• Tue. Apr 16th, 2024

North East Connected

Hopping Across The North East From Hub To Hub


Foreword from Renault Sport Racing Managing Director, Cyril Abiteboul
After the highs of a very decent run of eight consecutive finishes in the points culminating in our home Grand Prix in France, Austria was like a crash landing. Although the circuit did not play to our strengths, we must do better. While the race did not go our way, it certainly benefited our rivals, who took advantage of three retirements in the top teams to finish higher than usual in the rankings.

The sign of a good team is the ability to react quickly and come back stronger. Even in the short turnaround between Austria and Silverstone we must improve reliability, recover our more usual competitiveness level and further our understanding around tyre management. We know Silverstone will be a tough challenge but we will keep pushing to get back on target. It’s our second home race, just down the road from the factory, so another double finish would be a welcome fillip as we head towards the summer break.

Happiest at home
After the disappointment in Austria, the team heads just 19 miles from its Enstone home for the British Grand Prix, the final leg of Formula 1’s first triple-header. Chassis Technical Director Nick Chester explains his vision for Silverstone.

What can we say about Silverstone?
Silverstone is actually quite a tricky track in lots of ways. It has a lot of high speed corners and changes of direction, so you need a nice stable car. A Formula 1 car tends to understeer at Silverstone, and that emphasises the need for a strong front end, if not then it can be a struggle in the high-speed corners. Balancing the requirements of good stability and a strong front end is difficult and further complicated by the need to reduce drag if possible on this high-speed track. We’ll be seeing the hardest tyre compounds from the Pirelli range, mainly because the corners are so fast and that means high energy input into the tyres. Preserving tyre performance will be a significant focus of our weekend.

And how difficult can the Great British weather be to work around?
The weather is always interesting around the British Grand Prix! Silverstone is actually quite high up for the locality, and it can be quite windy, which brings a real fuss in the high-speed corners. Of course, it can be hot, or wet, or cold across the same day or weekend. It’s usually quite challenging.

What’s been the biggest challenge for Formula 1’s first triple-header?
The logistics of it all has been hard, especially getting the cars turned around and getting parts replaced for mileage. It’s tough on the mechanics, they have a hard run through three back-to-back races. Silverstone is a bit of an advantage as it’s close to the factory, and that makes it easier to get parts to the track, but it’s still a challenge being the end of a three-race cycle.

It’s the team’s second home race in three weeks, does that bring extra pressure?
You try to do the best you can at every race. You take as many development parts as you can manage to the earliest possible occasion. A home race doesn’t really change the plan, Silverstone is that bit easier because if you have anything last minute, you can get it to the track. Home advantage helps!

Back on it
Nico Hülkenberg left Austria empty-handed, but heads to Silverstone in a determined mood as he aims to get back on track at one of his favourite circuits.

What do you like about Silverstone?
Silverstone is an awesome circuit, purely because it’s very high-speed. The old corner combinations of Maggots, Becketts and Chapel are really cool and especially quick in the modern Formula 1 car. You can really feel the forces, and it’s a tough, physical challenge. Striking a good, high-speed balance is important to extract the most performance. Silverstone is a good, challenging, physical lap but satisfying when you nail it.

What makes Silverstone so special?
Great Britain is one of the historic Grands Prix. You get a sense of the roots of car racing there. The atmosphere is always special too, and that gives you a buzz. The grandstands are packed out throughout the weekend and it’s always great to see that. It’s the second home race for the team, so that carries extra meaning and significance. We enjoyed a bright result there last year – my best qualifying and joint-best result.

Why do you think you go so well in Great Britain?
It’s a track that suits my driving style. Big, high-speed corners, a lot of downforce, which requires a bit of grit to get the most out of the car. It’s definitely encouraging to have a good record at Silverstone – five-points scoring finishes in a row there – so let’s get to work and aim to make it six this weekend.

How keen are you to bounce back with a positive result?
We have an immediate opportunity to return to the points after the frustration of Austria. It’s been a busy few weeks but I’m targeting a bright result to finish off this busy period on a good note.

A twelfth place in Austria ended Carlos Sainz’ six race points-scoring streak, as the Spaniard sets his sights on returning to the top ten at a fast and thrilling Silverstone circuit.

What stands out about Silverstone?
Silverstone is certainly up there as one of my favourite tracks on the Formula 1 calendar. It’s so fast, and simply a track for drivers. My favourite part of the track is easy to pick! Sector two! It’s probably the best sector of all circuits. Going fast through Copse gives you a buzz, but it gets even better through the next complex of Maggots, Becketts and Chapel as you find a rhythm with the car to go left-right-left and right again at very high-speed. It’s such a thrill.

And what’s there to say about the Great British weather?
The weather seems to be a frequent talking point in Great Britain. Rain always makes things more interesting and it is a challenge to drive these Formula 1 cars in wet conditions. Silverstone might provide that, you never know! I visit Enstone quite frequently, so you could say I’m well accustomed to the area, and what the weather might do. The weather will never stop the British fans from turning up in big numbers at Silverstone. What I find really impressive, is the fact the fans will be there all day, in any conditions. That’s what makes Silverstone special, the supporters are very passionate for motorsport.

Why is Silverstone so special to you?
Silverstone is where I tested a Formula 1 car for the first time in 2013. That was one of the most special days of my life and something I will never forget.

How’s the mood heading to Great Britain?
The weekend in Austria was going well for the team up until Sunday. It was a disappointing race for both cars, everyone has them throughout the course of a season, so we want to brush that one aside and focus on Silverstone. There’s no reason why we can’t be back in the top ten.

