2016 Formula 1 German Grand Prix, Preview
26 July 2016
Renault Sport Formula One Team previews the twelfth race weekend of the 2016 Formula 1 season, the German Grand Prix.
Drivers Jolyon Palmer and Kevin Magnussen share their thoughts on the challenges of the Hockenheimring, while our management and technical staff give the latest on the team and on the R.S.16-R.E.16 package.



We now go to the final race of the first part of the year with our plan back on track. We knew that the first races would be about recovery and setting the foundations, but we had a tougher ride than expected. However in Budapest we demonstrated that we had taken a tangible step forward, not just in our own performance but in relative performance to our rivals. In the race we were able to out race Haas, Sauber and even Force India and Jolyon was just a sniff away from his first points.

Now the task for Hockenheim is translating the extra pace we’ve unlocked into the points we just missed in Budapest. We’re making progress and the benefits of a strong result in the German Grand Prix would be welcomed by everyone at Enstone and Viry.

For the rest of this season, our goal is to attack the teams ahead, using new aero parts developed since the beginning of the season and marginal evolutions of the engine to stay in the same pace as our competitors, despite our focus on 2017.


Cyril Abiteboul, managing director




Constant Craving


A strong race from both drivers in the Hungarian Grand Prix followed a frustrating qualifying session where conditions and red flags conspired to deny the demonstration of the new-found pace in the R.S.16. Team Principal Fred Vasseur gives his take on Hungary and his hopes for Hockenheim.


What’s the target for the German Grand Prix?

It’s always the same; we need to deliver our very best at every level. We saw extra pace in our car in Hungary so we now need to translate that to the points potential we had last weekend.


Were you surprised at the jump in relative performance in Budapest?

I know how hard everyone has been working so I cannot say I am surprised when we show progress. Equally, we know that some tracks, some conditions will suit some cars better than others so we’re not jumping for joy that we’ve found a magic bullet. We could arrive at Hockenheim and find our rivals are doing a better job; we’re doing everything in our power to ensure we deliver as best we can but this is a highly competitive environment with grid positions separated by tiny fractions of a second. From our side, we all have our heads down trying to find every bit of performance for this year and beyond.


Could the team have achieved more in Budapest?

Yes and the nature of motorsport means it’s very seldom that any team delivers the absolute maximum that is possible. Qualifying was frustrating as we had a quick car as shown by our morning pace, but the conditions of qualifying and the red flags didn’t work for us. Of course, we always go over any qualifying session to understand how to get more in similar circumstances if faced with the same scenario again and that is how we improve. In the race both drivers experienced issues; Kevin lost out at the start and Jolyon had a spin from a good position. We’re looking at both of these situations to understand what happened and prevent that happening again.


When will you decide on the driver line-up for 2017?

We are at that time of year when we are asked these questions, but the questions and the speculation often happen before any decision is made. What I can say is we have two good drivers, who are improving weekend after weekend. Let’s not forget that Jolyon is a rookie and that Kevin only had one year driving full-time at McLaren then a year not racing. They are both doing a strong, solid job and work very well within the team. I have a strong relationship with them both and they know what is expected of them. Within the team we are very happy together. We will make our decisions for 2017 in our own time.







Magic Man


Renault Sport Formula One Team’s resident Dane Kevin Magnussen wants to be moving on up in Hockenheim.



What do you think of Hockeinhem?

It’s a great track and the atmosphere there is always awesome. Turn one is very fast and it’s a great way to start what is always an exciting first lap. It’s difficult; you can gain or lose a lot of positions there depending on whether you have a good or bad exit. Do it well and you’ll make up a lot of places down to the next corner. Mess it up and it will be the exact opposite.


There’s good overtaking opportunities down the long straight as well and a massive braking zone, perhaps the biggest one in Formula 1. It’s similar to China in that way. Then the final sector where the circuit goes from being quite wide to being a really old school narrow track and there is a very banked corner, which always makes it quite cool to drive.


What about the old track, ever wish you could have had a go?

I would have loved to have tried that. Anything that’s extreme, I like. The long straight they used to have, the speeds you would be able to reach in our cars… It would be ridiculously fun.


The German Grand Prix is the last race before the shutdown, any plans?

I will be enjoying taking the break day by day, at home in Denmark, and trying to relax with my girlfriend and my dog. The second half of the season is pretty intense with a lot of travel so it’s good to recharge the batteries mentally and physically.


