After a great run from Renault and driver Kevin Magnussen in Russia, the team head toward the European leg of the calendar with renewed vigor and a raft of new pieces.
We have spoken of a new iteration of power unit for Red Bull Racing in Canada this year when the re-badged Renault, now called a TAG, will see a major upgrade but Renault certainly aren’t waiting to upgrade their engine as Nick Chester reveals:
Q&A with Nick Chester
NEW FLOORS, NEW CHASSIS, NEW PARTS
Renault Sport Formula One Team Chassis Technical Director Nick Chester talks Russia, new bits and predicts what could be in store for Barcelona.
Was there a revolution in the team’s performance in Russia?
In China there were a lot of factors that worked against us and in contrast, in Russia there were a lot of factors that were beneficial to us. It illustrated the importance of having a completely straightforward weekend with no issues to deal with – whether in the practice sessions or in the race. Getting all the data from practice is important: we did that in Russia so our engineers were better placed to make the best set-up calls. On top of that we were able to show decent race pace and capitalise on the events around us in the race and get a strong result. Kevin drove a brilliant race with other cars breathing down his neck; he did everything he could and seventh was the result. On the other side of the garage, Jolyon was much happier with his car so we’re in a good place heading to Spain.
What elements would you add to the post-race debrief?
The Sochi Autodrom is unusual in the respect that it’s tricky for tyres. Getting the tyres into the correct temperature operating window is a particular challenge and we saw all teams paying particular attention to this over the weekend. In qualifying there are some approaches used like a fast-slow-fast sequence of laps to try to get both front and rear tyres in the correct working window. We made good progress in this regard. Then for the race it was a real positive to see a Melbourne-level of race pace return.
Jolyon seems to have made good progress with getting his car back to where it should be?
Jolyon was much happier in his car on Saturday in Sochi and this translated to a stronger performance over the weekend. As part of our assessments to get his car to work better for him we changed the floor, which is a very important aerodynamic aspect of the car. This looks to have delivered what we wanted so a positive step was made. For Spain Jolyon will run with a new chassis – R.S.16-03 which we used at our filming day this week to shake down.
What else do we have new for Barcelona?
For the race we have an updated rear wing as well as some updates for the front wing. For the test we have a full raft of things to try; new suspension, further aero updates over various areas of the car, some mods to cooling as well as evaluating the B-spec power unit, so we should have a full two days.
Is Barcelona likely to be cruel or kind to the team?
We fared decently in relative terms at pre-season testing there and when you look at the qualities required for a handy car around the circuit there are no initial fears from our side. That’s not to say we wouldn’t welcome some more downforce, but there’s potential as we currently stand.