FORMULA 1 2018 GERMAN GRAND PRIX PREVIEW
Foreword from Renault Sport Racing Managing Director, Cyril Abiteboul
The German Grand Prix arrives after Formula 1’s first triple-header, which, for us, proved to be a challenge and a test of our capabilities and stamina. We’ve completed this busy period still in fourth place in the Constructors’ Championship, but this position doesn’t highlight the mid-season wake-up call we’ve received in recent races; we’re fully aware that the fight for fourth place will not be easy and will continue throughout the second half of the season.
We rescued a good points finish at Silverstone – a track we knew didn’t play to our strengths – after a bad qualifying, with Nico producing a professional and composed drive to sixth. Carlos also made an excellent start to be in a position for points, but a racing incident stopped any chances of that. These things happen in Formula 1.
With Spain, France and Great Britain complete, Germany is Nico’s turn for a home race and he heads to Hockenheim with his confidence high after Silverstone. The next two races should be more suited to the characteristics of our package, but as a team, we know a perfectly executed weekend is important to the outcome of a Grand Prix. We have more hard work on this journey if we are to stay ahead of our midfield rivals in fourth.
Away from Formula 1, this weekend (13-15 July), Renault as a title sponsor of e.dams say goodbye to the Formula E Championship after four seasons. This series has brought the team a lot of success in recent years, with three Team titles, one Drivers’ crown and a record 15 ePrix victories. We wish the team success at the final weekend in New York.
The team battled hard in Silverstone to make a return to the points, but there’s a long road ahead and more hard work to do, with the German Grand Prix the next hurdle to negotiate, as Chief Technical Officer Bob Bell explains.
What can we expect from Hockenheim, the first time at the circuit for the high-downforce cars?
It’s a circuit which has a reasonable number of lower speed corners, it’s not going to be quite as fast overall as what we saw at Silverstone for example. It won’t be necessary for the drivers to relearn the circuit in the higher-downforce cars.
It’s been a tricky triple-header, so how important is it to rediscover the form?
It’s vital for us to regain the initiative in the midfield battle. We let that slip in Austria but showed our fighting spirit in Silverstone, so it’s important we come out from Hockenheim in good shape. The circuit should suit us a little better than the last two rounds.
As we’ve seen at most races this year, it will be a story of how we manage the tyres. It’s a slightly different choice here with Pirelli’s Medium, Soft and Ultrasoft, skipping the Supersoft tyre. Managing the tyres in Hockenheim will be a challenge as there’s a lot of low-speed traction events, and therefore rear tyre thermal management will be an issue. As we find with every race, how we manage the tyres will play a central role in our performance.
Why have the tyres been a recent enemy?
We’ve had different problems at different circuits. The problem in Austria wasn’t really tyre wear, but blistering where the rubber underneath the surface almost “boils” and destroys the tyres from the inside out. That’s not a normal operating condition in any tyre! For us it will depend on which circuit we’re looking at, Hockenheim will be mainly focused on rear tyres and making sure we keep them in the right operating window, and not letting them get too hot.
How tough is the midfield fight proving?
The midfield fight is becoming tighter and it’s not a comfortable situation to be in. It will ebb and flow throughout the season. There will be some circuits where we’ll be stronger and at some our rivals will be stronger. We have to keep our focus and not get distracted by the result of an individual race, looking instead at longer term trends.
What upgrades are there for Germany?
The main one is a new front wing which we plan to validate on Friday. We’re hoping it’s a step forwards in terms of overall car performance and will help our championship situation.
Hülkenheim is back
After a strong Silverstone, Nico Hülkenberg has his tail up and is fully focused on doing the business in front of his home crowd at the historic Hockenheim circuit.
How pleasing is it to return to your home country for a Grand Prix?
It’s very special to have the German Grand Prix back on the calendar. A home race is extremely motivating, as you carry that extra ounce of determination to do well in front of the home fans. We missed it last season, but now it’s back at Hockenheim, we’ll really enjoy every moment throughout the weekend. Most drivers and teams have a home race at some point in the season, and we’re well prepared for both a busy one away from the circuit, and for the extra pressure for a good result on-track. I’m looking forward to it, and I’ll be aiming for a positive result for the team and for the German fans.
What’s Hockenheim like to drive?
I enjoy this track a lot, and this year with the increased downforce cars, it will be even more fun. It begins with a high-speed turn one, which is going to be quicker than ever in 2018, and then turn two, which is actually an important corner as you need to combine a high minimum speed while getting on the power early to open up the long, curved straight. You need good traction out of the hairpin, which is also the best overtaking spot on race day. Sector three, the stadium section, is special with the packed grandstands and cheering crowd. It’s a tight part of the track, it gets narrow, but it’s fast and flowing so hopefully we can put a show on for the fans.
How do you look back on Silverstone?
