Cyril Abiteboul, Renault Sport Racing Managing Director: As the last race prior to the start of the summer break, the Hungarian Grand Prix acts as a good opportunity to gain some ground in the standings. We're just over halfway through 2018, which has proved interesting, yet challenging in our push for fourth place in the Constructors' Championship.
We enter Budapest on the back of a good result in Germany. Ten points meant we extended our advantage to over 20 points over our nearest rivals, but there's still a long way to go and a lot of hard work to follow if we are to maintain this slender gap.
Before we can start to think about the summer break, we must get through this tricky race on the calendar. We know the Hungaroring is a challenging circuit for a number of reasons, but like any round, we go there with a sense of optimism and high standards. Then we have an important two-day test following the race, an extra period of time to learn more about our car and to give our Test & Development Driver Artem Markelov the opportunity to sample modern Formula 1 machinery for the first time; a natural next step for his career.
After an unpredictable German Grand Prix, the team narrowly extended their advantage in fourth place in the Constructors' Championship. Chief Technical Officer Bob Bell shares his thoughts on the first-half of the season and the plan of action for the second-half.
What's there to say about the Hungaroring?
Bob Bell It's a tight and twisty circuit, which requires maximum downforce from the car. The circuit has been resurfaced recently, so it should be relatively smooth. We're going with Pirelli's Medium, Soft and Ultrasoft tyres, like in Germany, and we'll be taking an almost identical proportion for our two drivers with predominance of the Ultrasoft, which worked OK at Hockenheim and should be again in Hungary.
Qualifying is crucial at the Hungaroring, because it's a tricky place for overtaking, so we'll be placing some emphasis on getting that right. We go there with a reasonable degree of optimism as we ran well there last year and the characteristics of our car seem to be better suited to the tight and twisty circuits. We're aware of a possible forecast for thunderstorms this weekend, so that might throw some spice into the mix.
How do you rate the first-half of the season?
BB Overall, it's been good. We're halfway through the season and are fourth place in the Constructors' Championship, which is what we've set out to achieve. It's not been an easy journey so far. We've been relatively reliable on track and if we have experienced problems, it's been largely away from the race and that's a significant improvement on last year.
We have reasonable pace in the car. Some of our midfield rivals have an advantage on us at the more open circuits, but then it swings back our way on the tighter tracks. It's nip and tuck for fourth place, but we've been good on a Sunday afternoon and that's where it counts. We have the pace in the car, the reliability and the race-craft and it's about combining those three elements together every single weekend to achieve our objective.
Why has the team been able to stay on top of the midfield fight?
BB This business is about getting all elements right. Pace in qualifying is one thing and an important element, but it's not the whole story. You need a good car on Sunday, which you need to race well, executing a good strategy, with clean pit-stops. All of these factors are crucial to scoring points and that's what counts at the end of the weekend.
What's in the pipeline for after the summer shutdown?
BB We have developments coming. There isn't much for Hungary because it's a back-to-back, but we have a few smaller bits and pieces. We're working on a new floor and a new bargeboard system later in the season. We're still pushing hard to bring performance to this season's car. We are having to switch a lot of our attention to 2019, but I think we have enough in the pipeline to get the job done, we just need to make it happen.