Renault team boss Cyril Abiteboul has commended Carlos Sainz for securing a valuable result for the French squad in Japan. The team didn't seem to be on the pace throughout the weekend, and failed to get either car into the final stage of qualifying.
Sainz started the race from thirteenth on the grid, but would make his way up to tenth to secure a point for Renault. The Enstone squad is currently involved in a tight battle with Haas for fourth in the standings, with Haas gaining on Renault in Japan after Romain Grosjean secured eighth.
“After Sochi, it is further evidence that our race pace is competitive at this stage of our development,” said Abiteboul. “We’ve also shown that the power unit is capable of doing great things in race conditions at high-power sensitive circuits, like Suzuka, with Red Bull Racing fighting for second place in these track conditions.”
“Carlos drove strongly throughout and never relented for that final point, while Nico [Hulkenberg] unfortunately had to retire. It’s clear what needs to be fixed and that’s improving our qualifying pace.
"We’ve seen that small differences can play a huge role in starting between seventh or fourteenth. We absolutely need to get on top of this and get the car back where it belongs at circuits which should be better for us,” Abiteboul added.
Sainz, who will be moving to McLaren for 2019, says that tenth was the best he could achieve when taking into account his starting position, but says that Renault must continue to keep up its form in the final four races.
“For us, a point here is the best we could achieve starting from 13th, so that’s a very strong result for us. The team executed everything very well: the strategy, the pit-stop, it all worked. We knew we were up against it this weekend, so it’s great value to score and now we need to build on this in the final four races.”
Bahrain International Circuit - Winter testing