We got the maximum from the car in Silverstone, and it was some afternoon! We made a really good start, straight into a high position meaning we had to tweak our race plan. We managed the tyres well, and it was a strong race all in all and pleasing to be back in the points. Ahead of Germany we will be looking at our qualifying pace, as we know the midfield fight is getting close and we have to keep the upgrades coming and hard work in order to stay ahead of our rivals.
After a welcome one-week interlude, Carlos Sainz is refreshed and recharged as he targets a return to the points at Hockenheim.
How much are you looking forward to the return of the German Grand Prix?
I’m happy to be back racing in Germany. I’m especially looking forward to it as we have a few updates there – including a new front wing – to help us get back on the pace we showed at the beginning of the year. Hockenheim is a track I’ve won at in the past, so it’s one I’m looking ahead to. It’s Nico’s home race too, so that’ll be special for him – like for me in Spain – and that will help us both push hard on track all weekend.
What do you like about Hockenheim?
It’s certainly a circuit I enjoy, even though I only have one Formula 1 race to my name there. I’ve had pole positions and race wins at Hockenheim in the junior categories. It’s quite an old-school circuit, which I like. There’s a couple of long straights and fast-sweeping corners. It will be the first time we’ve driven Hockenheim with the wider, higher downforce Formula 1 cars, so a lot of the corners will be faster than what they once were. Turns one and 12 will be especially fast, so that’ll be something to keep an eye on in Friday’s early running.
How hard is the fight for fourth place in the Constructors’ Championship proving?
We have lots of things we need to analyse, as the midfield battle is getting tighter and tighter. These last few rounds have highlighted that trend and our current fourth place could be threatened if we don’t keep up the hard work. We had a really good two-thirds of the race at Silverstone and it was a pity we couldn’t bring more points home. We need to keep pushing to secure the fourth place in the Constructors’ Championship.
Renault Sport Racing
Hubert retakes GP3 championship lead with British win
Renault Sport Affiliated Driver Anthoine Hubert claimed his first on-track GP3 Series race win with a dominant display in race one at Silverstone to leap back into the championship lead.
Anthoine drove a composed opening race in Silverstone, leading from the lights to the chequered flag for his second race victory of the year after inheriting the race one win in France in June.
The Frenchman finished fourth in race two, meaning he leads the way in the Drivers’ standings by six points.
Anthoine Hubert: “What a great weekend in Silverstone, taking my first pole position and victory! We also finished fourth after starting from eighth in race two. We scored big points and after the poor weekend in Austria it was important to show we are a strong team. I’m now back in the lead of the championship but we still have a lot to do, we haven’t even reached the halfway point of the season yet! Thanks to ART for their support and confidence.”
Mixed results for Markelov and Aitken in Silverstone
Renault Sport Formula One Team’s Test & Development Driver Artem Markelov enjoyed a bright weekend at Silverstone, taking home 16 points.
Artem claimed finishes of sixth in the Feature race and fourth in the Sprint race, and sits fourth in the Drivers’ Championship.
Third & Reserve Driver Jack Aitken left his home round without points. In the Feature, Jack had finished eighth and on reverse grid pole position, but was handed two separate penalties, which forced him out of the points, before finishing twelfth in the Sprint.
Artem Markelov: “Silverstone was a mixed weekend for me, and we got the most from it after suffering with issues with the car. Two points-scoring finishes is positive, but of course we want more than that with wins and podiums. Hopefully we’ll have these problems fixed before we get to Budapest.”
Jack Aitken: “It was a frustrating weekend in Silverstone, we had good top five pace in practice, but missing the peak of the tyre in qualifying cost us a lot, and that set the tone of the weekend. We fought back well to P8 in Race 1 but penalties pushed us back. It’s frustrating as the pitlane speed penalty wasn’t our fault, but an issue with the limiter itself. We know it’s only a few small things holding us back, so we’ll keep pushing for Budapest!
Fenestraz set for Zandvoort meeting
Renault Sport Academy Driver Sacha Fenestraz heads to Zandvoort this weekend (13-15 July) for the fourth round of the FIA European Formula 3 Championship.
Sacha – already a race winner in the series in his rookie year – sits eighth in the Championship after the last round at the Norisring. The 18-year-old has never raced at the famous Dutch circuit, as he aims for a return to the podium in the class.
Sacha Fenestraz: “It’s the first time for me racing in Zandvoort and it’s one of the best tracks on the calendar, but also one of the hardest physically. I’m really looking forward to it, the team were fast there last season, so hopefully that’ll be the same again this year. I’ll try to improve my qualifying to make the races easier. It’ll be a tough weekend, but I’ll try my best to be back on the podium, let’s hope for some good racing.”
Eurocup quartet back in action after two-month break
Renault Sport Academy quartet Max Fewtrell, Christian Lundgaard, Victor Martins and Arthur Rougier return to racing next weekend (20-22 July) as the Formula Renault Eurocup resumes following a two-month break at Austria’s Red Bull Ring.
