If you were losing one complete practice session as well as delaying a qualifying session until Sunday morning due to a typhoon—which could mean that there might be a possibility that you may miss qualifying—then trundling around in 17th and 18th during a Free Practice 2 session may not have been a great idea.
That’s apparently what Renault F1’s team did as they experimented with a new front wing and opted to go for qualifying-spec soft tyre runs late in the second session.
By the time Renault got around to making a serious go for it, the other teams were on long runs and it created traffic that caused problems for Renault.
“Our run was basically out of sequence,” said Hulkenberg. “And we wanted to run low fuel and put lap times in at the end when we thought the track would be rubbered in and its best.
“But obviously all the others were on high fuel [runs], and we couldn’t get the laps in because we kept hitting cars in traffic.
“If we don’t get qualifying, we’re very compromised.
“It’s been a challenging day also with the car, in terms of balance and harmony.
“So, we’re not as bad as 17th or 18th, that’s due to circumstances, but even the top 10 seems challenging right now.”
If, for any reason, qualifying is scrapped, this could leave Renault out of position and at the back of the grid. With a good track record of getting into Q3 since the summer break, this could make Sunday very complicated for them.
That’s all speculation but a team like Renault should probably be aware of the risks and accommodate strategy to prevent them from being in this position given dodgy weather over the weekend.
Hat Tip: Autosport
Ferrari did the same thing and tried to run qualli laps late and got caught out by no one else but Renault dong it too. That’s why they got stuck behind Verstapen.