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Renault's Azerbaijan preview

NEWS STORY
23/04/2018

Cyril Abiteboul, Renault Sport Racing Managing Director: We had the same result in China as Bahrain just one week before, but the feeling after Shanghai was almost entirely positive rather than lucky.

In a straight fight against our competitors, we confirmed that we currently have the fourth best engine-chassis-driver combination on the grid. This is what we must carry forward and target at every race and the priorities are clear for both sides of Renault Sport Formula One Team at Enstone and Viry.

It's also been an encouraging start in the Formula Renault Eurocup for the Renault Sport Academy members. At Circuit Paul Ricard, Max Fewtrell took a race win, and in Monza Christian Lundgaard claimed his first victory in his rookie season and leads the Drivers' standings.

Baku will mark the start of the next phase of our season push. We will debut some new chassis upgrades, specifically on the wings and bargeboards, which will be followed on the engine side in Barcelona. We are confident that the combination of these developments can allow us to maintain our performance. We need to remain focussed on making every single element work.

Consistency has been the key to the team's encouraging start to the 2018 season. As we head to round four in the city of winds, the Baku Street circuit provides a unique challenge for team and driver as Chassis Technical Director Nick Chester explains.

How challenging is the Azerbaijan Grand Prix?
Nick Chester: It's an interesting track and one of the newer Grand Prix on the calendar. It has a really good street section, particularly through the old town, where it's really twisty with the potential for misery with the walls to catch the unwary. That provides a really good challenge for both car and driver. Then there's a few medium to fast speed corners on the open part of the track and that very long straight.

The straight actually makes it a bit of a challenge, as we can't run the downforce we'd like for the middle section and we have to take a lot off for the long straight, which is a compromise. You have a challenge to get the tyres working properly in the correct window, as you can't run the downforce you want so it's about striking that balance. You need the lap time as well as a competitive top speed which can be a trade-off.

Is it tricky to negotiate the infamous Baku winds?
NC: Wind makes a massive difference as the cars are generally quite yaw sensitive. The aerodynamic structures are designed to work in a fairly small yaw angle range. When you get a side wind, with the accompanying increase in aerodynamic yaw angle, the flow structures tend to break down, losing downforce as a consequence. A tailwind can be tough as well to manage as again you lose downforce with less total air pressure meeting the car. We'll be adjusting set-up throughout the weekend to cope with wind and track temperature.

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