Nico Hulkenberg, Renault, Sochi Autodrom, 2017

Lap time watch: Renault make even more progress than Ferrari in Russia

2017 Russian Grand PrixPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Ferrari have broken Mercedes’ 18-race run of pole positions in Russia after making a substantial leap forward with their car’s performance at the Sochi Autodrom.

Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, Sochi Autodrom, 2017
Qualifying in pictures
Sebastian Vettel qualified his SF70H with a time over three seconds faster than the team’s best from last year. Mercedes found an improvement of just two seconds, which wasn’t quite enough to keep their rivals from locking out the front row.

But there was one team which has improved by even more than Ferrari. Renault is once again the team which has made the most progress at this track year-on-year. Nico Hulkenberg duly took the RS17 into Q3.

Interestingly while Red Bull continue lag well off the pace of the top two teams, they have found more pace at this track than Mercedes have since F1’s last visit. But they expect much greater things from their upgrade at the next race in Spain.

That next race will be the big test of F1’s 2017 rules and tyres. The sport set itself a target of reducing lap times by five seconds compared to the pole position time at the 2015 Spanish Grand Prix.

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We’re yet to see a five-second lap time gain at any of the tracks on the calendar so far. The average has been around four seconds. However the Circuit de Catalunya is a highly aerodynamically sensitive track, and the performance gain could well be greater there.

Lap times have fallen every year since F1 first visited the Russian track at the beginning of the V6 hybrid turbo era. As a result the race lap record, Nico Rosberg’s 1’39.094 set last season, is likely to fall in tomorrow’s race.

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13 comments on “Lap time watch: Renault make even more progress than Ferrari in Russia”

  1. I’m quite impressed by Renault, if Hulkenberg can get a tad more luck and pace under his belt he is a regular top 10 finisher. Now all they have to do is get a second driver that can score points too.

    1. @xtwl Palmer can’t get the job done at the moment, he scored a miserable one point during his rookie season, I can’t see how he will score in the Russian GP unless 10 cars fails to see the chequered flag :)

      1. unidentified sources say that Palmer was seen tampering with the car before Sirotkin was supposed to drive it in FP1 /joke

  2. Correction: Hulkenberg makes even more progress than Ferrari in Russia

  3. It’s unfortunarte that at least at the moment, as Williams, they’ve really got one driver. I think they need someone to push Hulkenberg for next year and if they continue developing like this, maybe they’ll be able to get close to the top soon, given the amount of resource at their disposal.

    1. Raveendhana
      30th April 2017, 5:26

      All this are playing into the hands of force India, till they introduce vjm10-B

    2. There are a lot of teams relying on one driver this season: Renault, Williams and McLaren.

  4. Mid season swap should be possible as Palmer isn’t F1 material i thought he would improve based on last year but he got worse every race after Melbourne. Let give the seat to een experienced driver Alonso maybe or an talented driver such as Gasly, de Vries or several other hundred drivers.

  5. Josh (@canadianjosh)
    29th April 2017, 19:49

    I would love to see Renault make a step soon while having Hulk. I think he is as good as anyone on the grid and deserves a top car. Palmer on the other hand in my opinion isn’t F1 material just like 3 or 4 others that currently have rides.

    1. Josh (@canadianjosh)
      29th April 2017, 19:50

      Palmer, Stroll, Ericsson…$$$$$

  6. Alex limpkin
    29th April 2017, 21:57

    To be fair, (and I’m not a fan) I think Ericsson deserves to be here. He’s not amazing but he is decent.

  7. The lap time gain is quite disappointing compared with their ambitions. Obviously we will wait to see how it is in Spain, but in all honestly if the five second increase is only on specific tracks then can we really say that there has been a big improvement? Some of the lap time improvements are small compared with last year’s improvements on 2015.

    1. Remember lap time improvements of the 2017 spec cars are based on the 2015 lap times.

      In 2015 pole time was 1:37.113 (Mercedes), the fastest Ferrari quali time was 1:37.965. Compare that to Vettel pole this time 1:33.194, which is just under 1/10 short of 4 seconds quicker based on the Mercedes 2015 time and just about 2/10’s short of 5 seconds of the Ferrari’s own 2015 lap time (based on 2015 qualification times).

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