Jolyon Palmer says he and Renault are analysing every detail of his performance ahead of this weekend’s Russian race in a bid to pinpoint exactly what went wrong last time out in China, and how such issues can be avoided in the future.
After a solid season opener in Australia – where he narrowly missed out on a maiden points finish – Palmer qualified 19th and finished last on the road in Shanghai, later labelling the weekend as the worst of his career.
“It wasn’t pretty,” the British rookie said of his debrief after China. “We’re analysing to make sure we can learn every lesson possible from the weekend.
“It was certainly a weekend where we struggled so we’re doing everything to understand why. We’ve made good progress and what we can achieve is certainly better than what we saw in Shanghai.
“From my perspective, I’m still learning what exactly I need from this car at different tracks, on different tyres and in different conditions. We’ve made some good progress dissecting and understanding and this should translate to improvement on track in due course.”
Chief technical officer Bob Bell admitted Renault had gone the wrong way with set-up in China, explaining: “We had an issue, which was shared by some other teams too, where the track varied a lot between Friday and Sunday and the information we accumulated on Friday led us to a race set-up which wasn’t that required when we raced on Sunday.
“This is a contribution of the track evolution over the weekend and the different weather conditions. Essentially, we took the wrong direction on balance and suffered because of this.”
Bell also said Renault are still playing catch up on the development of their car. “We don’t have any specific problems with our car,” he continued, “so it’s a case of improving downforce and grip as these are the areas where we’re lacking relative to our rivals, and this is a result of our late start to development. Aero and mechanical grip is where we want to make progress.”
Renault managing director Cyril Abiteboul said the team has no excuses for its downturn in performance, adding: “I can’t hide the fact that the last race in China didn’t meet our expectations.
“We haven’t taken it lightly, but we now need to draw a line under the first three races of the season. The reality is that we need to keep pushing and improve overall performance. We can take inspiration from the solid work we have done on the engine, which now needs to replicated on the chassis side.”
Renault have yet to score in 2016, with Palmer’s 11th place in Australia and team mate Kevin Magnussen’s 11th in Bahrain their best results to date.