How would you review your season so far?

It’s been a tough season for the whole team but it’s also the start of a big project and a very exciting time to be here. Everything is being rebuilt and growing; the foundation has been set for the future. So I would say I’ve had a very enjoyable year so far and I’m sure it will continue.


Being part of the Renault factory team is fantastic. There are three factory teams in Formula 1 and to be part of one of them is huge. Yes, we are not delivering what we want on track at the moment but we knew that would be the story of this year. We are aiming to be performing in the future, obviously we do our best with what we have now, but I’m sure we’ll see big things from us in the future.


How do you review your Budapest weekend?

The positive thing from Hungary is that we were able to fight higher up the field. We were in there with both Haas and one of the Williams, the car felt better all weekend, and hopefully we will be able to carry this into the season. The work we did at the Silverstone test days clearly improved the car and I think this is something that will help us more at slow-speed tracks rather than high-speed circuits, but it’s certainly encouraging.




So Close


Were it not for a contretemps with Turn 4 on lap 47 of the Hungarian Grand Prix Jolyon Palmer would be heading to Germany with his first Formula 1 points in his pocket. No matter, Hockenheim offers another opportunity.


Firstly, so near yet so far; what happened in Hungary?

It’s painful to look back on. I was well-placed in P10, I had the pace on those around me and I was driving really within myself.  I wasn’t exactly hanging anything out and hadn’t had any big moments, everything was under control but then I lost the car in Turn 4. It’s difficult for me to understand why. I hadn’t experienced oversteer the whole race in that corner and then I turned in and lost the car completely. I had a massive snap and then I was pointing backwards.


Aside from that one moment, how was the rest of the Budapest weekend?

The weekend was perfect apart from that one corner. It was easily my best race ever. The strategy was really good. The pit stops fantastic. Everything came together. The good news is that we didn’t luck into our performance, which shows we have the pace and can do it again. We’ve made a big breakthrough so I think it will carry on for another couple of races. My first F1 points were there for the taking in Hungary and I didn’t take them. I’m very eager to redress that situation in Germany.


What are your thoughts on Hockenheim?

It’s a circuit I haven’t raced at so much, as I’ve raced there only for two weekends previously. The two big features that stand out are the very long straight and the stadium section. Despite the changes to it over the years, it still has a really old-school feel to it, especially the arena section, which is very narrow and how close the fans can be there as well. It has a really nice flow, especially the second half of the lap, and a lot of slow and medium speed corners, which I quite like.


Do you enjoy racing in Germany?

There are a lot of passionate fans who come from all over the country and they really know how to enjoy the weekend. The campsites can be quite something to behold. It’s the last race before the August break so I may well treat myself to a nice German beer on the Sunday night.




Step by Step


The boost in relative performance shown in Budapest comes from the hard graft in Enstone and Viry. Technical Director Nick Chester explains the challenge to maintain momentum at the Hockenheimring.


The team seemed to make progress on pace in Hungary? How was this achieved?

There are a number of factors to be optimistic about after our visit to the Hungaroring. We were in a position to get a point for Jolyon on pace and it wasn’t a race of attrition so it was a genuine performance.


We have found quite a lot of this pace in the car both from new components and from different approaches to set-up. We learnt a lot at the Silverstone test and this is filtering through. We’re certainly getting a better balance with the car to use the tyres more efficiently and we’re also making improvements in low-speed and medium-speed corners. The race pace showed that FP3 was not an illusion.


Is there more to come?

We have further advances in the same direction. There are a few more parts to go on the car and we’re learning at every race so we would like to see some further improvement.


What’s the technical approach to Hockenheim?

It is a combination of low and high speed corners but also with some decent straights. The low and medium speed stadium section is key to a good lap time. The downforce levels are more familiar than the extra high levels of downforce we used in Hungary,


We’ll be working on trying to generate grip in the low speed corners. To do this we look at the mechanical and aero sides of the car. Mechanically it’s about how you balance the car, how you proportion the stiffness in front and rear suspension and how you set it up to get a good mixture of the car being stable and having enough front end for the low speed corners.  Aerodynamically it’s about adding downforce to the car which works in the low speed corners where the car has higher rideheights. We are going to have a few new parts to try which should give us some benefit too.


