Abiteboul is looking for Renault to bounce back

Renault Sport F1 driver Nico Hulkenberg
Renault Sport F1 driver Nico Hulkenberg

Renault Sport Formula One Team fell short of its ambitions in Sunday’s Russian Grand Prix with Nico Hülkenberg taking 12th and Carlos Sainz nursing his crash-damaged car to 17th at the Sochi Autodrom.

Running an alternate strategy to the cars ahead, both drivers made good headway early in the race on the Soft tyres, however Sainz was hampered by early contact damage to the floor and side-pod vane on the right-hand side of his car, meaning he dropped back through the race. Hülkenberg ran as high as seventh, but he finished two-places shy of the points.

The Enstone team remain in fourth position in the FIA F1 Constructors’ Championship.

Hülkenberg started from 12th on new Pirelli soft yellow tyres, pitting on lap 35 for a new set of ultrasoft purple tyres. Sainz started from 11th on new soft tyres, pitting on lap 32 for a new set of ultrasoft tyres.

Hülkenberg said: “We had a clean race without any incidents and it was positive to be running in seventh for so many laps.

“We gave it our best shot and converted the alternative strategy pretty well, but we couldn’t make it pay off in the end.”

Sainz said: “I have mixed feelings. At the start I got away from the line really well on the soft tyre and was past a couple of cars with the Hhpersoft tyres.

“However, I got hit by a Williams into turn two, the floor and side of the car was destroyed and that made it really difficult to drive.”

Team boss Cyril Abiteboul added: “It was a disappointing race for us. It’s clear we made the correct decision in qualifying as it offered the best strategy for the race, racing in seventh place before our stop and clearly in contention for points.”