Christian occupies second place in the standings on 98 points, 19 ahead of Max in fifth. Victor is three points behind the British Driver with Arthur Rougier still in search of his first points in 23rd.
Max Fewtrell: “I’m looking forward to getting back into the car after quite a long break away from the Eurocup. We did the NEC Monza round, but can’t wait to restart the Eurocup campaign and get back to it from where we left off, we’re aiming to get back on-track to try and take the Championship lead.”
Christian Lundgaard: “After such a long break I’m looking forward to making the difference we’ve been working so hard for over these two months. It’s a new track for me so of course the second year drivers will be hard to beat, but I’m confident that we can take the lead in the championship after this weekend.”
Victor Martins: “The second half of the season starts at the Red Bull Ring; a track I’m looking forward to learning having never raced there. I’ve learnt a lot at the first few rounds, and we feel encouraged for the second-half of the season. After the two podiums in Monaco and my first win at Monza in the NEC, I want to keep up the hard work. The goal is to gain experience at all races and I’ll be giving it my best at Red Bull Ring.”
Arthur Rougier: “I’m really happy to race again after this long break. It’s been a hard period with school exams, but I’m feeling free now after receiving my baccalauréat, so that’s been positive. I’ve never been to Austria, but we have put in a lot of preparation and we’ll aim for good results. It looks an amazing track, so I’m excited for the race weekend.”
Renault e.dams ready to close the curtain on Formula E career
Renault e.dams will bring their four-year stay in the Formula E Championship to an end this weekend as they gear up for the final two rounds of the 2017/18 season in New York.
The team have won three Team’s Championships and one Drivers’ Championship since the inception of the all-electric racing class in 2014.
Renault e.dams hold the record for the most Formula E wins with 15, with Sébastien Buemi claiming 12 of those victories, giving the Swiss the most of any driver.
Sébastien, winner of the 2015/16 title, and team-mate Nico Prost will be targeting a bright ending for the team on the streets of New York with two rounds on offer.
Sébastien Buemi: “I’m thrilled to be in New York for this round that I missed last year. I will get a chance to discover this interesting layout located in a fantastic setting. This weekend, a page turns with the final race for Renault and the last for Nico with the team. We will give it our all to finish in style. The goal is clear: we want to fight for the victory.”
Nico Prost: “I‘ve been with Renault since the beginning of their Formula E adventure. I have participated in every race alongside them and this weekend will bring an end to what has been four fantastic years. Even though we wanted to have a better season this year, we have enjoyed tremendous success with three team titles, my three wins and three pole positions. Because we have won so much together I really want to finish on a high!”
Starts: 86; Buemi – 41, Prost – 43, Gasly – 2
Wins: 15; Buemi – 12, Prost – 3
Podiums: 25; Buemi – 20, Prost – 5
Fastest Laps: 10; Buemi – 7, Prost – 3
Pole Positions: 12; Buemi – 9, Prost – 3
Teams’ Championships: 3 (2014/15, 2015/16, 2016/17)
Drivers’ Championships: 1 (2015/16 – Buemi)
*as of Zurich
This will be the first Grand Prix at this circuit since the regulation changes of the 2017 season that allowed wider cars with more downforce, so the corners will all be faster than they were. Turns 1 and 12 will now be very fast corners, and Turn 10/11 will probably be flat in qualifying. The final stadium section places high demands on the tyres, and both fronts and rears will be on the limit at the end of a qualifying lap. There is a third DRS zone now, which will increase the chances of overtaking in the race.
Medium (white) – Hülkenberg 1, Sainz 2
Soft (yellow) – Hülkenberg 2, Sainz 1
Ultrasoft (purple) – Hülkenberg 10, Sainz 10
Starts: 5 (1 at Nürburgring)
Points: 15 (1 at Nürburgring)
Average Points: 3 (F1 career average: 3.08)
KM: 3,962 (916 at Nürburgring)
Laps: 844 (178 at Nürburgring)
KM Raced: 1,530 (309 at Nürburgring)
Laps Raced: 327 (60 at Nürburgring)
Positions Gained 2016 (+/-): +1
Fastest Lap: 1:16.836 at Hockenheim (2010)
Fastest Qualifying: 1:15.339 at Hockenheim (2010)
Average Qualifying: 8th
Average Finish: 9th
Average Points: 0 (F1 career average: 2.08)
Raced KM: 302
Raced Laps: 66
Positions Gained 2016 (+/-): +1
Fastest Lap: 1:19.957 (2016)
Fastest Qualifying: 1:15.989
Average Qualifying: 13th
Average Finish: 14th
Renault in Germany
Pole Positions: 11
Fastest Laps: 10
This time in 2016
Palmer – P14
Magnussen – P16
Palmer – P19
Magnussen – P16
An estimated 40 million spectators have visited the circuit since its opening in 1932.