The dust has settled on an uneventful Russian Grand Prix, with no on-track overtakes from lap two through to the finish (we are not including when Ricciardo slowed due to the fire in his right rear brake). Very much a power related track the Renault-engined cars struggled in sectors one and two on the long straights. A Herman Tilke-designed track always tends to have two long straights if you look at the likes of Austin and Sepang.
Renault-engined cars reverted back to their 2016 MGU-K at the start of the season due to the poor reliability in pre-season testing, but is keen to bring the new version back. Their 2017 version is five kilograms lighter, and packs more power within itself. Renault said that whilst they race with 2016 they will look at solutions to fix the reliability and introduce as soon as possible, and the fifth round in Barcelona was the goal.
In such a complex era of Formula One a matter of centimetres and grams makes a huge difference. Scenarios such as Verstappen not having a drinks bottle in Australia is equivalent to one kilogram, as well as the twenty-centimetre wheelbase difference between the Ferrari and Mercedes making Ferrari extremely strong in the more twisty section of Russia.
A supposed huge engine upgrade by Renault is due for the Canadian Grand Prix, with that and this being implemented the power of the Renault engine could finally be unleashed.
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With a B-spec chassis coming for Red Bull in Spain, and a power upgrade there or in Canada, could it heat up the battle at the front? With arguably the most exciting driver partnership, throwing Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo into the mix sure does add a sense of excitement.
It doesn’t only help the energy drinks giants, but for their partners Toro Rosso & Renault an upgrade should give them the boost they need. Renault need something to kick start their season, especially Jolyon Palmer: after a string of poor results and a turn one incident at Russia, surely the frustration is building inside the Englishman.
Toro Rosso originally looked like in testing the fourth-fastest team, with a very similar design to the Silver Arrows in terms of suspension and front end. But just as with their year-old Ferrari engines last season, the power aspect with Renault is once more what they are struggling with.
As a whole Renault seem to be on the up in terms of the engine department, just down to the teams now to improve their chassis and aerodynamics.
Chris Lord, F1 Correspondent