Renault Formula 1 chief Cyril Abiteboul has conceded it will be a “tall order” for the French manufacturer to catch Williams and achieve its pre-season target of P5 in the constructors’ championship through the final two races of the year.
Renault saw its hopes of moving up from seventh in the teams’ standings last weekend in Mexico take a hit when both Carlos Sainz Jr. and Nico Hulkenberg were forced to retire, having run high in the order after a chaotic first lap for the leaders.
The result saw eighth-placed Haas draw to within a point of Renault, while Williams was able to move out to 28 points clear in P5. Toro Rosso sits five points ahead of Renault in sixth.
Despite holding optimism prior to the races in the United States and Mexico, Abiteboul has conceded taking P5 will be tough for Renault now, but has targeted sitting sixth come the end of next weekend’s race in Brazil.
“The team remains confident and united, which is essential to maintain progress to the end of the season, and also for our preparations for 2018. We have the means; our organization is stable, robust and competent,” Abiteboul said.
“This season we set ourselves the goal of fifth in the constructors’ championship. Whilst achieving this is still mathematically possible, it is now a tall order after a race where we didn’t score points.
“Mexico highlighted our performance potential. Both cars sadly retired, however the two cars reached Q3 and lined up seventh and eighth on the grid and were in fourth and fifth at the end of the first lap. Points were clearly within our reach.
“There are now two grands prix remaining. We will do everything we can to be sixth at the end of the weekend.”
Porsche will skip Saturday’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race with its two GTLM cars at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course after three positive COVID-19 tests were confirmed during the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
That resulted in Porsche choosing to pull out of the Nurburgring 24 Hour endurance race in Germany, electing to avoid sending any team members as a precautionary measure.
Porsche Motorsport announced Tuesday that its COVID-19 decision also would apply at Mid-Ohio to its No. 911 and No. 12 teams.
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Three of Porsche’s four IMSA GTLM drivers — Laurens Vanthoor, Frederic Makowiecki and Nick Tandy — also were racing in Le Mans. The trio has remained isolated in Europe and won’t be allowed to travel.
“Based on yesterday’s decision that no employee or racing driver of our Le Mans team will participate in the Nürburgring 24 Hours, we have today decided that this ruling will also apply to the upcoming IWSC race in Mid-Ohio,” Fritz Enzinger, vice president for Porsche Motorsport, said in a release. “This means that Laurens, Nick and Fred will not be traveling to the USA.
“This is very regrettable, but we would like to emphasize that in this case as well the health of all those concerned is the prime focus of the decisions we have taken.”
The decision also affects Earl Bamber, who teamed with Vanthoor to win the GTLM championship last year in the No. 912.
Porsche said its GTLM Porsche 911 RSR-19 entries will return for the Oct. 10 race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval.
That will reduce the GTLM class to four cars — two Corvettes and two BMWs — this weekend at Mid-Ohio, in what could be somewhat of a 2021 preview. Porsche Motorsport announced earlier this year that it will leave IMSA after the 2020 season because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.