The Renault F1 team felt it had made another positive step forward this weekend, after both Nico Hulkenberg and Carlos Sainz got through to the final round of qualifying in Baku.
“We can be pretty satisfied with that qualifying result,” reported the team’s sporting director Alan Permane. “We were happy to get both cars into Q3.
“Our competitors for fourth in the championship are behind us, which puts us in a stronger position. But we need to concentrate on our own race and the midfield, which is again extremely tight.”
Hulkenberg finished the session in ninth place, but will start Sunday’s race from 14th place because of a grid penalty for a gearbox replacement. That will promote Sainz up a spot in his place.
“The gearbox penalty is pretty bitter,” Hulkenberg admitted after the end of qualifying. “The good news is that you can overtake here and know there will be safety cars.
“We need to come back with the best strategy and fight hard,” he added. “Let’s see what we can do.”
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As well as the penalty itself, the gearbox failure had cost Hulkenberg crucial track time in final practice on Saturday morning. It meant that the German driver still isn’t where he wants to be going into the race.
“We lost some time this morning so we can be pleased to get both cars into Q3,” he said. “The balance in the car doesn’t sit quite where I would like it to, but some race weekends are like that.
“We can be happy that we gave it everything and tomorrow we will do the same to make up positions,” he added.
Sainz had benefited from a more straightforward weekend so far, and was happy to be starting in the top ten.
“It was a decent qualifying for us. I missed the perfect first sector but getting both cars into Q3 again shows good consistency and effort from the team.
“Tomorrow we need to have a clean start and target to stay in the points again,” he added. “It could be another chaotic race so we need to be ready to maximize our chances.”
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