Renault have had a sluggish phase to the season, becoming regular back-markers alongside Sauber and Manor. The feeling in the Renault garage is that Austria will suit their car a bit better.
Renault are a works team, meaning that they should be at least competing for points regularly. So far this season, they’ve been about as slow as a Lada full of elephants going uphill. Jolyon Palmer has looked unnerved whilst Kevin Magnussen has the best finish for the team so far, a solid 7th in Russia. Their season has been so anonymous so far that they might as well have taken to the track in this to spice things up:
— Jolyon Palmer (@JolyonPalmer) June 28, 2016
Being hampered by other issues haven’t helped the team, with Palmer having to retire from the three races so far. The double DNF in Monaco would have been painful – that’s the place to score points if you’re a lesser team.
But the point is that Renault aren’t a lesser team. They should be challenging for championships. They can’t evolve quickly, they seem to have inherited all the debts at Enstone, the ghost of the former Lotus team still picking pockets.
Renault have suffered mostly in slow corners, their chassis is weak. So Austria should provide an opportunity to score points if they can have a rare, yet needed incident free weekend in which both drivers deliver.
— Kevin Magnussen (@KevinMagnussen) May 15, 2016
Ahead of the weekend in the picturesque hills of Speilberg, Renault’s technical director Nick Chester said,
“It’s an important race for us as the low-speed corner circuit layouts we’ve seen recently haven’t suited us. Austria’s much more in the R.S.16’s comfort zone.“It’s an interesting track. It has a relatively smooth surface so tyre warm-up could be a bit of an issue, and it’s cooler as it’s higher, which also has a small effect on the engine. Average corner speed is a bit higher, and there are not so many corners.
This higher speed content should suit us; as we’ve seen from the previous three races we do have a weakness in the low-speed corners so it’s good to get away from them!”
If Renault want to avoid a truly embarrassing season as a works team, they will need to pick up the pace massively to catch McLaren, who look to have genuinely improved of late. They will also need to beat Haas, who have been a great addition to the sport this season, showing competitiveness from the off.
— Haas F1 Team (@HaasF1Team) June 27, 2016
If Renault don’t improve, they’ll be dragging the French manufacturers name through the mud more than Christian Horner ever could.