FORMULA 1 2018 CANADIAN GRAND PRIX PREVIEW
Foreword from Renault Sport Racing Managing Director, Cyril Abiteboul
The Monaco Grand Prix is always a test for teams, chassis and engines, both in performance and in reliability. We left there with mixed feelings. We got both drivers to the finish to score double points – it was a welcome return to the top ten for Nico after two tough races, while Carlos maintained his run. In fact, only he, Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel have scored in the last four events.
However, we also exposed some of our weaknesses. We know we have to work on tyre management and optimising qualifying to provide our drivers with less challenging circumstances for them to perform at their best. These finer points are now the focus; by and large we are performing well, but these details can make the difference between scoring points and finishing just outside.
We therefore look forward to Canada with optimism; we have the next stage of our power unit development scheduled and a number of aero and mechanical upgrades. Canada is a tough race, but we need to pull together to make the most of every opportunity.
Under the radar
After the team’s third double-points finish of the season in Monaco, focus immediately switches to Montréal, a track which places emphasis on power, balancing downforce and heavy braking, as Chassis Technical Director Nick Chester reveals.
What can we expect when we arrive in Canada?
It’s a track which isn’t used very much, so it’s usually a pretty dirty surface when we start running on it. It’s very much a traction circuit, as there are quite a few slow corners and then some big long straights. Canada is about power and traction. You need a lower downforce set-up level, as you also need that straight-line speed. Striking a downforce balance can be quite difficult, but we’re usually pretty good at working out what level to run when we get there. Kerb riding too is important, and we need to get the car low and stiff to balance between the best aero and getting the car riding the kerbs. Kerb riding is important but we need to optimise rideheights for the aero platform so there is a balance to be struck between aero performance and getting the car riding the kerbs.
Is it difficult to manage a flyaway race in between the busy European segment of the calendar?
The logistics are slightly harder for Canada, as you have to pack up earlier and get it freighted out there. It’s going to be more difficult afterwards as we will need to get everything back ready for the triple header. It’s going to be a challenge and a big job.
Will there be anything new for the Renault R.S.18 in Montréal?
There’s a B-spec engine for Canada and we’re looking forward to that, as it should bring a bit more performance. There are a few bodywork updates too with some rear wing end plates, as well as small changes to the front wing. We’re trying to bring things to the track at every race.
How do we look back on Monaco?
Overall, it was a decent weekend with both cars scoring points. Nico recovered well in the race and worked his strategy very well. Carlos endured heavy tyre degradation to his fronts and had to settle for tenth. It’s important that we keep chipping away at points, and we’ve done that in Monaco.
Back in Business
Nico Hülkenberg made a return to the points last time out with a hard-fought eighth place. Now the German is determined to follow that up in Canada for the seventh Grand Prix of the 2018 season.
What are your thoughts on the Canadian Grand Prix?
Canada is a fantastic weekend. The city, the atmosphere and the circuit itself all make it an enjoyable Grand Prix. The track has a nice flow to it, despite being slightly green and dirty when we arrive as it’s part street, part race track. There are big walls on the exit of corners, as well as some kerbs to ride. It’s an enjoyable lap to drive.
What does the car have to go through in Montréal?
Canada is about top speed and finding the right downforce balance. There are a couple of long straights with hard braking zones at the end of them. It’s probably one of the toughest circuits out there for brakes, and you need confidence to be able to stop at the same rate, lap after lap, especially when you’re trying to go deep into corners. Setting up the car to ride kerbs in Canada is also important to ensure a fast lap time.
What’s the Canadian atmosphere like to experience?
It’s usually a really good atmosphere in Canada, you can see how much the locals relish Formula 1 when it comes to town and we always receive a nice reception there. The hairpin is where you feel that buzz, as you’re surrounded by grandstands and that creates a lot of noise!
Where can a race be won and lost in Canada?
Overtaking opportunities are fairly limited in Canada, but the final chicane is the best place to send one! In fact, it’s probably the place which can make or break a lap. Strategy could be interesting again, as we’ll be running the Hypersoft tyre, like in Monaco. There’ll be some options in that area, and lap times are likely to be very fast!
How does The Hulk reflect on Monaco?
We bounced back well after missing Q3 in Monaco, making the most of a reverse strategy for some good points in the race. I think it was a bright weekend overall and important for the team to have both cars inside the top ten. Now we want to build on that by repeating it in Montréal, only slightly higher up the order!
Consistency is key
After a fourth points-scoring finish in a row in Monaco, Carlos Sainz heads to Canada targeting another strong finish to add to his collection.
What do you like about Montréal?
Montréal is one of my favourite cities to visit on the Grand Prix calendar. There are many good restaurants to visit, especially some great steakhouses, and I really enjoy it there! The entrance to the Paddock in Canada is unique as you have to walk on a floating bridge to cross the lake. It’s a cool race weekend!
What’s the circuit like to drive?
