After a stronger than expected start to 2010 Renault hope further upgrades to their R30 in China will allow them to challenge Mercedes.
Technical director James Allison said:
I think we can [beat Mercedes]because at the moment they’re only just ahead of us on qualifying pace, whereas we seemed to have the edge on race pace in Malaysia. We will have more updates in China, including a new floor and an alternative front wing. Although this might not be enough to get ahead of Mercedes in qualifying trim, it should move us closer to their tail. And if we can jump ahead of them at the start of a race, I’m confident we have the pace to stay ahead.
He said the team has accelerated its speed of aerodynamic development largely thanks to its Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) programme:
We have made no secret of our intention to develop our car aggressively during 2010. Aggressive development means having effective ideas and getting them to the track as fast as possible. Our current rate of aerodynamic development is at an all-time high; it’s at least double that of last year. The factory is also pulling out all the stops to get our ideas to the car in around half the time compared with last year.
[CFD is] a fundamental component of any aero department nowadays and without it we simply couldn’t develop the car at our current pace. At the moment, CFD-derived projects are providing more than half of the aerodynamic gains that eventually end up on the car.
While lead driver Robert Kubica has the silver cars in his sights, team mate Vitaly Petrov will be happy just to finish a race for the first time in 2010:
It has been frustrating not to finish the races, especially retiring so early in Bahrain and Australia, which has limited my experience. At the moment I only know what it feels like to complete half a race in terms of managing the tyres and adapting to the changing fuel load so that’s not ideal.
His car’s roll-hoop was damaged when it was recovered following his spin in the Australian Grand Prix and the team had to find a way of repairing it in between the fly-away rounds. As the car couldn’t be sent back to the factory in time the team back at base instead produced a special repair kit which was flown out to the race team.
The R30s are also awaiting a re-spray when they return to the factory following this weekend’s Chinese Grand Prix, and sharp-eyed fans may be able to spot a few chips in the usually pristine paintwork.
Renault are currently fifth in the constructors’ championship, 14 points behind Mercedes. Kubica is seventh in the drivers’ championship, nine points behind leader Felipe Massa. But already rumours have begun linking Kubica to a Ferrari drive taking Massa’s place alongside Fernando Alonso in 2011.