© Renault Sport

Vasseur: No rush for Renault to deliver results in F1

Leave a comment

Renault Sport racing director Frederic Vasseur says that there is no rush for the French manufacturer to deliver big results following its return to Formula 1 as a works team for 2016.

Having last raced in F1 as a constructor back in 2010, Renault will field its own team once again this season after buying out the Lotus operation over the winter.

Financial issues blighted Lotus for the past few years, leaving Renault with plenty of rebuilding to do at Enstone during its comeback season.

Vasseur feels under no pressure for the team to deliver results immediately, saying that Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn’s three-year target to be fighting for podiums is a realistic one.

“We know very well that we started this project extremely late and that where we need to go is ambitious, but right now we are not under pressure to achieve results,” Vasseur said.

“The road map from Carlos Ghosn is very clear: he wants to fight for podiums in our third year of competition. Therefore we have to make the right moves, and not rush to deliver in Melbourne.

“If you want to stick to the road map and fight for podiums in three years, you have to look at your competitors – look at their resources, personnel and then you need to have the same targets to fight with them consistently.

“I am very happy with the quality of the staff so far as the team is dedicated and focussed on the job. Now we have to supplement the workforce we have, but we will do it correctly and find the right people.”

Vasseur is therefore setting no firm targets for Renault heading to the first race of the year in Australia, live on NBCSN on March 20.

“It is very difficult to see where we are ahead of the start of the season. We need to focus on our job and try to improve where we can rather than spending time analyzing where we are in relative terms,” Vasseur said.

“We have to fight the entire grid and everyone has the same target: to go faster than the guys around them. We need to keep our opposition under pressure and never give up. It won’t be an easy task as we started very late for this season, but we will see for 2017.

“Ultimately it doesn’t matter where we start, but we need to deliver in line with our targets. We will always aim to finish in the points, but bearing in mind that we only created the team in December, we need to be realistic and not start pointing the finger at anyone.”

Toyota No. 8 car wins the 24 Hours of Le Mans for third consecutive year

24 Hours of Le Mans
JEAN-FRANCOIS MONIER/AFP via Getty Images
3 Comments

LE MANS, France — Toyota Gazoo’s No. 8 car comfortably won the 24 Hours of Le Mans by five laps Sunday to secure a third straight victory in the prestigious endurance race.

It was also a third consecutive win for Swiss driver Sebastien Buemi and Japan’s Kazuki Nakajima driving. Brendon Hartley was the other driver, having replaced two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso.

Buemi and Hartley sat on the side of the car as Nakajima drove toward the podium. Hartley won for a second time after tasting success with the Porsche LMP Team in 2017 before an unhappy season in Formula One.

The Swiss team’s Rebellion No. 1 featured American driver Gustavo Menezes and Brazilian Bruno Senna – the nephew of late F1 great Ayrton Senna.

It finished one lap ahead of Toyota Gazoo’s No. 7, with Rebellion’s No. 3 finishing in fourth place.

For much of the race it looked like Toyota’s No. 7 would win after leading comfortably from pole position. But late into the night the car encountered an engine problem and the 30-minute stop in the stands proved costly.

The race was first held in 1923. A total of 252,500 spectators attended in 2019, but there were none this year when the race started three months late because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“We miss the fans,” New Zealander Hartley said. “I look forward to seeing all the fans again.”

In other divisions:

United Autosports won the LMP2 division with the entry of Filipe Albuquerque, Paul Di Resta and Phil Hanson.

–In LMGTE Pro, the victory was claimed by Aston Martin Vantage AMR of Maxime Martin, Alex Lynn and Harry Tincknell (who drives for Mazda in the DPi division of IMSA).

–TF Sport won the LMGTE Am class.

The Toyota No. 7 took pole after former F1 driver Kamui Kobayashi narrowly edged out the Rebellion No. 1 team in qualifying.

In damp and humid conditions Mike Conway got away cleanly from the start, while Senna held off Buemi.

After nearly seven hours, Toyota’s No. 8 fell back after a 10-minute stop in the stands to fix a brake-cooling problem on Kazuki Nakajima’s car. Rebellion’s No. 1, driven by Frenchman Norman Nato, took advantage to move into second place behind Toyota’s No. 7.

Then came the decisive moment at 2:40 a.m. as the No. 7 – also featuring Argentine Jose Maria Lopez – encountered a turbo problem. When the car came back out it was back in fourth.

“We had a few problems early in the race,” Nakajima said. “Later they had a bigger issue than us.”

Rebellion’s No. 1 encountered a problem on the hood at around 9 a.m. and the change took six minutes, allowing the Rebellion No. 3 (Nathanael Berthon-Louis Deletraz-Romain Dumas) to close the gap.

It was becoming a tight battle between the two Rebellion cars behind Toyota’s No. 8.

At 12 p.m. Rebellion No. 3 with Dumas behind the wheel was only one second ahead of No. 1 driven by Menezes. Then both cars came in for a driver change with Deletraz swapping for Dumas on a lengthy stop, and Nato for Menezes as Rebellion No. 1 suddenly moved ahead of its team rival.

Dumas, a winner in 2016 with Porsche, appeared unhappy at the strategy decision to bring his car in first and the length of the stop. There were tense explanations in the team garage.

Colombian Tatiana Calderon, an F1 test driver with Alfa Romeo, was in the Richard Mille Racing Team in the LMP2 category. She was joined by German Sophia Florsch – an F3 driver – and Dutchwoman Beitske Visser. They placed ninth out of 24 in their category.