Renault regaining its confidence, says Abiteboul
Renault F1 boss Cyril Abiteboul believes that the Enstone team is regaining its self confidence and its "touch" after a strong performance by Nico Hulkenberg in Russia.
Abiteboul cites the unusual strategy the team chose as an example of how it is recapturing the sort of approach that saw it win races and land podiums as recently as 2013, under the Lotus name.
In Sochi, Hulkenberg finished eighth as the team kept him out for 40 laps on the ultrasoft tyres.
"We are trying to regain our touch," Abiteboul told Motorsport.com. "I think we lost it for the first few races frankly, but I think that is one of the things that as we are rebuilding as a team we need to get used to again.
"We're rebuilding confidence in ourselves, understanding the drivers, understanding the car, understanding the tyres. That's the sort of thing that you can expect to see more and more from us.
"We were monitoring very carefully the lap time, whether it was better to extend the ultrasoft or move to supersoft, and I think we ran exactly the optimum strategy.
"We were trying to race Esteban [Ocon], keeping the pressure on. It didn't pay out, but you never know.
"We were maximising our chances in case of a safety car, which didn't happen. We both attacked and covered, we looked at the front and the rear, so we did the right thing."
Hulkenberg continued his run of Q3 starts in Russia, and encouragingly for Renault the car showed much improved race form.
"In our opinion this weekend shows that we are a natural and regular and a fair contender to be in Q3, among the top 10 cars in qualifying.
"And I think we saw that on a track which was not playing to our advantage in its characteristics – because don't forget it's the second track in terms of power sensitivity – we were capable of being in the points.
"I see ourselves as sixth in the championship in terms of hierarchy, after Force India and after Williams. Our ambition is to be fifth.
"This weekend was the kick-off of our development programme, and hopefully we'll be in that position. Clearly we have reduced the disadvantage we had in race conditions, and done a step in the right direction."
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