Remi Taffin, Renault Sport F1 head of track operations: We're feeling more confident ahead of the Chinese Grand Prix. While we know that the others are still ahead, we have made some good progress in the last two races, both in reliability and driveability, particularly in race modes.
At the test in Bahrain we tested several new software modes that will see us closer to the limits of the Power Unit than before. In the past three races we have been some way from the edge of the performance envelope but these new modes should see us running more to the extreme. The drivers should feel improved driveability and it should also give us greater life from each part.
Likewise we have been working on the energy management per lap, particularly in the slow corners. We know we are missing out on the straights but these new steps have given us greater traction in the turns, which should in turn extend tyre life and give greater flexibility on strategies. In fact the greater part of our work has been concentrated on race modes and performance as this is where we believe the bigger steps can be taken, rather than in qualifying.
All of these improvements should put us a bit closer to the front in China. Of the first four races, it is one of the most difficult. The long straight is of course the major feature of the circuit, but we believe the steps taken in testing will make us less vulnerable.
There are also some tricky mid to slow speed corners in Shanghai such as the first 'snail' corner that tightens back on itself. This and the two hairpins give some opportunity for the MGU-K to recover energy under braking but the focus for energy recovery will be on the MGU-H and that long straight. Overall we're looking forward to China – while we know it's still an uphill battle, we feel we have hit our stride now.
Renault Energy F1-2014 Fast Facts:
The 1.3km straight in Shanghai will see the Energy F1-2014 at maximum revs and full speed for just under 20secs, around 20% of the lap.
Weather conditions in China vary wildly; from 29°C to under 20°C has been seen over a race weekend. These variations will change track conditions and therefore car behaviour.
The location of the Shanghai track provides an unusual challenge. The circuit is situated in an industrial zone next to several factories, some of which produce concrete, which leads to a high concentration of dust particles in the air. This could also affect track conditions and therefore tyre wear rates.
In qualifying drivers are able to use any fuel quantity required and the entire energy budget from the battery store for a qualifying lap. However, should a driver choose to use all the energy on one lap, he will not be able to complete two consecutive flat out timed laps and will instead have to wait until the next lap when the store recharges.
Shanghai in numbers - with 1 being the easiest, 5 being the most severe
Internal Combustion Engine: 4
Fuel Consumption: 3
Energy Recovery: 3