'Clear' that Renault has to improve qualifying pace - Cyril Abiteboul
Renault Team Principal Cyril Abiteboul says it is “clear” that the manufacturer has to improve its qualifying performances, amid its dip in form.
Renault established itself as the fourth-best team through the first half of 2018 with a spate of double points finishes, but has struggled since the summer break.
Nico Hulkenberg and Carlos Sainz Jr. have only once each made it through to Q3 across the past five Grands Prix, as it has lagged behind rivals in the development battle.
Sainz Jr. had previously secured a Q3 appearance at all bar the British Grand Prix, while Hulkenberg’s one-lap results have also waned after a strong start.
Renault scored 82 points pre-summer but has added just 10 since, leaving it under pressure from Haas, while it would be behind Force India without its rival’s mid-season exclusion and re-entry into the series.
“[Sainz Jr.’s point in Japan] is further evidence that our race pace is competitive at this stage of our development,” said Abiteboul.
“We’ve also shown that the Power Unit is capable of doing great things in race conditions at high-power sensitive circuits, like Suzuka, with Red Bull fighting for second place.
“Carlos drove strongly throughout the race and never relented for that final point.
“It’s clear what needs to be fixed and that’s improving our qualifying pace.
“We’ve seen that small differences can play a huge role in starting between seventh or fourteenth.
“We absolutely need to get on top of this and get the car back where it belongs at circuits which should be better for us.”
Renault holds a slender eight-point advantage over Haas in the standings.