Renault Sport Racing Formula One Team – 2017 Formula 1 Gran Premio De España Pirelli Preview

May 11, 2017 by Renault

Renault Sport Racing Formula One Team – 2017 Formula 1 Gran Premio De España Pirelli PreviewForeword from Renault Sport Racing Managing Director, Cyril Abiteboul

We head to Spain for the first European race of the season with the target of continuing to score points. Barcelona is an event where we often see many upgrades to the cars and we have some new parts ourselves. We've had a solid run of points in the past two races and we want to continue that.

Spain is a strong market for Formula 1 and for Renault. We produce very many cars, engines and gearboxes in Spain so we have a good amount of local support, as well as the team having a Spanish sponsor in MAPFRE. We also have the exciting young driver talent of Marta García who comes from nearby Valencia and is one of our six of our Renault Sport Academy drivers in 2017.

At Barcelona, we will see Sergey Sirotkin in the car again for FP1, although this time we are hoping he gets far more laps under his belt, following an unfortunate gearbox issue for him in Sochi. We are always looking to the future with our young drivers and will also see RSA member Jack Aitken start his GP3 Series season this weekend.

Russia saw a good race for Nico where he was able to maximise our race strategy and showcase that our latest updates brought a step forward in race pace.

For Jolyon, it's been a tough start to the season; if there's been an issue affecting the car, you can almost guarantee it happens his side of the garage. This is something we are responding to by ensuring each and every reliability issue that impacts upon performance is addressed and so much work occurs in this regard away from the track at Enstone and Viry. We know that Jolyon has deep reserves and can bounce back well. We saw last year how he came on strong in the second half of the season so we're working hard to give him the car in which he can deliver.

On both the chassis and power unit side, we have shown a good step forward in performance so we need to ensure we can harness this reliably at every opportunity. On the chassis side, we are free to introduce any upgrades at every race; on the power unit side we have work to the regulation constraints however the power unit performance will continue to improve through the season.

The 2017 season has certainly captured the imagination of the public and we are right in a very exciting midfield fight with some very determined opponents. This gives us all good motivation to take the fight to these rivals and we can't wait to hit the track in Spain.

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    Familiar Challenges

    With four races in the bag, the R.S.17 returns to the scene of its track debut, the test mecca that is the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, venue for the Spanish Grand Prix. Chassis Technical Director Nick Chester gives his insight.

    What's the outlook for the Spanish Grand Prix?

    The outlook is pretty good. We've been qualifying well so far this season, then Sochi showed a useful improvement to our race pace. We've still got a few more upgrades on the aerodynamic package for Spain, so we're reasonably positive.

    What's the challenge of the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya?

    Even though we know it really well from all the testing we do there, it is quite a tough circuit. It's very much a downforce track with a lot of high and medium speed corners where you need the aero package really working for you.

    It's also a location that's hard on tyres because the corners are so quick with their loadings. It's tough for both the front and rear, meaning that keeping tyre temperatures under control is a challenge, especially in the last part of the lap where the rear tyres can overheat.

    How different is the practice programme when it's a venue so well known to teams?

    We know the track well with these cars having tested there in the pre-season so basic set-up, ride height and those elements are more finalised when you head out for FP1. We still have all the tyre and aero assessments we want to run, so we certainly will be busy enough.

    Will Sergey get a proper run in the car this time?

    That's most certainly the plan. Sergey's issue in Sochi was related to a gearbox shift valve and it was a big shame for him to get so little running. He's in Jo's car for FP1, and we expect he'll do a good job.

    What was the content of the post-Russian Grand Prix debrief?

    The upgrades we used in Sochi worked as expected so we made a useful step in our race pace whilst maintaining qualifying pace. There's still more to do in this area, but we're heading in the right direction. We're in the midfield fight where we expected to be, but it's a very close battle here so we need to ensure we seize every advantage possible from the car and how we use it.

    Any new bits for the car?

    We have new barge boards and an updated rear wing. We need to keep adding performance to the car as that's what everyone else is fighting to do. We've started the season on a positive note so we need to maintain and improve this.

