“In the first two races we were the first car to finish outside the points,” noted the team’s managing director Cyril Abiteboul. “This gives us a clear illustration of our target – to finish in the points – and know what we need to do to achieve this.
“The first two races have given us a guide to where we sit relative to our immediate opposition,” he added.
Renault team boss Frédéric Vasseur took over to make it clear where Renault saw themselves in terms of the ever-changing balance of power on the Formula One starting grid. “In terms of race pace there are positive signs – we’re not so far from Williams and we’re not so far from finishing with points,” he said.
Renault need to take care of a number of teething problems with the new chassis and eliminate some human errors as well. Once such issues are overcome, Renault’s chassis technical director Nick Chester agrees that the team could quickly find success in 2016.
“There’s a tight spread of cars ahead of us so we don’t need a lot to make a decent improvement,” Chester pointed out. “On race pace there’s a very close group in the midfield. We saw this in Australia and we saw this in Bahrain.
“It means we need to maximise every opportunity we have and every performance increase we can find could mean the difference between finishing just shy of the points or scoring.
“Our qualifying pace has been behind our race pace in relative terms, so this is an area of focus, but one which goes hand-in-hand with the target of overall performance gains.”
Figures published by Autosport show Ferrari’s long-standing team payment – of which it is the only recipient on the grid – will ensure the Scuderia earns more money from Formula One Management (FOM) than any other team.
The teams will receive a share of $965m in payments from FOM, but these amounts are not distributed evenly. Ferrari, Mercedes, Red Bull and McLaren all earn additional constructors’ championship bonuses which were negotiated separately, while Red Bull, Mercedes and Williams also receive further fixed payouts.
If the revenues were distributed evenly, each of the ten teams would receive $96.5m from FOM. However, the imbalance is highlighted by the fact that seven of the ten teams receive less than that figure, with Ferrari receiving slightly less than double the amount.
Ferrari will earn $192million this year, which is $21m more than reigning world champions Mercedes. Of that amount, only $87m of Ferrari’s prize fund is as a result of its championship position.
Mercedes is set to receive $171m as a result of its recent success as well as its bonuses, while Red Bull – fourth in last year’s constructors’ standings – will earn $144m. Williams, on the other hand, gets $87m in total despite beating Red Bull last year.
In 2015 the teams received a share of $883m, meaning this year marks a 9% increase despite the previous two seasons both featuring 19 events.
The figures reported by Autosport are as follows:
The Spaniard was ruled out of last weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix on medical grounds having suffered cracked ribs and a collapsed lung in a heavy accident during the Australian Grand Prix a fortnight earlier. With Alonso keen to race through the pain, McLaren requested the FIA reconsider its decision but in the end had to run reserve driver Vandoorne.
Asked if Alonso – who posted about his return to training on Instagram – is confident of returning in China, racing director Eric Boullier replied: “Yeah, I think so.
“He is going to go again for some scans and then the FIA will inspect them and decide yes or no.
“Yeah [it was frustrating for him], but it was a good experience as well. He enjoyed being around and he made some very nice comments on the radio.”
And Boullier says Vandoorne’s performance – scoring a point on debut having outqualified team-mate Jenson Button – gives McLaren confidence if Alonso is again ruled out.
“Now you know what he went through and he is obviously only going to be better, if he is racing again, which we don’t wish, but if he has to, the team is now confident he can do the job.”
Vandoorne himself said after the race he believes his performance had proven he is deserving of an F1 seat. The Belgian will race full-time in Japan’s Super Formula this season.