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Renault must fight for 2016 progress, says Vasseur

Renault says that giving up on a development push for 2016 would be a big mistake for the team, even though it is determined to not compromise its progress in Formula 1 for next year.

Kevin Magnussen, Renault Sport F1 Team RS16
Frederic Vasseur, Renault Sport F1 Team Racing Director
Kevin Magnussen, Renault Sport F1 Team RS16 on the grid
Kevin Magnussen, Renault Sport F1 Team RS16 leads team mate Jolyon Palmer, Renault Sport F1 Team RS16
Kevin Magnussen, Renault Sport F1 Team RS16 leads team mate Jolyon Palmer, Renault Sport F1 Team RS16
Kevin Magnussen, Renault Sport F1 Team RS16
Kevin Magnussen, Renault Sport F1 Team and Jolyon Palmer, Renault Sport F1 Team as the grid observes the national anthem
Kevin Magnussen, Renault Sport F1 Team RS16
Jolyon Palmer, Renault Sport F1 Team RS16
Jolyon Palmer, Renault Sport F1 Team RS16

The French car manufacturer has been adamant since its takeover that its priority is long-term success in F1, even if it has to shift some focus away from its current speed.

However, on the back of scoring its first points of the season at the Russian Grand Prix, Renault racing director Fred Vasseur thinks it important for the team’s mindset that this campaign is not a write off.

“It is difficult to clearly decide if we have to be focused on 2017 or 2016,” he told Motorsport.com. “For sure we are in a better position for 2017, we want to be ready for 2017 quite early and we are a bit more focused on 2017.

“But, on the other hand, to give up on 2016 would be a mistake because we need to keep the mentality of the fighter and to stay a racer. If you give up the season, I think it is a really difficult thing to manage so I would like to try to manage both.”

Qualifying boost

Vasseur says Renault is planning to run a ‘big programme’ of updates in the post-Spanish Grand Prix test at Barcelona, with a clear focus now on lifting its qualifying form.

“Our race pace is okay compared to our main competitors at least – especially Force India, McLaren and even Toro Rosso,” he said. “But clearly we have to improve qualifying pace and we know what we have to work on.

“It is difficult to overtake in F1, and you need to start in a good position – this is a key point. For sure we will not fight in the race with the Ferrari nor the Mercedes, but at least with the two or three teams in front of us in qualifying, we can do it and we have to be focused on that.”

Renault also plans to test the B-spec version of its engine at the Barcelona test.

All areas

In a bid to deliver that qualifying lift, Vasseur thinks that improvements have to come both in terms of overall downforce but also in extracting more performance from the tyres.

“I think we have to work everywhere: on the engine, on the aero, on the mechanical,” he said. “There is no special area to work on.

“But the other hand, we have to understand a bit more the tyres because from the beginning of the season we have been competitive with the race pace – but there have been stints and laps where we have not been able to get the consistency.

“We were able to do that in Russia, which was the first time with the supersoft and soft, so it was a good step.”

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