Renault boss Cyril Abiteboul has labelled team’s double retirement from points-paying positions at the Bahrain Grand Prix unacceptable.
Red Bull’s Christian Horner could not resist an opportunity to kick Renault while it was down Sunday after the French manufacturer suffered a cruel double retirement in the closing stages of the Bahrain Grand Prix.
Nico Hulkenberg and Daniel Ricciardo were running in the top 10 when their cars both failed at almost the exact same time with just three laps remaining. Both issues were deemed to have been engine related.
Hulkenberg had also suffered engine issues which meant he qualified at the rear end of the grid, in 17th, despite the team clearly having pace to challenge at the front of the midfield pack. Although Renault’s primary focus in 2019 was to bridge the performance gap to Ferrari and Mercedes’ engines Abiteboul says the Bahrain failures have to be addressed.
“After a very intense winter, it’s been a very bad start to our racing season,” Abiteboul said.”Similar to Melbourne, our qualifying in Bahrain was massively compromised by minor electronics issues, which impacted both cars. Our race came to a sudden stop so close to the finish. These are issues we have previously encountered but something we were unable to rectify in Bahrain.
“These problems are increasingly frustrating and unacceptable as both cars have shown very good competitiveness both over one-lap and race runs. We must react and shift our focus on reliability.”
Hulkenberg’s issue was believed to be with the MGU-H, while Ricciardo’s was confirmed to be the MGU-K component which also failed on McLaren driver Carlos Sainz’s Renault engine during the Australian Grand Prix.
Speaking after the race, Hulkenberg said: “In my mind I had [sixth position] booked already. But it just shows you have to bring it home full race distance. Without that, three laps, I was controlling everything. I had a gap to [Lando] Norris and everything was fine. It came also without any signs or problem before. It just happened from one moment to another.”
“Obviously it’s a bitter one, hard to swallow. A brutal moment that can happen in racing.”
The double retirement and the fact stewards were unable to remove Ricciardo’s car to a safe place meant the race had to finish under the Safety Car. This neutralised the race and allowed Charles Leclerc to consolidate a podium despite struggling with his Ferrari engine and meant Max Verstappen was unable to capitalise for Red Bull.
Red Bull’s Christian Horner poked fun at the irony of that situation post-race, saying that the team’s former engine partner was costing it podiums “whether [the engine] is in the car or out of the car”.