    Points haul

    Despite having pounded in countless laps of the Circuit de Barcelona Catalunya the Spanish Grand Prix venue hasn't been too kind to Nico Hülkenberg in the past, with tenth place finishes in 2012 and 2014 the best in his back catalogue. Time to do better….

    What's the mood headed to Spain?

    I'm feeling good. The car is improving at every race and we can deliver. I spent two days at Enstone last week and even some occasional British rain wasn't an issue.

    What do you think of the event?

    Barcelona and the surrounding area is great. There's a great Spanish vibe, it's right by the sea with lots of good restaurants with nice food and paella. I always enjoy visiting there. There's always a decent turnout of fans, which means I have to leave for the track a little earlier in the morning to avoid the traffic, but it's great to see that enthusiasm.

    What are your thoughts of the track when you're behind the wheel?

    It's a track we all know really well after testing there so much so all the engineers have a lot of data and knowledge about it. I personally like the layout, especially the first sector with turns 1-2-3, which have added value thanks to the fastest cars this season. It's a physical circuit with all the high speed right handers so you need a strong neck; you'll really know about it by the end of the race.

    What's notable over the 4.7km?

    The first turns are almost like one corner as turns 1-2-3 seem linked as if you get 1-2 wrong you'll be in a bad place for turn 3 which is high speed and quite a challenge. Sector three is very technical, twisty and slow, especially through the last chicane, but it's the key to a quick lap time so you need to master it.

    No Spain no gain

    After a few challenges so far this season Jolyon Palmer has reset and reloaded and is focused on having a strong weekend in Spain.

    What's the outlook heading to the first European race of the season?

    The outlook is good. We've seen what the R.S.17 is capable of and I know that all I need to score points is a straightforward weekend. Russia was really frustrating as I had a good car under me but I was out of the race by the second corner. That's motor racing, but it's still very frustrating.

    What do you think of the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya?

    I've been there many times and it's a track that most Formula 1 drivers know extremely well, even just from the pre-season testing we do there. From a driving point of view we know exactly what to expect, however it's traditionally the first circuit where you see a lot of updates brought so you can see some differences in relative competitiveness depending on who's got updates, and how well those updates work.

    Do you like the long fast corners?

    I prefer quick stuff - a long quick one or a short quick one I really don't mind, as long as you really hang it out and commit hard to it. The Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya has a couple that really take my fancy: turn three's a really long, fast corner, and then turn nine as well is a really good one; it's quick and it's blind to the exit so you really have to commit. It's certainly one of the more physical circuits as there are a lot of long, fast corners, lots of high lateral Gs that put your neck and your core under strain. For the long corners the aero is really important, and with the DRS on the straight and the tyre degradation we see there, there's potential for a good race.

    Any good racing memories from Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya?

    I had a double podium in 2014 with two second places in the GP2 Series with some good overtakes in two fun races there. It's not been a circuit that's been especially kind to me, but it's a good challenge and one I enjoy.

    What do you think of the city?

    Barcelona's a cool city. The weather's nice, the atmosphere's always good and it's just a very happening place with great culture. There's also strong enthusiasm for Formula 1.

    Second time lucky

    Renault Sport Formula One Team Third and Reserve Driver Sergey Sirotkin had something of a short FP1 session in Sochi, but his second opportunity in the R.S.17 is at the Spanish Grand Prix where he jumps into Jolyon's car on Friday morning.

    Barcelona is an historic and challenging circuit on the Formula 1 calendar. It's very interesting and very much suits my driving style.

    There are a few very challenging high speed corners and as well a slow sector, in the final part, where the driver has to be careful not to overwork the Pirelli tyres, both on a flying lap and in the race. distance.

    Putting together these different elements, it is the most challenging circuit in the season, even if teams do go there a lot.

    I personally really like the track and naturally I'm looking forward to driving there.

    Renault Sport Academy Round-up

    Training Time

    In the week leading up to the Russian Grand Prix, all members of the Renault Sport Academy were present in Enstone for an extensive training programme incorporating driver conditioning training, rock climbing, kayaking and rowing, swimming and mountain biking as well as some classroom-based training too.

