Nico Hulkenberg, Renault, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, 2019

Renault bringing new upgrades to French Grand Prix

2019 F1 season

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Nico Hulkenberg has said he is “pretty optimistic” about upgrades Renault will bring to their home Grand Prix at Paul Ricard, saying the team’s results don’t reflect the car’s performance so far this year.

Hulkenberg finished 7th at the Canadian Grand Prix, behind teammate Daniel Ricciardo in 6th. Both cars were lapped by the leading five cars (both Mercedes, both Ferrari and one Red Bull) but it marked the team’s best result so far this year and only double points finish.

He said that the race showed positive momentum, that the team was hoping to carry into their home Grand Prix at Le Castellet, putting earlier difficulties behind them.

“If you have the package and if you do the job, that usually does pay off. We’re doing a good job with what we have.

“We had a troubled start to the season and we need to keep this sort of thing going, hopefully take this momentum into the Renault home Grand Prix”

Hulkenberg said that although the top three teams remained ahead of Renault’s potential pace, beating one of the Red Bull cars on track was a positive development and that he would expect more performance at the French Grand Prix courtesy a new upgrade package.

“The top three teams are still pretty well ahead although today definitely one Red Bull we beat on pace and merit so that was good to see.

“We get some upgrades at Paul Ricard so I’m very excited for those, hopefully they can bring more performance to the car and hopefully we can maybe close the gap.”

He said that the upgrades should make a significant difference – combined with continuing to avoid technical issues or human errors that had affected the team’s qualifying and race performances.

“[I’m] pretty optimistic – and I think it’s realistic because so far the car’s performed on every kind of circuit so I think the package is consistent and works pretty much everywhere we’ve been.

“We’ve just not got the results because of mistakes, reasons, technical issues and whatever it was so that makes me quite optimistic heading there.”

Author information

Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Hazel Southwell
Hazel is a freelance journalist who roams the paddocks of Formula E, covering the technical and emotional elements of electric racing. Usually found at...

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13 comments on “Renault bringing new upgrades to French Grand Prix”

  1. Off-topic but just wanted to give kudos to @dieterrencken and @hazelsouthwell for keeping the articles flowing during what I assume is a little break for Keith!

    On-topic, hoping for the French crowd that the engine can help the Renaults be at least best of the rest for consecutive races.

    1. *upgrades, not engine!

    2. Off-topic but…

      Agreed, +1 to that.

    3. @ninjenius

      Thank you! Trying not to break anything before Keith comes back from a well-earned break. Fingers crossed…

  2. I believe the Renaults were only lapped by Vettel and Hamilton and were 20-25 seconds behind Bottas and Verstappen when they started their last laps. Simply saying they were lapped by the leading 5 suggests a bigger gap than there was.

    They actually seemed to have made a real step in Canada and honestly this is the first time since they returned to F1 I’ve actually believed they can close the gap to the front. Hopefully the upgrades work well for them and the continue building momentum. A long way to go but a competitive Renault would be very good for F1.

    1. They actually seemed to have made a real step in Canada and honestly this is the first time since they returned to F1 I’ve actually believed they can close the gap to the front. Hopefully the upgrades work well for them and the continue building momentum. A long way to go but a competitive Renault would be very good for F1.

      @yossarian – huge +1 to this.

    2. @yossarian, there was a slightly larger gap to Bottas, but not by much – Verstappen was 22 seconds ahead of Ricciardo, whilst Bottas was 27 seconds ahead of Ricciardo.

      However, some of that gap does seem to have occurred because Ricciardo and Hulkenberg had to slow down to allow Vettel and Hamilton to lap them, so the gap is slightly misleading. It is also worth noting that Renault apparently imposed team orders instructing Hulkenberg not to overtake Ricciardo, as they felt it would be unfair on Ricciardo to fall behind Hulkenberg because of a strategy decision by Renault (since they were the ones who called Ricciardo in for his pit stop, whilst leaving Hulkenberg out for longer so he could have fresher tyres at the end).

      With that in mind, it’s not implausible that the two Renault drivers could have been closer to Verstappen and Bottas if they had been able to run a similar strategy to them, rather than being compromised by having to run the soft tyres in the first stint, and if Hulkenberg had been allowed past Ricciardo, given Ricciardo’s pace was starting to drop off in the closing laps as his tyres were starting to get quite old by then.

      As you note, it is still a long way before Renault are likely to be that competitive against the big three teams, but their performance in Canada was perhaps a sign that they might be finally starting to turn things around. The power unit, at the very least, does seem to be more competitive now – the Renault powered teams were reasonably competitive in Canada, which is a circuit that does put a reasonable amount of emphasis on engine power.

      Their form does seem a little reminiscent of 2018, in that they started out with a slightly weak car, but seemed to gradually move forwards as time went on. The 2018 Canadian GP was also another race where they were “best of the rest”, but this year is the first time that they have beaten a car from one of the top three teams on raw pace – Gasly never really posed a threat to the Renault drivers – so hopefully the upgrades in France can bring them closer to the front.

  3. Squirrel Abiteboul
    14th June 2019, 22:33

    Squirrel Abiteboul has been saying this for a few years now. Something about a broken record…

  4. Ric quali p5 Monaco p4 Canada..is a p3 possible in france

  5. The upgrades include a bew front wing, nose, cooling system, bargeboards, floor and “tighter” rear end. Apparently about 0.5 sec per lap. Sounds significant in terms of upgrade items though.

  6. They are reported to have a new front wing, nose, cooling system, floor, bargeboards, and “tighter” rear-end. It’s about 0.5 sec per lap gain according to them. It however, sounds more significant to me especially considering the amount of new items.

  7. I hope they are finally making progress.
    Renault have taken a lot of verbal abuse from RBR and it would be satisfying to hush them up.
    Not that I wish bad luck on Honda but it would be amusing to me if Renault gives RBR all they can handle.
    They definitely have 2 excellent drivers who get the most out of their cars.

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