Renault’s lack of power proving costly in Austria

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Pastor Maldonado has explained how the lack of power in the Renault engines has been particularly noticeable this weekend in Austria.

The Lotus driver qualified fourteenth at the Red Bull Ring yesterday, which is in fact his best Saturday result of the season so far. However, he made no secret of the struggles that Lotus and the other Renault-powered teams have been dealing with.

“For sure we are not where we want to be,” Maldonado explained after qualifying. “We were expecting to be even more competitive this weekend because of the kind of track and the downforce level of the track, but we realized that we are paying a lot for the lack of power here.

“It’s very clear. Even Red Bull, they are in the same conditions like us. In qualy, we are maybe a tenth away from Red Bull, which is not that much. I think in terms of work and what the team did and how we prepared for the race, I think we are not that bad. We are close to Red Bull, which is our main reference.

“They’ve been doing some podiums, some good races with the same engine, and here they are struggling more. For sure, they are slightly quicker still, but less than the other races.”

The Renault-powered teams – Lotus, Red Bull, Toro Rosso and Caterham – have all been struggling with their power units this season after the French marque fell behind schedule during the off-season. Despite coming a long way since the beginning of the year, there are still problems that are blighting the form of its customers.

In fact, the problem is so big at Red Bull that Helmut Marko has suggested the team could switch engine supplier or even produce power units in-house in the future.

For Maldonado, the focus in Austria will be on improving his best finish this season of fourteenth.

You can watch the Austrian GP live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 7:30am ET.

Formula One: Recapping the past week’s news

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While the FIA Formula 1 World Championship is still two months away from beginning its 2018 season, this past week did bring about news items that filled out the 2018 grid and shed some light on individual team and car launches as the season-opening Australian Grand Prix draws closer.

Below is a recap of F1 news from this past week:

Williams Signs Sirotkin for 2018 Drive, Names Kubica as Reserve Driver

The saga of the second seat at Williams Martini Racing was finally resolved early on in the week, with former Renault Sport F1 Team test driver Sergey Sirotkin officially confirmed as a teammate to the incumbent Lance Stroll in 2018.

The announcement concluded months of speculation that saw multiple drivers test for the team in an auditioning capacity. Most notably, Robert Kubica looked to be a main contender for the seat before Sirotkin emerged as the favorite.

However, Kubica, who has not raced in Formula 1 since a devastating rally accident in 2011 left him with brutal injuries to his right arm, was named as a reserve and development driver for the team.

This announcement also completes the 2018 Formula 1 driver lineup, with all 11 teams having their seats now filled. Among those who were left without F1 drives are Paul Di Resta, who drove for Williams at the Hungarian Grand Prix in relief of Felipe Massa and even tested with them during the Winter months, and Antonio Giovinazzi, who filled in for Pascal Wehrlein at the Australian and Chinese Grands Prix.

Former Red Bull Racing and Scuderia Toro Rosso driver Daniil Kvyat is also without a race seat for 2018, but did sign on with Scuderia Ferrari as a development driver.

Mercedes, McLaren Reveal Dates for Their 2018 Car Launches

While most teams have not yet released dates for when their 2018 cars will be publicly launched, three notables have.

Mercedes AMG Petronas will introduce its 2018 challenger on February 22nd, the same day Ferrari is doing so, while McLaren will unveil its car one day later on the 23rd.

Testing will commence on February 26th at Circuit de Catalunya.

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