    Christian Lungaard

    It was a really full week, I must say that I learned a lot of new things. I enjoyed working with the other Renault Sport Academy members and I think through the year we can help each other to improve and strengthen our weaknesses. Through the week the most exciting part was definitely the kayaking and rowing. It was something that I've never tried before, so a great experience.

    Jack Aitken

    It was great to have everyone in Enstone together as it's never easy with our racing schedules! Even though I arrived late from testing I enjoyed my time there, even our bike ride in the driving rain! Got to love the British weather…

    Jarno Opmeer

    It was cold and rainy but we also laughed a lot, especially when people fell in during the kayaking! The thing I learned is to stay focused and pay attention to the technical aspects. Also, to keep working together, even when you are so wet and cold.

    Marta García

    I gained knowledge for many areas of vital importance for being a more complete athlete, such as working as a team and communication skills. What I enjoyed the most was the day of rowing and kayaking, as it was something new for me and I found it really beneficial because we had to work as a team to make everything work to the optimum.

    Max Fewtrell

    Overall I learnt from the week that teamwork is essential to success and I've learnt more about myself and what I need to work on too. I enjoyed rock climbing the most as an activity but I found the rowing and kayaking the most beneficial for my mental strength by having to be focused at all times.

    Jack gets off and underway

    Jack Aitken starts his second season racing as part of the Renault Sport Academy as the GP3 Series gets underway as part of the race bill for the Spanish Grand Prix, where he will be racing for ART Grand Prix.

    Jack heads to Barcelona confident after proving quick in pre-season testing in Valencia in the week leading up to the Russian Grand Prix.

    'Testing went really well, we clocked a lot of laps and got everything done without any major dramas,' said Jack. 'I'm really looking forward to starting the season in Barcelona as testing is just testing at the end of the day. I now need to show that speed in qualifying and then the race.'

    Formula Renault Eurocupers at Silverstone

    Whilst the Spanish Grand Prix takes place, Formula Renault Eurocup contesting Renault Sport Academy drivers Jarno Opmeer, Max Fewtrell and Sun Yue Yang will be out in action for the second round of the championship at the famed Silverstone circuit in England, just 25 minutes away from Renault Sport Formula One Team's Enstone base.

    Of the trio, only Max has raced at Silverstone before, and that was on the National layout rather than the Grand Prix configuration that will be used over May 12-14.

    Renault Sport Academy Focus… Marta García

    Representing Spain in the Renault Sport Academy, Marta García will start her first season of single seater racing in 2017 after a successful karting career where she finished fourth in the 2016 European CIK-FIA OK Championship and ninth in WSK OK Super Masters last year as well as winning the 2015 CIK-FIA Academy Trophy. For 2017 she will contest the F4 Spanish Championship certified by FIA.

    Marta has already experienced the F1 car of the future, by appearing in the video to showcase Renault's take on what F1 could be like in ten years' time with the R.S.2027 Vision.

    How did you get into motorsport?

    I had always liked the speed of driving any kind of vehicle when I was really small, then one day when I was nine, my dad and me decided to go to a karting track to have fun. I really enjoyed it so I told my dad I wanted him to buy me a kart so I could race! In the end he did exactly this and from then on I started testing.

    What are your memories of your first kart race?

    I remember in my first race I finished one of the last so I knew I still had a lot to learn and I had to train a lot more to be in the top.

    What have you learnt through being part of the Academy so far?

    I've learnt many things. I've learnt how to work as team, gained some more knowledge about physical training and nutrition that I didn't know before and also learned interesting things about media and communication. Seeing the factory at Enstone has been a great experience too.

    What are your motorsport aspirations, this season and beyond?

    This season is to get to win the F4 Spanish championship. In the future, I want to be an F1 driver and then world champion.

    Who are your motorsport heroes?

    I'd say two of my favourite drivers are Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton. I like the way that both of them drive aggressively. Fernando Alonso has always been my reference too, since I was really small.

    What's your best motorsport memory so far?

    My best memory so far was in karting in 2015 when I won the Troffeo Della Industria, It felt really good and it was done in such an exciting manner.

    What's the best overtaking move you've ever made?

