Cyril Abiteboul, Team Principal, Renault F1 Team: We head to Bahrain with motivation. In seasons gone by, we would have been satisfied with a seventh-place finish at the first race of the season, but this year we were a little disappointed.
We feel our car is capable of fighting at the top end of the midfield, however, that wasn't always displayed when it really counted in qualifying and during the race.
We are determined to show more in Bahrain. We have to underline the step we've made on the engine side, and the second Grand Prix of 2019 is an opportunity to showcase that. We will bring some aero updates, as we will do at every race. We also need to target consistency over the course of the entire weekend, delivering a balanced and reliable car in all sessions to allow the drivers to extract respective maximum performance. Equally, we need to target operational excellence in all areas.
Having both cars inside the points is the target and we want to show the qualities of our team. We have to be hard on ourselves if we're to keep on our path.
The team heads to Bahrain with added incentive after Melbourne. Chassis Technical Director Nick Chester reflects on round one and explains the key challenges of Bahrain.
What are the main characteristics of the Bahrain International Circuit?
Nick Chester: It's an event with sessions running into the evening so there can be varying temperatures between practice, qualifying and race. It can therefore be quite a big challenge in terms of striking a setup on the car and understanding the different characteristics. The track is usually dusty early in the weekend because of the sand and also the wind can be strong. Apart from that, it's a conventional circuit compared to Melbourne and should be more representative for pace. FP1 and FP3 are during the day, so FP2, at night, is where you tend to conduct all the learning for the weekend.
What did the team learn from the season-opening Grand Prix?
NC: Australia was a mixed weekend. We didn't qualify where the cars deserved to be in terms of pace and that was down to execution in some areas and a reliability problem which is now understood. It shows the midfield is so close and that any small mistake or dip in performance means you'll lose places on the grid. Unfortunately, we experienced that quite directly.
The reality is, the lower down the grid you qualify, the more likely the risks of damaging the car are. Elsewhere throughout the weekend, we tested some new parts, played around with different setups and learnt a decent amount. It's quite clear, though, we have some work to do to move away from the midfield, which is where we want to be.
What is the team's approach heading to the second race?
NC: We have some bodywork updates linked to cooling to deal with the heat as well as some mechanical and aero updates: it's about pushing on and developing the cars quickly in order to add performance.