Renault poised for unfamiliar challenge in ‘home’ surroundings

Renault has said they’ll enjoy the familiarities of the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya but it will throw up a unique challenge given the summer heat.

It’s expected the race will feature tyre management akin to the British Grand Prix, given the hot temperatures and heavy corner loads, while Pirelli are bringing the same sets of rubber that they provided at the first Silverstone race.

The team completed six days of pre-season testing at Montmelo in February but the August temperatures will be a new experience with the Spanish Grand Prix normally held in May, at the start of the European leg of the season.

Daniel Ricciardo, who sits ninth in the championship on 20 points, said: “It’s probably the most familiar circuit for all of us with all the pre-season and in-season testing we do there.

“I think it’s going to be interesting going there now, this late in the year, when it’s going to be a lot warmer than in February or even May when we usually race.

Winners and Losers of the 70th Anniversary GP

Ricciardo thought he could’ve had a podium at British GP but then had a disappointing second race in Northamptonshire as he struggled on the medium tyres, spun on lap 31 and ended up 14th.

However, the Renault does look to be improving – the 20 points it scored in round four its record since returning to the sport – and Esteban Ocon was able to work the one-stop strategy last week which bodes well for the strategy battle on Sunday.

Ricciardo added: “We had a decent winter test there earlier in the year, but the car has changed a bit since then, so I’m looking forward to trying that out.

“It’s not usually the most exciting of races for overtakes as it’s a high-speed circuit and quite hard to follow the car in front.

“I think if we can qualify well, there’s no reason we can’t have a strong result.”

Ocon is just four points behind his teammate in his return season in F1. had a good two weeks at Silverstone as he finished sixth at the British Grand Prix, equalling his best result since Mexico 2017.

He was then Renault’s top finisher in the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix rising from 14th on the grid to finish seventh, described by team boss Cyril Abiteboul as ‘quite something’.

He said: “Barcelona is a bit like the home for Formula 1 – in a way – with all the testing we do there in the winter, I’m looking forward to it and aiming for a solid result.

“It’s a track where I had my best result in Formula 1: fifth place in 2017. I’ve always had success there and had really good feelings going there as it’s one of my favourite tracks.”

Renault are sixth in the constructors’ championship but only nineteen points behind Ferrari who sit third, with the midfield extremely tight so far this season.

Chief Race Engineer Ciaron Pilbeam added: “Barcelona is very much split into two sections. The first two sectors are mostly high-speed corners and then the end of the lap is generally much slower and very tough on the rear tyres as there are so many corners close together.

“One thing that is different for this race is the time of year.

“Normally we test in Barcelona in the winter in February and then race in May when it’s warmer. We’re now racing in August and it could be very hot.

“There might be less grip when it gets hot, but it won’t change the fundamentals of the track.”