    It was in the same Troffeo Della Industria race in 2015, I was running first in that race and it was two laps until the end. I was overtaken by another driver, but I wanted to win so hard that I passed him back, even though there was almost no space to make the move. I had to use the kerb, but I made the move stick, and gained a couple of metres to win the race. It was a really fantastic feeling.

    What are your thoughts on the R.S.2027 Vision and can you imagine yourself driving a car like this in 10 years' time?

    I think the R.S.2027 has a really nice design and looks really futuristic. You can clearly see the driver sat in the seat and the cockpit is safer as has a canopy. Of course I see myself racing in this car in 10 years, it would be awesome!

    Rowland ready for round two

    Renault Sport Formula One Team Development Driver Oliver Rowland will be out in action in Spain for the second round of the FIA Formula 2 Championship.

    Since Bahrain, Oliver has been busy promoting his new role with the team, with appearances on Talksport radio and Sky Sports F1 in the UK.

    After a good opening race weekend in Bahrain I'm heading to Barcelona. This track has a mix of high and low speed which is reasonably hard on the tyres, especially the front left. I spend a lot of time on the simulator at Enstone driving around this circuit as it has a great mix of corners and gives the engineers good data. This means I've done many laps and feel really in tune with it.

    The aim has to be to win at least one of the two races. We were competitive here in the three-day test earlier in the year so I am confident we can be strong. I am currently lying third in the championship, so I will be looking forward to improving that over the weekend.

    Renault e.dams – Monaco ePrix 2017, 13 May 2017

    Renault e.dams is back in action this weekend for the fifth round of the 2016/17 FIA Formula E Championship taking place on the legendary streets of Monaco. With 122 points already secured for the team, Renault e.dams and its drivers Séb Buemi and Nico Prost arrive more motivated than ever to defend the title.

    'Monaco is one of the best track of the calendar,' said Séb. 'I have great memories of 2015 and I will do my best to win a second time here.' His team-mate Nico adds: 'It's the most prestigious and mythical track in motorsport and to race here again is going to be a great experience'.

    Track notes

    The Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya may be well known to teams and drivers because of countless testing sessions held there, but familiarity does not breed contempt; there's plenty to think about over a 4.7km lap.

    A combination of high, medium and low speed corners, with the first two sectors featuring mainly medium and high speed, whereas the final sector is mostly low speed, where the rear tyres often start to overheat due to traction demands. Managing rear tyre temperatures is the key to a quick lap; you need to leave sufficient bite to be able to exit the final corner as fast as possible to blast down the 1km straight at maximum velocity.

    T1-T2: This is a quick part of the circuit with a swift change of direction in between the first right and left, with bumps to unsettle the car. Turn 1 is one of the few corners on the track where overtaking is possible under braking.

    T3: Carrying high speed from the exit of Turn 2, combined with a good line heading into the very quick Turn 3 right hander is crucial to a good lap time. The high speed nature of T3 puts a lot of stress through the tyres, especially the front left. Overtaking is possible here at the start but it must be audacious and bold. Corner could be flat in 2017.

    T5-T9: With downhill braking into T5 it's very easy to lock the inside front left tyre - especially with some bumps to assist – as the driver brakes and turns in the road falls away from the car. Lots of shallow kerb use on exit, which is a good test of the car's traction. A wide exit downhill into T7-8 sees the car needing a good change of direction before lining up for the flat-out T9 which will be taken much quicker this year.

    T10: The momentum gained through the previous sequence can offer a potential overtaking attempt in to T10 – La Caixa, a tight left hander. Traction is all important on the exit for a run through the next technical challenge of T11-15.

    T13: A more technical part of the track with some large kerbs which are best avoided. The track drops down through the penultimate right hand corner and then in to the final chicane where extra late braking can gain a few thousandths of a second.

    T16: It's essential to have a good car through Turn 16 to maximise the run down the long straight. In qualifying it's taken pretty much flat out, but with high fuel and a bit of tyre degradation it becomes more of a compromise for entry speed.

    Power Unit Notes

    •The Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya sits in the middle of the table for the demands placed on the PU. Only 55% of the track is taken at full throttle.

    •The 1km long pit straight stresses the ICE for around 14secs, but its effects are mitigated by only short bursts of throttle round the rest of the 4.655km circuit.

