Hopes dampened in Spa
Renault Sport Formula Team endured a disappointing Johnnie Walker Belgian Grand Prix with Carlos Sainz working up the order to finish just one position shy of the points in eleventh. Whilst Carlos was able to complete the full race distance, Nico Hülkenberg’s race ended at the first corner after he out-braked himself and collected the car ahead.
Both drivers took tactical Power Unit related grid penalties meaning that Nico lined up in eighteenth and Carlos in nineteenth on the grid. Carlos made a clean start and moved up to thirteenth by lap two after a number of retirements, ending short of tenth after a promising second stint on the Supersoft tyre. Despite missing out on the points, the team remains in fourth place in the Constructors’ Championship.
Nico Hülkenberg, #27, R.S.18-04: Started P18, DNF
“When I hit the brakes, it locked up the front wheels and I slid. These cars are aerodynamically sensitive, especially with cars bunching up ahead as you lose a lot of grip and load. I have to admit it caught me by surprise today. It was probably a misjudgement from my side as I was a bit late on the brakes, so it’s frustrating for me, the team, and the other drivers caught up in the incident. That’s racing and unfortunately these things happen. We have Monza next weekend, so I want to get this out of the system as soon as possible and focus on that.”
Carlos Sainz, #55, R.S.18-03: Started P19, finished P11.
“Overall, it’s been a difficult weekend. We struggled in sector two today and overtaking was difficult as we couldn’t get into DRS range of the drivers ahead. When you lack confidence and balance in the car, it makes things tough at this track. We have things to analyse and look into. On Friday I was more comfortable with the car, so we have to check what’s happened over the course of the weekend. We know what we need to improve. We have a couple of days to work hard and get set for Monza.”
Cyril Abiteboul, Team Principal:
“Today’s race was not a good way to return from the break. We knew this weekend would be challenging with a scheduled Power Unit change and the resultant grid penalty for Nico, then we opted to do the same with Carlos after his struggles in qualifying and this meant we started the race from the back of the grid. From aggressive aero setups to tyres choices, we tried various measures to turnaround this very challenging situation that simply didn’t work. On his side Nico made a misjudgement at the start. He’s not known for this type of error and I’m sure he’ll learn from it and move on. Carlos made the most of challenging circumstances and finished narrowly outside of the points. Today’s result doesn’t reflect our actual place so we reset for Monza and remain focused on our development strategy.”