F1: 2016 Chinese GP Preview – Renault Sport

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F1: 2016 Chinese GP Preview – Renault Sport

2016 FORMULA 1 PIRELLI CHINESE GRAND PRIX

FOREWORD

Cyril Abiteboul

In the first two races we were the first car to finish outside the points. This gives us a clear illustration of our target – to finish in the points – and know what we need to do to achieve this. China is an exciting market for us and one were Groupe Renault has big plans in progress. For Renault Sport we have exciting announcements to make. We have a new partner, a new partner initiative and also a credible and sustainable project which we hope will deliver some very exciting results over a long time frame. The first two races have given us a guide to where we sit relative to our immediate opposition. We have all the reasons in the world to push in 2016; although this is a long term plan we are by no means ignoring our first season.

 

 

Q&A with Fred Vasseur

THE PUSH AND DRIVE IS STRONG

“We know it’s a long term project, but that doesn’t mean we will sit back.”

 

Two races into the season, what are your observations of watching the team in action?

Honestly, I can say I am impressed. The push and drive from the team is strong. That is not to say there are not improvements to be made. As everyone is learning, I am a stern taskmaster and there are many elements and details we’ll address. The key to success in motor racing is not just one aspect, it’s focusing on every detail. By making many small improvements we will work forwards.

 

Where do you rate the performance on track?

We are generally where we expected to be, but equally some way short of where we all want to be. We know it’s a long term project, but that doesn’t mean we will sit back. I want everyone fighting as hard for the position in front whether it’s P10 or P1. That’s how we’ll regain the success we want. In terms of race pace there are positive signs; we’re not so far from Williams and we’re not so far from finishing with points.

 

This is a long term project; how much is the focus on this season and how much on the future?

Either way, the focus is on being successful and delivering our maximum. We know that it’s unlikely that we will be on the podium or win races in 2016, but that is certainly our longer term aim. That doesn’t mean we are sitting back. We are determined to get the very best results at every race. We are racers, we will push.

 

What did you think of the driver performance in Bahrain?

Kevin’s race was similar to the one he had in Melbourne. He started from right at the back and pushed all the way. He showed strong racecraft and delivered a consistent mistake-free race. We know he is well aware of the weighbridge rules for the future so we’re confident we won’t get the same penalty again. Jolyon on the other hand was not able to demonstrate his performance and that’s because of a component on the car failing. Clearly no-one wanted this to happen and it’s something we are addressing. We’re all very sorry there was just one car in action for the race.

 

What are the next targets?

We have finished both races so far as the first car outside of the points so inside the points is where we need to be. For this we don’t only need to add performance to the car, we need to ensure our weekends are mistake-free in every aspect.

 

 

Q&A with Kevin Magnussen

GIVE ME A NORMAL RACE

“I really want to get those first points on the board.”

 

What’s your outlook heading to the third race of the season?

I’m really excited and I really want to get those first points on the board. Give me a normal race with no puncture and no penalty and I think we can do that!

 

What are your previous memories of racing in the Chinese Grand Prix?

My race in 2014 wasn’t the best, I struggled with the car I had, meaning I finished in thirteenth position. Certainly I’m hoping for a better result on my second visit.

 

You’ve pushed very hard in the first two races with very promising race pace but it’s been ‘close but no cigar’in terms of points. Is that frustrating?

It is pretty frustrating! That’s how it is in racing sometimes, but we are very close so that does give motivation. The car feels really good. Of course, we want more downforce and more power, but show me a race driver who doesn’t ask for that! Naturally I’m enjoying being back behind the wheel, pushing hard and overtaking, but you have so much work to do from the back that you can have a very strong race yet still finish in eleventh. If we start further up the order and don’t have a first lap incident good things can happen.

 

What are your thoughts on the layout of the Shanghai International Circuit?

The layout is interesting but it is a very wide circuit and there’s so much run-off area, it doesn’t feel as spectacular as it could be. It does have some really good fast corners; the entry to turn one is special in particular, you enter it from the fastest part of the track and by the end of what is a pretty long corner you’re at about 60kph!

