|By Ian Parkes||Monday, March 7th 2016, 10:56 GMT|
Renault’s 2016 Formula 1 car surprised the team in Formula 1 pre-season testing, and it believes it could sneak into the top 10 in the season-opening Australian Grand Prix.
The French manufacturer’s late takeover of Lotus last year provided the team with little time to prepare the RS16 that took part in testing at Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya over the past two weeks.
The team completed 776 laps during the two tests, ahead of only McLaren, Manor and Haas, largely due to Jolyon Palmer suffering mechanical problems on his days while Kevin Magnussen’s time ran smoothly.
Reflecting on Renault’s pre-season, chief technical officer Bob Bell said: “In fairness, we were surprised, and we are actually in pretty good shape.
What we learned from the final F1 test
“The car has run reliably as we hoped it would. The process of re-engineering a car when the decision is made as late as the one we had is not straightforward. It does have reliability consequences.
“But we’re pleased because it’s come in better than we expected on weight, and the centre of gravity is where we hoped it would be.
“The performance is good from the point of view it’s a consistent handling car, with a solid baseline on which we can build on for the future.”
While Bell knows the car is not as quick as some of its rivals, he believes that can be addressed through the season.
“Although the car is clearly down on overall headline performance numbers, downforce and probably engine power, it actually runs very well,” he added.
“It’s nicely balanced, consistent, very driveable. It’s a good, useable racing car.
“We didn’t have to spend a lot of time chasing balance and set-up, which was a real blessing, and we are not chasing difficult handling characteristics, or bad driveability in the engine.”
Bell has confirmed the car on show in Melbourne will not be too far removed from the one that ran in testing.
“We go to Melbourne with a lot of confidence we can get up to speed pretty quickly there,” he said.
“But you have to be realistic. If we come away, finish the race credibly, if we sneak into the top 10, we’ll probably be pleased with that.”