Cyril Abiteboul, Renault Sport Racing Managing Director: Bahrain consolidated the start we saw in Melbourne. Nico was able to score a good haul of points and fight for position at the sharp end of the midfield. Carlos had a more difficult race – his pace was good but he was compromised by a poor start and found it difficult to regain ground. We saw yet again how competitive this season is and how every detail has to be absolutely on point. In such a dynamic midfield, we must accelerate the deployment of our performance plan.
But there are positives too; our car has potential, our overall execution level is good and we have shown a great improvement in pit stops, demonstrating the reward of months of work from design, R&D, production and race team departments. It needs to be confirmed in the next races, but we should use this as an element of pride for the capacity of the team to progress quickly.
Shanghai is an important race for the team. As well as keeping our on-track momentum moving forward, our off-track activation will equally be important. We have an expansive programme with DRAC (Renault's joint venture in China) and Renault Sport Formula One Team's partner, Tmall. I'm really looking forward to getting over to China and seeing how everything unfolds.
After a solid start to the season for the contingent of Renault power-units, Engine Technical Director Remi Taffin discusses the plan of action for the beginning of the season and what to expect in Shanghai.
How do we evaluate the Bahrain Grand Prix?
Remi Taffin: It was a difficult race, especially with a big battle in the midfield. Nico achieved a good result and we met our target of finishing in the points. It was a more difficult outing for Carlos and there are a number of areas to look at from his race. We go to China where we will aim to bring an increase in performance in order to better place our drivers in both qualifying and the race. We want to climb in the rankings, it's a case of refining all the details to improve our performance.
With two races under the belt, how are things looking with the 2018 Renault power unit?
RT: We've started as we've planned. We blue-printed this development a year and a half ago, and it's satisfying to see it going as planned. We got through a good winter testing plan, and it was very encouraging to see all six Renault-powered cars in the points in Australia. Everything looks in line in terms of reliability and that gives us a good platform for our continued development plan over the whole season. It's a reasonable start.
What are the main characteristics of the Shanghai International Circuit?
RT: China isn't as difficult from a power unit point of view compared to Bahrain, so we'll analyse the race in Bahrain and go from there. We've proved we're competitive and ready to fight.
How difficult has it been to manage the three-engine rule for the season?
RT: It doesn't make a big difference as we knew about the rule change two or three years ago. It takes a bit longer for dyno validations and it's a bit more severe for the engine, but in a sense, it doesn't really change our world. The fewer engines you have, the less development you can bring in terms of hardware. When you have 10 engines a year you have more capability and opportunities to develop, but with three engines it's more difficult, and that makes the job at Viry harder!