 

Where’s the overtaking potential?

There are two DRS straights so that’s obviously where you look first for overtaking opportunities. The biggest chance is into the first turn as the DRS zone starts very late on the start-finish straight so you can get close to the car in front. That said, I’m always going to go for any opportunity no matter where it presents itself on a lap!

 

What’s the target this time?

We know our weaknesses and perhaps Shanghai’s not going to be the friendliest track for us in terms of these but I still think that if we have a good race we can challenge for points. I’m really pumped and excited.

 

 

Q&A with Jolyon Palmer

A GOOD CRACK AT THE TOP TEN

 “Overall the feeling within the team is great.”

 

What’s the challenge of the Shanghai International Circuit?

I drove it last year in FP1 so I have a reasonable idea about the track. You can get pretty low temperatures there so there’s the challenge of long corners too, which means front tyre graining. It’s almost the exact opposite of Bahrain, which is rear limited.

 

There are some very technical corners, like turn one that is pretty unique as it goes pretty much back on itself, on to the back straight, which is another long corner that induces graining on the front left. The straight is very long and there’s DRS so in the race you’ll be looking to be as close as possible to the car ahead to slipstream and make a move, then you’re considering your braking point. It’s one of the longest straights on the calendar and it’s right at the end of the lap. You really need to maximise the potential; you can’t afford to mess it up. The long straight means the tyres are being cooled and the brakes are being cooled; both of which you need to be working at their best when you get into the corner.

 

Does the layout lend itself to racing?

There are two sides to the track, you’ve got the really long straight with heavy braking at the end, then there’s the double DRS zones into the first corner as well so there’s overtaking opportunities there. The middle sector is more about high speed corners where it’s not so easy to follow the car ahead but the corner itself provides the challenge. There’ll always be the element of looking after the tyres in Shanghai

 

Two race weekends in, is everything as you expected?

Australia was a really good way to kick off the year and we were a little bit ahead of where we thought we’d be so all the pre-season preparation had paid off well. Bahrain was more challenging as it was a weekend where nothing really clicked but overall the feeling within the team is great.

 

What’s your feedback from Bahrain?

There were a few minor issues, which meant we weren’t able to optimise performance but we should have it all addressed for China. The car has a wellbalanced baseline and all we need is a little bit more performance. This is exactly what we have coming in the future, so everything’s good.

 

How frustrating was it seeing your race evaporate away before you could take to the grid for the start?

I was pretty gutted! You complete the entire race weekend, all the practice sessions, qualifying, all the debriefs and all that work for a race and to miss even the race start – when there’s the most adrenalin of the weekend, and the part you most look forward to – is really frustrating. The warm-up lap all went to plan, I was getting the tyres where I wanted them, then suddenly in the second to last corner I realised the hydraulic problem as the brakes, then the steering and then the gears went. It was disappointing for me and disappointing for the entire team. The thing about a Grand Prix is that there’s only one race on the weekend – whereas in every other series I’ve contested there is more than one race – so if you have a problem, that’s it; game over. To be packing up before you’ve seen the lights go off is disappointing.

 

Watching the race from the garage, what were your thoughts?

We knew that the race pace was going to be better than the qualifying pace so I was looking forward to moving up the order, just like we saw Kevin do. I think we should have both been able to have a good crack at the top ten.

 

 

Q&A with Nick Chester

A TANGIBLE STEP FORWARD

“We need to maximise every opportunity.”

 

What’s the challenge of the Shanghai International Circuit?

China is an interesting circuit in terms of layout. The sensitivity is akin to the first two races, in that they’re all heavy power tracks so the relationship between drag, aero and power are similar but they each have unique aspects. The high speed first corner leading into tighter turn two and three is challenging for drivers with a variety of possible driving lines.

 

What went wrong for Jolyon in Bahrain?

