Abu Dhabi 2018 - GP Preview - Renault F1
We head to Abu Dhabi on the back of a disappointing performance in Brazil, especially after our solid races in the United States and Mexico.
As always, we picked ourselves up and dusted ourselves down and we’re fully focused on the task that lies ahead. This final race of the season is very important for the team.
There’s still a job to do in Abu Dhabi and we expect to finish the season as we started it in Australia; with both cars competitive and inside the top ten.
Of course, Abu Dhabi will be Carlos’ final race with us. His contribution to Renault’s journey in Formula 1 over these 14 months has been very positive and we are extremely thankful for what he has achieved. Carlos is as good outside of the race seat as he is behind the wheel and he’s been a credit to the team. After the race we will wish him every success for his future.
Across Renault Sport Racing, we have some of our young drivers back racing after a long break. We will be keeping an eye on the GP3 Series, in particular, as Anthoine Hubert aims to lift the Drivers’ Championship. This would be an excellent achievement both for Anthoine and our young driver programme.
Finally, we will be welcoming many of our partners and guests in Abu Dhabi as we look forward to this unique race that has gained much popularity over the years.
As the team prepares for the 21st and final Grand Prix of 2018, Chassis Technical Director Nick Chester outlines the key characteristics of the Yas Marina Circuit as well as the number of targets still to achieve in Abu Dhabi.
What are the main considerations for the Yas Marina Circuit?
It’s a circuit with a good number of low and medium speed corners. We have to work on finding a good balance on the car and getting everything out from it. The sectors are quite different from one another. The first features high-speed corners with sector two comprising of two long straights and two hard-braking zones. The final sector is slower and very twisty, so it can be tricky to find a balance with the car all the way around the track.
Another consideration point is the timing of the conditions. FP1 and FP3 are very hot, but the track cools for FP2, qualifying and the race. You end up having a different balance and set-up on the car for those sessions. FP2 is the important one, because in FP1 it’s almost a different car due to the high temperatures.
It’s Carlos’ final race with the team, how would you assess his contribution?
Carlos has been a valuable addition as he’s worked incredibly hard to benefit the team. He’s very committed, quick in the car and his feedback has been excellent, similar to Nico’s as they both share the same ideas. Carlos works very closely with his engineers to further understand the package, which has helped us improve our knowledge and development throughout the season.
What are the team’s targets for the final race of the season?
We want to have a good final race and extend the points gap in fourth to really stamp it home. We’ve also had a very good result this year where we’ve not stopped the car in a race through a chassis fault. We would be the only team to have done that, so bringing both cars home in Abu Dhabi would cap off this season.
What’s the latest on Enstone and plans for 2019?
There’s a lot going on with the 2019 car and we’re well advanced in making the first chassis. We’ve got the gearbox, which will be tested soon. We’re finishing design work for parts such as the cooling, suspension and the bodywork. It’s flat out at this time of the year as we have to get through a lot of drawings to get the car made. It’s been busy and we’re making strong progress.
Nico Hülkenberg left Brazil with a feeling of frustration. But the German heads to Abu Dhabi in a determined and fired up frame of mind, as he eyes up a bright finish to the 2018 season with plenty still to play for.
What’s the Yas Marina Circuit like to drive?
Yas Marina is a really enjoyable circuit and the facilities there are probably the best of the season. The lap is quite long and strange in a way as it’s difficult to find a rhythm. Getting comfortable with the contrasting corner combinations is important for a fast lap time. Finding a good balance and harmony is also vital as the corners are different through the three sectors, so it’s about getting accustomed and nailing it. The circuit looks more suited to our package than Interlagos, and we head there expecting to be competitive and in the points.
What’s there to say about the high stakes in Abu Dhabi?
Abu Dhabi has been the scene of the season finale for the last couple of years and it’s definitely a good venue to round off the year. There’s a lot at stake for the team in the Constructors’ Championship. Last year it went down to the wire and, while this season we have more of a points cushion, we go there knowing there’s a job to do and anything can happen. I’m looking forward to it, though, and I’m aiming for solid points to end a memorable season on a positive note.
What’s the Hulk’s verdict on 2018?
On a whole, 2018 has been a good building year. My second season with Renault was always about progression and continuing the journey the team has outlined. The start of the season was excellent and we more than deserve to finish fourth in the Constructors’. We’ve been the fourth quickest car out there for much of the year, so we just need to finish the job off in Abu Dhabi now. As a racing driver, you’re always pushing for better results. While we’ve scored some outstanding finishes, there’s that desire for more which will be the next step for us.
How do you reflect on Brazil?
It was a disappointing race weekend, but sometimes it plays out like this. We retired as a precaution with the engine looking like it was overheating and it wasn’t worth the risk carrying on. There’s a lot to play for in Abu Dhabi, so it was probably the most sensible approach. We’ll be giving it everything we’ve got.
Carlos Sainz will wear the black and yellow colours for the final time this year in Abu Dhabi. After scoring 51 points from 24 outings to date, the Spaniard is aiming to leave the team as he started in October 2017…by scoring solid points.
What do you enjoy about Abu Dhabi?
I quite enjoy these races under the lights. Yas Marina is a nice circuit with incredible facilities and it’s a great location for the season finale. It’s cool to start the race in daylight and finish it under the night sky, I really like that. In terms of a lap, there’s a lot going on. There are long straights, which bring overtaking opportunities, fast sweeping corners and also some tight turns. We’ll be doing our homework to ensure we’re best prepared and can hit the ground running right from Friday practice.
What are the expectations for Abu Dhabi?
I’m definitely looking forward to Abu Dhabi as it will be an interesting finale. We would like a bit more performance from the car for the last race and I know the team is working hard to get back into the points there. Hopefully it will be a good last race for the team and I can end this spell on a really bright note.
How much have you enjoyed your time with Renault?
I’ve really enjoyed my time with Renault over the past 14 months. They say Enstone has a family feel and I felt at ease and very welcome from day one. To drive for a manufacturer team is a dream come true and I’m very proud to be part of the history of such an important brand in Formula 1. On track, the results have been good on a whole, very consistent and that’s something I can be proud about. As a driver, I take with me very valuable experiences and I’m looking forward to staying part of the Renault family with McLaren next season. We still have this final race to focus on and that’s all I’m thinking about at the moment.
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