While Jolyon Palmer and Kevin Magnussen finished on the cusp of the top 10 in Australia and Bahrain, the duo experienced a torrid Chinese Grand Prix where the Dane claimed a lowly 17th with his British team-mate suffering his “worst race weekend ever” to cross the line in last position.
Returning as a fully-fledged team this year, Renault had little time to prepare following its late takeover of Lotus last December. But Abiteboul refuses to use the rushed off-season to explain his team’s poor start, calling the Shanghai performance “a disaster”.
“We can say that,” the managing director told Autosport. “Let’s not be shy, it’s not good.
“It was a bad race, a bad weekend. It’s absolutely not the sort of performance we want to demonstrate on Sundays.
“Right now we need to focus on the car and there is no excuse to find.
“OK, the best line is because we started late and it’s a car that was designed for a Mercedes engine, but that is absolutely no excuse for the lack of progress from that point onwards.
“We cannot be complacent about the fact we are just happy to be here, that we have a lot of excuses because we came late into this. No! No excuse.
“We have no excuse for what we did on the engine, and today we have no excuse for what we’re doing on the chassis. So let’s look forward.”
According to Abiteboul, part of Renault’s problems stem from its struggles to extract the most performance out of the Pirelli compounds.
“For us, a lot [of the issues] are in the region of tyres,” he added.
“We need to improve our understanding of the tyres. I’m seeing that when we don’t get any running on Fridays, it’s hurting us a lot on Sundays. We saw that in China.
“It didn’t start well on Friday [Magnussen suffered a suspension failure in FP1 and had to sit out the whole of the day’s remaining time] which prevented us from having a clear understanding of the tyre, and that’s really what caused us lots of trouble there.”
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