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Renault's Spanish GP preview

NEWS STORY
09/05/2017

Cyril Abiteboul, Renault Sport Racing Managing Director: We head to Spain for the first European race of the season with the target of continuing to score points. Barcelona is an event where we often see many upgrades to the cars and we have some new parts ourselves. We've had a solid run of points in the past two races and we want to continue that.

Spain is a strong market for Formula 1 and for Renault. We produce very many cars, engines and gearboxes in Spain so we have a good amount of local support, as well as the team having a Spanish sponsor in MAPFRE. We also have the exciting young driver talent of Marta García who comes from nearby Valencia and is one of our six of our Renault Sport Academy drivers in 2017.

At Barcelona, we will see Sergey Sirotkin in the car again for FP1, although this time we are hoping he gets far more laps under his belt, following an unfortunate gearbox issue for him in Sochi. We are always looking to the future with our young drivers and will also see RSA member Jack Aitken start his GP3 Series season this weekend.

Russia saw a good race for Nico where he was able to maximise our race strategy and showcase that our latest updates brought a step forward in race pace.

For Jolyon, it's been a tough start to the season; if there's been an issue affecting the car, you can almost guarantee it happens his side of the garage. This is something we are responding to by ensuring each and every reliability issue that impacts upon performance is addressed and so much work occurs in this regard away from the track at Enstone and Viry. We know that Jolyon has deep reserves and can bounce back well. We saw last year how he came on strong in the second half of the season so we're working hard to give him the car in which he can deliver.

On both the chassis and power unit side, we have shown a good step forward in performance so we need to ensure we can harness this reliably at every opportunity. On the chassis side, we are free to introduce any upgrades at every race; on the power unit side we have work to the regulation constraints however the power unit performance will continue to improve through the season.

The 2017 season has certainly captured the imagination of the public and we are right in a very exciting midfield fight with some very determined opponents. This gives us all good motivation to take the fight to these rivals and we can't wait to hit the track in Spain.

With four races in the bag, the R.S.17 returns to the scene of its track debut, the test mecca that is the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, venue for the Spanish Grand Prix.

What's the outlook for the Spanish Grand Prix?
Nick Chester, Chassis Technical Director: The outlook is pretty good. We've been qualifying well so far this season, then Sochi showed a useful improvement to our race pace. We've still got a few more upgrades on the aerodynamic package for Spain, so we're reasonably positive.

What's the challenge of the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya?
NC: Even though we know it really well from all the testing we do there, it is quite a tough circuit. It's very much a downforce track with a lot of high and medium speed corners where you need the aero package really working for you.

It's also a location that's hard on tyres because the corners are so quick with their loadings. It's tough for both the front and rear, meaning that keeping tyre temperatures under control is a challenge, especially in the last part of the lap where the rear tyres can overheat.

How different is the practice programme when it's a venue so well known to teams?
NC: We know the track well with these cars having tested there in the pre-season so basic set-up, ride height and those elements are more finalised when you head out for FP1. We still have all the tyre and aero assessments we want to run, so we certainly will be busy enough.

Will Sergey get a proper run in the car this time?
NC: That's most certainly the plan. Sergey's issue in Sochi was related to a gearbox shift valve and it was a big shame for him to get so little running. He's in Jo's car for FP1, and we expect he'll do a good job.

What was the content of the post-Russian Grand Prix debrief?
NC: The upgrades we used in Sochi worked as expected so we made a useful step in our race pace whilst maintaining qualifying pace. There's still more to do in this area, but we're heading in the right direction. We're in the midfield fight where we expected to be, but it's a very close battle here so we need to ensure we seize every advantage possible from the car and how we use it.

Any new bits for the car?
NC: We have new barge boards and an updated rear wing. We need to keep adding performance to the car as that's what everyone else is fighting to do. We've started the season on a positive note so we need to maintain and improve this.

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