After McLaren signed a bargain to switch to Renault out of Honda for the start of the 2018 campaign, many expected that the Woking-based team will be fighting to get podiums and even wins.

However, a fundamental aero problem with the team’s MCL33 left the ensemble struggling for performance and its form fell away on the duration of the growing season.

That left the way open for Haas to emerge as one of the year’s openings while the American ensemble took the struggle to Renault.

Reflecting on 2018, Renault F1 managing director Cyril Abiteboul said his team’s advancement was some thing to be proud of – even if he was by that it had been battling against on the hop.

“Frankly, there were some surprises, and there were some hints,” Abiteboul told Motorsport.com. “I am somewhat astonished with to struggle Haas for the majority of the summer season once I was expecting it to function as against McLaren.

“Let’s remember annually, whenever we announced McLaren, everyone said’you might be mad, you will be conquered by your own customers’.

“And [in the long run ], we were very close to being beaten with a team that’s an extremely new team, ” a youthful team, younger than us, with a very different setup”

Abiteboul says he does not have any complaints with the job that Renault did but wishes to spend some time this winter having a deeper analysis about its operation.

“I believe that it had been a good season, and also we are able to be certain of the progress the team is making,” he said. “We should not under value the work and the achievement after three seasons moving in P9 to p 4.

“I am great in history however I don’t believe any team in modern history, and you would have to return back quite far,, to find a team achieving such an improvement.

“Having said this, clearly, I want to dig a bit farther, to see how it was achieved, the competitiveness amount, the competitive setting, who is simply behind, who is beforehand, and how far they’re ahead. This is really where we need to take stock and look at that in the eyes and see how it might affect our plans.”

Because the gap between the best three teams and also the remaining portion of the grid remains enormous, renault’s greatest challenge is for producing a step forward for 2019.

But Abiteboul just isn’t put off with this ambition, although he accepts it will not be an easy task.

“There is just a large, big bad perimeter to the top teams, and it really can be a resource of concern,” he said. “But with said, once I look at the rapidity of the advancement at the factory and in particular in the preparation of the next year for both engine and chassis, I am saying, why don’t? It’s potential.

“You’ll find loopholes but general I do believe we can be satisfied in what were the key objectives: first combine the team’s position, being more or less the very best of the midfield, and [secondly] to take a position to lessen the gap to the top teams, and that will clearly be the aim of next year.”

Nico Hulkenberg, Renault Sport F1 Team R.S. 18

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