Renault Sport Racing
Victory for Markelov, frustration for Aitken in Spielberg
Renault Sport Formula One Team’s Test & Development Driver Artem Markelov took a superb FIA Formula 2 Sprint race win to remain well in the title mix.

Artem recovered well after a disappointing qualifying left him seventeenth on the grid for the Feature race. But a well-executed strategy, combined with a last lap overtaking masterclass saw the Russian grab eighth place, which gave him reverse grid pole position for the Sprint. He dominated Sunday’s race, taking the fastest lap in the process to seal an extra two points.

Third & Reserve Driver Jack Aitken left Austria without points after retiring from the Feature race with a car problem while fighting for the podium, before finishing eighteenth in the Sprint.

The Brit will be aiming for a swift return to the points at his home round at Silverstone this weekend.

Artem Markelov:“We finished the weekend in Austria pretty well after a bad start on Friday. The team put in a lot of work to prepare the car during the night, as we had problems with it during the first day. In race one, we went from eighteenth to eighth with some nice overtakes on the last lap. I was on reverse grid pole for the second race and that made things much easier, as we had good pace from start to finish and took the win. Now I’m looking forward to Silverstone, and hopefully everything with the car will be good!”

Hubert loses GP3 championship lead
Renault Sport Affiliated Driver Anthoine Hubert endured a luckless weekend in Austria, which consequently lost him the GP3 Series championship lead.
Anthoine qualified nineteenth on the grid, but impressively weaved his way up into the top eight in race one and in the mix for a race two, reverse grid pole. But the Frenchman was taken out by his team-mate, which forced him back to seventeenth. In race two Anthoine narrowly finished outside the points in ninth.

Anthoine Hubert: “It wasn’t the weekend I was hoping for. Nothing really went our way but we’ve shown our strength in the race and in the battles. My focus is already on Silverstone to keep on the momentum from the first two rounds of the season!”

Jack Aitken… Academy Focus
Jack Aitken has been a member of the Renault Sport Academy since its inception in 2016. Throughout the two years, Jack has graduated to the team’s Third & Reserve Driver, taking part in his first Formula 1 test in Barcelona in May. Here he discusses what it’s like to drive a modern Formula 1 car and his hopes for Silverstone this weekend.

Are you looking forward to racing on home soil this weekend?
I always look forward to Silverstone because apart from anything else I don’t have to get on a plane to get there! It’s a track where I watched my first Grand Prix too. A lot of friends and family will be there this weekend and I look forward to seeing the British fans’ enthusiasm, it’s always a highlight.

What’s your record like at Silverstone, and racing in Britain on a whole?
I raced in the British Intersteps series when I was younger and I did well at the British circuits, finishing third overall. We didn’t actually race at Silverstone that season, but I’ve raced there in Formula Renault and GP3. I’ve won a couple of times at Silverstone, as well as a couple of podiums including last year in GP3, so generally it’s been quite good!

What have been the steps to get in your position now?
I started out in Intersteps and then moved up to Formula Renault NEC with Fortec, finishing second in my rookie year. I competed in the Eurocup for two years, winning it in my second season, as well as the Alps series, with Renault picking me up at the end of that season. I moved to GP3 after that finishing fifth and then runner-up in my second year. Now it’s Formula 2 with Third & Reserve Driver duties for the team as well!

What was it like driving a contemporary Formula 1 car for the first time in May?
It was incredible, I had a taste for it before when I drove the E20. I’ve also done a lot of laps in the simulator, but to do it in an official test session with all the other cars and the team around me was pretty cool.

Have you enjoyed the role of Third & Reserve Driver so far?
I’ve been able to learn a lot more by getting closer to the drivers and engineers. I have more responsibility in terms of helping out on the simulator and helping when I can. I’m enjoying it a lot.

Describe your season so far?
It’s been up and down! We’ve had some highlights, such as getting my first win and podium early on in the season. Now we want our first pole position soon as the pace is there. We’ve also had a lot of problems with reliability with the new car and bad luck in recent races, but there’s not much to be done about that and we’ll take the opportunities when we can.

Ciaron’s Corner:
The circuit has been completely resurfaced since the 2017 race. Previously there were several quite different types of surface at different parts of the track, and the new surface should make the grip more uniform, especially in wet conditions when drainage should be more consistent around the lap. Any of the old bumps may have been removed or smoothed too. Most circuits that have been resurfaced recently have shown more grip than before, so lap times could be quicker than last year.

Hard (ice blue) – Hülkenberg 2, Sainz 1
White (medium) – Hülkenberg 1, Sainz 2
Soft (yellow) – Hülkenberg 10, Sainz 10

Great Britain Stats

Nico Hülkenberg
Starts: 7
Points: 24
Average Points: 3.42 (F1 career average: 3.04)
KM: 5,508
Laps: 935
KM Raced: 2,138
Laps Raced: 363
Positions Gained 2017 (+/-): -1
Fastest Lap: 1:32.577 (2017)
Fastest Qualifying: 1:28.856 (2017)
Average Qualifying: 9th
Average Finish: 8th

Carlos Sainz
Starts: 3
Points: 4
Average Points: 1.33 (F1 career average: 2.12)
KM: 2,062
Laps: 350
Raced KM: 489
Raced Laps: 83
Positions Gained 2017 (+/-): N/A
Fastest Lap: 1:37.401 (2016)
Fastest Qualifying: 1:31.368 (2017)
Average Qualifying: 9th
Average Finish: 13th

Renault in Great Britain
Starts: 147
Wins: 12
Podiums: 30
Pole Positions: 13
Fastest Laps:12
Points: 460

This time last year
Palmer – P11
Hülkenberg – P5

Palmer – DNS
Hülkenberg – P6

Unusual fact
Silverstone Race Circuit spans two counties: Northamptonshire and Buckinghamshire.