What’s the potential in Hockenheim?

The outlook is fairly similar to a lot of other places. The requirements are not hugely specific and the most similar requirements from a recent circuit would be Austria. We expect a fairly similar outlook to there plus the added performance we’ve managed to unlock from the car.


How far advanced is the 2017 programme?

Most of our departments are focused on 2017; we have a strong wind tunnel programme, we’re refining the car layout, the schematics are all in progress for the car. It’s a massive change for 2017 with a wide car, wide tyres, a completely different aero package, the loadings into the chassis are different, the power unit is different, the layout at the back of the chassis is different; there’s a tremendous amount of work to be done. It is a very exciting challenge and very motivating for the design team




Circuit notes


T2 – a stable car under braking is needed into Turn 2 to allow a clean exit and strong traction on to the fastest part of the track.


T3-T4 – good change of direction demanded from the car with the rear end settling nicely on the exit of the latter to enable good acceleration on to the straight.


T6 – an important corner with drivers braking from high speed into what is the slowest corner on the circuit. Strong traction required on exit.


T7 – taken at high speed, flat out with low fuel but slightly more tricky with heavy fuel loads.


T10 – off camber and a challenge to get right. Towards the end of the race it can be taken almost flat out with a good car but it’s far more of a challenge with a heavy car.


High downforce required through the low speed stadium section of Turns 12 to 17, this section is narrow meaning overtaking is difficult.




Power Unit notes

Approximately 65% of the lap is spent at full throttle thanks to the four long straights. The Parabolika straight is over 1km long, putting it on a par with the longer straights of the season in China and Abu Dhabi. Power units will spend over 14 seconds at full throttle, one of the longest single outright times of the year.


Drivers will reach over 290kph on three occasions (or over 300kph on two occasions) during the first two thirds of the lap. The ICE and turbo are therefore subject to heavy loading.


Energy recovery under braking is relatively easy since the straights are linked by medium to low speed corners such as the Hairpin and the old Stadium complex. This is good news as far as carbon fuel consumption is concerned.


The latter part of the lap, which includes a slow 60kph hairpin, a right hand flick and then the renowned stadium section, is taken at a much lower average speed than the first part of the lap. The tight, twisty nature of this part of the track demands good braking stability and engine torque response, particularly through the stadium, which is taken at an average of 200kph.


With such large loads going through every part of the Power Unit, everything will get very hot. High ambient temperatures will only compound this challenge. To prevent against any potential overheating issues it is likely teams will run a different cooling configuration and use the PU elements in a slightly different way.


Tyre choice


Medium: Rye bread – tough, hard and gives lots of energy to last a long time.


Soft: A semi-hard exterior, which gives way to a soft, silky inside, just like a pretzel.


Supersoft: Just like a black forest gateau, they look great but don’t tend to last a long time.



Memory Lane

Renault has scored many wins at Hockenheim over the years, but arguably none was more popular – or indeed surprising – than that earned by Gerhard Berger for Benetton in 1997. It was to be the last F1 victory for the Austrian driver, who retired from the sport at the end of that season. After being away for two months with illness Berger returned to the cockpit for the German GP. He took pole position ahead of Jordan rookie Giancarlo Fisichella. Rain before the start made it an unpredictable race, and it quickly became clear that Fisichella and Berger were on very different strategies. An accident for Fisico late in the race put paid to the battle, and Berger eventually crossed the line 17.5s clear of Michael Schumacher. He also picked up fastest lap, making it a remarkable clean sweep. The win was a good boost for the Benetton team, who had not won since Schumacher left. Remarkably it would also be the last win for the team until a certain Fernando Alonso triumphed – under the Renault name – in the 2003 Hungarian GP.


Quirky facts

According to the 1996 Guinness Book of World Records, the longest word published in the German language is Donaudampfschifffahrtselektrizitätenhauptbetriebswerkbauunterbeamtengesellschaft. It has a whopping 79 letters and means Association for subordinate officials of the head office management of the Danube steamboat electrical services.


The fabled German Autobahn network has no federally mandated speed limits, although a lot of sections have mandatory or temporary restrictions. However an estimate reported that 52% of the autobahn network is still unlimited.


Average annual meat consumption per person in Germany is 61kg. There are more than 1,500 different types of sausage, with common varieties including the Bratwurst, made of pork and herbs, Currywurst, served with curried ketchup, and Blutwurst, made with blood.