It was a hydraulic pump that failed which is an extremely rare occurrence. The pump was just over a tenth of the way through its normal working life; usually if a component fails it’s very early in its life or near the end. We’re working with our supplier to ascertain the cause and have quarantined the batch of components until we can understand the issue. It was a great shame for Jolyon to have missed the race like that.

 

What’s the feedback from Kevin’s race?

It was good race from Kevin to finish just shy of the points from a pit-lane start to eleventh. He didn’t put a foot wrong and the three-stop strategy worked well. The R.S.16 performed well on the super softs in the race. Were it not for the penalty, Kevin should have started from a reasonable position on the grid and that could well have led to points.

 

Where’s the performance of the R.S.16 relative to the opposition?

On race pace there’s a very close group in the midfield; we saw this in Australia and we saw this in Bahrain. It means we need to maximise every opportunity we have and every performance increase we can find could mean the difference between finishing just shy of the points or scoring. Our qualifying pace has been behind our race pace in relative terms, so this is an area of focus, but one which goes hand-in-hand with the target of overall performance gains.

 

How much has been learnt with the new tyres and tyre rules?

We’re learning the compounds and how best to manage the potential allocations. It’s not been a huge surprise that everyone tends to run more on a softer compound than last year. There are different strategies available for those who want to do a stop less and run on a harder compound like we saw in Bahrain. There’s some variance but generally teams are dropping down one compound.

 

Anything in the treat cupboard for round three?

We do have some small aero parts to try, however we will have more further down the line with more aero and engine updates which should mean a tangible step forward. There’s a tight spread of cars ahead of us so we don’t need a lot to make a decent improvement.

 

 

Circuit data, Shanghai

 

For China most teams have opted for a mix of the three compounds available – Medium, Soft and Supersoft. Laptime and degradation evaluation will be carried out during the second practice session to determine the best race strategy – a two stop using medium and soft or perhaps a more aggressive three stop with soft and supersoft.

– Alan Permane, Trackside Operations Director

 

Medium

The Egg Fried Rice of the Pirelli tyre selection. A solid ingredient to any race weekend but certainly not the most punchy of tyres.

Soft

The Crispy Aromatic Duck of the round rubber rings. Delivers good things but doesn’t always last as long as you’d want.

Supersoft

The Sweet and Sour of the tyre allocation. Sweet when it delivers its peak performance. Sour when its shorter performance life ends.

Circuit notes

 

Turn 1

The first corner complex sees the track tighten back on itself, with the driver braking and shifting down through the gears. The driver will be on the brakes for some 3secs in this complex, but the track can be bumpy and unsettle the car especially in the entry phase. Turn 1 leads straight into turn 2 and can be viewed as a single, increasing radius corner which places a lot of load on the front tyres. Good tyre management here helps with tyre durability.

 

Turn 7

A high speed spoon curve taken in seventh or eighth gear. The g-forces here are around 4g as the driver accelerates while turning. Good high speed change of direction required from the car.

 

Turn 9

Braking into turn 9 is tricky – transition from high speed corners into heavy braking. Exit is important as it sets the car up for turn ten on to the following straight.

 

Turn 11

The Turn 11 to 13 complex is a mirror image of the first corner and the driver will again be on the brakes for another 2secs, giving another significant opportunity to recharge the battery.

 

Turn 13

The exit from Turn 13 is critical as the 1.3km back straight sees the ICE at maximum revs and wide open throttle for around 20secs, or approximately 20% of the lap. Getting a good exit is not easy though as the corner is banked.

 

Turn 14

The hairpin at the end of the straight requires the drivers to brake from over 320kph to just 60kph. The energy going through the brakes at this point will be massive – an average of 700kW over the 3secs braking distance. Although this is one of a few heavy braking areas around the track, these are well spread over a lap so the brakes have sufficient time to cool – it’s not a harsh track on braking.

