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Renault's Germany preview with Fred Vasseur and Nick Chester

NEWS STORY
27/07/2016

Cyril Abiteboul, managing director: We now go to the final race of the first part of the year with our plan back on track. We knew that the first races would be about recovery and setting the foundations, but we had a tougher ride than expected. However in Budapest we demonstrated that we had taken a tangible step forward, not just in our own performance but in relative performance to our rivals. In the race we were able to out race Haas, Sauber and even Force India and Jolyon was just a sniff away from his first points.

Now the task for Hockenheim is translating the extra pace we've unlocked into the points we just missed in Budapest. We're making progress and the benefits of a strong result in the German Grand Prix would be welcomed by everyone at Enstone and Viry.

For the rest of this season, our goal is to attack the teams ahead, using new aero parts developed since the beginning of the season and marginal evolutions of the engine to stay in the same pace as our competitors, despite our focus on 2017.

A strong race from both drivers in the Hungarian Grand Prix followed a frustrating qualifying session where conditions and red flags conspired to deny the demonstration of the new-found pace in the R.S.16. Team Principal Fred Vasseur gives his take on Hungary and his hopes for Hockenheim.

What's the target for the German Grand Prix?
Fred Vasseur: It's always the same; we need to deliver our very best at every level. We saw extra pace in our car in Hungary so we now need to translate that to the points potential we had last weekend.

Were you surprised at the jump in relative performance in Budapest?
FV: I know how hard everyone has been working so I cannot say I am surprised when we show progress. Equally, we know that some tracks, some conditions will suit some cars better than others so we're not jumping for joy that we've found a magic bullet. We could arrive at Hockenheim and find our rivals are doing a better job; we're doing everything in our power to ensure we deliver as best we can but this is a highly competitive environment with grid positions separated by tiny fractions of a second. From our side, we all have our heads down trying to find every bit of performance for this year and beyond.

Could the team have achieved more in Budapest?
FV: Yes and the nature of motorsport means it's very seldom that any team delivers the absolute maximum that is possible. Qualifying was frustrating as we had a quick car as shown by our morning pace, but the conditions of qualifying and the red flags didn't work for us. Of course, we always go over any qualifying session to understand how to get more in similar circumstances if faced with the same scenario again and that is how we improve. In the race both drivers experienced issues; Kevin lost out at the start and Jolyon had a spin from a good position. We're looking at both of these situations to understand what happened and prevent that happening again.

When will you decide on the driver line-up for 2017?
FV: We are at that time of year when we are asked these questions, but the questions and the speculation often happen before any decision is made. What I can say is we have two good drivers, who are improving weekend after weekend. Let's not forget that Jolyon is a rookie and that Kevin only had one year driving full-time at McLaren then a year not racing. They are both doing a strong, solid job and work very well within the team. I have a strong relationship with them both and they know what is expected of them. Within the team we are very happy together. We will make our decisions for 2017 in our own time.

The boost in relative performance shown in Budapest comes from the hard graft in Enstone and Viry. Technical Director Nick Chester explains the challenge to maintain momentum at the Hockenheimring.

The team seemed to make progress on pace in Hungary? How was this achieved?
Nick Chester: There are a number of factors to be optimistic about after our visit to the Hungaroring. We were in a position to get a point for Jolyon on pace and it wasn't a race of attrition so it was a genuine performance.

We have found quite a lot of this pace in the car both from new components and from different approaches to set-up. We learnt a lot at the Silverstone test and this is filtering through. We're certainly getting a better balance with the car to use the tyres more efficiently and we're also making improvements in low-speed and medium-speed corners. The race pace showed that FP3 was not an illusion.

Is there more to come?
NC: We have further advances in the same direction. There are a few more parts to go on the car and we're learning at every race so we would like to see some further improvement.

What's the technical approach to Hockenheim?
NC: It is a combination of low and high speed corners but also with some decent straights. The low and medium speed stadium section is key to a good lap time. The downforce levels are more familiar than the extra high levels of downforce we used in Hungary.

We'll be working on trying to generate grip in the low speed corners. To do this we look at the mechanical and aero sides of the car. Mechanically it's about how you balance the car, how you proportion the stiffness in front and rear suspension and how you set it up to get a good mixture of the car being stable and having enough front end for the low speed corners. Aerodynamically it's about adding downforce to the car which works in the low speed corners where the car has higher rideheights. We are going to have a few new parts to try which should give us some benefit too.

What's the potential in Hockenheim?
NC: The outlook is fairly similar to a lot of other places. The requirements are not hugely specific and the most similar requirements from a recent circuit would be Austria. We expect a fairly similar outlook to there plus the added performance we've managed to unlock from the car.

How far advanced is the 2017 programme?
NC: Most of our departments are focused on 2017; we have a strong wind tunnel programme, we're refining the car layout, the schematics are all in progress for the car. It's a massive change for 2017 with a wide car, wide tyres, a completely different aero package, the loadings into the chassis are different, the power unit is different, the layout at the back of the chassis is different; there's a tremendous amount of work to be done. It is a very exciting challenge and very motivating for the design team.

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