    •The other period of significant full open throttle comes between Turns 9 and 10, where the ICE is giving its maximum for some 6secs.

    •Speeds on these two straights will peak at over 300kph with DRS closed, with the maximum speed being just over 325kph on the main straight with DRS open. Ultimate top speed will depend on the wind direction, however. If there is a head wind, the top speed will be some 1-4kph lower than with a tail wind. Engineers work to offset the negative effect with minute aero adjustments since gear ratios cannot be changed. This nonetheless affects car balance as a compromise needs to be found; a strong tailwind down the main straight is less detrimental than a headwind.

    •Maintaining good driveability over the lap from the turbo is important as the circuit flows a lot better than the modern tracks visited so far. Turn 3, for instance, is taken almost flat out and the driver needs to be able to carry the speed through the corner.

    •Turn 10, the 70kph speed hairpin requires good turbo reaction to provide smooth torque delivery and ensure a good exit. Also, traction out of the last corner is arguably more important than top speed to enable an overtaking manoeuvre, which is typically difficult at this circuit.

    •The undulating nature of the track likewise requires good turbo response. The first sector rises in altitude by some 15m before descending through sector two. Power delivery up the hill needs to be smooth, but likewise sharp on the exit of the corners.

    •The circuit has a variety of corner speeds and there are good opportunities for the MGU-K to recover energy under braking. The first is the Turn 1 to 3 complex. The cars arrive at over 300kph and brake to 125kph for the first corner.

    •Another notable chance to recover energy is Turn 5, located in sector 2. The circuit drops downhill, giving the car further momentum, and the driver steps on the brakes for around 3secs. In the T5 braking zone 30% of the braking energy requested on the rear wheels is recovered by the MGUK.

    •Other braking points come at Turn 10 and Turn 13. T10 is one of the hardest braking zones on the track as the driver will be at 300kph at the entry to the corner. As well as ensuring the MGU-K is recovering as much energy as possible, PU torque accuracy is particularly important here as the circuit goes downhill. Giving the right amount of stability under braking while giving push on the exit is one of the key challenges of the track.

    •Barcelona is not a particularly challenging circuit for the MGU-H as the pit and back straight will give the MGU-H time to recover the energy lost in the exhaust.

    •Other short bursts between the turns and high speed corners such as Turns 6 and 9 likewise see the ICE running at partial throttle for extended periods of time.


    Pirelli's Hard compound tyre makes its first appearance in 2017 however don't expect it to be a frequent track visitor over the course of the Grand Prix. The Soft tyre is expected to be the most hard worked in Spain with the Medium out in action too.


    HARD (orange) - Like a Jamón ibérico shoulder, it lasts forever.

    MEDIUM (white) - The patatas bravas of the tyre world. A solid, filling dish that is still a little spicy.

    SOFT (yellow) - Pimentos de padron: wildly hot at first, then cools off when you've had a few.

    It Figures

    200 The great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt only took 20 years to build with ancient tools, and so far, la Sagrada Familia in Barcelona has taken around 200 years to be constructed with modern technology.

    150,000 - Every day, there are more than 150,000 people taking a walk along Las Ramblas.

    4,251 - The Picasso museum houses 4,251 works from his early work through to his Blue Period.

    4,000,000 - Spain produces more than four million hams per year.

    Renault in Spain

    Renault has two significant car production facilities in Spain, located just 50km from each other, in the north east of the country. Palencia is dedicated to the production of the Mégane and Kadjar and since its founding in 1978 it has produced over six million vehicles. The Valladolid bodywork assembly site, meanwhile has produced over 5 million vehicles since its foundation in 1953. This factory produces the Captur and the Twizy. The biggest engine factory of Groupe Renault is also in Valladolid. Elsewhere in Spain, the Seville plant manufacturers almost a million gearboxes per year.

    Renault produced almost 600,000 cars in Spain in 2016.

    Over 14,000 people are employed by Renault in Spain.

    Almost 170,000 Renault cars were sold in Spain in 2016.

    The most popular Renault Sport car in Spain is the CLIO RS 200.

  • Photo credit: Renault
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