Difficult damp conditions greeted Renault Sport Formula One Team in qualifying for the Honda Japanese Grand Prix where Carlos Sainz qualified thirteenth and Nico Hülkenberg sixteenth.

Following an off in FP3, Nico’s crew had repaired his car to be ready for the start of qualifying, but despite his best efforts in a red flag interrupted Q1 he was just 0.045secs short of getting through to Q2. Carlos did make it to Q2 but returning rain rendered it impossible for him to set a faster time than thirteenth.

Nico Hülkenberg, #27, R.S.18-02, Q: P16 1:30.361 FP3: P15, 1:32.224
“My crew worked hard to get the car ready for qualifying and it was bad timing on my behalf to crash at the end of FP3. The car felt fine straight away and I was actually surprised we didn’t get through Q1 as both my laps felt pretty good. The improvement in my second lap simply wasn’t enough to get me through so that’s frustrating. It’s going to be challenging and difficult tomorrow, but of course we will fight.”

Carlos Sainz, #55, R.S.18-03, Q: P13 1:30.490 FP3: P9 1:31.513
“We thought there was a possibility of the top ten but we weren’t able to make a big enough step in pace. In general, today was pretty tough. Qualifying could have been a bit better as the rain came sooner than we expected so I wasn’t able to set a lap on new tyres in Q2. My first run in Q2 with a used set was just not enough and it’s difficult to say how much faster I could have gone with that new set. But, points are given out tomorrow so let’s see what happens.”

Alan Permane, Sporting Director
It’s been a tough day…

How was qualifying for the team?
Nico’s crew did a great job to get his car ready for qualifying but Nico was unlucky not to make it into Q2. Carlos did get the cut, but the combination of weather and traffic meant the pace of the car was insufficient to get him into the top ten.

What is the outlook for tomorrow’s race?
We have work to do. The forecast says dry and it’s going to be difficult to move up the order as it’s very competitive here.