 

 

Power Unit notes

  • The two long straights and bursts between corners bring the total percentage of wide open throttle time to over 40% of one lap.
  • Shanghai is unusual as there is a very long straight, but a relatively low percentage of the lap is spent at full throttle. This dichotomy is quite unusual as most circuits are one or the other: either a ‘power track’ such as Monza or Montreal, or ‘driveability track’ such as Hungary or Monaco.
  • The average speed over a lap will be 200kph, putting Shanghai in the middle of the table for lap speeds.
  • Race fuel saving will be low, one of the easiest tracks of the year in this respect.
  • Shanghai is one of the most efficient circuits and close to the maximum amount of energy will be stored in the battery per lap. This will allow us to optimize the amount of energy transferred directly from the H to the K or to the battery.
  • 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. Air filters and the turbo will be checked after each practice session to prevent blockages and, therefore, a relative loss of power.

 

Technical notes

Circuit length:                            5.451km

Race distance:                          305.066km

Race start time:                         14:00

Full throttle time per lap :           46s in Q and 43s in the race

Fuel consumption:                     1.78 kg/lap with no lift-off required

Energy recovery :                     Recovered by the MGUK in brake phase is 1.4MJ with possibility of recovering the maximum FIA allowed 2MJ with overload (using the ICE to charge the battery via the K in part throttle)

Longest time spent at full throttle: 20s on the back straight

Percentage of lap spent braking: 23%

Pitlane length:                           350m

Brakewear:                                Low

Difficulty for PU :                      Medium

Aero level:                                Medium

 

Shanghai Notes

We know Shanghai is large, but it is actually the biggest city in the world by population. It is also the largest container port. More than 24 million people live in the city.

 

Noel Coward wrote a play in Shanghai. Private Lives was written in the Cathay Hotel (now Peace Hotel) in 1930.

 

Since 1921, Shanghai has lost over 180cm in height due to growing skyscrapers and an ever-increasing population. Ironic considering Shanghai means ‘on top of the sea.’

 

Shanghai cooking is sweeter than other areas in China and they consume more sugar than any other part of China.

 

The Shanghai Maglev train has a top operational commercial speed of 431 km/h (268 mph), but it has been known to reach 501 km/h (311 mph). A current generation Formula 1 car in its lowest drag configuration with a long straight could probably hit 360 km/h (223mph), but it would obliterate the train though the corners.

 

Back in the 1930s, when the Foreign YMCA on Nanjing Lu was a popular leisure destination, men and women swam on alternate days, because the men insisted on swimming naked.

 

Hundreds of Shanghainese parents assemble in People’s Park every weekend for the Shanghai marriage market with the resumes of their unwed children to negotiate potential hook-ups.

 

Memory Lane

The 2005 Chinese Grand Prix, the race of that season, was won by the newly-crowned World Champion, Fernando Alonso, driving for Renault. His win meant Renault won the Constructors’ Championship. It was the final race to be won by a car with a six-speed gearbox.

 

What we’ve been up to…

Jolyon has been spending time back in the UK after his two weeks in Australia integrating with the surfer community followed by his rather short Bahrain Grand Prix. He’s been at Enstone in the simulator and training hard.

 

Kevin’s been focused on his training back in Denmark since Bahrain as well as playing the traffic light recognition game.

 

Esteban left Bahrain before the Grand Prix to be in action in the DTM test in Hockenheim. Esteban drove on the first and second days of the test, Tuesday and Wednesday, in sometimes damp conditions ahead of the season start at the same venue on the weekend of May 6-8.

 

 

What we will get up to this week

Wednesday in Shanghai sees the Shanghai Renault Sport Night taking place at Bar Rouge on The Bund where drivers and management will announce an exciting new initiative for motorsport in Asia as well as the plans from high profile partners.

 

Jolyon will be looking forward to sweet and sour chicken with egg-fried rice whilst Kevin prefers to visit his favourite Japanese restaurant in Shanghai.

 

 

2018-07-17T23:08:10+00:00April 9th, 2016|Chinese Grand Prix, Formula One, Renault Sport|