F1 testing 2017: Scoring points difficult for Renault - Hulkenberg
|By Oleg Karpov and Mitchell Adam||Friday, March 10th 2017, 15:02 GMT|
Renault recruit Nico Hulkenberg believes it will be difficult for his new team to score Formula 1 points this year, despite the gains made with its 2017 car.
A late takeover of Lotus severely hindered Renault in its first season back as a works outfit, finishing ninth in F1's constructors' championship with just eight points on the board last year.
Significant investment has been made to rebuild and restaff Enstone over the last 12 months, and Renault Sport Racing president Jerome Stoll said at its launch that the target for 2017 is fifth place.
Haas team principal Gunther Steiner believes F1's top three teams - Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull - are at least one second clear of the pack while Williams has also led a day of testing.
Hulkenberg is not convinced Renault's gains will be enough make it a regular points scorer from the midfield this year.
"I think Renault is better placed than last year," the former Force India driver said. "The team moved closer to the midfield.
"Points will be difficult as I think four teams are clearly in front.
"Then there's not much left. It's going to be difficult."
Jolyon Palmer described Renault's form in the first week of testing as a "pleasant surprise", but Hulkenberg was "not super happy" at the end of week two.
The reliability of Renault's overhauled power unit has been highlighted, with problems found on the dyno "magnified" when it has hit the track.
That has cost all three of Renault's teams running time, including an afternoon Hulkenberg was scheduled drive that was reallocated to Palmer.
"We did have a few questions marks this week," he said after setting Friday morning's fourth-fastest time.
"Today we managed to clear a few things. We now have a better understanding and a better car performance. It was productive day.
"We still have potential to go faster. And we still have plenty of work to do on the car.
"But the year is long. So I hope we can improve.
"I don't think we matched our expectations. During winter testing we discovered a few things that are not as we would like them to be.
"So this is how it is. Not we have to work hard to improve and get into the right direction.
"We would have liked to do a bit more set-up tests which we couldn't do as we were lacking time due to reliability issues.
"So we couldn't do everything we would have liked."