Nick Chester: Renault cannot count on its closest competitors’ weaknesses

Nick Chester: Renault cannot count on its closest competitors’ weaknesses

Renault, Daniel Ricciardo
photo: Renault Sport

With pre-season testing over, the Renault team heads to Albert Park, Melbourne, for the first race of the year. Chassis Technical Director Nick Chester explains the strengths of the Renault R.S.19.

What are your feelings heading into the first race of the year?

The competition looks like it will be very tight. Year on year the competitive landscape has evolved and we cannot count on our closest competitors’ weaknesses. We knew with the regulation changes there was a possibility it would become even tighter and this has been played out. From our point of view, we had two good weeks of pre-season testing, covering good mileage and we went through a variety of test items as planned, meaning we go to Melbourne well prepared.

Has winter testing given a solid platform to attack the start of the season well?

We have a decent balance on the car and we obtained a vast amount of data to understand the main characteristics of our package. We have been able to identify the best set-up for the drivers to optimise their performance. We’ve already put some performance parts on the car in the last days of testing at Barcelona that worked well and we have more to come in Melbourne. Overall, we have a strong package and the development programme outlined for the first part of the season is very intense.

What are the main challenges of Albert Park?

Beginning the season on a street course throws up some challenges, especially after coming in from testing on a smooth, permanent surface. The track is usually a bit dirty on Friday with lack of grip. And there’s always a challenge in striking a good setup as it’s a bumpy circuit. Drivers and engineers almost need to start from zero compared to Barcelona testing. Temperatures can vary a lot in Melbourne and the rain can sometimes roll in from the bay nearby and that’s something to keep in mind.