FORMULA 1 2018 BRAZILIAN GRAND PRIX PREVIEW
Foreword from Renault Sport Racing Managing Director, Cyril Abiteboul
Brazil has a great passion for motorsport and especially Formula 1. Many great racing names have come from Brazil, it has some fantastic tracks and there is always a great atmosphere when we arrive in São Paulo. Brazil is also an important market for Renault so we will have a lot of activities over the weekend, including an exciting presentation at the São Paulo motorshow.
We enter race week off the back of a very promising result in Mexico. We’re at a point in the season where we know the car very well and, like every team, have minimal upgrades. This puts the focus on meticulous preparation across chassis and power unit and the strategy throughout the weekend. In Mexico we executed our plan perfectly and were in full control from qualifying to Sunday.
The results obtained in Mexico give us a boost for the remaining two races of the season.
Finally, on Friday morning we received news that the International Court of Appeal (ICA) upheld Haas’ disqualification from the Italian Grand Prix in September. We are satisfied with the decision.
After another solid weekend in Mexico, the team heads to Brazil for the twentieth Grand Prix of the 2018 Formula 1 season. Executive Director Marcin Budkowski outlines the challenges of Interlagos.
How would you evaluate the team’s performances at the last two races?
We enjoyed two good results in the United States and Mexico, and certainly it could have been even better had we not suffered a retirement in Mexico. Both circuits suited our package a lot better than some of the previous races and we’ve worked hard to further our understanding of the R.S.18 and extract the maximum performance out of it.
What’s there to say about the team’s prospects at Interlagos?
Interlagos is located at a lot less altitude than Mexico, even though it’s still one of the highest on the calendar at almost 800m. The effects on the power unit and on the various cooling systems are not anywhere close to the levels of Mexico. Interlagos has a mixture of corners, ranging from low to high-speed. In comparison to the last two races, Interlagos may be less suited to our package, but nevertheless we head there expecting to be competitive.
Why is Brazil such a special Grand Prix weekend?
It’s always pleasant to go to a country and a circuit where people are passionate. Brazil is exceptional for its atmosphere. It’s a destination where you feel the passion and the fan support both for Formula 1 and for the team. Brazil is also a key market for Renault.
Steadying the ship
Nico Hülkenberg cruised to his second sixth place finish in as many races, as he begins to tighten his grip on seventh position in the Drivers’ Championship. Now the German heads to Interlagos, a circuit which has brought him some special memories in his Formula 1 career so far.
Why is the Brazilian Grand Prix so special?
The Brazilian Grand Prix is probably my favourite race on the calendar. São Paulo has a really cool vibe about it, crazy in a way, but that’s what I like about the place. Interlagos is situated in a town that is mad about motorsport, in a motorsport mad country with motorsport mad supporters, so it has all the right ingredients for a memorable race weekend.
What’s there to say about the legendary Interlagos?
Interlagos is a circuit which carries so much history. There have been so many world championship titles decided in Interlagos, as well as a lot of other prominent Formula 1 moments. You feel all the emotions on a lap of the circuit and that’s why I find it so special. Maybe that’s why I seem to go well there!
It’s a short lap, but busy behind the wheel with a lot of challenges to get through. It’s anti-clockwise, tough on the neck and quite physical on the rest of the body, as it’s bumpy in places. Confidence is key, especially through the middle sector as you can make up a lot of time through there.
What memories do you have from the Brazilian Grand Prix?
From a personal point of view, Interlagos is the place of some special memories for me. The standout is definitely my pole position lap in 2010 as a rookie. That was awesome and one of those sessions where everything clicked and we nailed the perfect lap in changing conditions. That’s something I will never forget. In 2012, I led the Brazilian Grand Prix for 30 laps, and, when I reflect on that, I was unlucky to miss out on the podium. I also led the race in 2014 for a short amount of time. It’s a circuit where I seem to score good results, so I’ll be out to keep that record up again this year.
With another sixth place in the bag, what’s there to say about Mexico?
You always try to get the best from what you have and we’ve now had two very good weekends back-to-back. It was a very positive Grand Prix for us. The race was straightforward, managing the tyres and making sure the one-stop worked. I had a comfortable gap after Carlos retired so it was steady away from there to ensure the team took home some important points. We know the next two races will be challenging, but Brazil is always fun so I’m looking forward to getting out there and solidifying both my seventh place in the Drivers’ Championship and contributing to the team’s target of fourth place in the Constructors’.
After a premature end to the Mexican Grand Prix, Carlos Sainz is chomping at the bit for Interlagos as he targets a return to the points to contribute to the team’s quest of sealing fourth place in the Constructors’ Championship.
How would you describe the Brazilian Grand Prix?
Interlagos is all about the history, and I really enjoy racing at these old, legendary circuits. The Brazilian Grand Prix is the location of a lot of famous Formula 1 stories and drivers, including, of course, Ayrton Senna, and that makes the weekend even more special. In terms of the culture, it’s bright and loud, kind of like Mexico last time out, but different in its own unique way. The food in Brazil is also one of my favourites; I’m a big fan of meat dishes and São Paulo is very good for these types of restaurants.
What’s the secret to a fast lap-time around Interlagos?
The track is quite challenging with a number of elevation changes and a variety of cambers in the corners. It feels like a rollercoaster ride! The in-field bit is tough as it’s twisty with a couple of blind and sharp turns where it can be easy to lock the inside wheel. You have to get into a rhythm around the circuit and try not to compromise any corners as that hampers you for next the turn. The Grandstands are always packed-out there, but the atmosphere feels more like a football match than a Formula 1 race, it’s always so loud!
