Renault Sport Formula One Team enjoyed a productive first day of the VTB Russian Grand Prix, which included Artem Markelov making his FP1 debut, at the Sochi Autodrom.

Artem took over Carlos’ Renault R.S.18 in the morning FP1 session, with Carlos back in action alongside Nico Hülkenberg in the afternoon. Carlos ended the day as the team’s quickest driver, setting a lap of 1min 35.341secs in FP2. Notably, the team debuted a new floor for the car today.

Alan Permane, Sporting Director - Technical programme notes
• In FP1, Nico concentrated on a number of aero evaluations and set-up work, using the older specification floor. His session ended slightly early whilst the team sought a suspected exhaust leak. He ran with Pirelli’s Hypersoft (pink) tyres.
• Artem ran aero assessments and set-up work, running with the #46 on Carlos’ car. He used the Hypersoft tyres and the new specification floor for this session.
• In FP2, both drivers ran with the latest specification floor and used the Hypersoft tyres, looking at tyre performance, including a high fuel run. Nico also used the Soft (yellow) tyres and Carlos also used the Ultrasoft (purple) tyres.

What we learned today:
• The new floor is working as predicted and Artem made a good FP1 debut.

Nico Hülkenberg, #27, R.S.18-02
Free practice 1: P9, 1:36.274, 18 laps
Free practice 2: P14, 1:35.568, 35 laps

Nico: “For me, a standard Friday. It’s a track I enjoy to drive so we spent the day working on things to get the car to go faster and be better balanced. We focused on the usual areas on the car here as we’ve a pretty good handle on how it behaves at this point in the season, so there were no surprises. We’ve plenty of info to work on for the rest of the weekend.”

Artem Markelov, #46, R.S.18-03
Free practice 1: P15, 1:37.183, 22 laps

Artem: “I was very excited to be in the car today and I’m pretty happy with everything. The team gave me good feedback and it was a great experience. I felt pretty confident after the second lap and an F1 car is where it feels like I should be! Thank you to Renault for this first experience in an official Grand Prix session.”

Carlos Sainz, #55, R.S.18-03
Free practice 2: P12, 1:35.341, 37 laps

Carlos: “It’s definitely not ideal to miss a session like I did for FP1, but it’s also satisfying when you jump in the car for FP2 and there are no big surprises. It was a positive afternoon with the car and we managed to put a good amount of laps to prepare the car for qualifying and the race. We know we need to work on getting the most from the tyres since this will be key for us on Sunday. We have a good idea where we should be able to unlock a little more speed, so I look forward to tomorrow.”

Nick Chester, Chassis Technical Director: “It was a straightforward day for us. Artem did a good job in the morning, getting quickly up to speed and ended the session not far off Nico’s pace after completing our programme for the session. The car performed as expected today, with the new floor delivering the expected performance gain. It does look like a very close midfield here so we’re looking to extract every ounce of performance for tomorrow and the race.”