The Renault team had admitted that it hoped to be performing better in 2018 than it has been in the first three races of the season.
Nico Hulkenberg has finished in the points in all of the races so far. Carlos Sainz was also in the top ten in Melbourne qnd Shanghai, but was frustrated to narrowly miss out in Bahrain.
But despite being in fifth place in the constructors standings as a result, Renault admit that they have not met their own high expectations for the new campaign.
“I would say we’re disappointed that we’re not further up,” chief technical officer Bob Bell said. “We hoped to take a bit of laptime out of the top three teams this winter.
“We haven’t,” he admitted. “If anything they’ve moved slightly further ahead.
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“We just didn’t do a good enough job. We weren’t as smart as they were over the winter in designing and developing the car.”
It’s the gap in lap times to the big three teams that is most concerning. Renault still around two seconds a lap slower than the Ferrari and Mercedes front runners in qualifying. Part of the problem is that the R.S.18 is heavier than had been hoped for.
However, Bell said that Renault’s ongoing recruitment programme to make up for personnel shed by the former Lotus team will help put them back on track.
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“We are still growing, we are still developing, we are still getting our methodologies right. And we are still recruiting people and building facilities.
“I don’t want to keep singing that song as an excuse,” he added. “But we are not quite as mature as the top three teams are, They have still got the edge when it comes to building a new car.”
However he insisted that the team remained optimistic about narrowing the gap. “I don’t know if we could halve the gap, but I think there’s a reasonable chance we can close it.
“There is a law of diminishing returns. They are going at that, and we have an easier path to finding benefits than they do.”
Currently the team’s immediate objective is to overhaul McLaren. Having switched from Honda to Renault power over the off-season, the Woking squad is one place and three points ahead of Renault in the standings.
“I think we are reasonably pleased with how we have positioned ourselves to McLaren,” Bell admitted. “We were obviously very worried about them when they came on board with the engine.
“Clearly Toro Rosso and Haas have also done a great job over the winter and are making life very difficult for us.
“It’s going to be really, really closely fought,” he added. “We had hoped to be a little further ahead at the start, but this isn’t an exact science.”
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