There are more than 1,300 breweries in Germany making more than 5,000 different types of beer. The ubiquitous Pils beer holds a roughly 60% market share while Weissbier, the most popular beer style in Bavaria, holds about a 10% market share.


Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany since 2005, was ranked as the world’s second most powerful person in Forbes magazine in 2012. In 2009, Mattel celebrated 50 years of Barbie by producing an Angela Merkel Barbie doll.



Renault Sport Academy Roundup

Last weekend was a character-building weekend for the Academy drivers. The bar was set incredibly high after strong performances all round in Silverstone, but most endured frustrating races. Nevertheless all remain motivated to end the first part of the season on a high.


Oliver Rowland

Oliver headed to Hungary leading the GP2 championship by one point. Starting an uncharacteristic P17 in the feature race he battled back at a track where overtaking is practically impossible to cross the line in eleventh. Starting P11 for the sprint race gave him a tall order, but he salvaged a hard-earned top six finish. Sadly he dropped back to fourth in the standings but heads to Hockenheim in a determined mood.


“Leading the championship going into Budapest was a good position to be in. We knew we had to improve our qualifying pace in order to keep this position. Unfortunately we went in a different direction with set-up and, traffic coupled with nothing special from my side, we ended up way down in P17.


“In Race 1, we made good progress and finished P11 with fastest lap but I still felt we could improve more. In the second race the car was much better and I had a good start, getting up to P6. We had the pace to move forward but Budapest is very difficult to overtake. P6 is still some valuable points.


“We now head to Hockenheim for Round 7, where I am confident we can have a decent showing. Thanks again to Renault Sport Academy for their continued support and help.”


Jack Aitken

Jack delivered more points from the Hungarian weekend. He was all over the rear of debutant Arjun Maini for eighth position in the feature race but the Indian managed to withstand the pressure and Jack remained ninth. He finished fourth on the road on Sunday, but a post race time penalty for causing a collision with Koiranen GP’s Ralph Boschung dropped him down to sixth.


“We got some more solid points from the weekend. It was a shame about the harsh penalty on Sunday after a good start moved us up to P4 from P9. Onto Hockenheim where we will keep moving forward.”


Kevin Joerg

Swiss racer Kevin Joerg converted eleventh on the grid to points with tenth in Race One. Frustratingly he was within touching distance of eighth, which would have given him pole position on the partially-reversed Race Two grid. He gained a further spot on Sunday morning to finish ninth after another mistake-free race.


“We made a good step in the right direction this weekend. In practice my pace on old tyres was really good. On new tyres it didn’t go perfectly, but still I was not far off from the front. We made a good step with the car for qualifying, but the red flag put us in a bad position and I qualified P11. In both races I had good pace but overtaking was nearly impossible and I finished P10 and P9.”


Louis Delétraz

Louis also endured a frustrating weekend of racing at the Formula V8 3.5 Silverstone round. Tenth in the first race and sixth in the second nevertheless delivered some crucial points.


“Silverstone was not the best weekend for me. Some technical issues restrained us over the weekend. We scored points in both races but I wanted much more. Next race at Red Bull Ring should suit us more and I am more motivated than ever to get back on top.”




Renault Sport Formula One Team Third, Reserve and Test Driver Action


Esteban Ocon was in the Renault Sport Formula One Team hot seat for the first free practice of the Hungarian Grand Prix weekend while Sergey Sirotkin and Nicholas Latifi raced in GP2.


Esteban Ocon

Esteban arrived in Budapest after a busy weekend of racing in Zandvoort in the DTM. The Frenchman scored his first points of the season with ninth in race one, but came home seventeenth in the second race. He deputised for Kevin Magnussen in the opening free practice in Budapest, setting the eighteenth quickest time after 28 laps.


Sergey Sirotkin

Sergey put his title challenge back on track with a win in the GP2 Sprint Race at the Hungaroring. The Russian set a string of fastest laps to win by almost five seconds from Jordan King. Sergey had opened his strong weekend with a podium in Saturday’s feature race.


Nicholas Latifi

Nicholas was unable to add to his points tally in Hungary after a difficult weekend. The Canadian was sixteenth in the feature race. Starting twelfth for the Sprint race he ran wide early on and lost positions but battled back to regain his starting position by the flag.