Renault: Stressful showdowns must not happen again

Renault must avoid putting itself in the situation in the future where so much is at stake in the final race of the season, claims its Formula 1 managing director Cyril Abiteboul.

Renault: Stressful showdowns must not happen again
Nico Hulkenberg, Renault F1 Team RS17
Carlos Sainz Jr., Renault F1 Team RS17, retires
Nico Hulkenberg, Renault Sport F1 Team RS17 sparks
Nico Hulkenberg, Renault Sport F1 Team RS17
Carlos Sainz Jr., Renault Sport F1 Team and Nico Hulkenberg, Renault Sport F1 Team at the Renault Team photo
Carlos Sainz Jr., Renault Sport F1 Team RS17
Carlos Sainz Jr., Renault Sport F1 Team RS17 retires
Nico Hulkenberg, Renault Sport F1 Team RS17
Carlos Sainz Jr., Renault Sport F1 Team, Nico Hulkenberg, Renault Sport F1 Team
Carlos Sainz Jr., Renault Sport F1 Team RS17

The French car manufacturer was in celebratory mood after the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, where Nico Hulkenberg's sixth-place finish was enough for it to secure sixth spot in the constructors' championship – and scoop a $6.5 million bonus.

Speaking after the race, Abiteboul was delighted to have pulled the result off, but thought the stress of such a last-gasp performance needed to be steered clear of in the future.

"It is okay now, but the message is that we must avoid putting ourselves in such a position again," Abiteboul told Motorsport.com.

"It can be a very stylish way to finish the season, but we need to have a programme that is allowing us to secure what needs to be secured before that."

Hulkenberg controversy

The foundations for Hulkenberg to deliver the points needed came on the opening lap, when he managed to get past Force India's Sergio Perez after running off the track.

Having not given the position back, Hulkenberg was handed a five-second time penalty, but with the benefit of track position he was able to build such a margin that the punishment did not hurt him.

Abiteboul defended Hulkenberg not giving the place back, suggesting that Renault had not instructed him to do so because it had not been able to see the incident on television.

"We didn't have access to the footage and actually the replay was late coming," he said. "When the replay came it was already too late to give back position, and I think it was already in the hands of the stewards – and that was five seconds.

"From that point onwards it was all about building the gap in order for the pit stops to happen and not lose track position, which we did – by changing what was scheduled.

"We cannot say it didn't have any impact on us: it had some impact. We had to take more risk and you know how much we have to balance risk and reliability, and that worked in the pitstops. For me, I don't see any problem with that."

Pushed on Hulkenberg gaining an unfair advantage because of keeping track position, Abiteboul said: "There are regulations. There are stewards. They made a decision. There was a penalty. We served the penalty. Full stop.

"What else can I do? I am not going to make it worse for our team, given how tight it was. So no further comment on that."

Alarms

Abiteboul also said that Renault had had to be quite 'extreme' in its settings this weekend to make sure that its points target was not wrecked by reliability problems.

"For the last 20 or 25 laps, it was all about tyres, fuel management energy and preserving engine," he said, when asked about radio messages suggesting alarms were going off in the car.

"When you do that, you start to enter into an operating envelope that is not very usual. We have been very extreme this weekend, we have been very extreme in the way we were preserving the engine and all of that, thanks to the huge team effort of Viry and Enstone."

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