Renault Sport Formula One Team returned to the points as Carlos Sainz fought through to finish the Honda Japanese Grand Prix in tenth place at Suzuka. Carlos executed a long first stint – matched with a slick pit-stop - to capitalise on fresh tyres towards the end of the race, before clinching the final point with three laps remaining.
Nico Hülkenberg retired from the race on lap 37 with a rear end issue. The team remain in fourth place in the Constructors’ Championship, eight points ahead of their nearest rival.
• Nico started from P16 on new Pirelli Medium (white) tyres, pitting on lap 30 for a new set of Soft (yellow) tyres.
• Carlos started from P13 on new Soft tyres, pitting on lap 32 for a new set of Medium tyres.
Nico Hülkenberg, #27, R.S.18-02: Started P16, DNF.
“We tried a different strategy today, starting from sixteenth on the Medium tyre. We were able to show respectable pace relative to the others on softer tyres, but it was always going to be a tough battle starting from where we did. We thought we could make the Medium last a little bit longer than it did, and then it was unfortunate that I had to retire the car as something didn’t feel right at the rear after the pit stop. Whilst there were no points for me today, Carlos and the team had a great race so it was a good effort at a crucial time in the championship battle. We know we have a lot of hard work ahead of us until the end of the season, but we’re still fighting hard.”
Carlos Sainz, #55, R.S.18-03: Started P13, finished P10.
“It was good fun out there today and a very positive race from the team. We made a decent start to be on the brink of the points and then we had to do some overtaking at the end. For us, a point here is the best we could achieve starting from P13, so that’s a very strong result for us. The team executed everything very well; the strategy, the pit-stop, it all worked. We knew we were up against it this weekend, so it’s great value to score and now we need to build on this in the final four races.”
Cyril Abiteboul, Team Principal:
“Today is an important result for the team. After Sochi, it is further evidence that our race pace is competitive at this stage of our development. We’ve also shown that the Power Unit is capable of doing great things in race conditions at high-power sensitive circuits, like Suzuka, with Red Bull Racing fighting for second place in these track conditions. Carlos drove strongly throughout and never relented for that final point, whilst Nico unfortunately had to retire. It’s clear what needs to be fixed and that’s improving our qualifying pace. We’ve seen that small differences can play a huge role in starting between seventh or fourteenth. We absolutely need to get on top of this and get the car back where it belongs at circuits which should be better for us.”