Sport Renault progress surprises Force India

17:50  21 april  2017
17:50  21 april  2017 Source:

Vettel leads Red Bull duo in first practice in Bahrain

  Vettel leads Red Bull duo in first practice in Bahrain Sebastian Vettel led the way in a scorching opening Formula 1 practice session in Bahrain. With temperatures peaking at nearly 40 degrees Celsius, the cars were put to their maximum in dealing with the desert heat. After the initial runs on the medium tyres were out of the way, Vettel stormed to the top of the timesheets displaying Force India’s Sergio Perez by 1.398s on a 1m32.697s. Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen’s session did not go to plan after suffering a turbo problem with 55 minutes remaining on the clock ultimately ended the session in last place, nearly 10 seconds off the pace. Both Red Bulls went fastest of anyone in the first sector on their respective laps but were unable to beat Vettel’s benchmark. Daniel Ricciardo was four-tenths in second while Verstappen was a further four-tenths off his team-mate. Sergio Perez led the tight midfield pack in fourth, just two-tenths separating the Force Indias, Williams’ and McLaren’s Fernando Alonso. Felipe Massa suffered some sort of brake issues in the final five minutes, resulting in a spin at Turn 13. Romain Grosjean was a solid ninth ahead of Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton, who set their best times earlier than most. Daniil Kvyat was two seconds off in 11th ahead of Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg. Stoffel Vandoorne stopped out on the circuit which appeared to be another Honda engine issue. Pascal Wehrlein was back in the Sauber after sitting out the Chinese Grand Prix last week and ended FP1 just less than a tenth behind team-mate Marcus Ericsson. Conditions in FP2 will be similar to that of qualifying and the race which will give us a clearer picture of who has the speed around Bahrain.

With their first points of 2017 in the bag, Force India have hailed rivals Renault ’s winter progress , saying they have done a “fantastic job”. Asked by Autosport if he was ‘ surprised ’ by Renault ’s improved form, Fernley said: “Yes I am.

F1 - Report links Jules Bianchi with Force India test seat.

Force India’s deputy team principal Bob Fernley has expressed his surprise at the progress made by Formula 1 rivals Renault over the winter.

Renault endured a difficult return as a fully-fledged manufacturer in 2016, amassing only eight points en route to ninth in the championship.

After capturing the signature of Nico Hulkenberg, however, the team has leaped up the pecking order and looks set to be a major protagonist in an intense midfield battle.

Fernley believes that Renault, which scored its first points of the season in Bahrain, has filled the void left by the struggling McLaren.

When asked by  if he was surprised by Renault’s efforts, Fernley replied: “Yes I am. Renault have done a fantastic job over the winter, much better than I thought they would do, but we had identified that as a key issue.

Gelael and Sirotkin among rookies in post Bahrain GP F1 Test

  Gelael and Sirotkin among rookies in post Bahrain GP F1 Test Six rookies, which include Sean Gelael and Sergio Sirotkin, will join 16 of the current Formula 1 grid in this week’s two-day test in Bahrain. Bahrain Grand Prix winner Sebastian Vettel will test on the second day of testing, taking over from Antonio Giovinazzi who will drive on the opening day. 2016 GP2 champion Pierre Gasly will share driving duties with Daniel Ricciardo at Red Bull. Renault, who are set to test their 2017 MGU-K again in the test, will be running Nico Hulkenberg and their reserve driver Sergey Sirotkin. Formula 2 driver Sean Gelael will drive a Formula 1 car for the first time on Tuesday while Carlos Sainz Jr. and Daniil Kvyat will share the car on Wednesday. Force India and Williams will split driving duties between their two race drivers on Tuesday. Wednesday will see the teams run Mexican Alfonso Celis Jr and ex-McLaren test driver Gary Paffett respectively. Fernando Alonso will not be present at the test, Oliver Turvey will drive on Tuesday followed by race driver Stoffel Vandoorne, who failed to start the Bahrain Grand Prix due to a power unit issue. Mercedes, Haas and Sauber are the only teams who are only running their regular drivers across the two days.

Denies voluntarily quitting bahrain GP force india hails rapid renault progress berger tips vettel to stay at ferrari indy 500 deal not my idea says boullier massa surprised button not testing in bahrain team orders

Progress in Artificial Life: Third.

“Going into testing, I felt we would be in a four-car battle with Williams, Toro Rosso and McLaren.

“Clearly McLaren didn’t make it but Renault have stepped into where McLaren would be and I think it’s going to be like that for the whole season.”

Mark Thompson/Getty Images Sport © Mark Thompson/Getty Images Sport Mark Thompson/Getty Images Sport

Force India is looking to retain the fourth place it impressively claimed last year and is on target after the opening three rounds.

However, Williams is only a point adrift, with Toro Rosso, Haas and indeed Renault also posing a threat in an increasingly tight midfield squabble.

Fernley expects the fight, which is proving increasingly unpredictable, to continue throughout the season.

“From what you can see at the moment it looks quite exciting,” he added.

“You’ve got two teams fighting at the front and four that are going to be battling for fourth place – obviously Red Bull are in the middle somewhere.”

Australian F1 Grand Prix © Mark Thompson/Getty Images Sport Australian F1 Grand Prix

Hulkenberg heading to Sochi with a 'bit of optimism' .
Nico Hulkenberg says he is heading to Russia optimistic that Renault can showcase some progress on their race pace. Hulkenberg qualified inside the top 10 at the previous round in Bahrain, only to drop back behind former team-mate Sergio Perez and the Haas of Romain Grosjean to finish ninth in the race. The German admitted Renault’s weakness was as ‘clear as daylight’ after a lacklustre race performance; Renault is set to bring a new front wing this weekend in a bid to cure the issue. Nevertheless, Hulkenberg is feeling positive the team can turn around its fortunes. “I have quite a bit of optimism!” he said. “I think we made good progress to enable us to improve our race pace for Sochi when we were testing in Bahrain and we have some new bits for the car to facilitate this too. “Of course, the Sochi Autodrom is a completely different circuit, so we can’t accurately predict our relative performance until we get there, but I’m feeling positive.” Hulkenberg is confident that with more upgrades, the car can continue to strive forwards and score strong points but admits the Sochi circuit owes him a result after two consecutive first lap retirements. “Of course, my main focus is on the track itself and it’s a good one to drive, so I go there [Russia] with a happy face,” he added. “I think we’ve made good progress with the car with some positive updates, which should also make me happy.

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