoft tyres, while Carlos ran the Supersoft and Hypersoft tyres. Both conducted high and low fuel runs to assess performance in race and qualifying trim. Both drivers finished the day satisfied with the programme and we go into Saturday in reasonable shape.
Nico Hulkenberg: “It’s been a relatively good Friday as we were able to get our work completed. It is a little bit hard to judge where we stand as the track, and therefore the car, felt quite different between FP1 and FP2. It’s always the case in Abu Dhabi as the conditions change a lot between the afternoon and evening. There’s still some work to do on the speed, but overall I think we are in good shape for the rest of the weekend.”
Carlos Sainz: “The conditions between FP1 and FP2 were very different as always. The first session wasn’t very representative with poor car balance and grip, but when night fell we were able to pick up more grip and improve the balance. We have some work to do as it looks like it won’t be a straightforward race strategy, so preparing for good tyre management is very important. We are positive going into tomorrow.”
Marcin Budkowski, Executive Director: “Yas Marina is a great place to hold a race, but it’s not an easy circuit by any means. There are several tight sections but the long back straight requires some trade-offs in set-up. Added into the mix are very different track and ambient conditions between the afternoon and evening sessions, which makes FP1 somehow unrepresentative. We were however able to have a straightforward day, with no major issues, apart from a small off-track excursion for Carlos. We did however manage to repair the car in time for FP2. We improved the balance of the cars over the day and both drivers felt we went in the right direction. We collected valuable data on the tyres, which will be helpful in finalising our strategy for the race.”