Renault Sport Formula One Team ran a strategic approach to qualifying for the VTB Russian Grand Prix with Carlos Sainz and Nico Hülkenberg both proceeding through Q1 but sitting out the next session at the Sochi Autodrom today. Because of penalties for other cars, Carlos and Nico will start from the sixth row of the grid for tomorrow’s race as the first cars with an open choice for starting tyre.

Nico Hulkenberg, #27, R.S.18-02, Q: P15 1:34.655 FP3: P14, 1:35.213
“Today we ran a wise strategy. A decent qualifying position was out of reach on pure pace so we opted for the approach which means we don’t have to start the race on the Hypersoft tyre. Everything we did today should help us in our battle on track tomorrow.”

Carlos Sainz, #55, R.S.18-03, Q: P14 1:34.626 FP3: P11 1:34.988
“Unfortunately we saw that our pace was not strong enough to fight for P5 or P6 so opting for the free tyre choice was too appealing to ignore with the tyre allocation here. We saw the potential benefits of this strategy in Singapore and it could make for an interesting Grand Prix tomorrow. In the end, our pace will dictate our ultimate position but we’ve given ourselves the best chance for the race.”

Alan Permane, Sporting Director
We made a strategic call for qualifying today…

What was the qualifying strategy today?
We’ve seen an exceptionally close midfield here and we weren’t able to be at the front of this battle on qualifying pace. This meant we looked ahead to the race and the tyre strategy options available. By not running in Q2 we will end up on the grid as the first cars with an open starting tyre choice and we’re expecting this will translate to a stronger race performance.

What are the strategy permutations for tomorrow’s race?
Our approach will be to gain places when those ahead of us have to pit early because of the short performance life of the Hypersoft tyres. This will benefit us early in the race however we still expect a very tight battle. We’ll be looking to maximise every opportunity with points the target.