It’s certainly a different circuit, quite similar to Melbourne in a way, as it’s a mix of a street and a permanent track. The circuit is usually dirty with leaves and even wildlife during the early parts of the weekend and that makes it a bit of a challenge to get up to speed. I quite like the section between turns four, five, six and seven. The walls are close and you have to find the rhythm through there to get it right and ride over the kerbs. Last but not least, you have the Wall of Champions, the final chicane, another legendary circuit corner on the calendar!
You must be pleased with four points-scoring finishes in a row?
I think it’s positive that we’re looking competitive and scoring points at the past few races. It’s important to keep scoring points and adding to the tally. Now it’s about building on this consistency and placing ourselves higher inside the top ten. Bring on Canada and continuing this positive stride.
Renault Sport Racing
Markelov storms to Formula 2 Monaco victory
Renault Sport Formula One Team’s Test & Development Driver Artem Markelov claimed his second FIA Formula 2 race win of the season after a Feature race masterclass in Monaco.
Artem kept a cool head and executed his strategy to perfection to take the flag by over ten seconds. The Russian lined up third on the grid, keeping that place in the early stages, before the two leaders collided entering the pits.
That put Artem into the lead, and he pulled out a gap at the front, managing his tyres until six laps from the end before pitting for his mandatory stop. The race was as good as won by that point, as the 23-year-old cruised across the line for his second win in the Principality.
Third & Reserve Driver Jack Aitken finished seventh in the Feature race, after a strong outing from ninth on the grid. He lined up on the front row for the Sprint, but a throttle sensor issue forced him to retire on lap two.
Artem Markelov: “I’m really happy with the weekend, and I’d like to thank everybody from Renault Sport Formula One Team and Russian Time for the support. I made a nice start in race one and after the crash between Albon and De Vries, I was told to keep pushing and control the tyres. I did that quite well, and took first place by ten seconds. In race two, I made a much better start and overtook two cars by turn one. We fought to the last lap and got past Maini for fourth but couldn’t quite get Delétraz for third.”
Jack Aitken: “Overall, it was a frustrating weekend in Monaco. We had a really good first practice with fourth and looked like we would be in the fight for pole. Qualifying didn’t really go as expected, we had a lot of traffic and were blocked on all our laps. We started tenth in race one and worked our way up to seventh with a good strategy and it meant we were on the front row for the next day. Sadly, we had a throttle body sensor failure, which meant we had to retire, so that was disappointing, especially as our rivals struggled. We’re happy we’re showing good pace at the moment as we go to Paul Ricard in June.”
Double podium for Martins in Monaco
Renault Sport Academy Driver Victor Martins sealed two third place finishes in an impressive weekend in Monaco in the Formula Renault Eurocup.
Victor bounced back from a crash in qualifying at Saint Devote, qualifying third and fourth for the two races. He held that place in the opening race, before darting past Yifei Ye on the exit of turn one in race two for his second podium of the weekend.
Christian Lundgaard remains second in the Drivers’ Championship after taking two fifth place finishes, with Max Fewtrell recovering from a frustrating qualifying session to secure seventh and eighth. Arthur Rougier enjoyed his best finish of the season with 14th in race two.
Victor Martins: “I think this is the best result I could have hoped for following qualifying. It was an encouraging weekend overall. These first podiums in the Formula Renault Eurocup are exactly what I need to be full of confidence. I can feel the tide turning!”
Christian Lundgaard: “It was such a nice experience to drive around the streets in Monaco! The weekend itself wasn’t the best, as we narrowly missed out on pole position and we knew qualifying would go a long way to deciding the race results. I tried my best in the races, but we had to think about the championship and I claimed some decent points to still be in the title fight.”
Max Fewtrell: “Monaco was disappointing with results, but it was damage limitation as soon as the yellow flag came out in qualifying and took away our chance of starting on pole position. We gained a few places in both races and I think around Monaco that was all we could have hoped for. Moving onto Red Bull Ring now, we have a long summer break and I can’t wait to get back to racing.”
Arthur Rougier: “It was really awesome to drive around the streets of Monaco supporting the Formula 1 Grand Prix. I wasn’t able to find the limit early on in the weekend, and that meant I didn’t have a great qualifying session. In race one, I had to pit after a crash, but after that I saw really good pace in the car. In race two, we started fifteenth and finished fourteenth, on a track which is nearly impossible to overtake.”
Fenestraz back in Formula 3 action in Hungary
Sacha Fenestraz is aiming to keep his FIA European Formula 3 Championship lead, as the series heads to Hungary for round two.
The French-Argentine Driver sits at the top of the standings after an excellent start to the season at round one in Pau in mid-May, where he took a debut victory in challenging conditions on the Pyrenees streets.
Sacha Fenestraz: “I’m really looking forward to this weekend and we’ve already been to Budapest this season for testing and the pace was quite good. We know other teams will be fast there too. As always, we’ll work really hard to fly the Renault colours on top. I’ve been working hard on the simulator to prepare and I hope to put as many points on the board as possible for the championship.”
