Renault Sport Formula 1 Team managing director Cyril Abiteboul believes that last weekend’s Australian Grand Prix marked a “hugely encouraging start” for the French manufacturer following its comeback for 2016.
Renault made its first F1 start as a constructor since the end of 2010 last weekend in Melbourne, having taken over the Lotus operation at Enstone for the new season.
Drivers Jolyon Palmer and Kevin Magnussen crossed the line in 11th and 12th place respectively, and although the race did not yield points, Abiteboul was pleased nevertheless with how Renault fared upon its comeback.
“Melbourne was a great opening race for Renault Sport Formula 1 Team. There were many positives, but the most important was that we showed we can race on track,” Abiteboul said.
“Both drivers delivered exactly what we wanted. It was superb to see Jolyon defending hard against the opposition, especially as that meant a lot of airtime for us! Kevin fought hard to come back from a tough start and overtook late in the race.
“Furthermore, the car looked great on circuit – we have received a lot of positive feedback – and the team worked well together, leading to a lot of interest from a number of quarters.
“It’s only the first race but it’s been a hugely encouraging start. We can look forward to Bahrain with a lot of confidence and enthusiasm.”
Abiteboul’s comments were echoed by team racing director Frederic Vasseur, who said that the goal had been to get both cars to the finish line.
“It was a very positive start to the season. We aimed to get to the end of the race and we got there with two cars,” Vasseur said.
“The end result was not excessively flattering, due to the number of incidents that did not go in our favour, but the pace at the end was good, comparable to Force India and not far from Williams, which is encouraging for the team and a good basis to build on.
“We need to maximize our qualifying form so we can take advantage of this strong race pace but that will come I am sure. If it wasn’t for the restart I think we could have scored points as we were in a great position, but that’s life.
“We know where we are and what we need to do to achieve what we want.”