Are you hoping for some wet weather next weekend?
Interlagos is synonymous with unpredictable weather. There are usually a couple of surprises year on year. It can be hot and dry and then suddenly the torrential rain will pour in. I remember a couple of years ago, we were fifteenth on the grid, but it rained on race day and suddenly we were in amongst it and we managed a solid sixth place finish. Adapting quickly to the conditions is a good skill to have in Brazil, so we’ll see what happens! Maybe rain would be a good thing.
What’s the post-Mexico feeling?
It was a real pity. Having to retire after 28 laps while leading the midfield and losing eight valuable points is always frustrating. It was fun to make up some places on lap one – even getting ahead of a Ferrari – but it was disappointing for it to end like it did, mainly because it would have been an even stronger result for the team if both cars had finished in the points. We dust ourselves down quickly, though, and move on as we’re certain we can be in the mix again in Brazil. I have two races left in the black and yellow, so of course, I’d like to leave with two positive results.
Renault Sport Racing
Max Fewtrell – 2018 Formula Renault Eurocup Champion
“I doubted myself for 30 seconds”, the words of Max Fewtrell after a seventh-place finish at Spa-Francorchamps in July, which left him trailing the lead of the Formula Renault Eurocup Drivers’ Championship by over 30 points. But an inspired run of three wins and three podiums at the next couple of rounds ensured the Briton put out a statement as he stormed to an impressive title win in the Eurocup to join an illustrious list of past victors.
What’s it like to join a stellar list of names in winning the Formula Renault Eurocup?
It’s an amazing feeling and it doesn’t feel real when you see your name on the back of the trophy alongside a long list of great names. It’s pretty cool and it makes all the hard work feel worth it.
Did you always expect to win the title?
Going into the year, the aim was to win it and I expected to lift the trophy. Midway through the season the goal felt far away especially after falling down to fifth place. We knew we could do it, we just had to stick at it, never give up and in the end, we never looked back. We did it and it felt even more rewarding to do it like we did! I doubted myself for 30 seconds and I was angry after the race in Spa. After that, I calmed down. I knew I had the speed, I believed I was the fastest guy out there and I just had to go and do it.
With six wins to your name in 2018, which was your favourite?
Silverstone. My home race in front of all the friends and family, so that was really cool.
How did the McLaren Autosport evaluation days go?
It all went really well and I was consistent and didn’t make many mistakes. It was a good few days trying different cars out. The F2 car was my favourite as it was so fast. To win the Award would be special and a memorable way to round off the year.
What are your plans for the off-season?
In terms of driving, I’m not too sure on plans at the moment, but the talking will start soon. I’ll be training a lot at Enstone and putting in the hard work.
Frustration for Renault Sport Team Vitality in F1 Esports Pro Series
Renault Sport Team Vitality left event two of the 2018 F1 Esports Pro Series empty-handed after a frustrating night at the Gfinity Arena, London, on Wednesday (31 October).
James Doherty and Kimmy Larsson were behind the wheel for the triple-header with races at Paul Ricard, Silverstone and Spa-Francorchamps. But tricky qualifying sessions meant both drivers were up against it in the races, with James recording a best finish of thirteenth at Spa and Kimmy fourteenth at Paul Ricard.
The final round of the series is on 16-17 November.
James Doherty: “Event two was really frustrating for me. We didn’t show our full potential or our true pace and things didn’t go our way. We know what we need to work on and we’ll be come back stronger for event three. I know I have good race pace and race-craft. I need to nail the qualifying and that’s what I’ll be working on.”
Kimmy Larsson: “This event didn’t go as well as I’d hoped. We had potential to score good points, especially on circuits I like, so it’s disappointing not to score. I had to change my front wing in two of the races, so that didn’t help. I’ll rewatch the races and then refocus to prepare for the next event. It was a good experience, though!”
The first few rows of the starting grid are on quite a steep uphill slope here, and the drivers have to hold the car on the brakes until the start, while going through the already complicated starting procedure. The rear right tyre gets a hard time at this circuit as a result of the track layout, but Turns 11 and 12 are crucial if attacking or defending in the race, so there is a compromise between saving the right rear tyre and racing against cars ahead or behind.
Medium (white) – Hülkenberg 2, Sainz 1
Soft (yellow) – Hülkenberg 3, Sainz 4
Supersoft (red) – Hülkenberg 8, Sainz 8
Average Points: 5.28 (F1 career average: 3.07)
KM Raced: 2,129
Laps Raced: 494
Positions Gained 2017 (+/-): -3
Fastest Lap: 1:13.758 (2017)
Fastest Qualifying: 1:09.703 (2017)
Average Qualifying: 7th
Average Finish: 7th
Average Points: 2.67 (F1 career average: 2.06)
Raced KM: 608
Raced Laps: 141
Positions Gained 2017 (+/-): -3
Fastest Lap: 1:13.625 (2017)
Fastest Qualifying: 1:09.805 (2017)
Average Qualifying: 11th
Average Finish: 12th
Renault in Brazil
Pole Positions: 13
Fastest Laps: 13
This time last year
Sainz – P8
Hülkenberg – P7
Sainz – P11
Hülkenberg – P10
The nickname of São Paulo is Land of drizzle (terra da garoa) for its notable rainy spells, however the more popular nickname for the city is Sampa.