Academy Focus…Victor Martins
Victor Martins signed with the Renault Sport Academy in January after a promising debut single-seater season in French Formula 4 last year. The French teen is racing with R-ace GP in the Formula Renault Eurocup Championship in 2018 and currently sits sixth in the standings. Victor enjoyed an outstanding weekend in Monaco last time out with two third place finishes on the famous streets. Here he discusses his rise from being a French Champion gymnast to a racing driver chasing his Formula 1 dream…
How have you settled into life as a Renault Sport Academy Driver?
Being part of the Renault Sport family is a big chance for me. I know I need to seize this opportunity, and I’m proud to wear the colours of Renault. It’s pressure, but it’s good pressure and that motivates me even more to reach my dream of becoming Formula 1 world champion. Since joining the Renault Sport Academy, I’ve been able to learn English quickly, visit Enstone and go on a number of training camps.
Was it special to stand on the Eurocup podium for the first time in Monaco?
My goal before Monaco was to feel the same emotion I felt in Bahrain when I won my karting world championship title. I felt very comfortable on the track in Monaco and I pushed the limits in qualifying – a little too much in my first run – but I was able to get into the top three. I had to make no mistakes in the races to get onto the podium. I did that and I felt a lot of emotion lifting the trophy! I don’t want to stop there, I want to continue this momentum and chase more podiums and victories.
Talk us through your career so far?
My family is very sports oriented. My father was a top baseball player and was part of the France national team. When I was young, I competed in many sports at the same time: football, gymnastics, judo, badminton, rugby and when I was 10, I became French Champion in gymnastics, just like my big brother!
When did you switch from gymnastics to racing?
After I was French Champion in gymnastics, the year after I finished third and I was no longer passionate about gymnastics and I started to become interested in motorsport. I started karting when I was 12 and three years later I became CIK FIA Junior World Karting Champion. After that, we made the choice to move into single-seaters by participating in French F4 where I finished Junior Champion.
I owe my move from gymnastics to racing to my best childhood friend and his father who I practiced with. Unfortunately, his father died and he could not know my rise in the sport, but I keep him close with his name ‘Francky’ written on my helmet with a star. He had a kart for leisure and he let me use it once and I did not want to stop! From there, I’m climbing the steps little by little, always having the same goal in my head.
Renault e.dams head to Zurich for round ten
After Sébastien Buemi’s fourth place in Berlin, Renault e.dams travel to Zurich for the tenth round of the 2017/18 Formula E Championship, aiming for another strong result.
Zurich marks Séb’s home round of the championship, and he has his sights set on putting on a show in front of the Swiss crowd.
He sits fifth in the Championship, as the season enters the final furlong with only three races left to run. This will be Zurich’s first Formula E race, and Nico Prost will be wanting to take home multiple points to add to his 2018 tally.
Séb Buemi: “Having a race on the streets of Zurich is something incredible and I’m really happy to be part of it. I know the city very well and I’ve visited the area where the track is located. The layout seems quite simple, with a lot of 90-degree corners and I’m sure it will be a challenge to get up to speed. There’s a long straight and a chicane, which should bring some overtaking opportunities. When I grew up, racing in Switzerland was forbidden, so I will try to enjoy the event as much as possible.”
Nico Prost: “I’m French, but I also have a Swiss passport so it’s kind of another home race for me! Paris is something special, but after three years we’re getting used to it, so I’m looking forward to this new venue. I don’t know Zurich very well, but it’s a very beautiful city with lots of things to do. People have to realise how incredible it is to bring racing back on Swiss soil. I want to thank all the people who made this possible and I hope we’ll offer a great show next Sunday.”
This is one of the more power-sensitive circuits of the year because the cars spend a long time accelerating at full throttle out of the mainly low and medium-low speed corners. It is also hard on the brakes as there are a number of big stops from high speed around the lap. There is a big kerb at the apex of Turn 13, and taking too much of this can knock the car off-line, with very little chance for the driver to recover before the car hits the wall, which is very close to the edge of the track on the exit of Turn 14.
Supersoft (red) – Hülkenberg 3, Sainz 3
Ultrasoft (purple) – Hülkenberg 2, Sainz 2
Hypersoft (pink) – Hülkenberg 8, Sainz 8
Average Points: 3.142 (F1 career average: 3.05)
KM Raced: 2,015
Laps Raced: 462
Positions Gained 2017 (+/-): +2
Fastest Lap: 1:16.136 (2017)
Fastest Qualifying: 1:13.271 (2017)
Average Qualifying: 10th
Average Finish: 10th
Average Points: 0.66 (F1 career average: 2.09)
Raced KM: 602
Raced Laps: 138
Positions Gained 2017 (+/-): N/A
Fastest Lap: 1:16.578 (2016)
Fastest Qualifying: 1:13.756 (2017)
Average Qualifying: 13th
Average Finish: 13th
Renault in Canada
Pole Positions: 9
Fastest Laps: 8
This time last year
Palmer – P15
Hülkenberg – P10
Palmer – P11
Hülkenberg – P8
Unusual fact: Montréal has the highest number of restaurants per capita in Canada and the second highest in North America after New York City.